Weekend in Southern Portugal

Sorry, Croatia.

I’m updating Portgual first. Becuase I LOVED IT!

We literally returned from Zadar on Monday May 1st (bank holiday). On Tuesday May 2nd, I found cheap-ish flight to Faro, Portugal. The weather in Croatia had been a little chillier than we had hoped and our airbnb was owner occupied so we hadn’t enjoyed as much patio sun time as anticipated. I texted Matt a weather forecast in Faro. He said yes. Within maybe an hour I had booked flights, a more private airbnb and a rental car. That’s probably hyperbole. I booked the flights within the hour. I hemmed and hawed about which town to actually stay in all morning. But by the afternoon it was all booked. Pretty good for little miss indecisive that I am.

Southern Portugal. I had to read up real quick. I knew we were flying into Faro. I had heard Albufeira was good for hen and stag parties, and that a lot of the “bigger” towns and resorts were full of British and Irish people. I found out about Olhao and it looked like it wasn’t ruined by tourists yet a nice cute fishing village. I found a really amazing airbnb, with at least a couple reviews (at present there are a zillion apartments and homes on airbnb in southern portugal with NO REVIEWS. too risky). Then. I found it. There’s a ferry to an island called Culatra. Culatra has no cars. The ferry is basically the bus to town for the people of the island. Sold. We’re staying in Olhao. Saturday morning we will hit the old town market, catch the 11am ferry and hang out on a beach all day. Sunday we will have to check out in the morning. But our flight isn’t till 8pm. I know! We’ll rent a car for the weekend and do car stuff on Sunday. Perfect. Decided. Done.

Southern Portugal did not disappoint!

We flew out Friday late afternoon…my love affair with Ryanair is waning. How is it that the other people on the place are so darn loud? Anyway, it’s cheap. It’s a bus with wings. We’re in Portugal! We’re last through customs and immigration (again and always); we struggle to find our (cheap) rental car shuttle van. But all in all are successful.

We drive from Faro to Olhao. We notice that Olhao is appropriately bustling even at 9:00pm so we have not screwed ourselves out of dinner. We check into our airbnb, and I am still OBSESSED with this place.  I literally did not want to leave. Our hosts (also fab) recommended a Tapas place with killer cocktails. I had a ridiculously girly strawberry, elderflower, gin and sparkling thing. Matt had a moscow mule……and then I had another strawberry thing and so did Matt. Pink drinks for the WIN! (should have taken a picture. Note to self. Take more pictures).

Saturday we were up EARLY because (a) sunligth and (b) birds. We wandered the markets, saw lots of fish (GIANT fish!) and snails for sale. Stumbled our way through ordering pastries and orange juice. Found some sparkling wine and hit the harbor to catch a ferry.

Did I mention the fare for the 30 minute ferry ride was €1.80? Cheaper than a Dublin Bus.

We get to Culatra. It is quiet and charming and car-less. Off we go! To the beach! We find a spot take a nap. Pop the bubbles. Decide to take a beach stroll.

Here’s where the vacation turns distinctly BauerWeiser.

“Let’s go on a walk,” he said. “Let’s bring all our stuff” which was not much “so we can just park wherever!” he said.

We walk. And walk. And walk. It’s amazing. We have the whole beach to ourselves! We see the tip of the island. Obviously we will walk there. We get there. It’s not really the tip. We keep going! Because why not?!

Here is a hiking guide (which we did not have)


See where the red line turns?

We did no such turn. We walked all the way to the end. And back ON THE OTHER SIDE. I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to do this (especially since at one point we waded through waist deep water and I almost stepped on a crab). OOH! That point is just below the “d” in Ilha da Culatra on the map. 

Y’all. We walked. All. Day. We probably started walking around 1:30pm and were back in town around 5:00pm. Just a lovely beach walk…. except…

We had no sunscreen. I felt like I was auditioning for Castaway. Or getting ready for the scenes in Unbroken where they’re raft-stranded and SUNBURNED. I wore Matt’s t-shirt to protect the shoulders, but man. We got our Vitamin D and then some. To make matters worse, once back in “town” (still on Culatra) there was a market selling sunscreen. Face. Meet palm. Actually don’t. I’m still burnt.

That was basically all Saturday. We caught the 7:00pm ferry back to Olhao. Showered. Napped. Dinnered. Wined.

Sunday began with pastries (when in Portugal!). We drove to Sagres:

Image result for sagres

^photo cred

^^keeping up our church on Sundays thing. 

And Praia do Camilo in Lagos:

Image result for lagos portugal

^photo cred

I actually swam. Well. Walked in. Backed out. Gave matt my sunglasses. Took a deep breath. Ran in. Dunked my head one time. And came back out. That’s swimming, right?

At the top of those stairs we ate a bit more seafood before swinging through actual Lagos. 


Through. Actual. Old town. Lagos. (oops. I am not a good navigator)

We did eventually make our way out of the tiny one way partially full of people cafes and souvenirs streets and back to the airport. 

Then, Matt forgot his cell phone in the rental car which is another story for another post. But it’s good one.


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