Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Nature Notebook – You Don’t Need To Rent a Car

FYTCHE TRIP TO PORTUGAL
By: Gene Fytche,

YOU DON’T NEED TO RENT A CAR!

Janet and I have just returned from three pleasant weeks in the Algarve in southern Portugal, having made our way by public transport. That decision was made from a previous experience when I saw nothing on the roads and Janet was overcome by the antics of our opponents for tarmac space. Out of season, the competition on the Algarve highways seemed tolerable

The Algarve is 150 km from east to west and 40 km north to south. A railway runs from Lagos in the east to Vila Real in the west. And is parallelled by a coastal road that runs through all the famous tourist towns, and a throughway further north for those in a hurry. Both busses and trains are frequent, both along the coast and to towns in the foothills, each with its own scenes of interest. Cost is about 10 cents per km. If each town visited takes a day, it is cheaper than a rented car, which you can’t park, and you see the people close up! What’s time, anyway.

We chose Faro as our first base: it is the major airport, but ignored by most tourists who head for better known tourist spots. But it has everything, our 4* hotel was facing the marina, was two blocks from the bus station and three from the train. The fortress and cathedral are interesting, and the town is walkable. From there we saw Vila Real, Loule, Tavira, Estoi, and Albufeira. And made side trips to Seville and Gibraltar.Then we moved to Lagos,because it was a much smaller (lovely) town, from which we saw Sagres (remember Henry the Navigator) Portamao and Silves

Walking is safe, (needed to walk off the enormous meals of good fresh food) and pleasant once one gets away from the high rise developments. The nature parks on the west coast, and along the ocean front from Faro to the Spanish border give scope for the walker and opportunities to bird watch, sea birds, waders and field birds. In season, there are boat trips to satisfy the sailors, and these go for the birds too.

Try it!