We live in the Algarve, on the east side about 25 miles from the Spanish border in a village outside Tavira. We are about a mile from the sea, except we have the Ria Formosa, which is a natural reserve of small islands and sandbars before the open ocean. It is quite a small, quiet place, although there is quite a lot of holiday accommodation and new builds. Although it is a village, it is very near one of the main roads so not too isolated. Very few people speak english, although there are a few expats in the area.
If you drive just a few minutes inland, you are into the hills, which is the hidden beauty of the algarve, which I never realised were there before I lived here. You turn a corner and you are in another world, where the tourism and seasonal life of the algarve has no effect. It's like going back in time, where people dress conservative and do things 'the old way', things are done by hand, not by machine. The ladies dress in long sleeves and dark colours, even in the heat of the summer. The views are amazing, and everywhere you find these houses dotted around, on the top of every peak almost, some new. mostly old. Ruins lay victim to the hands of time, but you can imagine, the life these people used to live, some probably still do! Sometimes its seems such a shame to see these beautiful old farmhouses (or quintas as they call them here) going to ruin. I really must take some pics one day. Xau for now!