O Barril beach

I don’t know about you, but I like to know how places get their names. O Barril beach on Tavira island, for instance.  O Barril means The Barrel, but there isn’t a barrel in sight. Just a handful of bars and restaurants, some beach beds – and rows and rows of anchors!

So why not Anchor Beach, I ask?

I suppose because the anchors are a relatively recent addition, left behind when the tuna fishing community based here hung up its hooks. Or rather, packed up its nets. For the anchors were used to weigh down nets used to trap unsuspecting tuna migrating to warmer waters.

Together with the tuna, the fishermen have long gone and their houses have been turned into smart bars and restaurants – and a tuna museum.

But back to the name of the beach. Maybe the tuna were packed in barrels of salt for preservation and then transported from the island to the mainland on the little train that still runs between them? That’s my best guess. Answers on a postcard please!

Today the train provides a novel form of transport for day trippers to one of the loveliest beaches in the Algarve. If you haven’t been, you really should.

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