En route with the Dutch version of ” A PLACE IN THE SUN”

This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)

Touring through Portugal with “Droomhuis Gezocht”

So, we are all still in lockdown! Today I decided to delve into the files of “the old days” for some happy memories and inspiration and came across lots of photos of my various adventures with the Dutch TV programme “Droomhuis Gezocht” (similar to “A Place in the Sun”) It seemed like a great lockdown article! It may be even more than one article because that “old file” is full of such fantastic memories and photos of the many beautiful and interesting places we have visited.

Over the past 10 years, I have had the great opportunity of making a modest contribution to the production of this Dutch TV programme. We made 5 trips through Portugal together, exploring and filming, it was good fun, interesting, and even educational. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world ! 

In the coming blogs I will show you the different destinations I travelled with “Droomhuis Gezocht” in Portugal.

Today we will start close to home because the last episode took place in the Algarve. The television recordings were made mainly in the surroundings of Tavira, Olhão, and the islands but we also visited some other interesting places. I will follow the chronological order of the episodes so if you like, you can watch the program via this link. But I have to warn you, it is all in Dutch -;) 

Praia do Carvalho

So, we start a stone’s throw away from Carvoeiro (my hometown), at the little beach “Praia do Carvalho”, a hidden treasure behind high cliffs.

Praia do Carvalho

This is one of the smaller beaches in this area but perhaps also the most interesting. “Praia do Carvalho” owes its name to Captain Carvalho who owned this beach until the 1930s. This special beach is only accessible via two long staircases and a tunnel through the rocks. The story goes that this tunnel used to be closed with doors.

Tunnel to Praia do Carvalho

This beach is also called “Smugglers Cove” because, according to old stories, our dear old Carvalho used this beach to land his smuggled goods. Standing on the beach, you can still see the steps in the rocks that were used to get ashore.  I would really like to know what kind of stuff he was smuggling…………..

Steps in the rocks at Praia do Carvalho

Cabo de São Vicente

From this beach we make a jump to the west coast to “Cabo de São Vicente”, a windy corner of the Algarve but oh so beautiful! Cabo de São Vicente is the most south-westerly point of the European mainland and has a very impressive, rugged coastline. Until the end of the 14th century people thought this was the end of the world and, to be honest, if you stand on top of the rocks (60 meters high) and look out over the often-turbulent ocean towards the horizon, you come to the conclusion that it wasn´t such a strange thought.

Costa Vicentina

The Romans considered this spot a holy place and there they had a point. When you admire the sunset from the cliffs you will be speechless for a moment. The sun seems unusually large when it sinks into the seemingly endless ocean.

Lighthouse Cabo de São Vicente

By the way the very same Romans were not so holy themselves …….. Can I tell you another legend? ….I can’t resist! The name “Cabo de São Vicente” comes from a man called Vicentius de Saragoça. Poor Vicentius was a martyr in the fourth century AD, during the time of the Roman emperor Diocletian. This emperor persecuted all Christians on the Iberian Peninsula including Vicentius, who refused to make sacrifices to the Roman gods. He was tortured to death and then fed to the wolves ( nice guys, those Romans) but a large black bird defended the body and chased away the wolves. The Romans then decided to throw his body into the sea with a millstone to weight him down but the rope broke and the body of Vicentius was carried away by the current. Much later, during the Moorish occupation, the body was washed ashore accompanied by large black birds. The Moors decided to build a small mosque on this spot, which served as a tomb for Vicentius. Many years later the remains were brought to Lisbon by the Christian King Afonso Henriques, but the cape kept his name!

You will also find the ruins of a monastery here that was severely damaged in the great earthquake of 1755. The lighthouse, high up on the cliffs, is one of the most important lighthouses in Portugal and can be seen up to 96km off the coast.

Ria Formosa

And now we move on to the Ria Formosa, a beautiful, protected nature reserve located between the city of Faro and the beach “Manta Rota” (town of Cacela Velha).

Ria Formosa is a 60km long strip of land consisting of a labyrinth of canals and islands, such as Ilha da Culatra, Ilha de Armona, and Ilha do Farol, to name but a few. I am a huge fan of these islands and later in this story, I will do my utmost to enthuse you too. In the Ria Formosa, you will find more than 200 species of birds, many of which are protected, as well as other endangered species such as the chameleon and the sea horse.

Ria Formosa

Cão de Água

The “cão de água” – the Portuguese water dog – also has its roots here. You probably will know this race from the Obama family. The cutest dog who was probably as famous a Barack himself 😉.

Portuguese water dogs

These dogs are not only excellent swimmers but also extremely intelligent. They used to accompany the fishermen onboard during fishing trips. They helped haul in the nets, catching fish that escaped from the net and were couriers between fishing boats.

Needless to say, that there is an abundance of fish and shellfish in the Ria Formosa. This is also the place in Portugal where oysters are bred, that is to say French oysters!

French oysters

Yes, French oysters! These delicious French oysters are bred in Portugal because the conditions are ideal, so they grow much faster. So please enjoy all that goodness. And where?  Well, at the restaurant “A do João” on Ilha do Farol. If you like fish and shellfish, I can really recommend this restaurant. We had dinner here with the whole crew and everybody enjoyed it! Try for example a delicious fresh “Robalo” (sea bass) or “Ameijoas” (clams) , all delicious!

Don’t let the simple interior withhold you…. . Here it’s all about the food, not the show 😉 .

Praia do Barril

But anyway that was just an aside because first we visit “Praia do Barril” 5 km west of Tavira. This is another beautiful beach with a special story. On this beach, you will find a graveyard of anchors. These anchors are a remnant of the tuna fishing which took place every year between April and September. During the other months the fishermen ‘parked’ their anchors on the beach. These anchors were used to keep the nets in place, not the boats.

Praia do Barril

In the second half of the 20th century the tuna moved to deeper waters but the fishermen thought that the tuna had disappeared completely. This brought an end to tuna fishing but the anchors remained on the beach.

Praia do Barril

About 80 fishermen and their families lived in small houses on the beach which you can still visit. Some of these houses are open to the public and when you look inside you wonder how a whole family could live in such a small space!


A visit to this characteristic Portuguese town cannot be missed. In this cosy town you will find a mix of Roman, Arab and traditional Portuguese influences. When you stroll through the narrow streets you will see all these influences in the many churches, old bridges, the remains of the castle walls and, not to forget, the beautifully tiled facades. These traditional facades are tiled with the Portuguese “Azulejos” in the most beautiful colours.


The beautiful church “Santa Maria de Castelo” dates from 1242. Unfortunately, it was also completely destroyed during the earthquake of 1755 but luckily this one was rebuilt.

Santa Maria de Castelo

When I started writing this article, I already suspected that it was going to be too long………… so, before I start boring you it might be wise to continue this tour the next time. Make sure that you don’t miss it because we are going to visit Santa Catarina, the city of Olhão, the Islands, Santa Lucia and Estoi!

Até à próxima

And of course a big thank you to Alyson Jones, for the English correction !










This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)



  • Joanna Blunt 27/03/2021 at 5:54 pm Reply

    I love these blogs – they are the perfect way to visit Portugal in these difficult times but, even more, they are exceptional travelogues and brilliant guides to so many areas that we thought we knew! And to many more that we now can’t wait to visit with this wealth of inside information. Fantastic!

    • johanna 29/03/2021 at 5:11 pm Reply

      Hi Joanna, thanks a lot! That’s great to hear and I hope I can give you more useful travel information in the near future. There is still so much to discover ….. so I hope to see you in Portugal again soon.

  • En Route met "Droomhuis Gezocht" - deel 2 - La Dolce Vita 18/04/2021 at 2:04 pm Reply

    […] maken deel uit van het natuurpark “Ria Formosa” waarover ik in mijn vorige post (deel 1) schreef.  Armona is 9 km lang en ongeveer 1 km breed. Er wonen c.a. 50 mensen permanent op het […]

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