If you are here in the Algarve then you should definitely believe all that is written about their mercados. The Saturday market here in Olhão is great. In fact the Olhão daily market is also superb as are many of the other markets in the Algarve. On Saturday though here in Olhão it is extra special because as well as the two large indoor markets there is outside on the waters edge a smallholders/farmers market and a gypsy market. The markets open early and if you plan on buying your supper then you should definitely get down here before 10am as not only will you have more choice, but you will be able to approach every stall easily.
On holiday weekends even by 10am some stalls have queues! From what we’ve been told every weekend in the summer is like a holiday weekend.
Occasionally on Saturdays there is also live music, but most importantly there are always two fartura stalls. If you have not yet tried a Portuguese doughnut then Olhão is a must-visit if you are in the east Algarve on a Saturday morning!
So given our Algarvian Saturday experiences and a couple of good reviews of Lisboa’s Mercado da Ribeira we caught the metro from Rossio to Cais do Sodré in a state of anticipation. Oops!
You see I had forgotten when we had elected to go to Lisboa’s Mercado da Ribeira that there is a tendency with travel blogs, and reviews in particular, to focus on all that is positive. I don’t think it is always marketing, it is mostly a simple desire to share amazing experiences. Occasionally you will stumble across a post which might share a warning or a bad experience, but it is rare to come across one with an underlying message ‘I’d probably not do this again’. I know I am not alone in writing positive posts as my last really negative one was about museums and that was a year ago today. So guess it is appropriate that a year later I am posting another one with an underlying message ‘you can give this a miss‘!
We think the market must be a shadow of its former self as half of it is now a food court. It is probably a great place to visit for some, and if you had not had our experience of Algarvian fresh produce and fish markets you will be impressed. There were a few things that did catch my eye; namely the egg trader who did nothing but eggs, the gorgeous flowers which I somehow forgot to photograph and the Goose Barnacles.
Overall though we thought it mediocre compared to Algarvian markets, and it was certainly noticeable how quiet the Mercado da Ribeira was compared to a Saturday mercado in Olhão. Perhaps we are not the only ones who think that Alfacinhas might be wrong in thinking Lisboa is superior in every way to Portugal’s second kingdom, or perhaps we simply went there on the wrong day or to the wrong market?! We do really like Lisboa and plan to return but this experience confirmed ‘Porque Portugal é mais do que Lisboa‘ ! Love to know your thoughts.