The next day after my walk to Old Town Albufeira last November, was my first jeep tour. I had booked two tours, one on the Monday and one on the Thursday of that week (telling them Tuesday would also be ok). The first one I booked through Expedia, and the second one I found through My Guide Algarve, but both of them were run by Portitours, or MTS Globe. I am not actually sure which is the owning company. Anyway, as it turned out, since it was end of tour season, I had the second tour on Tuesday with the same driver!
The first tour was to the east of Albufeira. Our driver, Jorge (I hope I am spelling his name right), picked me up at the end of the villa driveway in the morning – very convenient! Then we proceeded to pick up the other 4 who were somewhere around Vilamoura, I think. It was a very educational day, and I took tons of photos (259 on one camera). I will include a few here but some are destined to be paintings. In fact I have finished one!
Moorish Chimney #1. Watercolour on Paper. 22×30″. $950.00 Artist Lianne Todd
Portugal is full of these Moorish chimneys. Some are very old, like this one, and others are very new. Jorge pointed this one out to me for photographing first! I find it really interesting the Moorish style of architecture has been embraced for so many centuries. It gives a very harmonious feel to the country . I’m sure these chimneys must be quite practical from the standpoint of preventing storks’ nests blocking them as well!
The dirt roads all over the countryside are private roads, but we were told anyone is allowed to use them if they want, for jeep travel, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and I think dirt biking. They hold famous car rallies on some of these roads as well. Jorge was very charming and entertaining, and so knowledgeable about all of the plant life, the animal life, the farming, the natural resources, and more! (Please click on photos if you would like to see a larger version of any of them).
One of the many dirt roads we traveled!
Thistles are used in the making of fresh goat cheese.
This Olive tree is 1500 years old!
We stopped for coffee at this little place. They serve an excellent and inexpensive espresso, and the room has a lovely cork ceiling.
We were taken to a local distillery where Jorge gave us a great education about the production of Medronho brandy (firewater) and honey. The firewater has a very distinctive flavour, and we were taught the particulars of how to first taste it.
These are medronho berries, which they make the spirits with. They are edible, with a mild sweet flavour, though we were advised not to eat too many at once. The plant is nicknamed a strawberry tree, but they don’t taste like strawberries.
Here is where we ate lunch. Delicious!
Complete with elusive garden cat.
Later we stopped in this little town for another break. I bought some fresh local goat cheese, which I had to hunt for a little in a tiny market.
And at the end of the day, a rainbow.
Rainbow over the Algarve
The following day, the jeep tour went west, towards Portimão and Monchique. On this day, there were 3 other tourists, a French couple and a lady who spoke many languages including French, Portuguese and English. Jorge gave this tour in French (He asked me first if this was ok – I said yes. I used to speak French fairly well, a long time ago. A little rusty! But I was able to understand most.) Again, I took many photos – 277 this time. Obviously I am only selecting a few.
We started with a boat tour of the river at Portimão. We didn’t travel up the river as far as I would have maybe liked, but it was a good tour. Lots of birds!
View from the boat before we left the dock. Stork’s nest, baskets for harvesting shellfish (can’t remember, were they oysters?) – see next photo!
The shellfish (oysters?), attached to one of the pillars below the baskets.
Ponte Dona Maria, built by Gustave Eiffel, before he built the tower!
Bonelli’s Eagle. I know, it’s blurry. They’re fast, ok? And it’s hard to hold a zoom lens steady when you’re in a boat.
Cormorants and a stork.
I was told these people were digging for bait.
And this cool castle someone built to live in.
Then we stopped at Ferragudo (that’s a fun name to learn how to pronounce properly 🙂 for a break. (Photo shoot for me – working now on one of the many scenes as a painting, which is how most of the photos will end up).
The walkway out to the harbour from Ferragudo.
Then we were off into the Monchique mountains and to a restaurant for lunch.
A grove of cork trees. Learned so much about cork! But I will let you learn about that on your own jeep tour 😉
And later, more education on medronho and honey!
Medronho berries in large tubs.
We saw some of the damage that had occurred because of recent forest fires too.
Guardrails are not a thing on these mountain roads!
A brief look at Silves (I came back here another day).
All in all, another good day, and a fine ending to it.