Over the past few years, I’ve visited just about every major city in Portugal but I’ll be the first to admit that I have spent very little quality time in the Algarve’s capital.
It was only during a very recent trip to Portugal’s sunny south, that I discovered what I (and I’m guessing most other people) have been missing out on.
It all happened quite by accident actually. In a haze of tiredness and blazing afternoon sunshine we had gotten inexplicably lost en-route from our apartment in Alvor to our planned daytrip, to what the guide book listed as the “charming, off-the-beaten track” town of Alte. As it turned out, it most certainly was ‘off the beaten track’.
Hungry, thirsty and running low on patience, we had no other option but to give the bright lights of the Algarve’s capital a whirl.
To be honest, on first impressions, it isn’t the most appealing of Portugal’s cities; it’s a little rough around the edges, all cracked paintwork and tumble-down bricks.
As is always the case though, everything looked better after some lunch in the shade and it didn’t take much encouragement to go for a stroll around the old town.
It might be a big city, but Faro’s true charms lie in its quietest quarters. Unlike other towns that push and pull you towards their ‘star’ attractions, Faro is laid-back and easy going, giving you space to just wander. For me, that’s what travel is all about – being allowed to get to know a place at your own pace.Pleasantly intrigued, we ended up staying for quite a few hours. Scanning the fold-up map, there were a number of promising looking attractions including the archaeological museum which is housed in a former convent.
If nothing else, it was nice to get out of the sunshine for a little while to enjoy the coolness of the building. Buoyed on by this find, next on our whistle stop tour of Faro was the maritime museum, another unexpected gem, displaying a collection of modern ships and boats that we learnt are as much a part of Portuguese culture as Fado music or football.As the evening sun drenched everything in a warm Instagram light, Faro’s harbour front called. We soaked up the atmosphere and people-watched as locals promenaded around the marina.We may have missed out on the delights of Alte but Faro had been a revelation – who knew all this had been waiting here all along?
When I look back on this little adventure, I always think of that famous saying by JRR Tolkien – (no doubt you’ve probably seen it on Pinterest too) “not all of those who wander are lost”. We were indeed lost, but the half-day spent wandering around Faro turned out to be one of the highlights of that Portugal trip. Sometimes getting lost is the best way to find a place!
Main Image by Glen Bowman
Fiona Hilliard is the resident travel blogger at The Glove Box blog, the official blog of award-winning car rental company ArgusCarHire.com.
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Category: Guest Post