Dotted around the property of the Epic Sana resort are little wooden structures, each with a daybed inside. I crawled into one with my notebooks, pens and reading glasses and spent some productive hours writing and rewriting my texts for my book project. On one side the ocean waves crashed below on the beach, while on the other birds chattered and hopped around on the lawns and tree branches. Bliss. This was my nature retreat, far from the cacophony and pollution of city life.
Nature is my church. (This is a statement borrowed from Chris, a highly creative man who lives on Gabriola Island off the coast of Vancouver, B.C., Canada.)
Afterwards, to stretch my legs, I’d descend the wooden staircase and amble along the beach. When on vacation I try to stay outside as much as possible because in Paris I spend 40 hours a week sitting behind a computer in a hermetically-sealed office tower.
The capital of the Algarve region, Faro has a modern airport, train and bus station. It’s a small city with a friendly laidback feel to it. From the hotel, I hired a taxi and took the half-hour ride into Faro. The “old town” is small, pedestrianized and has some good shopping and two or three good restaurants.
I’ve never seen trees with mauve blossoms before.
One day I made a great find in one of the backstreets. On my shopping list of things to buy in Portugal, I had written ‘cotton sheets’ and ‘a throw blanket’. I found both in this gorgeous little shop called Cuties.
I couldn’t decide on these beautiful small blankets (80% lambswool, 20% polyamide.) All handmade in Portugal. I would’ve bought them all if only I had room in my suitcase.
In the end I purchased this one along with a sheet set of Portuguese cotton. They fit my bed perfectly at home. Snow-white, crisp and Percale, they’re perfect for summer.
The shop also sells fine cotton nightgowns, shirts, bedspreads, baby layettes and more. The address of Cuties for Home is Rua Rebelo da Silva, 18.
One morning I walked 20 minutes north to the Municipal Market, located in a new concrete building. Markets, in my opinion, are the soul of any country and should be visited. Unsurprisingly, there was fish galore as well as fruit and veg and some small specialty stands. The fish was so fresh, some were still gasping and flopping around.
There were several coffee bars inside the market. Mid-morning I took an espresso break. The florentine-like cookie below is made from almonds and honey. I love standing at coffee bars (especially in Italy.) The hissing sound of the espresso machine is music to my ears.
These are a specialty of the region made uniquely from ground figs, almonds and carob. Delicious!
Back in the pedestrian district, I purchased these extraordinary Brazilian sandals (“cruelty-free and 100% recyclable thanks to Melflex®, a proprietary form of PVC that brings flexibility, comfort, and durability to every pair of Melissas”). That’s the brand name: Melissa. Not only are they super-comfy, they’re also stylish. What’s odd is the synthetic plastic vinyl which exudes an agreeable perfume.
The lady at the hotel recommended a nearby restaurant for dinner. It was so good I went back the next night. I had a plate of dorade (sea bream) served with potatoes and a small green salad. I drank two glasses of Martini Rosso and the bill came to 22 euros. The food is simply prepared and super-fresh. My waiter filleted the grilled fish for me because it’s served whole and I’m hopeless in that department. The name of the restaurant is Adega Dois Irmaos.
In closing, I just want to say that the kindness, courtesy and relaxed manner of all the Portuguese people I encountered along my way was undoubtedly the highlight of my trip.
And that’s it, folks. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of Portugal as much as I enjoyed discovering it. Thanks for travelling with me.