Driving along the Spanish border

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We head back from Mertola back towards the Algarve going towards the coast us more or less follow a river which is the border to Spain. There isn’t much traffic on the roads and hardly any tourist driving along the same route as us. I guess there aren’t any very famous sights along the route – but the drive is pretty and there are actually several smaller attractions along our route.

A short drive down the road we reach the small town of Alcoutim it appears there has actually been a few other tourist in this town during the early morning – there is a pretty big tourist boat down at the harbor where we actually park our car. But it seems like it is time for the boat to depart so right when we arrive the other tourist leave town and we have it to ourselves. The town is a nice old town where it appears time has been standing still for centuries. There are several old houses and on top of the hill is an old fortress.

We go up to visit the fortress at the top which has been there for centuries. It is a pretty little fort with a couple of minor museums display which are included in the price of admission. We are told at the counter the admission ticket actually also covers a couple of other places in town – but unfortunately the only person working at the museums today is the lady at the counter and she can’t leave her post to go and give us a tour of the other places. Hence we only walk around the small fortress and see the construction.

From the walls of the fortress there is a good view across the river to Spain. At the hill on the other side of the river is another fortress protecting the Spanish side of the border – I guess todays peace and tranquility haven’t always been the case around here – back in the day there was a need to protect the border against the possibly hostile neighbor.

We walk down the hill back to the car and continue down the road. A short drive down the road is the remains of an ancient Roman villa. It is located right next to the road down towards the river. There is nobody else around when we drive into the parking lot and we just walk inside the area with the old villa. There really isn’t much left to see so it is just a quick visit at the few remains before we continue along the river.

Just a short distance before we are back at the ocean we reach a medium seized town called Castro Marim – which was pretty good timing since it was time to get some lunch. We walk around a bit in the old town enjoying the old buildings before lunch. It is a pretty nice little town so we enjoy the walk – and consider walking up the hill to the top where there is a pretty large fortress. The fortress is probably interesting but we decide we have seen enough fortresses in the Algarve so we give it a miss and drive outside the town.

Right outside Castro Marim is a little nature reserve. We drive out there along some pretty questionable roads which is more suited for a 4w4 than a standard car like ours. But we manage to get out in the wetlands and see some of the water pools which attracts different kind of water birds. We see a few smaller birds before we finally spot the flamingoes we were actually looking for. There is a fairly large group out here searching for food in the low water. We look at the birds for a while until they get spooked and fly off. Then it is about time to turn the car around and get back to some regular roads.

We leave the flamingoes behind and finish the push down to the coast of Algarve – we reach the water in the tiny town of Cacela Velha. It is a pretty small town with many white washed buildings and a tiny cartoon like little fort and a big church. The town is right at the beach which in this part of Algarve is a wide sandy beach which starts pretty much at the border of Spain and continues for miles until you reach Faro. The weather is a bit windy and cloudy so we skip the swim and just enjoy the little town instead.

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