Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Another Island Day

The Ferry to Culatra
 Olhão is a fishing town, and one of the reasons for this is because it has an extremely well protected harbour. If you search Olhão Portugal on Google Earth and zoom in, You will see that the coastline in the area is very shallow with a network of islands that form the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. This natural formation serves to provide a buffer between the Atlantic Ocean and the town of Olhão. When the tide goes out large expanses of sand and wetlands are exposed. Along with providing a rich source of shellfish ,this also provides a huge heat-sink that soaks up the beautiful Portuguese sun I am always bragging about, so that when the tide come back in over the hot sand, the advancing cool Atlantic ocean is heated up, providing unusually warm water.

Beautiful Shells
On the islands out in the Ria Formosa are various small towns connected to Olhão by ferry. Today we took the ferry out to Culatra Island. Linda and I went to Culatra (Town) to scout out the 'snack bars' are restaurants while Regis and Pete continued on the ferry to Farol (Town) to hike along the beach and meet us in Culatra for Lunch.

New Use for a Carpet
Fishing Boats
Linda and I wandered through the little town made up of houses much as I described on Armona Island except this is a much more important fishing town with a large marina full of both fishing boats and pleasure craft. As well it has a series of fishing shed built along the shoreline. Walking along the shore in the town it is obvious how protected the town is. Although many boats are tied up to the large wharf, there are as many simply pulled up on the shore with little worry of storms. At the back of the town is an impromptu boat yard with everything from old traditional wooden boats to modern fibreglass speedboats pulled up on the sand in various states of repair or just neglect.

Not a Person in Sight
A walk down a very well maintained boardwalk – I noted how this boardwalk has nicely grooved surfaces for traction, where the sidewalks in town are all made of slippery uneven cobbles - brought us out to the beach. Like the beach on Armona, this one is miles long with almost no people at all. I walked way down one end, and although there were footprints showing someone had been there, I saw no one. Although there are communities on these islands, I do not think the natives use the beaches. People take the ferries over to spend time on the beaches. It is a bit of work to get there, so this is probable why it is so sparsely used. It makes for a lovely private beach for those willing to take to trip.

It seemed to me that this beach on Culatra was cleaner than the one on Armona, but although there were plenty of garbage cans around, just down the beach from us was a collection of juice boxes just left scattered about; obviously left from a visiting family who just couldn't bother to carry them to the garbage.

Another Great Meal
Pete and Regis did not take long to hike the route from Farol to Culatra, and after spending some time just enjoying the beach, we wandered back into the town to choose a restaurant for lunch. When I asked which fish was fresh, the waiter gave me a funny looks and stated with a smile “We are a fishing town. All the fish is fresh; if it isn't, we feed the cats.” My Golden Bream was delicious, and when he did not recommend the sardine because they were out of the good ones, Linda allowed him to choose for her and was very happy with his choice.

Another lovely day in Portugal.

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