Loulé 5 Day tour

Day 2

It's our Loule 5 day tour - day 2, and day 5 of our Algarve tour. The​ ​next​ ​morning​ ​I​ ​drove​ ​down​ ​south,​ ​towards​ ​Almancil,​ ​a​ ​small​ ​town​ ​best​ ​known​ ​for​ ​its​ ​luxury​ ​resorts​ ​- Vale​ ​do​ ​Lobo​ ​and​ ​Quinta​ ​do​ ​Lago,​ ​both​ ​tremendously​ ​popular​ ​among​ ​the​ ​rich​ ​and​ ​famous.​ ​Here,​ ​one​ ​can enjoy​ ​high-end​ ​cuisine​ ​and​ ​premier​ ​golf​ ​courses​ ​all​ ​under​ ​one​ ​roof.

Before​ ​trying​ ​my​ ​hand​ ​at​ ​golf​ ​for​ ​the​ ​first​ ​time,​ ​I​ ​stopped​ ​by​ ​Igreja​ ​de​ ​São​ ​Lourenço​ ​de​ ​Almancil.​ ​This 18th-century​ ​church​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Algarve’s​ ​most​ ​unique​ ​religious​ ​sites​ ​and​ ​a​ ​great​ ​example​ ​of​ ​Baroque architecture. Visitors​ ​are​ ​drawn​ ​in​ ​by​ ​its​ ​blue​ ​and​ ​white​ ​tiles​ ​that​ ​fully​ ​cover​ ​the​ ​walls​ ​and​ ​the​ ​church’s​ ​ceiling.​ ​The​ ​tiles, or​ ​azulejos,​ ​as​ ​the​ ​Portuguese​ ​would​ ​call​ ​it,​ ​showcase​ ​the​ ​life​ ​of​ ​São​ ​Lourenço​ ​and​ ​were​ ​designed​ ​by Polícarpo​ ​de​ ​Oliveira​ ​Bernardes,​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​azulejo​ ​masters​ ​of​ ​the​ ​time.

After​ ​visiting​ ​the​ ​church,​ ​I​ ​went​ ​directly​ ​to​ ​Quinta​ ​do​ ​Lago​ ​for​ ​my​ ​golf​ ​lesson.​ ​This​ ​large​ ​estate​ ​boasts three​ ​remarkable​ ​golf​ ​courses,​ ​each​ ​with​ ​its​ ​own​ ​layout​ ​and​ ​difficulty​ ​level.​ ​Those​ ​who​ ​pick​ ​the​ ​South course​ ​will​ ​be​ ​greeted​ ​with​ ​a​ ​view​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Ria​ ​Formosa​ ​National​ ​Park​ ​and​ ​even​ ​the​ ​little​ ​ones​ ​can​ ​practise at​ ​the​ ​mini​ ​golf.​ ​In​ ​2015​ ​and​ ​2016,​ ​Quinta​ ​do​ ​Lago​ ​was​ ​named​ ​“Europe’s​ ​Best​ ​Golf​ ​Destination”​ ​and​ ​to this​ ​day​ ​it​ ​remains​ ​a​ ​must-stop​ ​for​ ​golf​ ​fanatics. Beginners,​ ​like​ ​myself,​ ​can​ ​start​ ​with​ ​a​ ​private​ ​lesson​ ​before​ ​joining​ ​the​ ​more​ ​experienced​ ​golfers​ ​on​ ​the field. I​ ​worked​ ​on​ ​my​ ​swing​ ​for​ ​a​ ​while​ ​before​ ​hitting​ ​my​ ​first​ ​balls​ ​and​ ​soon​ ​afterwards,​ ​it​ ​was​ ​time​ ​for​ ​lunch.

Pizzeria​ ​Casavostra​ ​was​ ​my​ ​pick​ ​for​ ​the​ ​day,​ ​a​ ​Mediterranean​ ​restaurant​ ​that​ ​serves​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the,​ ​if​ ​not​ ​the, best​ ​pizzas​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Algarve.​ ​The​ ​pizza​ ​is​ ​thin,​ ​crispy​ ​and​ ​the​ ​fact​ ​that​ ​is​ ​cooked​ ​in​ ​an​ ​Italian​ ​wood​ ​oven, adds​ ​even​ ​more​ ​to​ ​its​ ​flavour.​ ​There​ ​are​ ​a​ ​dozen​ ​types​ ​of​ ​pizza​ ​on​ ​offer,​ ​that​ ​range​ ​from​ ​the​ ​most​ ​simple, the​ ​Margherita​ ​to​ ​the​ ​most​ ​complex​ ​combos​ ​like​ ​the​ ​pizza​ ​Nova​ ​Don​ ​Corleone​ ​that​ ​includes​ ​grapes​ ​and pine​ ​nuts.

A few​ ​minutes​ ​away​ ​from​ ​the​ ​pizzeria​ ​I​ ​found​ ​the​ ​Karting​ ​Almancil,​ ​a​ ​theme​ ​park​ ​dedicated​ ​to​ ​motorsport fans.​ ​For​ ​15​ ​euros​ ​you​ ​can​ ​take​ ​a​ ​quick​ ​spin​ ​on​ ​the​ ​main​ ​track​ ​or​ ​experience​ ​a​ ​high​ ​tech​ ​kart​ ​for​ ​10​ ​euros more.​ ​If​ ​you’re​ ​bringing​ ​your​ ​kids​ ​on​ ​your​ ​trip​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Algarve,​ ​this​ ​is​ ​a​ ​great​ ​place​ ​to​ ​spend​ ​a​ ​fun​ ​afternoon with​ ​them.

Since​ ​I​ ​still​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​make​ ​it​ ​to​ ​the​ ​beach,​ ​I​ ​only​ ​stayed​ ​for​ ​a​ ​short​ ​period​ ​at​ ​Karting​ ​Almancil​ ​before getting​ ​back​ ​on​ ​the​ ​road​ ​towards​ ​Praia​ ​Vale​ ​do​ ​Lobo. This​ ​serene​ ​beach​ ​is​ ​enclosed​ ​by​ ​stunning​ ​reddish​ ​cliffs,​ ​forming​ ​a​ ​wall​ ​between​ ​the​ ​golf​ ​courses​ ​of​ ​Vale do​ ​Lobo​ ​resort​ ​and​ ​the​ ​shimmering​ ​waters​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Atlantic.​ ​I​ ​sat​ ​down​ ​under​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​straw​ ​umbrellas and​ ​enjoyed​ ​the​ ​last​ ​hours​ ​of​ ​sunlight.

Around​ ​7​ ​pm,​ ​I​ ​packed​ ​my​ ​things​ ​and​ ​headed​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Anantara​ ​Resort​ ​in​ ​Vilamoura,​ ​where​ ​I​ ​booked​ ​a room​ ​for​ ​two​ ​nights.​ ​This​ ​spacious​ ​hotel​ ​is​ ​decorated​ ​with​ ​paintings​ ​and​ ​artworks​ ​from​ ​Portuguese​ ​artists and​ ​combined​ ​with​ ​a​ ​local​ ​heritage​ ​of​ ​cork​ ​items​ ​and​ ​regional​ ​pottery,​ ​which​ ​add​ ​a​ ​unique​ ​touch​ ​to​ ​the property. Part​ ​of​ ​a​ ​worldwide​ ​hotel​ ​chain,​ ​Anantara​ ​Hotels​ ​found​ ​its​ ​European​ ​home​ ​in​ ​Vilamoura​ ​and​ ​much​ ​like​ ​the other​ ​resorts​ ​in​ ​Loulé,​ ​Anantara​ ​also​ ​has​ ​a​ ​golf​ ​course​ ​at​ ​its​ ​doorstep,​ ​along​ ​with​ ​five​ ​swimming​ ​pools,​ ​six restaurants,​ ​a​ ​gym,​ ​a​ ​spa​ ​and​ ​many​ ​more​ ​facilities.

For​ ​dinner,​ ​I​ ​booked​ ​a​ ​table​ ​at​ ​Emo (Michelin recommended),​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​hotel’s​ ​restaurants​ ​and​ ​a​ ​popular​ ​choice​ ​in​ ​Vilamoura itself.​ ​The​ ​restaurant​ ​serves​ ​Portuguese​ ​cuisine​ ​with​ ​a​ ​contemporary​ ​spin. After​ ​going​ ​through​ ​the​ ​menu​ ​I​ ​placed​ ​my​ ​order​ ​and​ ​waited​ ​patiently​ ​for​ ​the​ ​meal​ ​to​ ​arrive.​ ​What​ ​came was​ ​a​ ​series​ ​of​ ​prestige​ ​creations​ ​assembled​ ​like​ ​a​ ​piece​ ​of​ ​artwork​ ​on​ ​a​ ​white​ ​canvas.​ ​Dishes​ ​here​ ​are meant​ ​to​ ​be​ ​shared​ ​and​ ​complemented​ ​with​ ​a​ ​bottle​ ​of​ ​wine. Feeling​ ​satisfied,​ ​I​ ​picked​ ​up​ ​my​ ​room​ ​key,​ ​bid​ ​goodnight​ ​to​ ​the​ ​staff​ ​and​ ​left​ ​the​ ​restaurant.

Driving map for Day 2 of this Loulé tour

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