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The Algarve

Away from the cold northern Europe and far removed from the stresses of modern life, the Algarve has more to offer than just about any place one can think of. Climatically it is privileged almost beyond belief: 330 days a year of glorious sunshine, and protected from any cold northern winds by a range of mountains that run parallel to the coast a dozen or so kilometres inland.

The Algarve’s soft, sandy beaches are incomparable. They stretch for more than 100 kilometres, from Sagres in the west to Vila Real de Santo António in the east, broken only by the dramatic outcroppings of rock, sculpted by the sea into fantastic shapes, which give each bay, each beach, a special character of its own. It offers all manner of water sports, from safe bathing to wind surfing, sailing, water skiing, fishing, snorkelling and diving. There are two magnificient marinas at Vilamoura and Lagos. The Algarve’s beaches are washed clean by the Atlantic tides twice a day. Other AIgarve sports include tennis, horse riding, hiking, sky-dive and hang-gliding. Nature lovers enjoy the Algarve’s bird sanctuaries and the wonderful countryside with its almond and fig trees, vineyards, orange graves, and carpets of wild flowers.

Golf is now the king of sports in the AIgarve, with 25 superlative courses, some of them world-famous, where one may play comfortably every week of the year. And, after a round of golf, what better than some good AIgarvean food. The local cooking is as rich and sunny as the climate. The fish and seafood, fresh from the sea, is usually charcoal-grilled, or steamed in a cataplana, a primitive pressure cooker that looks rather like a flying saucer, to produce a riot of flamboyant aromas and flavours you’ll find nowhere else in the world. The local wines are good, especially the reds, and there are some interesting" eau de vie” made from almonds, honey and other local ingredients. Brave visitors with strong stomachs enjoy “Medronho", distilled from little berries of the same name that grow wild in the Monchique area.

In the AIgarve you can run with jet set or just laze around in the sun. You can eat in luxurious international restaurants or in local bistros and beach cafés. You can dance the night away in casinos and discos, or simply enjoy the crystal-clear night sky. And, if you happen to be at Cape St Vincent when the sun goes down, perhaps you will hear it sizzle as it sinks beneath the sea.