If you look at my photos in this article and then scroll through my older pictures here you will see, they are pretty similar. Same village, same beach, same food situations. Well, we traveled to Olhão again, a small town at the Eastern Algarve.
Maybe, some will interpret it as a sign of getting old, but a bit monotonous vacation rhythm felt good to us. No road trip, no ongoing moving from hotel to hotel, no hustle, no searching for unknown lovely places—just enjoying the things we knew from our last trip and the days structured by market hall opening times and a ferry schedule.
But even when you visit a familiar place, there are also new things to discover. At our first evening we had dinner in the restaurant Tasca O Galo. The local artist and illustrator Joana Rosa Bragança recommended this lovely little place to us. Here we enjoyed Bacalao dishes and of cause Vinho Verde.
For larger pictures click the gallery.
For the following days we went shopping for food in the beautiful market halls of Olhão just across the street from our vacation apartment. One hall is only for fish. In the second hall you find many stands with vegetable and fruits, also some with cheese and sausages and various butchers. Every morning before breakfast we bought locally grown vegetables and fresh fruits: Sweet cherries, strawberries and figs. Oh these figs! One day, we chose a variety of the little raw milk cheeses and a chorizo sausage, of course.
Additionally, every Saturdays a lively outdoor farmers market takes place around the market buildings: A lot more vegetables and fruits are offered here and in between stands with boxes and sacks filled with snails, other stands with flowers, plants and “the world best fertilizer”, canaries and budgies in birdcages and also stands with fresh baked churros.
Bread and pastries we bought in the Pádaria and Pastelaria “Delicias de Olhão” located three or four houses down from our vacation home. Rest assured, we carried a small white paper box stuffed with beautiful Pastéis de Nata and Co. out of this bakery every day.
Also located in one of the market buildings is an ice cream parlor called “Gelados Gelvi.” At the end of one of our beach days we walked at the water front, spooned ice cream and enjoyed the view of the Ria Formosa. The Ria Formosa between Olhão and the barrier islands is something very special. This huge nature protection area is a lagoon with sand banks and dunes, brackwater and marshes, salines and a varied flora and fauna. If you stay in Olhão and you want to go to the beach, you have to take the ferry across to one of the little sand islands.
Olhão is a busy small town. Not obviously picturesque, but with its own special charm in details. I love the narrow streets in the historic center and the typical cubic architecture. We strolled around the streets more then one time impressed by details and local features. I’m fascinated by the color combination residents use to paint their houses. Beside this, the weathered walls of many buildings are really beautiful. Certainly the abalone houses in between are sad on one hand but stunning on the other.
For beach times, we took the ferry to the island “Ilha da Culatra,” also named “Ilha do Farol.” During our stay, the weather was windy. Perfect for beach walks. So we left the ferry at Culatra, walked through the tiny village and the beautiful dunes to the beach and along the waterfront to Farol. One day, we did a little picnic at the nearly deserted beach. Another day, we visited the beach bar MarAmais at Farol for cold drinks, tosta mista and home made french fries.
This island is such an unique place. A bit sleepy during the week, not dressed-up or vain, more down to earth and a bit nostalgic. Hopefully, the future development of growing tourism will happen carefully and with caution to bring in balance the sensitive nature and the humans. Preferably with transparent plans, which will make it possible to let the locals stay, where they feel at home (currently things are in a state of flux).
If you want to see more of the magic island, the beautiful nature and the surrounding areas have a look at Joana Rosas impressive photographs here. And the German travel blogger Nina wrote a lovely article about Culatra one year ago, which you can read here (German only).
All this doesn’t sound spectacular, right? But for us, it’s paradise. All the years before, I told Johannes we could never ever travel again to a place we visited before. Too high the risk that disappointment could replace the enthusiasm of the first time. Well, nothing like this happened. “But there is so much more to discover in this world!” Yes, there is. However, sometimes familiarity, slowness and a little bit of feeling home is more needed instead of adventure. We found it there.
Then, unfortunately, we had to leave much earlier than planned, because fate order us back to Germany. We had four and a half days in our beloved happy place and we made the best of our unexpectedly short vacation stay. Thankfully and hopefully, we will be back for a third time.
Photography by Nicola Holtkamp – All rights reserved
For more photos check #NiJoPo15 on Instagram.