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Portimão and Monchique 5th June 2017

In Algarve, Portugal on June 6, 2017 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

I haven’t been to Monchique for years, so after a day indoors on Sunday, I decided to go out for the day. Monchique is popular destination for visitors. It sits in the hills, about 25km (15.5 miles) north of the city of Portimão. It’s at an altitude of about 450 metres (1500 feet) above sea level. Nearby, about 8km (5 miles) to the west, is the highest point in the Algarve. Called the Foia, it is a tall hill 902 metres (2960 feet) above sea level. On a clear day, there are 360º degree views for many miles. I could not venture that far, but took a walk for about an hour up towards the higher points. There are some very steep hills! I went up following a road and came back down much of the way following a footpath, which became narrower and rougher the further along I was. Don’t trust Google Maps, they mark it as if it were a road. Even a tank wouldn’t have managed the last section.

I took a train from Albufeira to Portimão, then a bus for the 40 minute trip to Monchique. It’s a pleasant ride, once out of Portimão’s fairly dreary suburbs, with the last few kilometres on a very windy road, twisting and turning its way up into the town.

I passed these traditional buildings on the way, picture was taken through the window of the bus. Once were storehouses, now like dso many farms around here, abandoned and falling into ruin.
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Monchique itself has a population of around 2,300 with a total of 6,400 in the council area. This is less than half what if was 80 years ago. As a result of the flight, there are many empty and abandoned buildings in and around town. In contrast, there are many newer properties in the hils of the highest quality.

The town is a nice enough place, but there’s not much to actually ‘see’ except for the views down the valley to the sea and of the wooded hills around.

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The hills leading out of town are very steep indeed, but the views are rewarding.

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I was glad though to view this from the other side of a strong fence!

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Once on the downhill way, I went along a footpath through woods with more butterflies in one place than I have seen for a very long time. Almost total silence, just the industrious buzzing of other insects.

Back in town, the relative peace was broken by the clatter of the civil protection helicopter coming in to land. That is a reminder that several large forest fires have affected the area in recent years. The current hot, dry and windy weather is keeping those responsible on their guard.

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The rest of the Monchique pictures are at https://1drv.ms/f/s!Am0w7qp9HCpqgshdzNsDLKwe4M5-Hg.

The Caldas de Monchique (hot springs) arae about 6km (4 miles) south of the vilage itself, alongside the main road. Their properties have been known since Roman times. A large health spa and resort now dominates that area.

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The sun was shining, it was a hot day already at 1030 in the morning and there were plenty of people enjoying the riverside walk.

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Today’s thought, seen on the side of an old building
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The Jardim (Garden) do Bivar is a large open space where once stood a palace and barracks.
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Rest of the Portimão pictures at https://1drv.ms/f/s!Am0w7qp9HCpqgshe9ME5IljIdiE-uw.

How to get to Monchique by car.

Easy – head towards Portimão on either the A22 or N125 roads, then turn north onto the N124 then the N266 road, which are well signposted. Car parking is on the edge of town, there is nothing in the middle. It is possible to drive all the way up to the top of the Foia and join the bus loads of tourists up there.

By bus – there is an irregular but daily bus service from Portimão Avenida Guarané, which takes 40 minutes and costs €4,35 each way (June 2017) – timetable here
The bus stop in Portimão is by the river near the Jardim do Bivar pictured above and about half a mile (08.km) from the cruise ship dock. A taxi for that distance would be around €20 on weekdays, €25 at weekends. There is no longer any regular bus up to the Foia, but taxis are available in Monchique.

As I said, Monchique is very hilly, most of the streets and footpaths are of cobblestones and many are very steep. Those with walking difficulties will have problems. The town centre has a number of cafés, bars and places to eat generally plus a few souvenir type shops. The are three lots of public toilets, unusual for a small town.

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