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davidx Tavira - A travel report by David
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Tavira,  Portugal - flag Portugal -  Faro
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davidx's travel reports

Tavira - Pink icing on the cake.

  13 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
I don’t mean that the icing was the best part of the cake, the cake being my recent short trip to Portugal. It’s a poor cake that has to depend on the icing – but it does just top it up very nicely.

Old bridge on the way from the bus
Old bridge on the way from the bus
One thing that was against going to Portugal for a winter break, in my view, was having to fly to Faro. Since I have spent the minimum possible time there, this may be sheer prejudice – but I’ve never heard anything which would lead me to want to stay longer. I’m not over the moon with what I’ve heard about the Algarve coast as a whole, where it sounds as if a natural delight has been turned into a tourist horror. However a friend who shares these general views and who has stayed once in the Algarve suggested that Tavira was a cut or four above most of it. I cured my abysmal lack of geographical knowledge with a look at a map and, having discovered its proximity to Faro, consulted a bus web site to discover a frequent service taking an hour. So I booked a room. I made it quite clear that I should be travelling by bus and I think that means they should have warned me they were well out from the bus station. Hence I had no moral qualms about staying somewhere else! It’s a very short walk from the bus station to the Praça de la República, the centre. It involves walking beside the river towards the old bridge and I immediately felt drawn to the town. The appeal increased at finding there was a castle up a hill just near where I was and again as I dropped off my things at a cheap pension with en-suite rooms. [See accommodation]

Favourite spots:
Castle Garden 1
Castle Garden 1
For once I’m treating a heading absolutely literally and delaying a description of my favourite moment – you can’t find the icing just yet! My favourite spot was unquestionably the castle’s walled garden. Whereas the actual remains of the castle were primitive in comparison with what I’d been seeing in Alentejo, this garden was startlingly good. It has some fine trees from the Americas including one we had seen growing in the garden of our hostal at Ollentaytambo in Peru. Over the wall you could see the tower of the castle and the attractive clock-tower of the Santa Maria church, dazzling white. I was lucky enough to catch the tourist ‘train’ about to move to its position for the next trip and to get a brief ride free.

What's really great:
Lights from the setting sun
Lights from the setting sun
I wasn’t in Tavira long enough to get to the lagoon and the ferry to what is supposed to be the wonderful Island de Tavira doesn’t run in winter anyway. Whether I could have caught a bus to the beach of Quatro Aguas, where I could at least have seen this across the lagoon I don’t know. As it was I meant to walk and went through the market area , dead for the afternoon, and along the river towards the coast. However the light, which had not been good since the early morning, seemed about to give out early and I turned round after - - but you’ll have to go on a bit yet for the icing. Ten minutes later the sun shone but only for about twenty minutes – when it set properly, creating great patterns on the river in the process.

Castle garden 2
Castle garden 2
I stayed at the Pensão Castelo. It may be worth noting that its postal address is Rua de Liberdade 4, but that the entrance is at number 22. I left too early for breakfast. In all other respects it was good and it was cheap. There is central heating but it was necessary at sea level at this time.

Christmas lights
Christmas lights
There were a considerable number of restaurants beside the river and near the centre, many shut for the winter. The Pensão was not prepared to select any one as particularly worthy above the others.

Other recommendations:
Castle garden 3
Castle garden 3
I hope you haven’t skipped to here but you’re now getting the pink icing. It was as I was walking towards the Quatro Aguas and it was probably the time that I spent on this that stopped me getting there. There are fairly extensive salt pans on the way with stretches of water separated by easily walkable banks of earth. In the second one there was a flock of small and pretty plovers. Behind them were some black-backed gulls. Yet further away there was a mass of big pink. There could be no doubt, even in this dim light, about what I was seeing. I expect some of you see flamingos often but I’d never seen them in the wild before and this was assuredly icing on the cake and they were certainly pink!
Where are the photos? I had to get closer. I was afraid the gulls would take off and scare the flamingos. I had just got to where I thought I might get something but one gull that I’d not spotted was nearer. So no photos but what a sight as they left!

Published on Sunday January 1th, 2006

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Fri, Mar 03 2006 - 02:17 PM rating by pattypie

Hello again, We had a flat for some years in Tavira & we loved it there not too touristy at that time. We often drove out on the salt flats in the evening it was wonderful & we were usually on our own. The storks congregated in the evening just before the light went. By there are flamingos on the delta ! we sa them in January this year.

Sat, Jan 07 2006 - 08:31 AM rating by magsalex

Great report. Lots of info!

Mon, Jan 02 2006 - 06:29 PM rating by eirekay

Okay, now I have to include Portugal in my future plans! You make it sound too charming!

Mon, Jan 02 2006 - 12:14 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

excellent report,nice to read this report on very first day of 2006

Sun, Jan 01 2006 - 12:52 PM rating by rangutan

Another great report, I like the flamingo experience.

Sun, Jan 01 2006 - 10:10 AM rating by marianne

Delightful to read and see the photos. I share your dislike for the Algarve.

Sun, Jan 01 2006 - 08:35 AM rating by jorgesanchez

I did not know that I have so many wonders just next door where I live! After reading your reports I feel that I missed a lot and have to travel again to Portugal.

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