Those outside the UK may not be aware that this past weekend was a bank holiday. As my wife works for an English company, we observe UK bank holidays and not Portuguese ones. While this is a shame in that Portugal has far more than the UK, it meant we just got to enjoy a three-day weekend.
Our only objective was to have the kind of weekend that makes you feel sad when it’s over. We succeeded, and managed to fit plenty in, including the exploration of a couple of places we hadn’t been before.
After getting ahead and doing our grocery shopping in Spain on Friday night, we were ready for a day of exploration on Saturday. We set off in the car in the direction of Alcoutim, a small riverside town facing Spain over the border.
Our intended destination was the Praia Fluvial, a picturesque river beach we had seen in a tourist guide.
The drive itself was a great surprise, being on a modern road cut into the mountains and featuring some stunning views. Upon arrival at Alcoutim, we spotted some signs to an archeological site, so decided to go and find the monolith in question before heading for the river beach.
The signs led us up a treacherous mountain road and then onto a gravel path that got narrower and bumpier as we progressed. We eventually found the monolith.
Now, perhaps there’s just no historical romance in my soul, but I must confess to being….underwhelmed by the fenced off bits of rock we drove all that way to. Perhaps my naming it the “shitolith” was a tad harsh, but it wasn’t exactly the highlight of my weekend.
The river beach, however, met all of our expectations. Small but relatively undiscovered, it was peaceful even on an August Saturday. We were surprised to see that it had been awarded a blue flag for clean water as we didn’t realise they applied to river beaches. The flag gave us extra reassurance when we took to the water, which was clear and surprisingly warm.
Saturday evening was spent at the medieval fair in Castro Marim. Having already visited the fair in Silves, we were interested to compare the two and surprised that all present agreed that the Castro Marim fair was far superior to the more well known event in Silves. The stalls seemed to offer far more authentic and unique items and the place just felt “more medieval,” however subjective that may sound! On the down side, if was frantically busy, so not the place for those who dislike crowds and/or waiting for food and drink.
Plans for a swim and a barbecue with relatives on Sunday were scuppered early in the morning by the discovery of a flat tire, probably picked up during our dirt-track journey to the shitolith. As it turned out, we had an unexpectedly enjoyable day, ending up with friends having a fish feast at a beachfront restaurant, followed by some time paddling on the beach and (unsuccessfully) flying a kite.
We certainly made the best of our weekend and felt suitably melancholy about returning to work today. We could do with cheering up, so, if you’d like to help, please take a look at our new Moving to Portugal book on Amazon and consider buying a copy!
Until next week ☺