Group Trip to Portugal – Jan 2020

For the report and photos from the trip to the Cueva Del Tesoro and Benalgabon – click HERE
On 20th January 2020, 31 of us set off for our  “January jaunt” to the Algarve.  We stopped for breakfast outside Antequera and then moved on to Seville, to the North of the City where we enjoyed lunch.

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From there, we drove across the border, into Portugal and arrived at our 4* hotel in Tavira. We were welcomed with a glass of cava and then given our room keys. After a brief settling in , we gathered in reception for a short walk into town to meet our Guide for a look around Tavira-what a pretty town with the river running through, the castle and some lovely architecture, our visit finished with the Misericordia church which has lovely tiles.  We then said goodbye to our guide and moved to the venue of “Fado with history”, where we firstly enjoyed an interesting video about the history of Fado,  followed by a wonderful performance of live Fado – so haunting. After the performance, we sampled some local fare including port ! We then had a gentle walk back to our hotel for a fabulous buffet.
After a good night’s sleep and buffet breakfast, we boarded the coach for our guided trip of Faro.The sun shone and we started in the port area and then moved on to the historic area, looking at the Cathedral and various monuments – our guide was very informative and speaks wonderful English.  We ended the visit in the chapel of bones, which has skulls of former monks decorating the interior. We then had free time for lunch and met up for a short journey to the little chapel of St Lawrence which is completely decorated inside with blue and white tiles. Then on to the Pousada of Estoi for tea and pastries in a glorious room with a painted ceiling. The Pousada has large gardens with sculptures, so there was time for a walk around. Then back to our hotel for brief spell of r & r before meeting up to walk to a local restaurant for dinner – we had a fun evening.
After another lovely breakfast, we set off to the medieval town of Silves, where we had coffee in a beautiful cafeteria and met our guide. He led us up cobbled streets to the castle and we stopped en route, while he explained about various civilisations and the architecture which they have left behind. Then into the remains of the castle where many of us walked along the ramparts. From there, down to the archaeological museum which has some wonderful artefacts, then off to lunch.  We went to a local seafood restaurant where we first had vegetable soup and then sampled the local Algarve dish called cataplana.  This is a one pot dish of rice with prawns, clams, crab and other fishy specimens – absolutely delicious. Sensibly finishing with fresh fruit salad, we boarded the bus for an exclusive visit to a local winery for a guided tour and tasting.  Some purchases were made and then it was back to our hotel for more r & r before setting off for dinner to the lovely Pousada de Tavira, which is a former convent. The building looks amazing as it is floodlit at night.
Here we all enjoyed an aperitif of sparkling wine and then into a private dining room for an excellent meal, provided by a young chef called Guilleme. After a well needed night’s sleep, we had leisure time for breakfast and then free time.  Some enjoyed the facilities which the spa hotel has to offer, others listened to Geoff Hutt, who kindly gave a brief rendering of his Talk from the NHG the previous Friday “Portugal first you see it then you don’t”. This was “off the cuff” as he had no power point presentation with him nor notes ! (brave man). We met in town for a walk to the restaurant “Saudade em Portugues” for a tapas lunch which seemed to go on a bit and was very lively. We eventually boarded our bus for our journey home, calling first to the pretty village of Cacela Velha. This is situated on top of a hill with a view to the easternmost lagoon of the Ria Formosa with its sandbanks  and great bird life. It is also the site of the Fortaleza  which dominates one area. Excavations have also been undertaken and remains of dwellings dating to the 13th C have been found. We continued our journey home and arrived tired but having had a most interesting and enjoyable time with new friends made.
Christina Sinclair
Co-ordinator Nerja History Group
687 602 057