A – l – g – a – r – v – e

If Portugal gets an ample hold on the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, it bestows all its grandeur on the coastline of Algarve and dotting the southern-most region are the picturesque towns of Sagrez, Loule, Faro, Tavira and Lagos. And the famed Carnival of the country is traditionally celebrated in the month of February at most of the towns. Loule’s carnival being a highlight.

Driving across the region is the best way to see the destination and allows one to go on their own path of discovery in theh vastly untouched terrain. One place where man-made loses its meaning, its nature reigning all the way. In winters, the temperature is mild, clear blue skies envelope even bluer waters. There is no way of not losing heart to the clear blue enclosing the orange-red rocky formations.

While Sagrez as the southern most point of the country offers brilliant horizon sighting, Lagos is the laid-back yachting town where every house has parked in a sail-boat as against the usual car. Imagine towing down your sail-boat down to the jetty and sailing away. Without the toils in sight it certainly is an enticing picture. Stopping-by for a dialect of Brie, Lagos cuts the mark.

With Faro as the centre-point all the other towns can be driven into at a maximum of two hours. Loule hosted its annual Carnival with much pomp and gusto. The whole town literally comes onto the street to parade in a theme wearing costumes and jiving. Its a day to let down your hair and dress up like a fantasy character amidst music and familiars, tourists like us were rare. It felt like we crashed on a house party, but the Portuguese being Portuguese, one feels most welcome. Children seem to have the best time, running into the party fervour and wearing out an active imagination.

Tavira on the other hand holds onto a relative degree of stiffness, of quaintness held together by generous classic helpings. Cobble-stone streets pave the entire town as time seems to stand very still in the white-washed homes flanking the narrow lanes.

The best part of Algarve though are not the towns, its the untouched or rather unharmed trove of nature that is nothing short of beautiful, stunning or spectacular. Everything else seems tertiary, not even secondary.

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