About

Almond Blossoms Enliven Algarve's Winter Landscape

Welcome to Algarve Experiences where you’ll find all kinds of helpful information to help you have the best possible experience in Portugal’s fantastic Algarve region.  I’m committed to continuing to explore the many off-the-beaten-track places, people and activities that the Algarve has to offer.  For sure, you can have a lovely holiday or stay in the Algarve and never leave the beachfront resort areas.
And yet there is so much else to explore in the Algarve!  I encourage you to wander the pages of this site to discover what’s possible for you.  Here’s are some highlights of what you’ll find within each section of the site:
  • See/Do/Enjoy – a variety of pages that show you up-coming activities, places to consider visiting, restaurant folks offering advice and suggestions -including videos
  • Algarve Dining -order your copy of my FREE e-book ‘Algarve Dining – Gwen’s Guide to Eating Well’, an overview of some of the great eating spots across the Algarve
  • Blog – tips on enjoying the Algarve, my thoughts about travel, discussions about the quirks & lesser known glories of the region
  • Culinary Tours – the most up-to-date information on my Algarve based culinary tours, travel opportunities for foodies

Me Next to Falesia Beach

In case you’re curious, I’m Gwen McCauley, a Canadian who fell in love with Portugal way back in 1975.  I’ve been back many times since and now have settled on the Algarve as the best possible place in which to spend time.  I’m a Life Transition & Business Coach with an active practice.  My clients are varied but all of them seek greater meaning in life, their search frequently oriented towards the work they do.  I’m an author, artist, photographer, poet and general lover of life.

Unless otherwise noted, all of the photographs and videos on this site are my own.  Enjoy it all!

The Algarve has it all

If you like to Live Life with Passion – or if you’ve always wanted to break out and begin to live that way – I can’t think of a better place than the Algarve, Portugal for you to explore and discover.

This is an ancient land with a fully modern infrastructure.  That means you get to be as rustic or as sophisticated as you choose – camping on a wild beach where no services are available, all the way to being pampered in 5-star accommodations is just one example of the range of facilities the Algarve has to offer.

I’ve been coming to this small corner of the world since 1975.  I keep thinking that I’ll run out of places to discover one of these days.  And that might just happen.  But for the foreseeable future I know that as much as I’ve seen and discovered, there is still so much more that awaits me.

So what are your passions?

 

You love water and beaches – tides in, surf’s up.

A busy day on Amoreira Beach

The Algarve is surrounded on the south and west by the Atlantic Ocean and on the east by the tidal Guadiana River.  Beaches of all sizes and descriptions are everywhere.  You can choose from soft and gentle fresh water beaches, long stretches of sand dune beaches or wild, craggy, thundering beaches great for surfing, cliff fishing and beachcombing.  You’ll find an incredible array just waiting for discovery.  Count on clean sand and clear, clean waters.  This is the Atlantic so you won’t get tropical powder or warmth, but you will get places where you can roam at will, soak up all the sunshine your body can tolerate and enjoy the breezes and sound of the waves.  Total nudity is not welcomed, but most beaches are topless.

Your passion is for food and culture – more wine, please.

Fresh Food Stalls Inside Loule's Mercado Building

The Algarve has a little-known cuisine that melds the taste of earth and sea in innovative and delightful ways.  Pork and seafood mix together for a ‘surf ‘n turf’ delight that is over 2,000 years old!  Great wines, luscious Ports and fiery brandies add depth to your experience.  When I first arrived in the Algarve in the mid-70’s, it was still a very rural culture full of fishermen and farmers who used donkeys and horse-carts for transportation and muscle.  That old culture is not lost, even though the Algarve has become very modern and contemporary with most people involved in some way with tourism as a way of making a living.  If you are willing to get 5 kilometers away from those spectacular beaches you’ll discover much of the old way of living still survives.  Although, I estimate that within another 10 years it will be just a memory as the old folks pass on.  So if you’d like to experience a traditional pastoral culture before it is gone, now is the time to make your way to the Algarve!

 

You’re an athlete who loves to run, cycle, kayak, fish, hike – wow, are you in for a treat.

Cliff Fishing on the Algarve's West Coast

The Algarve is an athlete’s paradise.  There is water everywhere so swimming, sea kayaking and other water sports are readily available.  And inland, the Algarve is riddled with secondary paved roads as well as rustic trails perfect for road or mountain biking.  It is easy to rent bikes, fishing gear, boats and surfing gear.  Many guides and tours are also available.  The landscape is varied with long, relatively flat stretches of roadways available as well as gentle hills and downright demanding slopes to test your prowess on.  For hikers, the many bluffs, headlands and hill tops invite exploration.  And a new cross-Algarve hiking trail has just opened so you can quite literally ‘walk your socks off’!

Shopping is more your kind of exercise – ka ching!

Wonderful hand painted pottery is one regional specialty

There are several large, North American style shopping malls available as well as a number of outlet stores.  But even more fun are the local markets and pedestrian shopping malls to be found in most towns across the Algarve.  You can even take a quick trip across the border to Spain for a decidedly different shopping experience.  Prices are very reasonable.  And coffee shops are everywhere so that you can have a java or a glass of wine when you need a break.  Local specialties include:  leather belts, purses & wallets; sheepskin slippers; pottery & ceramics; knives; wine, Port & Olive Oil, locally made sea salt & Flor de Sal, gold & silver jewelery.  If you’re lucky, you’ll find a woman who still hand embroiders table linen or cotton tablecloths.  And while most are no longer made locally, those with a shoe fettish will enjoy the range of shoes & boots available.  Grandparents get prepared.  The Portuguese love children so you’ll find many, many shops filled with kiddie oriented clothes, shoes and toys.

 

History and culture better define your priorities – welcome to the past.

Tiny Chapel in Loule

You won’t find large museums or high art cathedrals in the Algarve.  But what you will find is an ancient historical record, pretty much unbroken since pre-history.  Megaliths speak to the ancient Neolithic peoples who lived in the area.  Roman ruins tell of some of the first conquerors to set up shop in the Algarve.  And the history of the Moorish conquest and the to-ing & fro-ing with the Crusaders is very well documented in various castles, forts and churches.  Portugal’s role as one of the great nations to explore the world is a fascinating one.  In today’s world it may not be a source of historical pride, but the Algarve boasts the world’s first slave market.  And the history of Christianity is amply displayed in the many churches, cathedrals, chapels, and cemeteries across the Algarve.  For those with lugubrious tastes, you’ll even find a couple of chapels made out of human bones!

You’re a thoroughly modern Millie interested in getting a tan and partying – yo, mama!

Aaaaah. A massage overlooking the sea!

The Algarve gets only about 20 days of rain a year, the weather is mostly great with summers downright hot.  Most hotels and apartment buildings offer pools and hot tubs to supplement nature’s bounty of beaches (with remarkably few people on them).  Bars, pubs and clubs abound and are designed to meet all age groups, interests and price ranges.  As strange as it would be for me to experience the Algarve this way, you can have a perfectly grand time moving between the beach and the bar if that is what turns you on!

You’re sure you’ll love the Algarve – but it’s a big world out there – step out, my friend.

Fishing Fleet at Anchor on Portugal's Border with Spain

Many people use the Algarve as a launching point for visits to Spain and northern Africa.  It is easy to catch a flight to Tangiers, Morocco or Spain from Faro.  Tours to Seville, Gibralter and Africa are also readily available.  Since Spain is only an hour away from anywhere in the Algarve, at a minimum you might consider a day trip for some cross-border shopping.  If you’re Canadian, this will be an activity near and dear to your heart.

You’re a nature buff – bring your binoculars.

Red Legged Stilt

The Algarve is uniquely situated to offer a naturalists paradise.  Major migrations of many types of birds happen because this is the first land they hit after leaving Africa (or the last land they see on their way to Africa).  Many species of wild flowers blossom here.  And stretches of cork oak forests can still be readily found.  You can hire a naturalist to assist you or roam on your own.

The Portuguese don’t seem to mind people wandering the landscape as long as you don’t litter or don’t get rowdy.  The wild headlands near Sagres and Cap Sao Vicente are great places for naturalists, as are the Serra de Monchique and the Parc Rio Formosa.

Live Life with Passion!


The Algarve is one of my personal passions.  I’ve created this blog site as my way of inviting you to share my passion, both for living and especially for the Algarve.  It is up-dated regularly with all kinds of information about Algarvean food, drink, history, culture, places to see, things to do.  Come back often.  And don’t forget to get your copy of the latest version of Algarve Dining . . .Gwen’s Guide to Eating Well. It’s FREE in a pdf format.

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  3. Sandra Laver says:

    Hi Gwen, been trying to reach you and just saw this opportunity. My Husband and I, age 56, are looking to travel to southern Portugal for a month of relaxing (we are avid runners & cyclists) & good food. We are planning mid-Feb to mid-March. We want to do a lot of walking, visiting local town & market daily, prepare at home good food & also dine out. Where would you recommend we have our base, what town/area should we stay in. I’m looking at a place in Albufeira Marina, but wonder if you would say Olhao would be nicer for us? Look forward to your reply, with many thanks.

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