Once upon a time, not so long ago, my favorite and the only one suddenly suggested: "Let's fly to Faro - where the land ends and the ocean begins!". At that time I did not really represented where, in fact, is the lighthouse and why, and most importantly how to get there worth. But it was so born frenzy leading to the happiest days of our lives.
And at some point in this short life we have already looked through the window of the aircraft down, where the wings tattered shreds of clouds seemed the very edge of the ocean, which stretches along the banks of the amazing Algarve - resort province in the south of Portugal. My first impression of the country due to the memorable landing. We flew gradually decreasing along the coast from the mouth of the Guadiana River, which serves as a natural border between Spain and Portugal. I think it was during takeoff and landing aircraft, weather permitting, you can experience the fullness of the beauty of the country, which had a chance to visit. There before my eyes, as if in slow motion, floated towns, villages, rivers, canals and the most shit - the same border land and ocean of eternity and civilization, and the vastness of permanence.
When you exit the plane us vyrvanyh of Latin harsh northern spring, stunned unusual smell, which mixed the freshness of the ocean, the scent of oranges, the fragrance of flowers and unknown thousands more shades of something new and unusual.
Something which, as of this unusual in Portugal more than enough! For example, we hire Renault Clio cost the record in the 16 Euro per night, well, 3-star hotel, located just 300 meters from the amazing beauty of the beach, cost only 19 euros per night. We waited for the trick, because in Western Europe just such prices do not exist. But for some reason nothing happened. For anything further, we have not had to pay. Of course, we should not forget that our trip was at the very beginning of the season - the first week of April. Usually by August mectnye prices grow threefold.
Most tourists travel to the Algarve because of the unusual coast. Really - sandy beaches here are excellent. But the main force of attraction - numerous rocks of yellow and white sandstone. Ocean waves turned them into amazing works of art. Whimsical shapes and sizes, with many secluded caves, walls and cliffs otvestnyh these unique creatures scattered throughout the southern coast of the Algarve. They attract like a magnet, the crowds of tourists who come here mainly from England and Germany. But here, we were lucky. Although we lived just a few kilometers from Albufeira, one of the busiest resorts in Portugal, on the local beaches were deserted unsuitable. Every evening, making his way along the coastal boulders and rocks, we found every time a new, but at the same time is always the most unique place in a cove, grotto or a small beach, as if specially created just for the two of us.
With every passing day, we embarked on a path in search of new adventures and experiences. These short-day routes gradually wove strange mosaic of Portugal, consisting of a sunlit towns, brightly whitewashed churches, still formidable Moorish castles, green hills, cliffs and otvestnyh surging waves of the Atlantic.
The first morning we visited the southern-most tip of Portugal and the Algarve - Cape St. Vincent. Due to natural circumstances ocean here as it is cut with the edge of the cape into two dissimilar parts. To the north and eternally restless stormy Atlantic using huge waves and strong winds creates quite inhospitable coast from going deep under water otvestnymi cliffs and long sandy beaches. This part - a paradise for surfers around the world. But the southern half of the coast much quieter and privetlevey for vacationers and travelers. Due to this contrast, the Algarve has become a world resort with all the consequences are not always pleasant. Overpopulation, chaotic movement, mashtabnykh building with appallingly tasteless architecture - this is only part of the charm of the dominance of the tourist industry. But here on the Cape yet hosted only ocean wind, so lonely fishermen and their attendant desolation with the universal peace.
The main host for this harsh piece of land feels great lighthouse, one of the most powerful in Europe. A little further, on yet another Cape Sagres is an unusual open-air museum, securely fenced off from the rest of the world by sheer cliffs and a high stone wall of the former fort. All its exhibits scattered from each other around the headland in the distance and hidden under a thick, sealed a sealed, glass. They are devoted to a single topic - navigation, science, which in its time has turned into one of Portugal's greatest naval powers. It was here that in ancient times a harbinger of great geographical discoveries, the Portuguese Prince Henry the Navigator founded a school of learning navigation. And though the man himself personally did not commit any discoveries, he laid the foundation for all future achievements in this area.
Our next goal was Foy Mountain - the highest point in the Algarve. We have to admit its ascent to the top was the most short in my life. Infinitely winding serpentine roads brought our car to a large area, where the weather station near we saw a small mound of disproportionately composed of boulders. A sort of amusement for the lazy tourists - jumped a couple of minutes from rock to rock and you're at the highest point of the Algarve. Perhaps convenient, but somehow shameful for experienced travelers. It is worth noting that this kind of impromptu summit offers magnificent. Under our feet in a light haze stretched almost the entire Algarve. At a glance you can cover the area from merging with the ocean Cape St. Vincent in the tens of kilometers of rolling up to Albufeira, where our temporary home.
At the foot of Foia we visited the town of Monchique, famous since Roman times for its healing springs. To get there now can only having tolty purse for the soul, but to walk on the built chaotic streets follow the contours of the spurs Foia, can afford to each visitor. Wander here things fun. Monchique - city undersized, nalazyaschih each other houses and churches. This amazing disproportionate and wrong is very attractive to the eye, accustomed to the symmetry of modern cities. From the observation deck on the main city square Monchique does not seem small. Nevertheless, it is not difficult to get around for a few hours. Somewhere on top of residential buildings are replaced by stone terraces, fancy stairs leaving everything up to the mountain.
Somewhere in there we immediately zaprimeteli silhouette abandoned monastery, surrounded by groves of cork oak. This place is a romantic distance, near turned ordinary truschёbami not very helpful tenants. Such curious foreigners like us here welcomed inscriptions "Privat", "Dog", "Family". But this misery could easily destroy a small tavern or shop, which would certainly thrived on such a conspicuous place.
In general, about the cities of the Algarve, you can write a lot and for a long time. They all deserve attention and their mandatory locks with a minimum mandatory Cathedral, narrow streets and crooked, and some special atmosphere of southern leisure and carefree. The former Moorish capital Silvish remember us more castle built of red sandstone. This well-preserved fortress in its walls hid the remains of the palace of the last Moorish governor-Emir, and the cool cellars, which served as a water tank, and now adapted for the exhibition hall. Walk through the walls of the castle accompanied by a pleasant guitar music coming from the speakers, and the general mood would raise fresh morning air filled with aromas broken here a small garden.
It's hard to resist and do not affect in general the sore subject for Portugal - the invasion of the Moors. After more advanced Arab civilization had a tremendous impact on the land, which, after Roman rule and Pozdov conquest of the West Goths were in full decline. It was the Moors resulted in the order of local agriculture, building advanced at the time the irrigation system, which allows you to keep soil fertility. They are for more than 500 years, built bridges, roads and locks, largely preserved to this day. Christian Liberation Movement Reconquista drove the Moors, but retained their achievement. Only if the maps of Europe appear first small county, with its capital in Porto, which gradually priobritala land and power. Since then, the worst enemy of the new country was the closest neighbor - the mighty Spain. Here's the handy Moorish fortifications, many of which have become reliable protection of the sovereignty of Portugal. In our time in the history of colonization Portugal Moors hushed, and there is hardly remember the names of kings and heroes of those times. Yet it was overthrown conquerors.
Very clearly this confrontation we have experienced in the small border town of Alcoutim, postoennym the Guadiana River. The road to it lies among the picturesque hills of the desert at a distance of 50 kilometers from the coast. Strategichekoe location of the town noticed by the Romans, which persisted since the dam. The Portuguese used by the ancient foundations, erected a small fort. Spaniards on the other side of the river is not otstovat and built a fortress town with bigger and taller directly opposite Alcoutim. So a lot of investment has been associated with features on sudohodsva Guadiana. In those days, the AkzoNobel ships en route to the sea storunu, stayed here in anticipation of the end of the long tides. Time passed quite a few, and these formidable structures and are facing each other, creating an unforgettable flavor of these places. The town is very Miniatures - quay, wharf area immediately, modest church, several dozen prilepivshihsa each other white houses and the castle. Nevertheless, after a 15-minute walk for a long time is a pleasant feeling of well-groomed appearance and comfort.
A completely different story is connected with another small border town of Castro Marim. Due to modern shoaling Guadiana this town completely lost its former influence. But once there stood an island, enclosed with a stone wall impregnable. Above the town was dominated by the top two fortresses, obedennёnnye city wall in one powerful reinforcement. Castro Marim then is the key, without which it was impossible to enter the mouth of the Guadiana to any ship. Castro Marim on the trade route went straight to Lisbon. These will appreciate the Templars who had organized here one of his last refuges after they began the persecution in Europe. Castro Marim is now surrounded by fields and saline marshes. Above the town still rise two fortresses, very different in appearance and spirit. One of them kept more Moors built walls and towers. Inside its earthquake destroyed all the buildings of yesteryear.
On a nearby hill stands as the absolute opposite of the Moorish style stoitelstva. Just a few centuries ago, this part of the fortifications was completely rebuilt on a more modern twist. Portuguese to the old Moorish walls built a powerful brusvera and support walls, built a lot of sites for artillery, thickened ceilings and openings. The fortress was completely transformed, almost merging with the surrounding landscape. At the moment, completed the full reconstruction of this part of the fortifications, grozdno sparkling fresh lined in bright sunlight. In the town we already established tradition for a few days, we went to a local diner for a cup of coffee. Surprisingly, no matter where we were in the Algarve, in any, even the most impoverished coffee shops, this energy drink is always amazingly refined. Castro Marim was no exception. Sitting next to the local oldies-zavsegdataemi, we felt the taste and aroma of eternity, which is never in a hurry.
Describing such a wonderful place, which is now largely retained its medieval charm, you can not forget about Aljezur. This is another quiet porugalsky town is about ten kilometers from the rocky west coast and keeps amazing stories. At the entrance to it immediately struck by its non-standard layout. Aljezur consists ka of two parts, and strictly separated with each other. One of them is visible from afar. This is a great hill crowned another Moorish fortress, and the edges disorderly rows of houses built up the old town. The other part is much more proportional, lies in a valley, like, completely alone. In this river lay blame, but rather malarial mosquitoes, once the clouds circling over its direction. Save the city from this infection, the local bishop ordered to rebuild the city in the near. However, not all decided to move. Malaria eventually disappeared, and Aljezur remained razedlёnny for two. During the reign of the Moors the town was an important river port. Then there seething life, fertile soil of the valley yielded rich harvests, and in the port of brisk trade. But over time, the river became shallow and turned into a faint stream, town withered and fell into silence provincialism. About bygone heyday resemble a tower and fortress walls. Aljezur was the last stronghold of the Moors defense Reconquista. After the siege, capture and destruction of this stronghold of the Algarve has completely passed under the control of Christ's warriors, the Moors were driven out of here forever.
It is necessary to evaluate the plan of the Moors, innate warriors and builders, and climb to the top of the hill. The surrounding views of the valley, stretching into the distance range of hills, winding roads and laying tape, at a glance, white town with a bright red roof tiles are breathtaking. But even more amazing views are near the ocean. Formidable cliffs here are fighting the huge waves of the Atlantic. This war is thousands of years and it is difficult to guess who wins here. Do not lose out on her only dozens of fishermen who enthusiastically thrust his rod to the brim with breaks. Ocean retreats to time in estuaries, where the power in your hands take hundreds of tons of white sand, forming a huge magnificent beaches. Everything seen here forever eats into his head, promising not just to brighten up the dank gray days raznotsvetnyhmi wonderful memories and dreams.
So quietly ran the days of our short vacation. In the never-ending string of impressions should not be forgotten Lagos - ancient city of stone walls with a large marina for yachts; Portimao - a metropolis, fully built-up boxes, hotels and residential buildings; Albufeira - where past and present merged into one in which something is not clear stringy, but very bright cocktail; Tavira - a city of marvelous churches with unforgettable streets and bridges.
Well, at the very last day of the trip we stopped at Faro - the capital of the Algarve. It was in the south is very colorful and lively. In the maze of one-way streets we were lucky even to get lost a few times and draw in round and round, all Returning to the same central square. Thank God, the city was not so great and we managed to escape in the end from the grip of its cobbled streets.
Concluding the story of this journey, I want to remember the little adventure in which we got involved early one morning portugalkim. At that time, we were crazy about the Algarve, but we still wanted more. After all, our cozy hotel was on the doorstep to Spain. Vainglorious desire to add to the list of countries visited the State overcame even fear the lack of Spanish insurance on the car. An hour later we arrived at a small to a large suspension bridge over the Guadiana. On the other side we have been waiting for Spain. But suddenly the traffic on the bridge zamerlo.Vperedi we saw with horror police Cardon, as we then thought, stopping everything and everyone moving across the border. Tyagotimye lack of required insurance documents, we immediately began to prepare incredible stories about how we did not notice warning signs or even deciding to pretend nothing nesoobrazhayuschimi tourists. But, as it turned out, they were not traffic police. A dozen terrible maypole in the form, put a hood two cars with French numbers neskolkolko young guys. At the same time pulling out of the cars were not only all things rakidannye immediately on the grass, but even the seat. "Well at least not our compatriots here nabedakurili!" - With obvious relief we saw each other. But the overall mood was spoiled. In Spain we all categorically did not like - and obviously a lot of excitement in the streets, and paid parking, and hurrying somewhere Spaniards. We wanted to get back as quickly as possible so loved us in Portugal, with its attractive deliberation and friendliness. Well, you have to prepare for Spain a different mood and thicker wallets!