This is a great unknown for most Spaniards. While many might recite, not ponder long, four or five names of cities, is very rare to find someone who can name the same number of cities in that beautiful country that is Portugal.
And what we lose is a lot: a history and fascinating cultures, beautiful landscapes, people from an extraordinary education and an outstanding cuisine.
If we consider Portugal as a human face in profile because, in these lines that we will be your chin, the south, and specifically the Algarve region, a land of long white beaches, thick pine forests and wetlands teeming with life.
Algarve The word comes from the Arabic word al-Gharb, the Portuguese were ruled by various Arab and Berber dynasties. Displays include not only names but also the structure of many of its peoples, the Portuguese language and the abundant remains of Islamic buildings.
Although it has not been completely freed of the abuses of urban growth, the Albufeira beach is a good proof, it is certain that the coast of the Algarve beaches still preserved almost untouched, barely trodden by cement, and horizons in which the green of the woods or Mosaic of the careful cultivation of orchards and olive trees still calm the soul of the traveler.
If we go by the new international bridge that unites Ayamonte, the Spanish side, in Vila Real de Santo António, can contemplate the undeniable beauty of both shores of the Guadiana estuary. We are primarily on land border, where smuggling was the old way of life of a not insignificant part of the population.
Just cross the old border post, we can turn north to visit the town of Castro Marim, a beautiful spot along the Guadiana from whose stick castle enjoys a beautiful view of the area. This site is also the Natural Park of the Marshes of Castro Marim, where the fan can enjoy nature with the observation of dozens of species of birds, notably herons, storks, avocets and terns.
Vila Real de Santo Antonio is a small town with little interest (it was completely demolished by the earthquake of Lisbon in 1755, which affected the entire Algarve) but where there is calm and unhurried atmosphere common to the entire region.
From height to Quinta do Lago extends the Ria Formosa Natural Park, a large protected area in the coast and live flamingos abound and chameleons, sandbars where seafood is an excellent breeding, islands appear and disappear depending on the vagaries of the strong tides and long Atlantic beaches populated by myriads of sea birds. The locations of reference of this enclave are Tavira, Olhao and Faro, the old fishing tradition and today focused mainly on tourism. These small towns have a beautiful white spell, blending the simplicity of its architecture and the natural environment. Note for the curious: one of the distinguishing features are its chimneys of the Algarve, there are never two equals.
Gastronomy of the Algarve is one of the strengths of the area marked by the striking combination of seafood with the products of the field from the interior regions, the cataplana is one of the most prominent of that unusual alchemy, in the pork loin is mixed in a stew of clams and lobsters town.
Also noteworthy are the soups fish dishes with cod, chicken stew and confectionery, based on the figs, almonds and honey.