After exploring the eastern section of the Algarve yesterday, we drove westwards today.
Our first stop was, once again, Tavira but we didn’t do any shopping this time. We visited 2 very old chapels and the garden of the castle which used to be on a hill above the town.
The first Chapel was that of Santa Ana or St Anne. It is pre 14th century according to records found and reconstructed in the 18th as the bell tower is dated 1727. It was administered by the Order of Santiago or St James, the Sword and is one of the oldest in the district of Tavira. After it was reconstructed, it served as the chapel for the Governor of the Algarve as part of his palace and became a military Chapel. The main retable, a frame enclosing decorated panels above and behind an altar, is a gilt carving behind the main altar. In 1936, the Tavira Municipality bought it and demolished the military facilities. It has been a museum since 2006.
Inside the Nave of the Chapel Museum there were 2 retables, the main one and another made of wood and found behind a small side altar.
In a side room, probably formerly the Vestry, there were a few interesting very old items which included a Bishop’s chair, an 18th century iron weathervane and 2 Missals (altar service books) one from the 18th century and the other from the 19th, both written in Latin.
From downtown we could see the other Chapel high on a hill on the other side of the River Gilão. We could also see a former water reservoir which has been converted into a Camera Obscura and a very tall bell and clock tower. We crossed the river and drove up the hill but it took longer than expected as the roads were windy and many were ‘one-way’. We did get there only to find this chapel closed.
Besides the Camera Obscura and bell tower with the chapel, there was a beautiful garden which was part of the castle. It was very helpful to find that almost every plant had its name and country of origin. We were surprised to learn that the Oleander was indigenous to the Mediterranean and not Asia as we had always understood to be the case. The garden was surrounded by parts of the original castle wall and we were able to climb on to the top and see the city.
From the Chapel we walked back down to the car which had been parked opposite a large yellow building which was formerly a convent and is now an hotel. It is part of the Pestana Hotel Group and called a Pousada. There are a number of these in Portugal where this hotel group takes over a building and renovates it into an hotel.
We left Tavira and travelled on the N125 with the plan to have lunch at a particularly nice chicken restaurant but, sadly, it was closed this day. We continued on to the town of Olhăo where we had lunch but, before doing so we looked around the town. It was a very pretty town, as we discovered while we walked along the promenade. Although the promenade was along the edge of the sea, there was no swimming beach but plenty of boats. Local gypsies had stalls of home-made goods and clothes on the promenade. In one area were a few metal sculpted ducks but 2 were missing, just their feet were left in the sand.
Opposite these was a long, wrought iron pergola forming a tunnel from the promenade to the street. It appeared to be quite new as the plants which had been planted to creep over the pergola were still climbing up the sides. All down the inner part of the pergola were benches for pedestrians to relax.
Further down was a large memorial to Joaquim Lopes which had a bust of the man with a large wall behind it. Lopes was born in 1800 and when he was just 8 years old he began working at sea. At 19 he went to Gibraltar to make a living as a fisherman but was not successful and returned to Portugal 2 years later. He became a Lifeguard Manager and saved hundreds of lives for which he was awarded the Order of the Tower and Sword. He died at the age of 90 having also been known to be a great humanitarian. This memorial bust is situated in a garden and park with his name.
Instead of having chicken for lunch we had a genuine Portuguese meal. I had a Botique, veal with fried egg on top of it and Trevor ordered calamari in its shell. Both were delicious except that Trevor does not enjoy having to ‘work’ for his lunch, taking the calamari out of the shell.
As we drove out of the town, we passed a sculpture of a woman preparing sardines for sale.
We returned to the N125 and drove eastwards to the town of Fuseta, with the ‘s’ pronounced as a ‘z’ and drove to the end of the Ppier where the beaches had thatched umbrellas. We drove around this fishing town and as we left Fuseta there was a bronze statue of a traditional fisherman holding a very large fish. It is placed near the Fish Market and is a monument to the fishermen of Fuseta.
From there we passed the sign to Praia do Barril where there is an anchor cemetery in memory of the Bluefin Tuna which was overfished in the area. As a result, the fishermen moved away from the town and the old fishing methods. The anchors were not those used for ships but had held the tuna fishing nets in place.
We moved on to St Luzia and drove along the promenade which had lots of restaurants. The most popular food eaten here is octopus and some of the restaurants had an ornamental octopus hanging from the roof.
After returning to Cabanas we took an evening stroll along the beachfront. Unlike our first day there, this time the tide was right out and it was interesting to see the different levels of the water. The fishing boats were either very low in the water or even up on the beach. Near the harbour entrance there were 2 rows of fishermen’s sheds where they stored their equipment.
We finished our walk with a cooldrink at a small restaurant and then walked home by a different route.