It seems as if spring came to Germany overnight. Sunday was by far the warmest day of the year. It felt so good to picnic outside in the sun and soak up all of that Vitamin D.
Speaking of sun though- I had the loveliest of spring breaks with my boyfriend in Portugal. I returned a trifle tanner and with a much sunnier disposition.
We flew into Faro on the southern tip of Portugal. Nestled in the region known as the Algarve, people from all over Europe are drawn to its sunny climate, beautiful nature reserves and wide open beaches. And the Portuguese people are so friendly. Everywhere we went we felt welcome and people wished us a good morning, good afternoon and good evening. Sometimes it's really all about the little things.
What I would give to walk these halls every morning on my way to breakfast...
We stayed at a lovely guesthouse in the old fishing village of Olhao. Run by an Australian couple I would highly recommend staying there to everyone. You can learn more about our guesthouse at their website here : http://www.pensionbicuar.com
A Moorish city, the whitewashed buildings and mosaic detailing are unique to Olhao.
Though the city is largely Catholic now the old Islamic vestiges still remain. They are subtle reminders of the tremendous fusion of cultures that dramatically influenced Olhao.
One of the very best parts of our trip was sitting outside (!) and enjoying some of Portugal's finest wines.
Somehow I we didn't feel like we were in Europe anymore.
We wanted to see as much of Portugal as we could during our week in the Algarve so we rented a car and did a bit of road-tripping. One destination was Sagres-a fortress on the southwestern tip of Europe. The day turned out to be dark and stormy but to me that just added to the magnificence of the scenery.
The end of the world!
We also drove east to the Spanish border, the city of Villa Real.
I was never so happy to see a palm tree!
We also had the very great pleasure of meeting a new friend.
He found us on the island of Culatra, about a 30 minute ferry ride off the coast of Olhao. He met us on the beach and ended up spending the day with us. I've been missing my dogs back home so this was so nice! We named him Joao (the only Portuguese name we know) and though I was dreadfully sad to say goodbye to him, he is a true dog of the island. And that's where he belongs.
Everywhere we went in Portugal dogs run freely. No leashes and very few of them wear collars. This is something that would be absolutely verboten (or forbidden) here in Germany. But I loved seeing them run free. Happy and jolly in the sun.
After laying on the beach we tucked in to some true Portuguese fare. But actually we ate like this every day. I've never eaten such amazingly fresh, beautiful fish. We ate sun fish, sea bream, langoustines, crab, razor clams, tuna, salmon, giant anchovy (seen above) and more. Everything was cooked so simply. The fish is certainly the star in Portugal. Throw it on the grill, serve it with lemon, boiled potatoes and a simple tomato and fennel salad. There really is nothing better. Except perhaps a bottle of vino verde and a view of the ocean... :)
Vino Verde on ice.
Our private beach.
Take me back!