|From Western Algarve|
The Algarve area of Portugal is tailor made for exploring due to the many beaches lining the southern coast of Portugal. As you go west, many of the beaches are tucked in between rocky cliffs. After Tavira, we headed west to Salema, a small fishing village in the southwest corner of Portugal, upon the recommendation of our friends Brad and Rachel. We used Salema as a base to explore the other beaches. Salema itself is located down a green meandering country road that leads to the ocean. (Unfortunately, most of my pictures of the town were the ones located on the camera card in our stolen camera, but I do have some.)
Since our hotel room had a small refrigerator, counter, knife, cutting board and a couple of dishes we took advantage and made some of our own meals. It also had a corkscrew, allowing us to get our own bottle of Portuguese green wine for under 3 euros. Since the Algarve is renowned for its seafood, we made sure to eat out one night and tried cataplana, a delicious and flavorful stew with fish, shellfish, tomatos, peppers and lots of spices cooked in special cookware.
We spent one day beach-hopping. Unlike the crowded, commercial or residential beaches at home, most of the land leading up to the beaches is protected and undeveloped. We drove down country roads lined with wildflowers, never sure what type of beach would pop up at the end. We happened to hit on the best one first. Tucked into between rocky cliffs, the sand was softer than the beach we visited on an island in Tavira. We found a spot between some beach rocks and listened to the waves crash up against the rocks. The Atlantic Ocean’s waters were still too nippy to do much swimming, but some people surfed in wet suits. Sean and a few other swimmers braved the waters for a quick swim.
It didn’t take long to figure out that the beach was divided into segments. Closest to the road, families with children made sand castles and frolicked in a pool of water leftover from high tide. Further down, it seemed to be mostly adults. Like the beach at Tavira, some, but not all, of the woman chose to go topless. But at the end of the beach – the most scenic part next to the rocky cliff – we quickly realized that many people, both men and woman, were full on nude. The men in particular seemed to strut up and down the sand in this section of the beach, scholongs waving back and forth. The funny part about nude beaches is that most of the people who are nude or topless aren’t the ones you probably would want to see. In case you were wondering, we both don’t feel the need for a head to toe tan. With my luck, I’d get a nasty sunburn in a place where the sun doesn’t normally shine.