Since the provisioning was done in town yesterday, today we felt it was time to explore the Ilha Tavira, that is protecting the anchorage from the Atlantic swells.
Not too different in size than Culatra Island I would think but very different. First of all it is so much greener. Where we could only find one (!) tree on Culatra (plus a very old and beautiful fig tree in a well pretected garden in the village) this island has lots of trees, bushes and herbs too along it's sand dunes. No drying banks on the island itself but some offlying. Another difference is that it seems a lot more adjusted to visiting tourists, with a dozen large restaurants along the beach, a little group of older summer houses, a research centre and even a camp-ground. All of this appears to be set up for at least a thousand visitors a day, but the tiney passenger ferry doesn't seem up to the job really. We saw only a bit more than a handful tourists during our morning walk, but the season hasn't really started yet.
ON our way back to the boat, we stopped at the local 'Escola do Vela' and *Clube Naval do Tavira'. This means the local yacht club, and they have a nice club house with a big signt that says 'members only' but they do not deny us a 'Sagres', the local blonde beer in their Bar
04/20/2010, Tavira - Algarve
Or, to what once was the most important tuna fishing harbour on the Algarve. Until the midth of last centuy that is, the tuna is no longer nearly as prevalent as it used to be here.
The town of Tvira has a much longer and more interesting history than so. Once we had done the 2 km walk from the anchorage to town, we were immediately struck by it's charm and also the 'colonial style' so apparent. Quite a few churches, monasterys and luxurious buildings from the late 1400s and a couple centurys forward made this town very interesting compared to the modern rather soul-less resorts further east along the coast.
Soon enough we found out the logical explanation. This town was indeed a colonial power 'spot' and thus quite rich from the late 15th century. The reason for this, was that the Portuguese at the time had conquered some 20 cities along the North African coast, among them the present Spanish Enclave: Ceuta.
When that epoque faded away, the tuna was what made Tavira prosper and ti doesn't by far feel as touristic as the other towns in Algarve.
Took the littlepassenger ferry to Olhao, the nearest town on the mainland. The ferry was a wooden boat, seemingly an oldfashion style fishing vessel around 20 meters LOA and it runs between Faro, Olhao, Culatra, Farol (the other village on the Ilha Culatra) and then the next island to NE, that I tend to forget the name of...
Anyway, nice to be able to critically watch the docking maneouvers of the crew of another vessel for a change- being very critical to my own attempts usually - and after 25 minutes we were in town together with lots of islanders with those 'shopping bags on wheels' apparently for their weekly provisioing.
Olhao os smaller than Faro, some 30000 inhabitants and not at all very touristic, esp. compared to Portimao and Lagos. We walked around, did some provisioning in our backpacks and had a lovely lunch buffé for 5 euros each. Very good and right at the waterfront! The further eastwards we'll get the better prices apparently. Fewer tourists as well as an added bonus.
We also had a look at the town museum, which in all honesty was a fairly quick affair, and saw the replica of the local fishing boat, 'Boa Suceso' which crewd by 17 local fishermen in 1809 undertook the adventurous voyage to Rio de Janeiro and back to bring new about the war against the French to the people in charge in Brazil, at the time of course still a Portuguese colony.
The boat and a beautiful tiled monument can be seen in the Photo Gallery.
Ria Formosa is a huge National Park, 170 square kilometers and today we explored the little part of it consisting of Ilha Culatra. Just the northern part of this island took us a good 5 hours.
Long beaches, the little bay with all the long-term live-aboards, sand dunes and nothing much more.... well, one thing is not very nice about it.... it's garbage everywhere, plastic crap and beached floatsam piling up at some spots. Unfortunately this impression ruins a bit of the experience.
just click on the 'Photo Gallery' link upper right to se the pictures
Finally, the wind calmed down and we rowed ashore in the afternoon to have a closer look at this place.
I will not write lenghty, but simply say it is wonderful! Like most islands, without proper roads or any cars at all, I just loved it at first sight.
Uploaded a few pics at the Photo Gallery so you can judge for yourself.