A fresh wind is blowing through Olhão! This fishing village, located off the beaten track in the Portuguese Algarve (east of Faro) features some beautiful old buildings that are currently being restored. I first came to Olhão over a year ago, when I was staying in Casa Fuzetta, Jonathan and Tara’s enormous house. I had been to what became my favourite part of the Algarve before, but somehow I had never visited Olhão. Thankfully, this time round I did go, for it is a marvelous place. Not everyone will like it, it is by no means a fashionable seaside resort but rather resembles a Moroccan medina (old city centre): narrow alleyways, cubist buildings, many of which are in disrepair because the owners have passed away and their heirs have left the region. Magnificent old doors and peeling paint bear witness to the glorious days gone by….I love it. But this village also has several hidden restaurants where fresh fish is grilled on the barbecue in the garage next door. It also features the largest market halls in the region, where, in addition to fresh fish, a large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is available. Especially on Saturday, when there’s a farmer’s market outside, it is the place to be. And have I mentioned the wonderful beaches yet? It takes some effort to reach them though, for you can only get there by ferry! They are part of the beautiful nature reserve Ria Formosa.
Richard and Matthias also fell head over heels in love with Olhão, somewhere that wasn’t extremely hip or swarming with tourists. It was a quiet retreat from their hectic catering existence in Amsterdam, while still allowing them to indulge in their passion for food.
And so, after several visits, they acquired an old derelict building and got to work turning it into a modern dream house.Being the go-getters and perfectionists that they are, Richard and Matthias succeeded in creating a lovely and comfortable home for 4/5 people, no expense spared.
I had the pleasure of spending two nights in this wonderful casa, after which I never wanted to leave again! It is such a complete, beautifully styled and comfortable house. All the different parts of the house were planned carefully…for instance, these houses are cool downstairs, so this is where the two bedrooms are located (each with a spacious en suite bathroom – including a perfect rain shower). The beds are superb, by the way! There is also a cosy small sitting area but the first floor is great for a comfortable get-together. This is the heart of the house, with its large open-plan kitchen with dining room table and a terrace with an extra table. And the fact that the owners are such foodies is apparent everywhere…..wow, the kitchen is fully equipped, they have literally thought of everything! It was great to be able to use it to its full potential, for I’m an avid cook (and foodlover;-)). For grocery shopping you can either visit the market or go to one of Matthias and Richard’s special addresses (the bread!!!!) after which it is time for the cooking adventure to commence…..resulting in lovely lunches turning into wonderful dinners and long and lazy nights with accompanying wines! When dinner is over, your next stop will be the lovely roof terrace with its picture perfect view of the Olhão rooftops. And if you feel like it, take a refreshing dive in the plunge pool! You’ll almost forget to go out…which would be a shame, for that would mean missing out on the stunning beaches and the Rio Formosa Nature reserve. And if you don’t (feel) like cooking, don’t worry, there’s an lengthy list of recommendations……this is a foodies’ house you’re staying in after all!
Matthias and Richard have brought ‘la dolce vita’ to Olhão and they don’t intend to give up this wonderful life…on the contrary, they plan on sharing it with many more guests: they are planning to renovate another building in Olhão into 4 houses…. this sounds very promising indeed, I can’t wait!