9th Feb to 21st Feb 2019
Ask any Portuguese person young or old about the three Fs and they will answer you immediately with Football, Fatima and Fado. Some even might add some context to this phrase and link it back to the period of almost half a century when Portugal was ruled by a fascist catholic dictatorship which lasted until 1974 who used the three Fs to bolster it’s power and control of the Portuguese people.
During Salazar’s Portugal the miracle at Fatima aided the country’s sanctity, Benfica football team reigned Europe and Fado music was censored to shift it from it’s original socialist roots.
Leaving the country’s recent history aside, we have coined our own set of three Fs, Friends and Family in Faro as it seems whenever we meet up with people Faro is involved! Last year we met my parents in the Algarve capital and on this trip, back in December, we arranged to meet Jacqui and Richard there and much more recently we have met up with motorhoming friends Rick and Mary and all of my family again.
Faro has become an ideal meeting place for visitors who fly in as the airport is really close to the old town and more importantly for us the town is motorhome friendly and offers a section of one of the principle town centre car parks for overnighting motorhomes. Another string to the town’s bow, is that you can also park campers at nearby Praia de Faro, which despite the airport side location offers a surprisingly peaceful and relaxed stay.
The motorhome parking is literally alongside Faro airport
Praia de Faro was to be the location of our meet up with Rick and Mary and during our couple of days there we discovered some new places. First of all we walked across the boardwalks through the nature reserve Quinta do Lobo where we spotted all sorts of wet land birds, the pinnacle being the very elegant flamingos. We also discovered the east side of the beach which is home to many little simple wooden houses, an area which which seems to have attracted a young ‘surfey’ crowd from central Europe as it’s winter residents.
The east side of Praia de Faro is very similar to Ilha Culatra which also lies in the Ria Formosa national reserve. I love sand roads.
Continuing the friends theme, we had a second motorhoming meet up organised with Mike and Mandy, this time in nearby Quarteira. In contrast to our last visit to here we dined out on the main beach promenade at a Portuguese restaurant and not one of the English owned venues that seem popular in this seaside town. Luckily for me the daily special was Feijoada, and this was to be my first butter bean and pork stew of the trip so far. This traditional Portuguese fare, combined with the blazing sun and the cheap red wine made for an very enjoyable afternoon which continued into the evening……..
We had to nurse a hang over on Saturday morning so for lunch we had take away chicken from restaurant ‘Marufo 1’. This place is so popular that the queue goes out the door and you have to get a number similar to the post office and wait to be served. This waiting time/people watching is made even more enjoyable with a large Super Bock from the bar.
Returning back to Faro, we met up with my family: Mum, Dad and my sister. Last year when my parents came the sun shone all the time keeping the temperatures in the high teens. This year it could not have been more different as it rained and was cloudy for there first few days. We could not believe it as the weather this winter in Portugal has been amazing with only a handful of showery days since the start of November. Not letting the weather deter us we enjoyed ambling around Faro’s cobbled streets and even managed a quick trip over to Praia de Faro, visiting again the simple back in time east side.
A rare family photograph. It is so great that my family make the effort to visit us and we all enjoy our time in Faro. Restaurante ‘Dois Irmaos’.
Sally and I walking on Faro beach. Quarteira town is in the distance at the end of the bay.
We could add a 4th F to Family and Friends in Faro, and that would be Frango. ‘Crazy Chicken’ at Largo da Praca Nova is our favourite in Faro.
Things repeating themselves continued even when we had left Faro. Last year, coincidentally whilst my parents were visiting, we were impacted by the Volta de Algarve, Portugal’s largest cycle race, meaning we had to leave Faro and decamp to the airport for few days to allow for the race’s entourage to take over the municipal car park. This year, as we headed north from Faro on the N2, having planned to be out of the way before the Volta turned up on Sunday, we were met by a parade of police motor bikes who made us pull off the road into a near by lay-by. By complete chance we had managed to drive head first into the cycle race and whilst we were waiting we were treated to a ring side view of the racers speeding past. Maybe next year we will actually plan to see the race for real as it seems like something we can’t avoid!
In Feb 2018 we woke up to find ourselves cordoned in to the space reserved for the Volta.
In Feb 2019 we got really close to the Volta action on the N2. What can we expect next year?