Trip Report- The Beach at Alvor, Portugal


I am a beach junky! I need my regular beach fixes. My heart literally aches to be by the water.

I have been to many beautiful beaches: In Tel Aviv, Sicily, Southern France, Majorca Spain, Galway Ireland, Veradero Cuba, Paradise Island on Cozumel, Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres, Torfino Beach on Vancouver Island and Grand and Lester Beach on Lake Winnipeg where we have our summer home. The beach at Alvor, Portugal is not the nicest beach I have ever visited because the colour of the water is not like the Caribbean, but it certainly ranks high on my list!

The surf is beautiful, the water crystal clear and the sand like a fine brown sugar. The cliffs and grottos at the far east of the beach or picturesque as well as the grasses and low furrows of sand. The walkway at Alvor is brilliant and means the maximum number of beach walkers can enjoy it including those who are mobility impaired.

All of these photos were taken on my hour’s walk along Alvor Beach.



To appreciate the enormity of the beach, can you see the figures walking along the water’s edge in the middle of the shot above?



This pic is my personal favourite.






Our hotel was smack on the beach. Our room was second from the end on the top floor.






Kath’s quote:

“for her

the ocean

was more than a dream

it was a place

she needed to visit

to find herself.”-Jose Chaves

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Love never fails.


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Trip Report, Seville Spain, The Real Alcazar


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The next morning we walked around the magnificent cathedral again. This time we were headed for the Real Alcazar right when their gates opened for the day. D had been given a great tip about purchasing on line tickets for the tour which included the part of the palace where the Spanish royal family stay when they visit Seville, called the Cuarto Real Alto (Upper Palace). This also got us past the crowds waiting for admission.


These three arches link the Patio del Leon to the Patio de la Monteria.



From the moment we entered, we were enthralled. The second floor of the photo just above is where we awaited our private tour.


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The artistry of the architecture was exquisite as well as the juxtaposition of styles.


The House of Trade was established to regulate Indies travel between Spain and the New World in the 16th Century.


The Palace of Peter the first.

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All of these photos were taken through the milky glass of the second floor vestibule. No photography was permitted during the private palace tour. But let me tell you that the rooms were absolutely splendid and well worth the extra money & time.



I loved all the intricate tile work and discovered: “The geometric models used in Islamic art are not mere decorative motifs but the expression of a philosophical principle revealing divine beauty”.


The Patio del Yeso with a beautiful reflective pool.




The 12th century Almohad Palace.


The side section of hall is formed with multi foil arches displaying diamond pattern panels.


The Upper Gallery in the Court of Dolls added in the reign of Isabella the Second.

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The Pond of Mercury is so named for the statue of Mercury pictured here.

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Three views of the columns and arches adorn the windows (sorry about the smudge on the lens of the camera).


A window seat in the sunshine drew me to linger.



Rubber trees grew majestically in the palace gardens


as well as these beautiful palms.


Intricate iron gates were strategically placed in the gardens.




From a second floor vantage you could appreciate the geometric hedges of the gardens



My favourite views of the palace and gardens were through these archways. We had spent a splendid morning but by then it was time to check out and walk to the car park where we had stowed our vehicle. We were a bit peckish and decided to have a meal before we got back onto the highway but we discovered that most lunch spots did not open until at least 1 pm. Instead D ran back to the pastry shop that was right next to our hotel. This decadent treat held us why we began to navigate our way “home” to Alvor. We stopped for lunch just before the border of Portugal.


D had a pasta craving and chose this monstrous portion of penne in a bolognaise sauce


and I a “rock shrimp omelet”.  I was asked if I wanted fries with my omelette and that sounded like a lovely idea. It was the strangest omelet I had ever seen or tasted. It was mostly flour and I could not detect any egg. Apart from the embarrassment of ordering a mass of deep fried items, the “omelet” was actually pretty good. When we arrived back in Alvor, I really felt like I needed a very long beach walk to work out the stiffness from being in a car for 3 hours and that full feeling from all of the deep fried food. Stay tuned.

Kath’s quote: “The air soft as that of Seville in April, and so fragrant that it was delicious to breathe it”. -Christopher Columbus


Love never fails.

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Seville-Tappas & Wine Tour

We only had one evening in Seville and so we very carefully considered our options. My husband did the research and thought our best bet was to be with someone who had extensive experience with the best local restaurants in the area. Michaela from “Devour Tours” not only had this experience, she successfully answered each and every one of our questions. On top of this, she was fun, warm, hospitable and is from a city which is a 2 1/2 drive away from our home in North America! She was the perfect host and tour leader.
We met in  a public square a short walk from our hotel. Michaela briefed us that we would be visiting examples of three tapas styles in this order: Traditional, Modern and Fusion Tapas.
Stop one was at the bodega Maestro Marcelino on Calle Hernando Colón. 9.
A bodega is a small food shop
that may also sell sherry, vermouth or wine.
Here we enjoyed a selection of a selection of superbly cured meats: Mojama, chorizo, chicharrones and caña de lomo
that had been aged on site.
In addition to Montadito de lomo (a grilled pork loin sandwich). Our libation of choice was a sweet red vermouth on tap.

 For modern tapas we visited Las Theresas 0n Calle Santa Teresa.


I thought that it was ironic that we sampled “modern” tapapas here because the restaurant in the Santa Cruz neighbourhood was the second oldest in Seville, originating in 1870.


Michaela noted that we were now in the Jewish section of old Seville and the importance of acorn-fed Iberian ham (Jamón ibérico de bellota).


We enjoyed the amazing ham with a creamy aged sheep cheese accompanied by a glass of dry manzanilla sherry and then another glass of amontillado.

I asked what I thought was an obvious question: “Why was ham featured so prominently in a Jewish neighbourhood?” She explained that after to Spanish Inquisition, Jews proved that they had converted to Christianity by publicly eating the meat forbidden by Jewish culinary rules. We were fascinated.


As we walked to our next location, Michaela suggested we make note of the square of three crosses, pictured here. She indicated that the neighbourhood once had a high crime rate and that this square was particularly noisy. Interestingly, once the community erected the crosses, the crime and noise subsided. It was anecdotes like this that made Michaela the perfect host.


Our final stop for fusion tapas was at Vinería San Telmo on Paseo de Catalina de Ribera for a selection of hot-off-the-grill tapas made with the freshest market ingredients.


When this arrived at the table, I was content as we had eaten so much already but no….this was the amuse bouche before the eclectic tapas started to arrive.


First up were these enormous prawns.


Next was grilled pork belly on pumpkin puree


and last but not least: Oxtail spring rolls. All three small plates were absolutely exceptional.


The amazing food was accompanied by a tasting of three modern style local wines: D.O. Sierras de Malaga-Botani, V.T. de Cadiz-Barbazul and D.O. Rioja-Sonsierra Crianza.


We didn’t want our time to end but Michaela had to get home to her boyfriend and our other new friend (a cricket playing Australian heading to Britain) had to tend to his sick wife who tried to start the tour with us but had to head home.

Upon reflection, we thought that this evening was the best of our sojourn, For sure the tastiest, if nothing else.

Kath’s quote: “Sharing food has always had a central place in civilized societies; it’s no accident that so many of our cultural, religious and patriotic rituals are involved with eating”. -Ruth Reichl


Love never fails.



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Trip Report-Day Five, Seville Spain




We decided not to take the toll highway so navigating the country roads was a wee bit taxing.



We stopped at one point to take pictures in each direction of this beautiful valley. The landscape reminded us of the hills of Tuscany.

But the views of the countryside from the car were worth the extra trouble.


Just before we turned onto the highway to Seville, we saw this scene which quite frankly astounded us!

The highway up to Spain was direct and fast but navigating the streets of old Seville was frustrating.

To top it off, when we finally found our hotel, we discovered that we had left our passports in the car. D walked back to the car to fetch them.


As I waited for D’s return I took this picture through our hotel front door to the cathedral.



This was the view from our room!


The room was teensy. One wall was immediately to the left and the window immediately to the right, but we were delighted with its location.




We had a quick lunch of patatas bravas and paella for 2. I thought that it as too expensive at 36 Euros and I was not overly impressed with it or the potatoes. But all of our meals couldn’t be home runs!


D and I had thought that the Cathedral was the third largest Gothic cathedral in the world behind St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London (both of which we have visited) but as I look at a brochure from the cathedral now, it states that with the dimensions of 126 m length, 83 m wide, 27 m high and the 96 m of the Giralda tower, the Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world.

The most fascinating aspect of the building itself was the fact that in 1184 it was built as a mosque. It was consecrated as a cathedral in 1248 and the construction of the Gothic architecture took place from 1434 – 1517.



We were definitely impressed with the grandeur of the building but what I especially loved were the tiny details, like the three cherub angels above.


The vision of St. Anthony by Murillo.


The tomb of Christopher Columbus by Arturo Melida.


The crucifix.


Clerical vestments.


The Giralda Tower was designed by Ben Basso also in the 12th century.




The night views of the tower were also exquisite.



The orange tree courtyard dates back to the 12th century. We could not believe this quiet sanctuary was smack in the centre of this bustling city.

We took a Devour tappas and wine tour that evening. Stay tuned.

Kath’s quote: “A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral”. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Love never fails.







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Algarvian Trip Report-Day Four, Part Three, Beach Lunch






After our morning excursion to Lagos, we decided to have our lunch back at Praia de Alvor.The pics above of our beautiful beach walk.


Called a snack bar/restaurant; we loved the beach location,



the open patio and the food!


D had a shellfish salad that was chock full of shrimp. It was served with a cocktail/mayo sauce that I recalled from a Portuguese restaurant that used to be on Portage Ave. back home.



I was over the moon with my selection of seafood pasta. It was simply prepared with garlic, lemon and olive oil and had plenty of clams and shrimp. With a dusting of Parmesan, s&p, a bit more olive oil it was SENSATIONAL!

Unfortunately when it was time to pay up for our lunch and beer, I realized I had left my money in the knapsack in the car. D briskly walked back to the car and then drove to the restaurant.





There was a beautiful sunset that evening. I took these pics right from the elevator lobby on our floor. We decided to lay low that night as we were off to Seville the next morning.

Kath’s quote: “The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.”-Author Unknown


Love never fails.

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