Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Faro (Algarve)

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 5th November, 2018

035A9793-0B17-4A9A-B40A-62102583C97BProbably like many Brits, I have always thought of Faro as an airport: the gateway to Portugal’s Algarve region (or Orpington-on-sea). And as Lisbon and the Estoril coast have been such a magnet for me over the last 20 years or so, I never really thought about coming here. But the serendipity of having to get from Lisbon (for an autumnal long weekend) to a conference in Madrid in a few days time, meant that I thought well, why not have a day in Faro en route? I duly took a coach from Lisbon this morning: a smooth 3-hour ride through ever drier countryside, with many lovely trees, while outside the thermometer rose slowly but surely to 18C. Blue skies in abundance on arrival, and a relaxed lunch of delicious ravioli washed down with red wine in a small, friendly restaurant near the bus station at a modest price I haven’t encountered in the capital for years. (N.B.: Lisbon, having been totally off the tourists’ radar when I first started going there has now, alas, been “discovered” big time, and the locals are not entirely happy, thanks to crowded pavements, rising prices and young people being excluded from renting downtown studios as so many have gone Airbnb).

5D7E1E79-93CF-4C5B-93FD-743AC415910F.jpegSo, back to Faro. Well, it was a good idea to come off-season, when the (predominantly British) holiday-makers have long gone. Sure, there are still some of the European equivalent of “snow geese” (Canadians who flee their harsh winters to enjoy some sun in Florida or Cuba), but wandering around Faro’s Old Town this afternoon, I virtually had the place to myself. To be honest, I had no idea that Faro had an Old Town, let alone a walled one, but it is a little gem, with lots of beautiful buildings, as well as quaint, winding streets and intriguing nooks and crannies. In fact the whole town (ignoring the IKEA suburbs) is full of little architectural glories, from late medieval throughrococo to Modern-Style. So although I only gave myself under 24 hours to enjoy it this time, I suspect I might be tempted back before too long.

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