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  • Day628

    It's been a busy few days!

    February 23 in Portugal ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    A weekend of absolutely gorgeous weather made for getting out and about on the bike and it started with 168 of them!

    Our campsite location coincided with one of the 5 stages in the 45th Volte do Algarve, a professional cycle race across the Algarve with international teams taking part. As we joined other spectators on the side of the road, the police arrived and, at the appointed time, closed off the road to allow the huge pack of riders through. We looked in amazement as the cycling throng descended the hill before us and then swiftly divided into two packs to circumnavigate the roundabout. Blink, and you missed it.

    Out on our bike, we did a three-centre day trip taking in Vila Real de Santo Antonio, which looks eye-to-eye with Spain across the Guadiana River, the impressive 14th century castle and lunch in Castro Marim which is a typical Portuguese town of white-washed houses, and finally Cacela Vehla, a tiny cobble-stoned, historic town overlooking the start of the sandy islands that make up the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa.

    As if that wasn't enough, the next day we headed down the road to the fishing village of Santa Luzia and Praia do Barril, a stunning offshore beach with miles and miles of white sand that ranks in the Top 10 beaches of the Algarve, if not No. 1 in our opinion. We crossed the bridge that connects the mainland with the island, and then rather than taking the small tourist train to the beach, we chose to take the path instead and read the story-boards about the various birds on the way. Buildings that once housed tuna fishermen and their families are now home to a couple of restaurants, but fortunately the tourist factor has been kept low-key here. Alongside the buildings is an anchor cemetery where rows of varying sized anchors lie part-buried the the sand as a reminder of times gone by.

    Santa Luzia is famous for its octopus and we were looking forward to sampling some. Chris made a great choice of an octopus stew with black pudding, smoked ham, beans and rice. I didn't make such a good choice in deep-fried octopus patties but the location was superb, as we sat in the sunshine overlooking the beach front.
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