east-algarve,Visit Vila-Real St Antonio
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Above are two photo's,the top one shows the water front at Vila- Real St Antonio the second shows the view across the river to the lovely Spanish town of Ayemonte.
Vila-Real is a wonderfull large town in the Eastern region of the Algarve and well worth a visit.It is easy to reach by road or via the Algarve railway we have talked about elsewhere.
Villa real is situated on the eastern edge of the Algarve and sits on the river Gudiana as you see in the photo above.There is a large marina for you to visit with usually many exotic boats for one to wander around.Also on the riverfront you have many shops and restaurants etc.There is also a small ferry to take you across the Guadiana to Ayemonte.If you wish to use your car the ferry does take several vehicles at a time as well as pedestrians.The trip is about fifteen minutes each way.An interesting fact is that although Portugal has the same time as England;Spain just those few miles is one hour different.Ayemonte is a pretty little town and very typical of Spanish architecture.When you get off the boat you walk through a little alleyway into a breathtakingly pretty square where you can sit peacefully with a drink at one of the cafes.Off this square lead many pedestrian alleys all lined with small shops.There are a great many of these shops and you can wander around for several hours.This is a trip one should not miss.
Back in Villa Real you can wander off the waterfront and find many shops and these are mostly pedestianised,so one can really relax.The main trade in Villa-Real is the making of towels and you will see the most wonderfull collections of towels and general linenware;all made locally.You might find yourself buying some of these as they are so colourful and different that they make wonderfull gifts.
This is just a quick description of the town to tempt your first visit.You can visit many times and find many more interesting things to keep you amused.
Below the huge public square at Vila Real Santa Antonio.You can get an idea of the size in that this picture shows less than half of it.The buildings you see are I believe public offices.On the side you cannot see are a number of very good restaurants with lots of seating and umbrellas over the chairs and tables
We revisited this great tourist town in April 2011 and fell in love with it,again.The river front looks smarter than we remember it and the marina was looking very clean and busy.There were a huge variety of boats tied up and generally coming and going.The Guadiana river itself is stunning and mighty and the Spanish town of Ayemonte gleams in the sunlight on the opposite shore;its predominantly white buildings making it look so clean and inviting.It fairly beckons you to take the short ferry ride over the waters to visit its lovely squares and myriad of small shops in narrow pedestrianised streets.
Back to Vila-Real and the shopping area just off the front,this area is all cobbled and set out for pedestrians for enjoyable shopping.As you enter the shopping precinct there is a huge public square to sit in and enjoy.
Wandering around the cobbled shop lined streets you will see many selling brightly coloured textiles which I understand are all locally made.In a blaze of colour outside the shops are towels ,dresiing gowns tea towels,table cloths and scarves etc.Mostly at very reasonable prices.You can really stock up with presents in this part of Vila-Real.
Then just a few which appear to be selling the same goods at vastly inflated prices.I guess to attract the rich and make them feel as if they are buying something superior.Somebody should tell them "it don't work no more".They did not get rich by spending it, "innit".They do always seem to be very empty nowadays do they not.
Vila-Real is known for its good restaurants selling good portions of good food and this shopping area has a number of these good food places.You should try Steak Portuguese style it is a great treat.
Moorish architecture in the shopping precinct.This is one of many architecural styles you will see here.It is to the benefit of the Algarve region that they have preserved the moorish style of building in their architecture.Their buildings are so much more picturesque than most countries.
Another style very often seen in the Algarve region is tiled buildings which can look spectacular when the right colours and designs have been used..To me blues work best because it is a Portuguese tradition to paint their buildings blue and white;which looks stunning if it is kept nice.
Above is an example of a tiled shop building in Vila-Real St Antonio.This one is in green which looks very nearly as good as the blue tiles.It always surprises me that this is not done in wet climates like the United Kingdom.Such a practical idea and it will remain waterproof for hundreds of years.Totally maintenance free.
The traditional whitewashed houses mind you, are an integral part of the Algarve and the Algarve would be architecturally the poorer without them.The huddles of white houses seen from a distance are just so magical.It does mean a big cost keeping them looking nice and it only takes one not to bother and the whole magical flavour is tainted.
Things To Do In Vila-Real St Antonio
Vila-Real St Antonio has a wonderful 1 kilometer riverfront set out so prettily with water features and trees and shrubs.It also has a fairly large marina which always seems to be busy,all year round.This all follows the main river front street the Avenida da Repulica.The river of course is the Guidiana,which acts as the border with Spain.
Here on the water front you can catch the ferry over to the Spanish town of Ayemonte.This ferry ride takes about 10-15 minutes and is very popular with tourists.Remember that Spanish time is an hour ahead of Portuguese time so allow for this when getting the ferry back.
The Centro Cultural Antonio.Centro Cultural.
This is the local centre for events and exhibitions so it is always worth looking out for to see what is happening.
Museu de Manuel
This museum is worth a visit as well,it houses the work of local craft people,in particular the work of a local painter and of a wood engraver.It should amuse you for an hour or two!
Both open from:
10.00 hours -13.00 hours and from 15.00 hours -19.00 hours.Both closed on the weekend.
Restaurants of Note
The Cha Com Salgada is a great restaurant overlooking a lovely beach.They have friendly helpful staff and always have fresh locally caught fish and seafood selections.It is a place where you are encouraged to relax and enjoy your meal and surroundings.Find it if you are in the Vila Real de St Antonio area.Best way to find it,ask a cabbie,write the name on a piece of paper to show them.Unless of course you are fluent in Portuguese!
Restaurant Sem Espinhas:
The beach of Praia do Cabeco is popular in summer for beach.Unspoilt by mass tourism it is busy but not overun and it is great to find a top class restaurant .It has a warm and welcoming atmosphere and is not a place to visit if you are in a hurry.This type of establishment needs to be savoured slowly with pre drinks in the beach bar area where in daytime you can watch the people on the beach.
It has a menu with a large selection catering for virtually all tastes."You will struggle not to enjoy yourself",it has a way of uplifting even the worst mood.
Praia da Manta Rota
Avenida da Republica
51, Vila- Real St Antonio
(00351) 281 951 980
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