junho 10, 2014

Leopold Alfred Gabriel Germond de Lavigne, travelling in Algarve

Leopold Alfred Gabriel Germond de Lavigne, a senior French official in the Ministry of War at the time he was travelling through the province, said:

“At present there are no accessible roads to get from the centre of Portugal to the west of the interesting province of the Algarve. The peaks that separate these two regions are only accessible by mule, and the tracks are not always practicable. The least difficult route would be the one that crosses the Serra de Monchique and winds down through this small village to Vila Nova de Portimão and Lagos. A railway is being built to extend the existing line that links Lisbon to Beja and Casevel; until this has been completed, we have to get a public coach from Beja to Mértola, an old Moorish city; we continue down the Guadiana, squeezed between the Portuguese and the Spanish banks as far as the mouth of the river. There, in Vila Real de Santo António we come across other coaches, even worse, which cross the whole kingdom from east to west via Tavira, Faro, capital of the province, Albufeira, Portimão and Lagos.

In Lagos we hire a coach. During the journey we have lunch in the beautiful village of Figueira, from the provisions that we brought for two days. (…) These consisted of bread from Lagos, tuna dried in the sun and cut into pieces, sardines in olive oil, tinned mortadella, wine from Portimão, excellent water, chestnut coffee and medronho brandy.