As both Michael and I have our birthdays in May, we decided that our gift to each other this year would be three nights in Portugal on the Algarve, which is somewhere we have never previously visited.  Portugal is a five and half hour drive from our home in Malaga province.  We first of all headed towards Seville, into Huelva province and over the bridge spanning the River Guadiana, forming part of the Portuguese-Spanish border separating Andalucia (Spain) from the Algarve (Portugal).

First stop was the fishing port of Olhão for lunch.   This town is full of character with Moorish-style houses, and plenty of seafood restaurants.  We strolled along the promenade with lovely gardens, watching the fishermen tend their nets and caught our first glimpse of the blue and white tiles which are a common site in Portugal.

We soon arrived at our hotel, the Best Western, splendidly situated west of  Albufeira …. just over half way along the length of the south-facing 155 kilometre coastline of the Algarve.  After unpacking and settling in, we set off for the nearest beach at Sao Rafael.  Unlike beaches in Spain which are open to the Mediterranean Sea, the beaches of the Algarve are washed by the Atlantic Ocean, making them beautifully sandy.  It was great to relax after our long drive.