Algarve: In Portugal, Günter Grass also offered ink as a delicacy

The Algarve region

Dhe Portuguese Algarve on the south-western tip of mainland Europe is the most sun-kissed spot on the continent: a good 3000 hours a year, spread over around 300 days, it shines from the sky here. How good that the cooling Atlantic is close by.

Good to know for bathers: The Algarve is divided into two areas. There is the rocky Algarve west from Faro to Sagres with only small bays between cliffs (exception: the beach in the seaside resort Armaco de Pera) and the sandy Algarve east from Faro to the Spanish border with wide sandy beaches.

The whole region was culturally shaped by the Moors. From 711 to the 12th, sometimes 13th century, it belonged to Al-Andalus, the Muslim-ruled part of the Iberian Peninsula. The name “Algarve” is derived from the Arabic word for “the West”.

Witnesses of this time are, for example, the heads crowned by turbans in the coats of arms of many places or the famous azulejos, brightly painted and glazed ceramic tiles on house facades, churches and interior walls, whose glazing technique comes from the Persian region. A popular souvenir.

In culinary terms, the area is characterized by the fruits of the sea, such as grilled sardines, the cataplana fish pot and the xerém, a corn flour soup that is served with mussels, bacon and ham in Olhão, for example.

Source: Infographic Die Welt

The quote

“Oh, my lost Portugal, how do I miss your southwestern coast”

Günter Grass (1927–2015) loved the Algarve and mourned when he could no longer travel there for health reasons – how much is shown by this quote from his posthumously published work “Vonne Endlichkait”.

In his house in the hinterland of Portimão – he called it “Casa Rosmano” because wild rosemary grew there – he drew a lot. To do this, he used fresh, “expressive” sepia ink, which he extracted from squid himself. Then he fried the animals and ate them with relish. “The process of obtaining ink is a pleasure.”

Sepia officinalis

Quelle: Getty Images/Schafer & Hill

Fantastic beaches for surfers and sun worshipers

Fine sandy beaches that gently nestle into the sea. Dramatic cliffs. Bizarre rock formations like arches, needles, caves, and natural bridges, perfect for Instagram photos. But there are also surfer paradises, marinas and beach bars.

The region’s 200-kilometer coastline offers more than 100 dream beaches, many of them award-winning. At Praia de Odeceixe (photo), for example, the salt water of the Atlantic mixes with the fresh water of the Ribeira de Seixe river, children can splash around in the lagoons, and surfers can ride the waves.

Sometimes the whole Algarve is simply named a top beach destination, for example in 2019 with the World Travel Award, the “Oscar of the travel industry”, as “Europe’s Leading Beach Destination”.

Beach of Odeceixe an der Algarve (Portugal)

Source: Getty Images / 500px Plus

The Portuguese water dog likes to go fishing

Fluffy, friendly, hardly hairs, so it is suitable for allergy sufferers – and it can also catch fish! Who cares that the Portuguese water dog jumps into every pool and doesn’t avoid a puddle.

Barack Obama made him famous: when he became US President in 2009, he gave his daughters a copy. Since then, dogs have been in fashion. The breed has its origin in the Algarve, where the dog helped fish. Today he doesn’t need that anymore, being cute is enough.

Portuguese water dogs

Source: picture alliance / blickwinkel

The golf courses are also attractive in winter

There are 35 golf courses in the Algarve, which – thanks to the mild climate – can be played all year round. The best place in Portugal (ranking: Golf Monthly) and one of the top 10 in Europe (according to golfworldtop100) is the Monte Rei Golf & Country Club.

The 18-hole course, located in the picturesque foothills of the eastern Algarve, was designed by Jack Nicklaus. And the Vale do Lobo Royal Golf Course near Almancil can boast of the most photographed golf hole in Europe: at No. 16, a cliff of the cliff is torn off.

The Templar Church survived the great seaquake

It is the oldest church in the Algarve. Knights Templar built the chapel in the 13th century after their victory over the Moors: Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe (“Our Lady of Guadalupe”), 13 kilometers northeast of Sagres. The church was one of the few structures in the region to survive the seaquake of 1755.

Back then, on November 1st, of all Saints’ Day, waves up to 20 meters high had destroyed many Algarve locations – and with them many architectural testimonies. But this little early Gothic church only had a few cracks. It has been a listed building since 1942. Its annex houses a museum on the history of the Algarve and seafaring.

Die Kirche Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe (Algarve, Portugal)

Quelle: mauritius images /

The best cork in the world comes from Portugal

The region around São Brás de Alportel near Faro prides itself on being the origin of the “best cork in the world”. In fact, the material from the cork oak, Portugal’s national tree, is of such high quality that it can not only be used to make bottle corks, floor coverings and insulation, but also bags, hats, shoes and jackets – and even masks. Cork is sustainable and hypoallergenic.

Quirky, record-breaking, typical: You can find more parts of our regional geography series here.

This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We will be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

Welt am Sonntag from September 20, 2020

Source: Welt am Sonntag


What are we doing in Poland?

MIttenten in the tourist mile, on Zielony Most, the “Green Bridge”, says the fourteen-year-old teenager: “Hey, why is it so perverse here? I don’t actually feel old-fashioned things like that, but it’s cool here. ”Amazing words from a young person who, due to his age, spends most of his time complaining or silent.

A stone’s throw away is the Black Pearl Ship, an historic galleon. Seagulls circle above the Green Gate, which leads to the old town. One hears, typically Poland, just church bells. We are in Gdansk, a city like a doll’s house, just right for a long weekend with the kids. Admittedly, my three children just didn’t want to go to Poland with Papa. And maybe they just reflect a common stance. It can hardly be said otherwise, the relationship of the Germans to their second largest neighboring country is disturbed. A recent study showed that Poles are learning German less and less at school. And in our news there are two main things from Poland: State-sponsored homophobia, which is otherwise only found in religious dictatorships. And constant nagging at the EU, which Poland still wanted to join in 2004.

Search for the tin drum

The Republic of Poland is still a popular destination for us. Poland receives about 19 million tourists a year, about a third are Germans. And a lot connects the two countries. Sometimes it is Günter Grass, born in Gdansk. We get into the so-called Bernsteingasse, the Ulica Mariacka. The yellow stone in the shops everywhere in showcases, the dealers made of amber even build racing cars. But in the middle of it, a cast iron sign says: “Biblioteka”. Books are stacked and lined up on high shelves, an old wooden staircase leads to the upper floor, it looks like “Harry Potter” (and that’s why the children go in with it). Inside, a middle-aged man sits behind the counter. On an old shelf, next to a historical globe: the white and red striped tin drum. “It’s the original,” he claims. “From the film.” And then he pulls one large volume after the other off the shelf and shows old pictures of his Gdansk. “From Günter Grass’s estate,” explains the librarian. He thinks about what might interest the children. The Hevelianum, the children’s museum – unfortunately closed. “Just go for a walk!”

And we do that every day. The old shipyard is in the north of the city, dilapidated and unguarded. The strikes of 1980 began there, the Solidarność union was created around the labor leader Lech Walesa. The historic site can be visited by simply climbing through one of the smashed windows. The children immediately disappeared into the ruins. There are a few information boards for adults. Everything seems highly improvised. Flowers, old photos of the demonstrations on the site, and a picture of the Pope at the time are still hanging on the shipyard gate.

A few steps further, in the Museum of the Second World War, you can put on VR glasses and experience as a resistance fighter how a friend is shot. But then how the Poles courageously kill a few Nazis from the sewage system. I only think about the question of whether it was good to put these glasses on a twelve-year-old. The children want photos next to the real tanks. The museum is not convincing. The world war becomes a dark experience. Get out quickly.

Queues stand for a delicacy

Strolling on the streets of Gdańsk sometimes seems like being in Eckernförde in winter: it is very quiet. The city of 600,000 inhabitants is a sleepy nest. Good for us: one of the central attractions is a children’s carousel. The Karuzela Gdańska has two floors, is eleven meters high and can carry 78 young passengers – on horseback or in gondolas.

A somewhat improvised memorial: Solidarnosc graffito on the Gdańsk shipyard.

And then there is the Pączki. A kind of Polish donut that is sold in a street kiosk. You have to stand in line for a long time, two young bakers knead in the shop window behind glass and repeatedly push gigantic trays into the oven. The particles are sweet and salty, in a number of variations. On the second day, the children can say “Wisnia”, which means: cherry. And anyway, the food: not a day without the milk bar “Neptune”. The classic Mleczny bar is a kind of upscale snack bar in Poland, where the poor eat – and do it well. We eat there every day, sometimes twice. The place is reminiscent of a theater canteen.

The main thing is waffle machine

In the evening it gets very quiet in the city. Anyone who reads “Tripadvisor” and the like comes up with suggestions such as: Kalashnikov shooting without a gun license. Luckily that you are always reserved with children and go to the hotel early. The new Holiday Inn Danzigs is mercilessly modern, with rocking chairs hanging on thick ropes, ideal for hipsters, but none of them are around. The house is one of the old warehouses at the harbor, the historic walls have been integrated into the building. The bar on the top floor offers a view of the entire city. And if you are bored, you can get annoyed by the very weak service all day.

The children don’t care: there is an American waffle machine at the breakfast buffet, a “Golden Malted Waffle Baker”, the dough flows from a large dispenser, a large waffle iron is baking next to it, you serve everything yourself, all kinds of syrup is available. “This is,” the children clarify, “the best hotel in the world.”

Very white, very new: The Holiday Inn in Gdansk.


Remembering Marcel Reich-Ranicki: The editor for literature

ZFor the hundredth birthday of the great Robert Musil, Marcel Reich-Ranicki only published a small gloss on November 6, 1980. It was like a posthumous tear. Musil’s main work, the fragmented novel universe “The Man Without Qualities”, comprises 2172 pages, but is therefore an “inedible book”. So a “reader’s digest” of “four hundred to a maximum of six hundred pages” was needed. This is the only way to save the novel. Outcry and horror in the literary scene. This amused him: Provocation succeeded. He telephoned, telegraphed, dictated letters to employees and, a good month later, presented nine substantial articles on Musil and the novel on two full pages of the weekend supplement “Pictures and Times”. Who had ever attracted more attention to the “man without qualities”?

Jochen Hieber

For a long time, from 1983 to 1998, it was a pleasure to work with Reich-Ranicki. He had warned me that he was quick-tempered, even choleric, and did not tolerate a contradiction, especially as the young editors exploited mercilessly. The opposite was true. He was inspiring, motivating, full of wit and humor and yes: empathetic. Of course, he expected opposing opinions and promoted how and where he could, also by demanding. Our first meeting, in 1982 in a Westend pub, was only briefly with exam questions – “Who is the greatest German playwright and why?” – and quickly went into a debate about two Austrian authors: Peter Handke and – Musil. Around 10 p.m. there was a whiskey at his home: “Always send Siegfried Unseld for Christmas, I rarely drink whiskey, as you can see on the bottle.” He called Joachim Fest, de jure his superior, de facto his partner a fairly perfect feature tandem, and said he had just hired “a new one”.

The resistance was gone

Even reliable enemies have always praised Reich-Ranicki’s performance as head of the literary editorial department of this newspaper: “He really made a lot of money out of it”, Günter Grass attested in 2004 in retrospect. How great the internal resistance in the feuilleton against him was at first can be seen both in Peter Hoeres (“Zeitung für Deutschland”, 2019) and in the memoirs of his predecessor Karl Heinz Bohrer (“Jetzt”, 2017). Reich-Ranicki had been the editor for ten years when I joined in 1983. Resistance to him: long gone. The newspaper’s economic situation: heavenly. The literature sheet consisted of four editors who supervised several series invented by Reich-Ranicki, the “Frankfurter Anthologie” in the first place. Under his aegis they selected the respective sequel novel and unpublished poems for the current feature section. In addition, there were daily book reviews, the Saturday literature page and four ever-increasing literature supplements in spring and autumn.

In parallel, Reich-Ranicki institutionalized his influence, yes: his power in the literary business more and more. He also wrote criticism after criticism, essay after essay, comments, glosses, polemics – and did everything to ensure that his editors were also visible in the paper. With the exception of Eastern politics and developments in the GDR, he was less interested in the run of the world in the 1980s, unless one of the authors he was particularly fond of – above all Heinrich Böll, but also Erich Fried, Peter Rühmkorf, Wolf Biermann, Christa Wolf as well as Günter Grass and Martin Walser in particular -, had once again made itself felt in the public turmoil, even causing scandal. Even when looking back at the “worst possible” (Dürrenmatt), I consider the editorial years under Reich-Ranicki to be a bright, cheerful time. As an idyll, it ended with the historians’ dispute of 1986/87.