Couchsurfing in Algarve – Portugal
I have to say that Couchsurfing has been one of the best things that happened in my life lately. After too many years living and traveling abroad and a disastrous year in London pursuing my University studies in Classical Chinese Medicine, my life crumbled. It was terrible.
I decided to return to Portugal, after 16 years away. My friends were either married, gone or changed so much we didn’t have any interests in common any more. I knew no one here.
So I attended a couple of Couchsurfing meetings in Lisbon and later on decided to organize vegan weekly dinners which became Lisbon’s most interesting and fun CS event. This is where I’ve met some of the nicest people ever. People from all over the world, from all backgrounds, ages, nationalities. We all managed to gather once a week for wonderful home cooked food and having a good time. A percentage of these CS became regulars and we bonded so well, we spontaneously started to do other activities outside the dinner days.
We went to Algarve, to the city of Portimao for a weekend, where one of our friends had an apartment near the beach.
The Algarve is located on the southern tip of Portugal. The whole southern Portuguese region is bordered by the Atlantic and home of some of the most beautiful beaches and cities.
Here the architecture is extremely different form the rest of the country, with small while houses brushed by blue or yellow stripes around the windows and doors. In many ways, you might notice a similarity between this architecture and the Greek white houses. This is because the white reflects the strong heat waves and keeps the houses cool. The windows are usually small, keeping all the heat out of the houses.
What a wonderful couple of days, relaxing, sunbathing, relaxing some more and getting tanned in December!
Portimao used to be a calm fishing village before it became a big tourist hub. Unfortunately Algarve became too commercial, too overwhelming and too expensive. British and German middle age tourists flock here with a lot of money to spend and all rates went up the hill.
Algarve is gorgeous and magical but it’s better during the low season where you can still have a whole beach for yourself. Here you can find tranquil waters and yellow sandy beaches. A low crime rate and plenty of sunshine all year round.
We spent the weekend at praia da rocha a very beautiful beach, famous for it’s dramatic cliffs, rock formations and erosion. I truly believe this is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen so far. The shades of yellows and oranges are breathtaking and you can almost believe you’re in the middle of the desert… if it weren’t for the Atlantic sea.
Portimao is known for it’s sport events. In the summer a beach soccer tournament called “the mundialito de futebol na praia” is held here. The Lisbon Dakar rally passes through and there’s also surfing and kitesurfing.
Sailing is another big favorite, since the Algarve waters are much calmer than the other part of the Atlantic Portuguese coast, making this a perfect spot for this sport. The Portugal Match cup is hosted in Portimao.
There are many caves to explore, both at the beach and at the sea. If you can manage to get a kayak, you’ll be able to reach very hidden treasures, including secluded beaches that can only be reached by sea.
From Portimao you can explore all the other near by cities, Faro, Albufeira, which is famous for it´s unique little white houses and the nice beach.
There are plenty of restaurants and bars. You might be disappointed with the amount of tourists and very little local flavor, this is because Algarve offers more sunny days than most parts of Europe, attracting flock of tourists who want nothing to do with the local culture.
Algarve is at the very western southern tip of Europe … form the tops of the cliffs you can see the sun traveling away, offering some of the most spectacular sunsets.
For a 100% vegan restaurant, check out the Happy cow directory: http://www.happycow.net/europe/portugal/portimao/