Portugal é muito bonito! No really, I did make brave and well received attempts at the language. I managed several food orders and basic communications in the Portuguese. The locals there really appreciate it when you respect the culture and do your best to speak their language. Although the Algarve is a very “friendly to Brits” area with English widely practised thanks to tourism, a few key phrases spread smiles to everyone we met. I have vowed to continue to improve my Portuguese vocabulary and look forward to the next opportunity to use it. It’s an unusual language, often sounding like a blend between French, Spanish and some Eastern block language I can’t pinpoint, but I’ve read that it’s the fifth most spoken language in the world, and clearly it’s one that I have a reason to learn. I’m going back to Portugal, dammit, my beach awaits me!
Muito obrigado, Portugal!
As for the adventures had, I will not bore you with a complete and detailed travel diary of the trip. (Mostly because I’ve just had a heavy dinner accompanied by half a bottle of wine, thereby, ruining both my ability to type properly and rendering my typically sharp vocabulary more akin to a 10 year old.) So, without further delay, I present the very special:
Algarve in a Nutshell: A Brief and Feeble Travelogue by a Half-Tipsy Jen
(Who took notes during her holiday, for just such a crisis.)
(Oh, and if you want to just skip to the pictures, I’ve not posted them yet, but will likely do so when I am ever slightly less tipsy/more focused. Probably tomorrow.)
Arrive! Watched some Portuguese TV. Found a beach, (far east end of Praia da Rocha), and ate the first Portuguese meal there: Me: Shrimp (whole), Neil: Sardinhas (whole). Bed early. Found a mercado for supplies (staying in an apartment/timeshare), went exploring to the far west end of Praia da Rocha where I nearly broke my toes fighting a rocky high tide back to safety. (Bruised badly, still hurts, photos to be revealed.) Swam the indoor pool at the complex, nearly split open my chin on the pool bottom, (bruised, but not too visibly, no photos). I am a klutzy girl. Between injuries, we tried the freshest grilled Red Snapper in the world at a little shore-side place in the old fishing village of Alvor. Fuck! that was good! I can honestly say I had a sex face for grilled fish. Next day, beach day at Praia da Rocha. I sunbathed naked. (John, are you reading this? 😉 ) It was the most free feeling in the world. I did spend time in the bikini, but not enough to make tan lines. Of course, that could also be down to the use of 30 SPF sunscreen… Had Portuguese pizza for dinner with a bottle of vinho tinto. Slept like a baby. A dead, drunk, salty haired, baby. Despite my injuries, I have already pledged undying love for this country.
Drove to Alcantarilha to see the Chapel of Bones. Made up of the remains of 1500 parishioners, it’s a tiny, eerie room and the only surviving bit of the original church after the great earthquake of 1755. (Fear not, I have pictures of this fantastic place.) The castelo of Paderne was under revitalisation, but I grabbed a few photos. The countryside of the Algarve is a mix of poverty and tourism. Albufeira is an old tourist trap with an English-friendly atmosphere. Had awesome Portuguese style Cod fish in town. Back in Portim?£o for sunset on the Praia da Rocha. Drinks and pool playing at the apartments before bed. Saw more beach time the next day. Built a sand castle thing and dove into the breaking waves of the Atlantic. My mom called my cell phone and so I took her to the water’s edge so she could hear the lapping ocean from over 4000 miles away. Made dinner in the flat and had time in the hot tub before letting the night take over.
Back to Alvor for a RIB ride out 15 nautical miles to see wild dolphins. The boat is a semi-inflatable thing like you see in sea rescue shows. A really rough ride with only your seat to hold onto as you slam into the waves, but worth the ride to witness around a dozen untamed dolphins swim and surface around you. I’ve got feeble pictures of the elusive beasts, but you’ll see them when I get the shots posted. Dinner, coffees, hot tub and bed. Soreness from the abusive boat journey settled in the next day but we ventured to Loulé for the market. Stands and stands of vendors sold everything from leather goods to fruit to fresh seafood and I ordered two sugary fried bread things in Portuguese from an old woman. (For Americans, they were similar to Elephant Ears.) The road trip stopped in the wealthy marina of Vilamoura next, where you can buy a Hugo Boss suit and a cheap ice cream cone on the same boardwalk. Chanel sunglasses and expensive yachts abound. (It’s mostly a golf haven.) The weather turned overcast and so the last evening in Portugal was spent back in the apartment complex, playing pool and sipping drinks. With the packing done, one last night of shut eye until the flight back to England.
I (heart) Portugal. 🙂
Well, there you have it. In summary. There are of course details left out in the interest of brevity, because really, reading a post about a holiday has got to be worse than sitting through someone’s vacation slides in the living room, but I assure you, I will bore you with the photographic evidence soon. I think I’ll have the photos up tomorrow on my dotmac site, but I swear to you that the majority of them will be well worth seeing. Portugal is an incredibly beautiful country and the Algarve region is a treasure chest of stunning beaches, charming villages and beauty like I’ve never seen. I’ll let you know when the photos are up.