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P is for Praia da Rocha
P just had to be for praia (beach). I’ve chosen Praia da Rocha, as it was the first place we ever visited in Portugal and remains close to our hearts.
Praia da Rocha was one of the first tourist resorts in the Algarve. It is suitably high-rise and tacky in places and to some I’m sure it is the very opposite of what they look for in a holiday.
To see it in just those terms, however, is to do the place a disservice. It is an unpretentious resort that doesn’t claim to be anything other than a destination for sun, sea and cocktails. Most importantly, the beach itself is absolutely stunning, with a gigantic manmade beach at one end and a more natural series of rocks and coves to the west (the western end is in fact correctly known as Praia de Tres Castelos).
A visit to Praia da Rocha is a frequent day out for us, especially when we have guests and want to show them the contrasting scenery at the other end of the Algarve. A typical day starts at the modern marina, facing Ferragudo to the east. This complex includes lots of restaurants and upscale beach bars. A long walk can then take us either along the new boardwalk at sea level or through the fort at the top.
There are numerous places to stop to take in the views and although we tend to accelerate a little through the touristy strip in the middle with its sports bars and “lookie-lookie” men, we have been there long enough to know a few restaurants that are worth a stop for lunch.
I make no apology for loving this brash resort and the healthy mix of tourists and locals seems to suggest it is popular with plenty of others too.
When we lived in London, we used to make the occasional trip to Brighton. Now we go to Praia da Rocha instead.
Q is for Quinta do Lago
Having discussed a popular Algarve tourist resort that I like, let’s move onto one I don’t – Quinta do Lago.
The official website says “synonymous with elegance and privacy.” I say “more synonymous with Kensington and Chelsea than with anything REMOTELY Portuguese.”
Sanitised to within an inch of its life and designed in such a way that the wealthy can move from golf course to BMW to restaurant without even having to think about being abroad, Quinta do Lago just……bugs me.
Menus in English, poorly-behaved Lacoste-clad little darlings and an abundance of Surrey-yummy-mummies who look just as annoyed and stressed in Apolonia as they do in Waitrose back home, Quinta do Lago makes me cross and (perhaps related) makes me feel like I’m back in London.
When I DID live in London I lived quite near to Richmond and I didn’t go there very often. The same applies.
R is for Rosé Wine
Let’s get one thing clear – I DON’T mean the nasty yet famous concoction that is Mateus Rosé – I am really not a fan.
With that out the way though, Portugal boasts some fabulous rosé and although we largely forget it during the winter, as soon as the sun comes out we drink it like water.
Two favourites are Mosaraz Rosé and Porta de Ravessa Rosé – both pink variants of workaday Portuguese wines that are also available in white and red. Both of these seem to have a distinct season, disappearing from the shelves and appearing again, usefully, at just the point we decide we want to drink them.