Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Around the World in 80 ... Years: Portimão, Portugal

I can't believe it has already been over 2 years since we took our trip to Portugal. Truth be told, it was actually my first commercial flight ever. Yep. At the ripe age of 24! It took a lot of pep-talking to get me excited about the trip because I was so nervous. But I survived and had a really great time - imagine that!

We first flew into Lisbon, and took a train down the coast to the lovely little town of Portimão, located in the region of Algarve. At the southernmost tip of Portugal, we had the pleasure of enjoying some of the most beautiful seaside caves in the the world.

I want to picnic on that little hunk of sand!

We stayed at the Tivoli Marina, steps away from the sea. Its bright colours and clean atmosphere were easy to love. And the resort-like setting meant that we didn't need to go far to enjoy the nightlife. A few minutes drive from the hotel is the town's center, where you'll find traditional restaurants serving up loads of seafood.

We were only in Portugal for a few days, but I would have loved to stay and explore a little longer. I learned, though, that the wine is cheap and good. Between meals, we mostly snacked on fresh breads, cheeses, and wines. Sounds legitimately snobby, but seems much more rustic when you're in the midst.
Tivoli Marina Hotel harbour
On the beach.
Lurking in a sea cave.
Can you smell the food cooking?
The dining scene in town is lively, but still relaxed.
The town's waterfront bustles at night with merchants, cafes, bars, and snack opportunities.

Historically rich, and comfortable setting.
 The Dona Barca, a local favourite restaurant. Home to dishes that contain just about any creature you can pull out of the waters of Portugal. Cute, long tables are set up family-style. I was bumping elbows with a stranger, but it was all good! That is, until the cuttle fish arrived. What. Is. That?
Dun, dun, dunnnnn

For a vegetarian who decided to start eating seafood just before leaving for Portugal, the cuttle fish was just too much for me to handle. I did try it, but only once.

I loved that Portimão was a seaside town. Of course, most of Portugal is rich in seafoods and known for its sardines. But the atmosphere was very nautical, from the decor right down to the immense (real!) pirate ship that looms in the canal downtown. If you're in town, be sure to check that one out. Word of caution: do so on a not-so-hungover stomach, ok?

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