Friday, 17 July 2020

Virtually ready? Get here if you can

You can reach me by railway, you can reach me by trailway
You can reach me on an airplane, you can reach me with your mind
You can reach me by sailboat
You can make it in a big balloon, but you better make it soon         
You can reach me by caravan, cross the desert like an Arab man       I don't care how you get here, just get here if you can....
While the current unsubstantiated impasse or "stalemate" between our two countries remains, no one can move across the board."Checkmate Boris" is the only way Portugal can start to piece itself together again.
For those who are unable to visit Portugal in person this year there have been a number of initiatives launched across the country to bring Portugal into the homes of potential tourists from across the globe.
Turismo do Algarve have organised a virtual tour of the Algarve region (5 day trip) simulating a five-day stay with participants having access to a programme of activities that will guide them through a set of diverse experiences on offer, from Aljezur to Alcoutim.
 This new tool presents visitors with an intense programme of activities that will allow them, each day, to  choose and discover a specific area of the Algarve.
 In the real world,not the virtual one,here at Casa rosada we have several tried and tested day trips in the region as suggestions for our guests and when we are receiving guests once again this programme will be firmly in place.We can even plan for you a fully interchangeable 3,4 or 5 day programme in advance of your arrival.These day trips are based on our own favourite excursions,and provide contact with nature in the magnificent scenery of Baixo Guadiana and at the same time encompassing authentic experiences with opportunities to meet and interact with local life, culture and sustainable gastronomy.


"SOTAVENTO" - (The leeward side)
Experience the side sheltered or away from the wind,for a change
From the Foz de rio Guadiana (mouth of the Guadiana), the river that forms the border between the Algarve and Spain, a wide sandy beach stretches for many kilometers, up to the edge of the Ria Formosa Natural Park east of Tavira. Sand dunes separate the beach from areas of pine forest.Hence, the unique landscape of the Ria Formosa with its lagoons extends to the west. Like pearls on a string, small islands and peninsulas are lined up that protect the lagoon from the Atlantic Sea's seasonal turmoil and constitute a favourable environment for a natural habitat of flora and fauna with a wide variety of wildlife species.Start your day with a choice of walks in the environs of Castro
Marim.You can choose a route running between the flood plain of the river and tree covered slopes.You will find working salt pans on one side with agricultural land on the other.Birds surround you. Flamingoes coots,waders and storks are found in these wetland areas as is my favourite bird that I have now nicknamed the Beyoncé of the bird world,( it makes you want "to put a ring on it" ) the Black-winged Stilt with its tell tale red legs.
 
original painting by Sandra Madeira
Black-winged Stilt
DAY 1- Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo Antonio
A visit to Castro Marim castle. A strategic landmark which can be seen from afar recalling centuries of warfare with Spanish neighbours.From the battlements you can enjoy a 360ºpanorama of the surrounding area and bordering Spain.
At the mouth of the Guadiana, you can visit Vila Real de Santo António.The town was destroyed by a tsunami following the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and was reconstructed on the same model of a grid structure as Lisbon by the Marquis de Pombal.
 To appreciate the shining example of town planning that was followed, you have to walk around the city's streets, beginnning in Praça Marquês de Pombal,the heart of the town, with its traditional black and white calçadas (cobblestones) radiating from the central obelisk built in 1776.The town is renowned for its historic affiliation with the tuna industry which is encapsulated in a museum dedicated to all aspects of the subject.The gastronomy of Vila real de Santo António is rich and varied, with many dishes made from fish and shellfish caught in the sea,on the sandy beaches and in the Guadiana river.Today fishing for tuna has virtually disappeared from Algarve shores.Portugal´s tuna supplies now come from the Azores.Tuna fishing in the region goes back to the time of occupation by the Phoenicians or Carthaginians.
Estupeta
Among the various dishes that have survived is one of my local favourites. Estupeta is prepared with meat from the belly of the tuna.This is Vila Real´s very own version of salade Nicoise and very refreshing it is too.

 Linen and cotton shops in which to browse abound, and a leisurely walk through some of backstreets reveals privately commissioned buildings,which  continue to adhere to an obvious architectural formula. On the opposite bank is the Spanish town of Ayamonte which is connected by a ferry link. Our ideal location near the Spanish border facilitates excursions to the neighbouring country. By car you cross the Guadiana International Bridge to reach Huelva in less than an hour. The distance to Seville with its grandiose monuments is 150km.

DAY 2 A road trip Alcoutim, Mertola
From Castro Marim a relaxing river drive takes you along the banks of the river to Alcoutim.(On the way you can take a coffee break at the historic trading post of Casa de odeleite).There is the feeling that little has changed in Alcoutim for hundreds of years. The steep cobbled streets  lead to the riverside through a jumble of low, whitewashed houses and little squares. The esplanade is a great spot to relax in one of several cafes whilst watching the fishing boats and yachts moored at the quayside.Continuing the drive onwards from Alcoutim, after 37km the awe-inspiring ancient town of Mertola emerges,where cultures meet and two rivers converge.A few kilometres further on you can find the ruins of Mina de São Domingos (Sao Domingos Mines) and a  reservoir beach.  

DAY 3- Local gastronomy "the story behind the food"
It’s so rare we get to connect with exactly where our food comes from.This excursion allows a chance to come close to sustainable food production and meet farmers and growers and understand their ethics.This is the perfect chance to source local produce.We can help you  get to know local,buy local,and take local home.In the evening we can put together a tasting evening of what has been sourced in the day.

Visits include seeing artesan goats cheese being produced.A chance to meet a shepherd who graduated in engineering and now having left the rat race of Lisbon dedicates the days of his life to shepherding the goats through the lands of Corte de Seda, in the municipality of Alcoutim.
 A chance to meet another man who exchanged the world of finances to raise free range Iberian pigs with his brother Manuel and to make extraordinary in roads into promoting a business trademarked Feito no Zambujal. A limited production that has a fast turnover and includes tasty hams cured with the salt of Castro Marim and delicious smoked sausages,locally reared pork products and other charcuterie.In the late afternoon we accompany you to the salt pans of Castro Marim,to gather salt, meet Portugals number one artesan producer and learn about the history of salt production since Roman times.while in the sapal we will forage natural herbs and plants such as salicornia (samphire grass)and wild thyme.




DAY 4 Tavira and its environs
A day out in Tavira, one of the most charming and picturesque towns in the Algarve combines breathtaking beaches with Portuguese culture.This historic town with picturesque plazas and winding cobbled narrow back streets has everything you need including killer shopping and dining out in the evening. The long spectacular sandy  beach of Ilha Tavira,accessed by boat is great for sunbathing in summer but also great for long beach walks in the cooler seasons. 

DAY 5 Across the river.....Spain 
Here in Castro Marim we are Andalucia´s close neighbours.All it takes is a short boat ride across the Guadiana river from Vila Real de Santo Antonio and there we are, En Espanha.Park your car,board the boat and alongside passengers of various nationalities experience a ferry boat journey that gives one a real feeling of travelling to another country.It cant be compared to a real cruise but the twenty minute crossing to the other bank of the river is equally relaxing.As one gazes back to the castle of Castro Marim and its fortress we are reminded of other times when the two countries were not so united as they are today.
There's not much in the way of sightseeing in Ayamonte. In an hour or so, you can see the Old Town with its warren of narrow streets centered around Paseo de la Ribera, the principal square. Just breathing the air of Spain and soaking up a totally different architectural style is a novelty in itself and the attraction of tapas beckoning from every calle you walk along is irresistible.Ayamonte is a food lovers dream.The star of the show being LPA .Here you can enjoy intelligent takes on tapas or if you prefer something a little more traditional try award-winning Casa Barberi overlooking the marina.

In this list, which could be much longer, we present unmissable places to visit, in a region so small but with so much to explore.Casa Rosada is in the middle of everywhere.... Castles, monuments, natural phenomena, beaches, rivers ... They are all landscapes that are not forgotten. Our invitation stands: come and meet us in Portugal.

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