Tavira – Portugal

Our journey to Tavira started with our departing San Sebastian/Donostia. We’d arranged an airport transfer to pick us up from the hotel and drop us directly to Bilbao Airport.

I’d arranged the transfer through an app called “BlackLane”. I’d never used them before but felt somewhat reassured when a driver was allocated to our trip a few hours before the pickup time.

Sure enough, on the dot of 10:15am, a black Mercedes van pulled up at the front of the hotel. David was there spot on time and had a bottle of water for each of us.

The drive from the hotel to the airport was through some lovely countryside and all up took just over an hour before we arrived at the airport with plenty of time up our sleeve.

We checked in to our flights and dropped off our bags, grabbed a bite to eat and made our way through security. This took a little longer than expected as you have to take all things out of your bag. Laptop, iPad, Phone, all the cords for your devices. It’s a real mess but as efficient as it could be I guess.

We were then onboard a Vueling plane which left right on time, which is a bit of a treat as for me lately most domestic flights in Australia have been delayed. The flight was smooth and we arrived early into Seville airport.

Collecting the car from Avis Seville Airport was relatively painless however there was a bit of a delay while we got the additional insurance excess reduction, which also covered us for a breakdown in other countries, and since we were travelling into Portugal, we thought this would be best.

This car is an Opel Zafira, which is like a “mini” mini-van. It has the option to flip up 2 extra seats in the boot area, but the boot area was the most important part for us as we needed to fit in all our luggage. The added bonus we discovered with the Zafira was that it supported Apple CarPlay which meant we could use the iPhone for navigation and music.

We piled all our gear in, set the navigation for somewhere in Portugal and headed off for our first ever drive over a border in another continent.

This wasn’t without its challenges though as many of the roads we’ll travel on are toll roads and so we had to avail ourselves of a toll pass that was linked to the rego plate. That being said, it was no challenge at all as just after you cross the border into Portugal, there is an area to pull over to arrange this.

The process is as simple as pulling up in the designated lane, it scans your licence plate, you pop in your credit card, and it then links the card to your car. The only trick is to remember to de-register your car after you leave Portugal.

We drove directly to Tavira from the airport and arrived at around 5 pm, after a minor detour in town as we took a wrong turn. Which can go all pear-shaped in some cases with the skinny cobblestone lanes only big enough for one car.

The accommodation in Tavira was at Casa Beleza Do Sul, which is very close to the river on the southern side. It’s a 1-minute walk from here to restaurants and cafe’s and only a 5-minute walk to the other side of the river where there are many more restaurants.

After getting unpacked we made our way out onto the streets in search of some dinner. Our host had recommended a couple of restaurants on the northern side of the river so we decided to head over. He said we may need to book but we thought we’d play it by ear and see how we got on.

The first recommendation was a restaurant called Aquasol and so we made our way there through the beautiful alley ways and enquired about a table. With some luck they had a table for 4 available inside so we snapped it up.

Dinner was delicious and was more our kind of food than anything we’d had so far. We were able to get chicken curry with rice and fish casserole with rice etc. Things similar to what we have all the time at home, however, these had a Portuguese twist.

Based on how busy it was tonight and how lucky we were to get a table, we decided to book into the other recommended restaurant for the next night which was called Bica and was just around the corner.

For our first and only full day in Tavira, we’d planned to set off for a walk around the town. Not before breakfast though which was one of the highlights of staying at Casa Beleza Do Sul. The breakfast hamper provided was totally amazing for the price. It had rolled oats, seeds, nuts, cheese, jams, honey, yogurt, milk, juice and so much bread you could keep some for snacks on the terrace with the cheese later in the day. It also came with Portuguese custard tarts on the first day and orange cake on the second.

Our walk through the streets took us along the river and up into one of the main streets where we came across the “Castelo de Tavira”, the remains of an old castle in the town. There is a tower which you can climb to get a shot of almost the entire town.

From here we made our way through the gardens and up to the church Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo which is just beyond the castle further up the hill.

We wanted to climb the tower however it was approaching 12 noon and Kath had read it’s not ideal to be up the top when the bell rings, especially 12 times. In lieu of this, we decided to sit down in the terrace of a nearby restaurant for a quick beverage before embarking on the church tower climb.

Our post beverage climb of the tower made for quite a nice view, and you could see all the way to the ocean. We continued our lane crawl and visited some stalls etc along the way, picking up a souvenir here and there along with some more photographs of the town.

Before we knew it, it was after 1pm so we decided it was time for a bite to eat. We checked out a couple of places and settled at one by the river on the south side, near our accommodation.

Gary was reading about some places in Tavira that have gone all hipster and serve desserts from old jars and serve their food on slate roof tiles. We sat down at Gilao Restaurante and sure enough meals were coming out on slate and shovelled into jam jars.

The food was nice though as was the location and the hipster element wasn’t anything beyond what we see in Australia.

After lunch, we walked to the north side of town to have a look at some of the shops. While we were walking around we heard booming audio coming from the other side of the river.

The town has been setting up some sort of career fare during the day and the audio was coming from the stage area that was set up. We read that a prominent Portuguese hip-hop artist will be performing tonight from 10 pm. After a bit of shopping, we headed back to the accommodation for a bit of a rest before dinner.

Dinner was at Bica and we arrived to be greeted by the no nonsense waiter. We mentioned our booking and he pointed to the nearest table of 4 and said that was it.

Kath, Leo and Gary all ordered the Octopus Rice, which is a speciality of the area. I ordered the Fried Rabbit, which was a special of the day. The rabbit wasn’t so much “fried” as it was more grilled and/or baked.

It was certainly a highlight of my culinary adventures so far and would order this again in a heart beat if I could get the same thing again somewhere else.

After dinner we strolled back via the stage are to see what was happening. There was a lot of activity setting up for the music act as well as in the tents set up by the companies looking to attract your applicants. The police, army, fire brigade were all there along with other industries like child care and nautical studies.

There was also stalls selling home baked goodies so I snagged a piece of almond cake for dessert!

After we got back to our accommodation we spent some time up on the terrace soaking up the sounds and activity in the street below before turning in for the night.

The next morning we awoke to another fabulous breakfast hamper before we packed up our bags, loaded up the car again and headed for Benagil.

We’ll pick things up there!


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