On our last full day we drove to the upmarket and glitzy resort of…Villamoura, with it´s stunning marina and eleven golf courses.  This area is many people´s idea of what the Algarve is all about.  We really would have liked to have spent more time here but, as we only had limited time,  we had to move on.  I think we would both like  to come back and stay in Villamoura in the future….if we aren´t travelling elsewhere!! 

So it was on to the region´s capital, Faro, probably mainly known to tourists as the  airport gateway to the Algarve. 

Walking through the arch of the city walls into the old town….we noticed the huge stork´s nests dominating the city from all the highest points, and the orange trees laden with their fruit.   After a delicious lunch overlooking the water, we stroll around the old city and visited the cathedral which has wonderful views from roof over the estuary.

Faro is located next to the Ria Formosa lagoon, a nature reserve of over 170 square kilometers and a stopping place for hundreds of different species of birds during the spring and autumn migratory periods.  This lagoon landscape stretches along the Eastern Algarve coast from Faro to the village of Cacela Velha near Tavira. Created in 1755 by the last great oceanic earthquake, its sand dunes, islands and bars to the open sea are continously shaped by tidal changes. Many archeological sites show the remains of Roman and Pre-Roman settlements.  Since the mid-eighties, the Ria Formosa has been a nature reserve, where sea water birds find protected breeding places and many fish species of the Northern Atlantic as well as other marine organisms reproduce.