From Lisbon to Algarve – 10 top places you should not miss!

Part one

Driving down from Lisbon – Vasco da Gama bridge

Driving down to a sunny, relaxed and unforgetable holiday in the Algarve?

This itineraries are for you, if you are the kind of person who does not like to miss anything special on the way. Also, they are tailored for families too, as it is allways dificult to fit interesting visits that can please grand parents, mum and dad as well as the youngsters, far from beeing keen at history or museums during the holiday period!

Every week, for the next 3 weeks, i will leave you with a different road book to reach your destination feeling like mission accomplished!

But before you choose the right route, let me tell you that it is always a good idea to seat down around a table and speak about the pros and cons of each itinerary with the participants.I’m afraid even on holiday we should not ignore some planning.Time is money as well  and mostly holiday is a precious time of the year where you have placed all your good vibes.

Step 0ne
You have to decide first, before you take April 25th bridge or Vasco da Gama one. Yes they converge at same point but i’m leaving with you 3 possible ways and the more time you save on the road, the better you enjoy the outdoors.

Step two
Remember to use the ‘’via verde’’ an automatic pay system that all rental cars are supplied with ( extra charge, naturally) . On the way out of Lisbon you won’t be charged by using the bridge, therefore there are 265 kms to cover up to Albufeira (where the high way A2 ends) and that is toll, which will come up to €22.80 as i’m writing this notes, August 2020, in a small car.Prices change according to the size of the car. However, this is the fastest itinerary and you’ll be asked to exit here and there for some visits.Important: if by mistake you missed the green line Via Verde, remember to pick up a ticket when entering on the other lanes.This is needed to charge the corresponding miles of highway you have used, by the time you exit!

Step three
If you would drive straight, at the normal allowed speed of 120 kms/hour you would reach the Algarve’s coast 2 hours and 25 minutes later.In this case you won’t since there are places you don’t want to miss.There are 5 gas stations along the way, almost every 40 kms so no chances to dye hungry or thirsty. Prices tend to be higher indeed.

So, let’s hit the road!

Itinerary one- Western ways
Nature & Wild life

This is one of my favourites. For many years when my son was younger we did not miss a summer visit to the ‘’Costa Vicentina’’. As we live in the Algarve we used to do this road up instead, proceeding then to Lisbon where we have some relatives.
If you’re traveling with children there are two moments they are going to love:crossing with the car on a ferry in Setúbal and visiting Badoca Park.I think this can please everyone, anyway, regardless the age.

For this day you would do better taking April 25th bridge. Now, these are the guidelines:

Exit in Palmela and visit the ancient castle .Magnific views!!

View from Palmela Castle

I know you’re driving but someone has to do the Bob, why not stopping at a winery and join a wine experience? Experts say the morning is the ideal moment to have a clean palate to assimilate the real flavor of a good wine. Here are some of the choices:

The next destination is Setúbal. If it is closer to lunch time now, please do not go any further. You’re at the best place to try ‘’caldeirada’’, fish stew, and ‘’choco frito’’, fried ink fish.Nova Taberna and Ratoeira are my favourite restaurants, price wise a good deal.

Now it’s time to give yourself a break and leave the wheel. Afterall, it was not really a long mileage but the wine, the lunch, you start understanding why we, southern people, talk so much about siesta.The best way to go down the coast towards Algarve is to try and keep an eye on the water as much as you can.This itinerary helps you to rest a bit and eventually to enjoy a show, live, if the dearst dolphins from Sado bay decide to escort you from Setúbal to Tróia. The Atlantic ferries is a reliable company that provides you the crossing every half an hour. Please do not forget that due to the pandemic times, masks are mandatory!

Dolphins in Sado River Photo from Nautica Press

And there you are, at one of the longuest sandy beach areas in western Portugal!If you believe you have time to stop and refresh, why not, go for it! You’re 3 hours far from the Algarve and with 7 places to see before you end there, but this is a full day experience.Remember, TIME IS PRECIOUS and that is priceless!

The distance between Tróia and Santiago do Cacém , our next discovery, is 83 kms which can take one hour and seventeen minutes. What is so special over there that can take you out of the car again? Well, have you ever thought about doing a safari in Africa sometime? If yes, Portugal has an open trailer that rides in a 90-hectare safari park with 600 animals from around the world.Name? Badoca Park. It has been opened since 1999 , It’s a great ride to do with the kids, there are attractions with explanations that make all the difference for them.

Safari in Badoca Park

Safari is very interesting for everyone and on hot days the rafting is refreshing, bring extra clothes for everyone, as they will get wet.
There is a restaurant, but there are many places to picnic, great option.

For keen walkers Porto Covo is one of Europe’s best known long-distance trails – the Rota Vicentina. This runs from Santiago do Cacém , just north of Sines, to Cabo Sao Vicente near Sagres covering over 450 km of track. One particular section begins in Porto Côvo, the Trilho dos Pescadores (Fishermen’s Trail). As the name suggests this route follows the coast passing Vila Nova de Milfontes, Almograve and Zambujeira before continuing into the Algarve with spectacular scenery en route.So, these are 3 other places to add up tom your top 10 sure they are open regarding the instability of the present times.

Around 33 kms is the distance till Porto Côvo. If the archetypal traditional Portuguese fishing village still exists then maybe Porto Côvo is this. Even the name translates as port of the fishing net. A jumble of whitewashed cottages, cobbled streets and pretty squares perched on the low cliff tops of the Alentejo coast between Sines and Vila Nova de Milfontes.

The straight line distance between Vila Nova de Milfontes and Odeceixe is 32.63 km, but the driving distance is 43 km.

It takes 38 minutes to get from Vila Nova de Milfontes to Odeceixe that lies on the south bank of the Ribeira de Seixe, which here forms the border between the Algarve and Alentejo.It is a MUST SEE place so i recomend to stop somehwere, overlooking the water and have a good sagres or superbock beer.You will not regret!

Now it is time to check the GPS to see how far you are from your hotel.You’re 55 kms far from Lagos, if it was the choice for your holiday. In this case i would say leave the road and stop at Praia do Amado or Amorosa before proceeding to the Algarve’s coast. Breathtaking!!

Thank you for traveling, event hough virtually, with Precious Time.Hope you’ve enjoyed it to the fullest and wish you an unforgetable holiday!

Hope to see you in a close future!

Carob bean- healthy food. Algarve’s black gold !

Hi everyone, hope you’re well.

Today, as promised, i am bringing to you some information related to a fruit that grows mostly in southern Portugal where i live.The tree is typical in the southern Portuguese region of the Algarve, where the tree is called alfarrobeira, and the fruit alfarroba. Looking at it hanging from the trees, you may have a first wrong impression: how come the portuguese grow green beans in trees? They also may look like vanilla beans but slightly bigger. Well, right now it is a product that may bring some extra wealth to a region as the Algarve, where tourism plays the main role as far as economy is concerned. Only 3% is the percentage of the importance of agriculture.

What is it ?

But, what is the history behind this interesting legume? Yes, Legumes produce a botanically unique type of fruit – a simple dry fruit that develops from a simple carpel and usually dehisces (opens along a seam) on two sides, that’s why this is considered a legume.

Legumes are notable in that most of them have symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria in structures called root nodules. For that reason, they play a key role in crop rotation.

It grows to about 15 m (50 ft) in height and has dark, evergreen, pinnate leaves. The small, red flowers have no petals. The fruit is a brown, leathery pod about 10 to 30 cm (4 to 12 in) long and contains a syrupy to biscuity flesh of an agreeable sweet taste, in which lie a number of seeds. The pods are edible and are often used for livestock feed. The seeds, which are remarkably uniform in size and weight, are thought to have been the original standard carat weight used by jewellers and goldsmiths.

Where does it grow?

Archaeological evidence suggests that these peas must have been grown in the eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamian regions at least 5,000 years ago.

Carob grows well anywhere that citrus is grown, and it prefers dry climates that receive more than 30 centimeters of rainfall–ideal mediterranean-type climates.

Portugal is the largest producer of carob in the world and more than half of its production is exported. In addition to its socio-economic value, the historic value of this century-old culture is added, particularly striking in the Algarve.

What is it used for?

Every part of the fruit is able to be consumed.

The Italians use the seed to make rosary beads. In Israel they have an annual Carob Festival. This seed was also used as a weight measure for gold and gems because seeds are very even in weight.

That use has come down through the centuries as the ‘caret weight’ (should be carob weight) and 0. 5 carob seeds equals one gram. A caret weight .02 of a gram.

Sometimes you may find it in shape of a chocolate bar, in health food shops . In English, it is also known as “St John’s bread”, as well as “locust tree, because the pods were once thought to have been the “locusts” that were eaten by John the Baptist in the Wilderness.

Apart from the health benefits obtained by substituting Carob for Cocoa and synthetic sweeteners in our diet, Carob also has excellent nutritional value. Along with up to 80% protein, it contains Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Potassium Manganese, Barium, Copper, Nickel and the vitamins A, B, B2, B3, and D. It also has medicinal uses including the treatment of coughs and diahhroea.

A significant part of these applications are related to gum extracted from locust bean seed: an additive of biological origin to which no adverse effects are known, E-410, used as a thickener, stabilizer, emulsifier or gelling agent in medicines and foods, including formulas for lactating women, but also in textile and paper printing or cosmetics, for example.

The carob pulp, crushed and roasted, gives rise to carob flour (or carob powder), now recognized as a substitute for cocoa. The carob fart is used to make dozens of food products, including bread, sweets or ice cream.

The crushed are also used in the production of beverages, from liqueurs to spirits and even craft beer. They are also raw material for animal feed, one of its oldest applications, although today it is used in new food solutions for pets .In Faro, where I live, there are some new industries opening up to the use of this special fruit in this field, so thinking already in every pet lovers.

Something new and tasty, apart from healthy to try on your next visit to the Algarve!