You may remember our good friends Martin and Taryn of Quartier Collective and their globetrotting kids, Tilly, Francis, and Viggo, from their guide to Lisbon and our trip to Greece last year. They worked the magic behind the lens for our Portugal collection and shot breathtaking photos around this seafaring country. During their trip, they nestled into a campervan and took a beautiful road trip down the Algarve coast. Read on to learn more about their adventures.
We picked up Salvador, a vintage VW campervan, from a dusty little shop in the hills outside Faro and spent the next week bumping around the Algarve with Bob Marley on the radio and big smiles on our faces. You can’t drive very fast in these old buses, and for the south of Portugal, a slow roll is the perfect speed. We explored the Ria Formosa, an expanse of lagoon and barrier islands stretching from Faro in the west to the charming fishing port of Tavira. We bumped down a dirt track—built through tidal mudflats—to the end of the road where we met our friends for a big walk out on the sandbars. We forgot about the tide and ended up in our undies, ferrying the kids on our backs past flocks of pink flamingos across the rising rivlets and back to Salvador.
Olhao is adorable—white cubist houses tumbled in a maze of narrow alleys. We’d start the day with fresh OJ and pastries from the cutest shop called Santa Maria Madalena and finish with grilled fish and gigante beans from Cha Cha Cha. Praia do Faro has calm, consistent surf in the winter months, plus you earn instant street cred with all the campers when you show up in a vintage beauty like Salvador. But our favourite beach was Praia do Barril. We’d park Salvador and take the cute little train across the estuaries and mudflats to the sandy barrier island. The train is like something from a long-forgotten theme park—clattering and belching smoke, its wooden railings polished by time. There are a few cafes out at the beach and, the most curious sight, a cemetery of enormous anchors from the tuna boats that used to work the area. The anchors lie half-buried in the sand, row on row, rusting in the sun and salt breeze.
One day, we took a small ferry from Olhao to Culatra, one of the further barrier islands. Though the islands are busy enough in the summer, they were nearly abandoned when we visited with sand covering the sidewalks of the tiny town and drifting up against the doors of holiday homes. After a good swim, Marty, barefoot and just in his undies, went exploring with the hope of finding some more drinking water. He found the only thing open on the island: a kiosk serving cold beer to a handful of local fishermen. This is the moment when you want to be able to say a few essential phrases in Portuguese like, “Could I please have some water?” and “I’m sorry, I forgot my pants.”