I’ll reveal a little secret. I bet you have heard about Albufeira, Lagos and Faro when discussing Portugal’s beautiful Algarve. But, have you ever heard of Monchique and the beauty of the mountainous area as opposed to the beaches and wild coastline? Probably not and that’s why I’m taking you there.
A good staring point is Lagos from where you can take the N125 and then the N124 north which leads you through the volcanic mountain area right to Thermal Springs of Monchique. I however had the pleasure of staying in the beautiful Golf resort of Vale D’Oliveiras in Carvoreiro, half way between Lagos and Faro.
I hired a taxi to take me to Monchique and in view of my intention of tasting the famous Medronho liqueur this was a wise decision.
The thermal springs are very popular and have beneficial properties for sufferers of rheuma or asthma.
Monchique is also a place to see wonderful shops selling interesting things made from cork. Not only sandals, but also quite unique handbags. Like me, I’m sure no lady can pass on the opportunity to get a really special bag.
But, back to getting tipsy. Medronho is the name of a very potent liqueur only made here. It come from the lychee like fruit of the tree of the same name, also called strawberry or arbustus tree. It grows everywhere here, often intertwined with vines. Harvest time is in the fall, when the small berries are red and rather sweet. The resulting ‘schnaps’ is an acquired taste, because not only is it a strong alcoholic beverage, it also has a distinctive, strong smell. I have to say, that I didn’t particularly like it which saved me from getting tipsy, but if you like it, it goes down smoothly with the obvious effects.
There is however a variation called Melosa. That’s Medronho ‘watered ‘down with honey and particularly thought for ladies. I liked this one far better, but a little glass was enough.
If you feel like it, you can make your way on foot the the nearby highest elevation of the Algarve and enjoy a picnic with fantastic views over the coastline and as far as Faro on a clear day.
Certainly a side trip not to be missed on any visit to Portugal’s Algarve.