One of those days when it all comes together. A daughter by your side, the sun in the sky, a sparkle on the water and everyone feeling good. ‘Where shall we go?’ I have a favourite place or two. Quiet, sleepy places in the main. The madding crowd seldom venture this way. East towards the River Guadiana and the Spanish border. Late morning and the heat is rising.
Hardly a soul on the streets of Castro Marim, we just have time to inspect the castle before it closes for lunch. The views from the walls are mighty. Past the salt pans and over the bridge, all the way to Spain.
Beyond the rusty gate a surprise awaits. The perfect setting for a Crusader knight and his lady, they indulge in a little courtship, while the cameraman looks on. We hover, in case they need extras, but no. The knight has won his lady and filming is complete.
Below us, the imposing mother church, Igreja Matriz, with candles still flickering in their sconces, and the innovative sculpture of Carlos de Oliveira Correia. Chain metal links reinforce his message all across the Algarve.
We find a corner cafe and linger a while over toasties, as the local school children spill outdoors for their lunch hour. Skips and whoops and best friends. Finally we stir ourselves to carry on, up the river in search of more castles.
Alcoutim is almost as quiet, the restaurants busy with lunch in a desultory way. It’s hot but we need to stretch our legs, and follow the trail to the river beach. Shade invites a longer gaze at our surroundings. Equally mighty, the twin castles here, but we are content to gaze up at them, and then take up a familiar perch, in a cafe high above the river. And yes, there’s cake!
My daughter has gone, but I’m still full of excitement. My son has reached the airport and it’s his turn now. My responses may be a little haphazard for a day or two. Take care till then!