Oh, Summer Days in the Algarve


Photo Credit: HereIsTom via Compfight cc

I’ve been toying with the idea of living abroad over the summer. The idea sprang into my mind last year as the dreaded winter approached. Luckily, we’ve been blessed with one of the warmest winters that I can remember- and a total of a week of snow on the ground. Now that spring is gleefully caressing my windows, I am on a mission: to find the best vacation spot for our summer. And must be abroad and somewhere we’ve never been before.

As I am planning to also work while away, villa holidays in Portugal would be the best option for me. I want to have the flexibility to arrange my day exactly how I want it to, but I also want to be close to the fun spots.

The Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal and is the country’s most popular holiday destinations. Being located on the Atlantic coast, it boasts 200 km of clean beaches. Add to this that compared to other beach holiday spots, it’s relatively cheap, you’d soon understand why many people choose to come here and spend their summers enjoying the sun, sea and sand.

Although time spent on the beach can be magnificent for many…for me it just isn’t enough to make me giddy. To spice things up, I am planning a sort of an around Europe trip to get to and from Algarve. And I’d want to be in Algarve for our wedding anniversary (which is in May).

Faro is the airport which serves the area but Lisboa can be a great option as well. A flight from Budapest to Lisboa in mid-May costs from $200 one way / adult. But with a return by the end of the month, it would be around $320 / adult (and direct flights).

I am really looking forward to visiting Sintra – I have a thing for castles and this one’s been on my mind for a pretty long time. The of course, Porto is not to be missed.

I’ve been a major fan of the Mediterranean cuisine for ages and had a chance to experience it first hand both in Greece and Italy. As for the Portuguese cuisine, closest I’ve come to tasting it was making a paella from a recipe given by a friend of mine. I loved it.

But Portuguese cuisine is so much more than just seafood. Many spices are used and that’s because of the country’s former colonial history. Cinnamon, vanilla and saffron and chilli peppers are among the staples. And so is the olive oil. Breakfast is pretty similar to what you’d call “continental breakfast” in hotels (bread, butter, cheese, ham, coffee, milk). Lunch comes around mid day (1-2 p.m.) and dinner comes in the late evening (8 pm) – true to the Mediterranean style. The chouriço (chorizo) sausage, salt cod (bacalhau) dishes and caldo verde (a soup) stand out among the local specialties.

Generally speaking, the Mediterranean cuisine is not using a lot of meat. However, the Portuguese like to mix it in dishes. Tripas à moda do Porto, for example, is a dish made from tripe and white beans and dates as far back as the 14th century. They also eat roasted suckling pig and steak.

Traveling Cricket

Traveling Cricket has been a travel writer since high-school (many moons ago). Currently she blogs in English on her personal blog and you can find her traveling around Europe. She is hopelessly in love with Budapest, London and Athens.

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