All this globetrotting looking at fab houses is all very well, but every so often the jet lag and road warrior pace catches up with a girl. That is exactly why we developed this business, because life, work, stress catches up with others, too. And what better way than a sunny holiday to de-stress and rediscover your equilibrium (or, if you are like me, keep trying to find it in the first place!)
So, I did exactly what I am always preaching – I rented one of our properties and took a breather. Of course, it helped that I just happened to be in Portugal at the time and that the early November weather was totally glorious (really, people walking around Lisbon in flirty sundresses and sandals – and even they were hot!) It must have been in the low 80’s and the sea was beckoning.
I have an advantage over most in the fact that I have personally visited every one of the homes we offer. So, in a case of last-minute, emergency TLC for a lone woman, I knew exactly where to head!
Six months previously, I had inspected the cutest little cottage right by the side of the beach in Portugal’s Algarve and had always had a secret hankering to actually check it out in more detail and see if it lived up to all that I believed it would.
A quick 3-hr drive down the centre of Portugal from Lisbon spits you out into high, rolling hills where dozens of rivers are accompanied by the prettiest valleys – all as if time has forgotten them. The whole Western Algarve offers scenery far removed from what springs to mind when thinking about the touristy Algarve. On this side of the coast, there are no huge hotels, golf courses are less common, shopping malls non-existent, places to eat and things to do are spaced out and more authentic.
The Algarve I happened upon was wild, green, romantic, untamed and scarcely populated. Lucky me, this was exactly the way I remembered it!
Praia Salema is hidden away at the bottom of a steep, winding road. A small sign off the highway (which is easy to miss) sends you in the general direction of the beautiful, shimmering sandy beach flanked on either side by 2 golden-coloured, rocky headlands with what looked like cobwebs of hiking trails etched into them.
It was the beginning of November and not much was open in the way of restaurants and shops the Tuesday afternoon I showed up. “How perfect”, I thought, “hours of hiking to entertain and de-stress me.”
And hours, even days, of wonderful hikes there really are. To the east and to the west, there are hikes from 1 to 13 miles to suit all levels.
The gently rolling hills are not quite so gentle when you are on foot (not to mention that I was not in great shape after all the airplane sitting and business dinners) but even without hiking shoes, there are many miles of trails that are suitable for easy-to-moderate-level hikers like me.
The first day, I ventured out with the goal in mind to walk the entire day. But once I realized how those lovely rivers and tributaries I had seen on the journey down sinuously embedded themselves and cut through the hillside, I realized there was a lot more up and down to be experienced than had originally met the eye.
But the up and down was so beautiful – skinny trails had been marked and were well-trodden making it easy to find different paths with more elevated or easy ascent and descent levels. Secret beaches revealed themselves (along with some secret nudist sunbathers well-camouflaged among the rocks – I don’t know who was more shocked, me stumbling and mumbling apologies or the unsuspecting chap on the sand in his birthday suit!), amazing dramatic hidden rock formations, ruins of old buildings, historical megaliths and pretty, golden coves with gently lapping waves. And the colours of the sea, millions of shades of turquoise, green, blue… miles and miles of ocean with no interruption. I didn’t see any wildlife, but there are signs posted every so often with great information about the local fauna and flora. The only sound, other than that of the rolling waves, was the occasional bleating of the sheep that were hidden somewhere in the densely-packed vegetation.
I walked for about 3 hours and met a very nice couple who advised me not to attempt the next hillside alone as they eyed my snazzy footwear (remember, I was on a business trip, I had not packed for hiking) and my somewhat off-beat attire. They said the next hillside was very steep and better executed with a companion… or in boots!
Undeterred, I headed inland to stumble across the most picture-perfect postcard “bistro” just sitting there, all decked out in Portuguese blues and whites with the scrummiest-looking food being served to hungry diners.
How fantastic! Organic mojitos (who knew alcohol could be organic!) and salads overflowing with fresh herbs…really, maybe I’d just retire and hike for the rest of my life! This was heaven, Lisa-style!
Where to Stay
- Estrela do Mar – the ultimate beach house – 2 brs on the sand
- Villa Alegria – a stunning, contmporary, 4-br home
- Villa Mar Azul – the ultimate clifftop vacation experience is yours in this 6-br home
- Villa Mar a Vista – 4-br home with spectacular sea and clifftop views
Where to Eat
- Eat at Bistro Sabor de Alegria – a restaurant, cafe and lounge in Figueira
- Atlantico – right on the beach in Praia Salema
- O Lourenço – for great traditional Portuguese fare in Praia Salema.
- Perfect post-hike massage with Irish Rita
Praia Salema is located:
- 3-1/4 hrs from central Lisbon 4 hrs from Seville
- 35 mins from Faro Airport
- 12 mins from Lagos
Praia Salema offers:
- 10 restaurants
- 2 small grocery stores
- Wine shop
- Packed ground, sand and loose impediments
- Levels – all
Good information source – wikiloc.com
If you would like more information about Praia Salema or would like to plan a visit, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.