Actually, Portugal was never high on my travel wish list. I do not know why, because I think the language is the most beautiful one in the world.
But the photos and many travel magazines never triggered my desire. Earlier we travelled to Lisbon for a weekend and that turned out to be a wonderful city. The months of April and May this year, because the many days off, lent itself to discovering new destinations on long weekends and I decided to do so.
And so we travelled to Faro because I heard from a dear friend about a wonderful hide-a-way, tucked away in the inland of eastern Portugal.
My predecessors had said nothing too much. What an oasis we ended up in. A path takes you past hedges, trees, herb- and vegetable gardens to the old typical Portuguese country house, completely refurbished by the enterprising English owner, Tim.
Until then, this boutique-like hotel had only 10 suites. But Tim proudly led us along the 5 newly added suites, 1 of which turned out to be the great new bridal suite, with phenomenal views and Jacuzzi in it’s private garden.
Each suite is decorated differently and has its own advantage compared to the other suites.
We stayed in suite 6. Well what a coincidence? that I, most of the time end up staying in a room with the number 6 in it, or where you can add or subtract the numbers and the sum therefore has 6 as a result. I hold on to 6 as a favourite number. Our family counts six heads. So….
Suite 6 is the last room in the garden at the back of the mansion. From your bed you look out on an ancient tree in your own private garden. The estate is bordered by 10 hectares of land with olive trees, wild flowers and much more vegetation. Everywhere you will find seats where you can quietly retreat and enjoy nature. The outdoor pool is equipped with lazy loungers with thatched umbrellas and outdoor showers. There is also a part where a beach has been imitated with sand, where there are beds for 2 people, which has a roof above to protect you from the hot summer sun.
The breakfast is delicious and well cared for, with of course the addictive sweet Pastíes de Nata. The typical small round Portuguese custard tarts, baked in the oven, whose original recipe is still a well-kept secret. You can wake me up for it!
If you decide to stay the day on the estate, you can choose from three salads for lunch, of which the Portuguese with sardines was my preference.
If you would like to dine in the evening, you can notify the friendly staff at breakfast about it.
Bikes are ready to explore the area, but you can also rent a car easily. This can also be arranged through the reception of the hotel. If desired, the car rental company would like to bring it to Fazenda. For the best massages in your room, book Olga. A treasure of a lady, who is very discreet. Years ago she fled Lebanon and married a European.
You are close to many beaches, from where you can easily rent a boat or take a water taxi to the many islands. Do not think of Ibiza or the South of France, because it is nothing like that. In Portugal you still feel the poverty and much has not yet been improved. No sophisticated shops and streets full of trendy cafés, no trendy beach spots with squirting champagne bottles and dancing wet masses, but rural landscape, historic sites, practically empty beaches and everywhere you eat and drink for so little that we could barely believe the bill. Moreover, the food is good everywhere.
On Saturday, the fish market in Olhao is already a happening. It is teeming with Portuguese and tourists, who, next to the fish also sniff at all the other merchandise that is displayed in the many stalls around it. People are enjoying their coffee on the many terraces and I was amazed at the living animal market. From there you have a beautiful view of the wet nature reserve of Parque Natural da Formosa, a labyrinth of canals, islands, floodplains and sandbanks stretching 60 km along the Algarve coast.
Out of pure curiosity about the popular Albufeira, we decided to take the one-hour trip one evening, to eat at the beach in the popular fish restaurant ‘Evaristo’. This proved very worthwhile. Absolutely a must to spend the day in the sun, while the fish and shellfish you select are prepared.