Holiday Weekend in Portugal

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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.

Alcoutim River Beach
Alcoutim River Beach

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 Shitolith
The Shitolith

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.

Praia Fluvial Alcoutim
Praia Fluvial Alcoutim

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.

Castro Marim Medieval Fair
Castro Marim Medieval Fair

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.

Unfortunate flat tire
Unfortunate flat tire

The weekend was rounded off nicely by an impromptu Monday trip to Praia da Rocha, one of our favourite beaches, and an enjoyable meal at Casa Algarvia in Cabanas.

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!

Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same

Until next week ☺

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4 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Consider yourselves slightly cheered up – I have just placed my order on Amazon. Very much looking forward to reading it and will then take it over to our Taviran home for guests to read.

    Your bank holiday weekend sounds a lot more fun than the UK one. London (and the most of the UK) had rain more typically found in the Indian monsoon season. Southampton lost 2:0 and to make matters even worse all the spiders in the garden decided to come into the house to get out of the rain. Gaarrgghh. Coming out for two weeks in september so am counting the days (and hours!).

    Will have to try and find that river beach at some stage – it sounds lovely. Saz

  2. Hi, if you like discover diferent places in Portugal there’s a book called “Slow Roads-Beautiful Drives Through Portugal for Cars & Motocycles”, Jorge Serpa, Adamastor Travel, it’s in english. I’ve bought it at a bookstore, “Palavra de Viajante”, in Lisboa.

  3. We went to Alcoutim a couple of years back (didn’t go to the river beach), decided to have coffee and pasteis de nata in the fishermen’s café, and a delightful old Portuguese fellow insisted on paying for them and wouldn’t let us buy him a drink in return! Maybe because I spoke a bit of Portuguese, but what a lovely gesture.
    Expected to be moving out to Ferreiras in October, but looks unlikely as the vendor has defaulted on his mortgage, and despite the bank saying in July they would negotiate with us, they’ve now decided they won’t. We’ll get there eventually – meanwhile I’ll continue to enjoy your blog. Sue

  4. Hi Saz – thank you so much for buying the book – I trust, by now, that you have read and (hopefully) enjoyed it.

    Hi Fernanda – thank you for that recommendation, I will hunt for it!

    Hi Sue – Sorry to hear things haven’t gone quite to plan, as is the way with many things in the current economic climate. Good luck!

    Best wishes,


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