Okay folks, so, here I go again. Sometimes, I feel like the blue cow, ….you know how they say, “oh, here she goes again!!”. For the uninitiated, here is a clip from the show. You will know what I mean……
So, this time, I was off to the Algarve in Portugal. A beautiful and scenic area of Portugal, away from the hustle-bustle of city life. That is the kind of holiday we enjoy as a family.
Well, Birmingham gave us a lovely, sunny send-off and we took flight into the clouds, a comfortable and uneventful flight…oh yes except for 2 noisy group of “hens” cackling away all through.
We reached Faro, the regional airport, late in the evening. We had hired a car and had our trusty sat-nav with us. So, drove to our hotel, which was in Albufeira, a small seaside town. Hats off to my hubby for getting used to the “wrong side”. For whatever reason, our sat nav decided to leave the motorway and go through dark country lanes. She does that all the time. It was fun.
We like to be spontaneous on holiday. (we can not do that at home mostly). This was a really laid back kind of holiday. We slept (as much as we could), walked a lot, ate junk and some good food and basically relaxed.
Algarve is beautiful if you love the sea. Lots of beautiful tiny “beauty spots” hidden away. The main holiday season starts end of April, beginning of May.We went end of March. It was quiet and peaceful, downside was, a lot of places were still closed.
The day starts a little late in Algarve or it did in our hotel. Breakfast is served at 9, which was a first for us.So, you can have a “lie-in” if you wish or go for a morning walk / swim or simply enjoy a quiet cup of coffee on your balcony.
We discovered the old town of Albufeira, which has a beautiful buzz about it with its restaurants and tiny shops and a typical town “square”. It comes to life in the evenings. It is an absolute delight. (For the first time, I even saw a escalator out in the open!)
You find people trying to get you into their restaurant, tempting you with all sorts of offers and discounts. You can have some fun and have your pick.
There is plenty of shopping but don’t expect “designer”. There is a bit of local stuff, things made of “cork” from purses to handbag to sandals and trivets and stuff. Main attraction for shoppers would be the hand-painted Portuguese pottery. I would suggest you take an empty suitcase as it quite heavy and bulky but irresistible.
There is plenty of choice for beaches, right from the local beach at Albufeira to Carvoeiro to Marinha, all a short drive away.
You have some beautiful walks along the beach. you could just do the sand or you have a choice of man-made walkways or rugged walks. There is something for everyone. We did a bit of everything.
Then you have tiny towns stuck away in the hills, Monchique, Alte, to name a few. It is just rugged beauty at its best, totally unspoilt. If you love walking, these are for you. Just take a bottle of water and you can completely “lose yourself” in here. Absolute bliss.(I would recommend good walking shoes)
Monchique, unspoilt beauty at its best
FOOD!!!! We like to experience local food wherever we go. If you are a meat-eater, there is plenty of choice and it caters to the English palate as well. Everywhere there are signs of “fish and chips” and “full English”. We did enjoy our food but could not experience local flavours. We ended up at Pizza Hut. Again it is interesting to see how the same chain produces different quality of food in different countries. Our next food stop was an Indian, which was really good but we had to stick to prawns (shrimps for the Americans) and vegetarian. We did try a “local” that was not really local and I would say that the least appealing. Last but not least, you have to try the Portuguese custard tarts!
Well, yes, we did have a lovely break and came back rested and reffreshed, out batteries recharged!!!
Based on my experience, a few tips, highs and lows
Nothing exciting but a peaceful, laid back kind of holiday. Good for families with little children or even special needs children.
Average temperatures are 16 – 20 end of March – beginning April and we were lucky to have clear, bright skies and not a spot of rain.
Car hire is reasonable but not required as there is local transport and tours a plenty.
There is a lot of choice for food if you are staying in town. You can even make your own as most hotel rooms have a kitchen and you have supermarkets everywhere. If you would like cheaper options, you have Aldi’s and Lidl’s as well.
There is some history in the region with some Roman ruins
and castles around.
A lot of tourist attractions open in May. Some were up and functioning, there was a jeep safari and Zoomarine. Also there are tours to Seville and Gibraltar and nearby places. You could drive down as well if you have the time but please note you will have to take special insurance on your car for these places.
If you are travelling budget and if you intend to shop for pottery, I would suggest you book an extra suitcase in advance, totally worth it.
More on food. There is no “halal” meat available in the region