Busy walkers manage to shop in Algarve

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LAGOS, Portugal -- Doing the Algarve on foot is not conducive to a shopping spree.

Our daily walks on a Uniquely Europe walking tour were primarily in the countryside, and when we arrived in the villages, the shops were frequently closed either for siesta or for the evening.

But if souvenirs are important to certain travelers, they need not despair here. During one of the morning walks, we visited a local basket maker. Sitting on a stool next to his white stucco cottage near a grove of olive trees, he was methodically stripping esparto grass with his 18-inch knife, then weaving the strips into baskets.

I left toting two baskets that now hold books and magazines in my living room. The price was $4.

Another day, we arranged for the support van to take us to a pottery shop outside Lagos. We roamed this spacious shop, eyeballing shelves stacked with hand-painted soap dishes (about $2 each), vases ($3 and up), salt and pepper shakers ($2) and garden pots ($5 and up).

Two people shipped items, but I carried my pottery purchases. They were bubble-wrapped, so nothing broke; my only regret was not buying more.

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