Five days in the Algarve. After a delayed start due to an aeroplane tyre change, we finally left the breezy isle to get to the breezy coast. This is my second visit to the Algarve, the first being Lagos in 2014. I continued to find the Portuguese to be polite and friendly. It takes me only a single visit to a coffee shop to adjust my pace to their way of living. Being a delayed flight, and arriving at 11pm, the coffee shop had to wait. The transfer was quick and comfortable, if a little eventful. Waiting in the arrivals, a fellow countrywoman had inadvertently booked a transfer to Quarteira, when in fact she needed to go to Portimao. After a minor argument, the tears started to flow, and the transfer company relented and agreed to take her and her two teenaged children. In typical ironical fashion, it was our bus she joined. I made a point of asking the driver how long before we’d get to the hotel? He fully understand my underlying point that Portimao was the last of his stops. Finally arrived and greeted by a friendly smile and a glass of Super Bock. The room at the Praia Sol hotel was basic, but clean. A losing battle with the air conditioning left me exhausted and I collapsed in to bed.
Quarteira itself is a small town in comparison to others on the coast, but being so close to Vilamoura marina, this helped in making the stay a little more culinary diverse. All types of eateries can be found wrapped around the picturesque marina, many of which have both an inner and outer seating areas. In my short time here I managed to sample an Italian restaurant, for a creamy cheese tagliatelle, a steak restaurant, for a 10oz fillet and of course I had to try the filleted sardines on cracker bread with crushed black olive paste. All of which were cooked to perfection and very tasty. I realise my choice of food does not represent in any meaningful way the Portuguese menu, but I had limited time to find and sample the back street restaurants, where I am certain I would have found a more local offering. I did however insist on locally sourced red wines, which were subtle and matched the food perfectly.
It’s only in the Algarve that I can spend any reasonable amount of time on a beach. The constant cool breeze coming in off the Atlantic is a saviour in an otherwise unpleasant experience. This meant for many hours of reading and snoozing, without the usual over-heating and grogginess.
The walking and exploring I did manage to do took me around the streets of Quarteira where I found the fish market and the lazing locals sitting idle and saying little to their neighbouring resters. I decided to join them and sat on the bench overlooking the ocean, reflecting on my trip and trying to find some inspiration for a painting or a piece of writing, which never came. I need to spend more time researching the areas I visit as I failed to find much in the way of culture in this section of the Algarve, but I’d suggest that was my lack of local knowledge rather than a dearth.
Before I knew it, it was time to leave. The trip being an enjoyable one, right up to the point of landing in Bristol and standing in a queue of 40 minutes to get through security. My pace soon returned to the pre-Portugal levels.
Would I return? Probably not, it didn’t offer enough for me over and above the breeze and short flight, both of which can be found in many other parts of Europe that, as yet, I have not had the pleasure to visit.