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The Algarve - The Perfect Golfing Paradise

If you ask an experienced skier about the best location for a skiing holiday, he’ll probably tell you to go to Switzerland. If you ask a golfer about the best place in the world to enjoy a golfing vacation, the Algarve will almost certainly get a mention. This stunning region on Portugal’s southern coast is home to a vast array of top quality courses, all basking in a climate that is perfect for the game. Here are some of the very best of the dozens that are peppered throughout the area.

Pinhal

If the Algarve is the crown of European golfing regions, Vilamoura is undoubtedly the jewel. There are so many courses in the area, with many of them claiming to be the finest. Pinhal is hugely popular, and should be on everyone’s must-play list. Set amid a beautiful pine forest, it was designed by the highly respected Robert Trent Jones, Jr., who has built courses all over the world. Accuracy from the tee is vital, especially on the front nine where many of the fairways are rather tight.

Quinta do Lago (North and South)

Two of the finest courses in the whole of Europe, Quinta do Lago, both North and South, give players a chance to enjoy some stunning views as they stroll the rolling fairways. Both tracks are tough but fair, rewarding the good shots and punishing the bad ones. When the summer is at its hottest, be prepared to putt with great care, because the greens can become exceptionally fast. Many players have likened their slick surfaces to sheets of glass.

Boavista

Located to the west of the popular holiday town of Lagos, Boavista offers a good test for players of all handicaps. Although it’s not ranked as highly as the likes of Monte Rei and Victoria, it’s a wonderful course with green fees that represent good value for money. Many of the fairways are wide and inviting, and will tempt players to open their shoulders and go for that big swing. Be careful, though, because there are plenty of hazards that can wreck a round.

Monte Rei

This beautiful course was designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, so first-time players need to be aware that concentration will be needed from the first tee right through to the eighteenth green. There are several water features which add to the difficulty, although they also add to the beauty, of course. Strategically-placed bunkers lay in wait for wayward shots, so be sure to bring your A-game with you. Monte Rei is located inland, to the north of the main A22 road.

This article was written by

David Showell lives in the UK and is a keen golfer. He works for http://www.comparecarhire.co.uk.


Portugal is quickly becoming one of the most popular spots for destination weddings, and it is no wonder why. As one of the top holiday spots on the Iberian Peninsula, the charm of Portugal makes it a perfect setting for a wedding. From the villages scattered across the countryside to the medieval castles set in flower-covered hills, Portugal has a romantic aspect that lures many couples to this spot to say their vows. It makes a great destination for weddings because of its close proximity to so many places in Europe, including England and Spain. Post-wedding honeymoon plans can include trips to Barcelona or Seville, and it’s easy for friends and family from England to make the trip to Portugal because of how close it is. No matter what your reason is for tying the knot in this romantic venue, here are some things you should know if you are considering getting married in Portugal.

Where to Say, “I Do”

There are plenty of Portugal wedding planners who will help arrange the perfect wedding day for you, but many choose to have their ceremony in the countryside because of the unparalleled views and the natural scenery that sets the background for their big day. Portugal is known for its spectacular cliffs, which offer incredible views, especially for sunset ceremonies. Quintas are rustic farms or country villas that are often rented out for weddings, and these make great venues if you want something more private for the entire wedding party. Beach weddings are also popular, since Portugal boasts miles of white sand coastline with charming villages scattered along the coastline. Pousadas are another option. These are exclusive, historic hotels with their own restaurants that serve regional, local cuisine. A wedding in a Pousada will offer a distinctly Portuguese feel, and a memory you are sure to never forget.

Expense

Portugal is a great choice for weddings, as it is significantly less expensive to get married in Portugal than it is to get married in any other country. With wedding prices rising exponentially these days, it is a much wiser choice for your budget to choose a destination wedding in Portugal than it is to have a wedding in your own hometown. Portugal was recently voted one of the cheapest places in Europe to eat out, so your guests will not have to worry much about their travel costs after the wedding either. Additionally, flights from the UK can be found for very reasonable rates if you book ahead.

The Legality of a Portuguese Wedding

You can legally get married in Portugal, but you will have to prepare beforehand to make sure you have your paperwork sorted out. Although it’s easy to find an English speaker to help plan your wedding, it is suggested to use a native Portuguese speaker to help you deal with the paperwork to help ease the process and make it less stressful on you in your planning. However, do not worry, as soon as the paperwork is through, you will be happily and legally on your way to being married in one of the most beautiful places in the world!

Besides the beauty and affordability of Portugal, it has remained one of the best locations for a destination wedding because of its distinct romance and charm. Your wedding in Portugal is sure to be one your friends and families will remember for years to come, and you will never forget.


Wayne Barker writes for Portfolio of Fine Diamonds




Getting Married in Portugal

                                                             Wonderful And Amazing Azores Islands

Azores Islands are a group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, which are combined in the same name autonomous region of Portugal. They include 9 large inhabited islands and many small uninhabited.                                                                                                                                              Most likely their name comes from the old Portuguese word “azures”, which means “blue” or “cerulean” color. Also there is a legend that the islands took their name from the Arabian word “Açor” - Hawk. According to the legend hawks flew to their nests and pointed for sailors the way to the island.

These islands have a great history. Azores were known by Carthaginians, Normans, Arabs and Vikings.

Azores Islands is a real treasure of nature. Local landscape's color richness is beyond words: azure ocean and lakes, green hills, the black lava of extinct volcanoes, flowering hydrangeas and azaleas - all this like a fairy tale. There are no five-star hotels on Azores so you can escape from the city routine and enjoy the peace. In 1995, the Azores Islands were awarded the EU for development of eco-tourism and conservation of wilderness. This islands attract divers and ocean fans by diverse marine life. Here you can watch sperm whales in their natural habitat. All in the vicinity of islands inhabit 23 species of whales, several species of dolphins, rare jellyfish and soft corals.

The largest island of the archipelago is Sao Miguel island. The capital of the island is Vila do Porto - the oldest settlement in the Azores. Main attraction of this beautiful island is Sidades Seth crater. This place is full of legends and mysterious stories that locals will be pleased to tell you. Also you can visit the Church of St. Peter and the Church of St. Sebastian with its famous treasury. The island is also a lot of palaces such as Santa Ana, Conceicao, Fonte Bela, Santa Catarina.

The highest point in Portugal is placed on the Pico island. It is Pico volcano with height 2351 meters. Also on this island you can have unique opportunity to watch dolphins and whales. Or you can dive under the water with an aqualung and meet many other ocean inhabitants such as octopus, barracuda, parrot fish, needle fish, red grouper.

One more picturesque island of the archipelago - the Terceira island. There you can visit the Algar do Carvao cave. This is pipe 100 meters long that was formed from lava after a volcanic eruption 2000 years ago. There you can also visit another natural wonder – the underground lake with a lot of quantz stalactites and stalagmites.

Another island Faial locals call “The Blue Island”. The city Horta, which is located on this island, considered to be the most vibrant and attractive throughout the archipelago .Tourist routes conducted specifically to demonstrate the unique architectural heritage of the city: the numerous monasteries, chapels and castles.

The most famous cultural monuments are: the Church of São Salvador, Nossa Senhora DAZ Angustiash, Nossa Senhora do Carmo and St. Francis Church, Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Pilar and Nossa Senhora da Guia; clock tower Torre do Relozhiu and Fort Santa Cruz; antique iron gate "Portão fortificado do Porto Paim" and "Muralhas de São Sebastião "(Walls Sv.Sebastyana).

Azores Islands is a natural paradise near the banks of Portugal, which for many centuries attracts tourists with its beauty and natural treasures.

Bio: Joe Craven, writer in Essay-Point.com and developed tourist.




Golf in the Algarve

Portugal is most famous for its fresh fish and seafood dishes. In fact, per capita, the Portuguese eat more fish than any other European nation. Portugal has a very active fishing fleet that delivers fresh fish to its home ports every day. If you travel to Portugal, you'll find that restaurants take full advantage of this fresh ocean bounty. Although the Portuguese are also quite fond of spicy pork dishes, tripe, and beef dishes, you'll find that fish and seafood dishes top almost every menu.                                                                                                                                   Below you will find three of the most famous dishes in Portuguese cuisine:

1. Bacalhau com Natas (Dried Salted Cod Casserole)

Bacalhau is the Portuguese word for dried cod. The Portuguese are absolutely crazy about their dried cod dishes. They say, only half-jokingly, they have 365 ways to prepare bacalhau, one for each day of the year. Historically, Portugal was one of the great seafaring nations. In the early 16th century, they reached Newfoundland and the North Atlantic. Since that time, they have fished for cod. For centuries, there was no refrigeration so the fisherman dried the cod in the sun and salted it to preserve it. This is how the tradition of bacalhau dishes got started and they have never lost popularity.

One of the favorite bacalhau dishes is called, "bacalhau com natas." It is a type of casserole where strips of dried cod, after being soaked in milk or water to remove the salt, are layered with vegetables and cream sauce and then baked. You'll find various versions of this comfort food in virtually every mom and pop restaurant in Portugal. Locals and tourists alike love this dish.

2. Sardinhas Assadas (Grilled Sardines)

Sardinhas assadas are sardines that are grilled, usually outside on an open pit. They taste nothing like canned sardines so don't let that stop you from trying this delicious dish. Sardinhas assadas are usually served with vegetable side dishes and ice cold Portuguese beer.

Sardinhas assadas are often served during summer festivals, especially St. Anthony's Feast which takes place on June 12. The festivities surrounding this popular national dish are half the fun of eating them.

3. Caldeirada (Fish and Seafood Stew)

Caldeirada is a thick delicious traditional stew made with fish, seafood, fresh vegetables, and white wine. This stew is sometimes made with white flaky fish like haddock, flounder, or monkfish. Other times, oily fish like sardines, mackerel, or tuna are used. The variety of seafood used to make this dish makes it taste different almost every time you eat it. The seafood used includes clams, cockles, mussels, scallops, periwinkles (a type of marine snail), octopus, squid, cuttlefish, shrimp, prawns, lobster, crabs, and goose barnacles. Vegetables include potatoes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, parsley, and fresh lemon juice.

This yummy stew is almost always served with some sort of crusty bread. Sometimes the bread is toasted in olive oil and other times diners just tear pieces from fresh baked loaf which also comes with fresh butter.

You'll find that each region of Portugal has its own regional fish and seafood specialities. However, even the three national favorites above vary a great deal from region to region. They are given regional character by the spices chosen and a few secret ingredients thrown in. Bom apetite!

Shasha R. is a writer for HowDoIBe.com. If you are interested in food and nutrition, take a look at this site: http://www.howdoibe.com/how-to-become-a-nutritionist/


      Portuguese top dishes

                                                                  Portugal by car


Portugal is a well kept secret travel destination that is starting to become known as one of the best in Europe. Visitors can see the rural and rustic charms of old Europe in the historical attractions. Portugal is fast developing, but there are still many car routes that pass through the most beautiful parts.                           Car rentals are easily available and affordable for a leisurely drive through vineyards, mountains, by the seaside and to spectacular castles and cathedrals. Rather than be pushed along by a tour or speeding by in a train, renting a car and driving allows visitors to enjoy the parts they love and avoid the parts that don’t interest them.                                                                                                                                                        Driving through the Douro Valley in northeastern Portugal is one of the most popular road trips through the country. It is full of winding roads, hills and valleys. Begin in Peso da Regua and the plateau above the valley where travelers get a view of the river valley and Serra do Marao Mountains. This viewpoint is considered one of the most spectacular in the country. Visitors spend the night in Casal de Loivos and see the view of the Douro River Valley. The main house was built in 1658 and has been owned by the same family since 1733.  The next day, travellers cross the River Tua and visit Torre de Moncorvo and Barca d’Alva. Here is where one of the best wines in Portugal is produced. Nearby is the Foz Coa Archaeological Park which has an outdoor rock art gallery and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Almost on the border of Portugal, you can turn back and follow the southern bank of the River Douro. Some interesting places to visit on the way are the Castle of Numao, which is a Romanesque and Gothic castle from the 10th century built on a Neolithic site, and Sao Salvador do Mundo, a town on the river that has beautiful views and chapels dating from the 16th century.                                                                                                                                                        The wonders of Portugal can all be visited on a road trip that begins in Oporto. Visit Guimaraes Castle, considered the birthplace of Portugal. There are three monuments to visit. The Church of Sao Francisco, the Torre dos Clerigos and the Palace of Mateus to start the trip in style.

Onward to the center of the country to the University of Coimbra, which is one of the oldest universities in Europe. There are Roman ruins in Conimbriga that were built during the time when the Romans occupied the Iberian Peninsula. Next, visitors see the Monastery of Jeronimos and the Torre de Belem as well as the National Palace of Pena in Sintra and much more. Continuing south there are several amazing walled towns where travellers may spend some time in the quiet serenity of the area. In Evora, there is also a Roman temple and in Vila Vicosa a Ducal Palace. The final site is the Fortress of Sagres and the spectacular views of sky and sea. These heritage sites can be seen in one trip with a rented car, or on several excursions while staying nearby.

This is a guest post from Skedaddle

                                                                My Winter Golfing Holiday in the Algarve

                                                                                     by Lady Golfer      

              

I finally took the plunge and booked a “golfing in the sun holiday” as a mid-winter break. Of course I chose the Algarve to do it in: everyone is talking about golf in the Algarve and how wonderful it is, so it was the logical choice. I rounded up three of my golfing girlfriends, who were as keen as me to get in some quality rounds of golf in the winter.


We managed to get a cheap flight booked with accommodation included and left our cold, snow filled village behind with eager anticipation. How wonderful to arrive a few hours later, to glorious sunshine and warmth, at Faro airport.


We were bowled over seeing so much sun drenched colour along our route to the hotel. Having left stark, grey countryside just a few hours ago, it was amazing to see orange and lemon groves, blossom filled fruit trees and fields just carpeted with wild flowers. Whey hey! This is the life!


An hour later we were ensconced in our rooms busily unpacking and getting our golf bags sorted for our first round in the sunshine. We had booked four rounds of golf for our five night stay and we couldn’t wait to get on the first course.


Great golf and fantastic food

What a great game we had. There were fabulous views from every tee box, beautifully kept fairways and immaculate greens. At the 19th hole, all the staff were friendly, service was efficient and the drinks went down well. If the next three courses were going to be as good as this, we were on a winner of a break. We returned to our hotel, had a shower, changed and headed out for a meal.


Fish! Oh my, the fish was the best we’d ever had, freshly grilled and served with boiled new potatoes and a simple salad. A carafe of crisp white house wine to accompany the fish went down a treat, and the Portuguese coffee and port to follow was the icing on the cake. Our first day was over and we went to bed, tired and very happy with our lot.


We played three more courses over the next three days, each one offering different challenges, each one in immaculate condition and each one as good as the next.  We got to meet other groups on similar package deals, all of us having the time of our lives. We swapped information on different courses, skill levels and the best times to be in the Algarve.


So much more to do

It was great to learn what else there is to do in the Algarve in the winter; we couldn’t believe there was so much on offer. We found out where to go, where to eat and where the night life is. We heard tales of markets, shopping and activities that could keep us all entertained for hours, and we decided there and then that we would be back – and - next time, we would book a longer break so we could enjoy all the other great attractions in the Algarve.


I have to say the time flew by far too quickly and our trip home was spent plotting and planning for our next visit. Maybe we could even squeeze in two winter breaks next year, perhaps one in November and one in March, wouldn’t that be good?

 

I have to admit, as I dozed on the journey home, I wondered if I could afford a property in the Algarve (http://pt.meravista.com/en/portugal-property-map) to spend the winter in the sun... Or maybe just pack up and move to this golfer’s paradise for good........ hmmmm…

                                                   Falling in Love with Ferragudo

Ferragudo may not be the first place that springs to mind when you plan a holiday to the Algarve, but for a relaxing holiday in the sunshine there’s nowhere better. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to be found in and around the bustling square, and some of the Algarve’s best beaches are just a short drive along the coast.

There’s lots to see and do in Ferragudo, and part of the joy of visiting is exploring for yourself. If you’re planning a trip to Ferragudo, this guide should help you to make the most of it.

Where to Stay

There are plenty of great hotels and holiday rentals in Ferragudo, but we managed to get free accommodation by house sitting for an expat couple. In exchange for looking after two charming dogs and a cat, we were given ten days of free accommodation in a beautiful apartment. The roof terrace boasted unparalleled views of the hills of Monchique and the sea.

 If you’d love animals and are interested in a budget holiday, keep an eye out on TrustedHousesitters.com who have a growing number of similar opportunities to house and pet sit in return for free accommodation.

Where to Eat

The Square has plenty of decent restaurants, but if you want a really nice meal it pays to go off the beaten track and explore the side streets.

 The Fim Do Mundo restaurant across the river is great if you love meat.  The restaurant is popular with locals and has some really friendly staff, meaning the atmosphere is fabulous. The mixed grill for two people could easily feed four, but thankfully they do a doggy bag.

There are two lanes running behind the square. The one to the left is home to Taberna 39, a restaurant specialising in Portuguese ‘tapas’ and regional wines. It’s a great place to spend a relaxing evening sampling local delicacies like Octopus Salad and Roasted Pork Cheeks.

The lane to the right is home to one of the best pizza restaurants in the Algarve, Pizzeria Delizia. Small, cosy, and great value for money: if you’re craving Italian food, it’s perfect. The home-made chilli and mint pesto is the perfect accompaniment to the range of gourmet pizza toppings.

Where to Drink

Although the Three Monkeys is a popular club with the younger crowds, if you fancy a chilled out drink it’s worth avoiding. The best place to relax with cocktail in hand is Icone Bar, across the river behind the bank. The drinks are well made, and the classy décor lends the atmosphere of a trendy London hotspot; without the trendy London prices. Modern and welcoming, it’s a great place to relax after a long day of… relaxing!

What to Do

Admire the art at Studio Bongard, on Rua Infante D. Henrique. Sylvan Bongard’s original artworks and pottery are well worth a browse, and you might even find some interesting pieces to take home for family and friends.

If you fancy a trip to the beach, it’s best to get in your car and drive ten minutes along the coast to Praia dos Caneiros.  Large cliffs shelter the bay, which is a local favourite. It doesn’t get too crowded and it’s a great place for a dip in the sea.  If you want to treat yourself, you can rent luxury sun loungers and book in for a Thai style massage.

You may not find one in Ferragudo, but you could end up discovering many more of the Algarve’s hidden gems.


Unique way to enjoy sardines in the Algarve


by Meravista

Summer sees the ‘sardine season’ hit the Algarve in a big way as people enjoy the abundance of these tasty fish across the region. At feasts and festivals from East to West, the aroma of Sardinhas Assadas (grilled sardines) is enough to make your mouth water.

There are many ways to tackle a grilled sardine, from the customary effort with a plate, knife and fork, to the messy option of picking the flesh off with your fingers. However, the Algarve has its own traditions for many things, and that includes the unique way to eat grilled sardines. It’s quite a unique skill too! Try it for yourself, with the help of Meravista’s step-by-step guide.[ http://pt.meravista.com/en/blogentry/where-and-how-eat-sardines-algarve]. Of course, you’ll need to find some fresh sardines and prepare them first, but that’s not too difficult in the Algarve. Better still, go to just about any local restaurant and let them do it for you.

Watch how it’s done!

if you prefer, you can see the Meravista guide in action, as Meravista recently took a camera crew along to the wonderful Flor Da Ameixa restaurant in Bordeira (the one near Faro, not the one in Aljezur!) and the following video was the result…  enjoy!

http://youtu.be/tlLdDq3Z2g0

Sardine festivals across the Algarve

1 – 11 August: Portimao Sardine Party

Restaurants featuring Sardine menus, a stage with nightly entertainment and various market stalls and activities for all ages. It’s all happening at the waterfront near the old fish market.

8 – 10 August: 16th Annual Sardine festival at Olhos d’Agua

Enjoy a traditional Festa da Sardinha at Olhos d’Agua, located between Vilamoura and Albufeira. With free entry, entertainment and lots of food and beverages on offer, it promises to be a delight.

10 – 15 August: The 28th (yes, 28th!) annual Seafood Festival Olhão

The world-famous annual Festival do Marisco takes place at the Olhão waterfront by the old town, aptly named ‘Jardim Pescador Olhanense’. Featuring all types of shellfish and seafood, sardines are one of the many tasty dishes available. With live entertainment every night, this party is famous!

6 – 8 September: 16th annual fish festival in Albufeira

The annual fish festival in Albufeira takes place in September and will feature sardines along with many other types of fish.

Check your local papers for more details of a Sardine Festival near you – and don’t forget – try eating them the Algarvean way!