Holidays Our little holiday diary

Algarve 2016

I won’t bore you with the reasons why, but we had to take a week’s holiday before the end of March. We talked and talked about it and various placed were mentioned and rejected before we compromised with a 6 day holiday in The Algarve.

We have found in the past that usually, the first and last days of most holidays are lost because of the travelling. In our infinite wisdom, we decided on taking an early morning flight in order to get the benefit of at least half of the first day in the resort. Our flight was booked for 7.10am from Manchester, and with the, get to the airport two hours before flight, and an hour and a half taxi ride to get to the airport, we had to be on our way by 3.30am. Because of the early start, we thought that we would be smart assed and stay up. This we did, not realising that we would have to be awake for 48 hours.

Tuesday 22nd March

Taxi arrived as ordered and off we went. Good trip to the airport and a very nice flight, arriving in Faro on time at just after 11.00am. Very slow exit because the automatic passport scanners only worked when they felt like it. We eventually got through and found our shuttle bus to take us to the car hire place. Filled in the usual paperwork picked up our car, a Fiat 500. I tiny car to look aIMGA0181t but surprisingly spacious inside. We set off to try and find the hotel. I used to have a sat nav app on my mobile phone but lost it for various reasons so we were driving blind as to where we were going. I only stopped once to ask directions and more by good luck than good management we found the hotel. Elsa the head receptionist was an absolute gem, she was very patient, polite and helpful. We got booked in, dumped our luggage and caught the free shuttle bus down to the harbour/marina area of Vilamoura. Found a supermarket, bought some booze, milk, coffee and nibbles before taking a taxi back to the hotel.  A few drinks, the last 48 hours caught up with us and we went to bed at about 6.00pm.


Wednesday 23rd March.

After sleeping for 15 hours we managed to drag ourselves out of bed and after showering and dressing, went to the restaurant for breakfast.  Excellent spread, very comprehensive and plenty of it. IMGA0124Into our little hire car off to the far west of the region.  There are basically only two main roads running more or less the full width of the region with one being a motorway (toll road). Having a Sanderson attitude, we avoided the toll road like the plague, using the N125 instead. A pleasant drive but interrupted by a lot of roadworks along the way. Finally arrived at Sagres which is virtually at the western end of the Algarve. The original plan was to then go up the west coast to Bordeira and Aljezur, but decided to give this a miss and instead head back to call at a very big China Shop that Diane had spotted on the way out earlier. (This brings back memories of Fuerteventura). Mauled our way back through all the roadworks again and found the China Shop (somewhere near Lagos). Diane was like a kid in a candy shop. We actually found some tiny glass dishes that we had been searching for back here in the UK with no success. We also found a very large food hall with many fast food stalls. We spoilt ourselves with a KFC. On back towards the hotel….In our usual cock-up mode, we missed the turn off to the hotel road (I blame the roadworks) and ended up in Faro. Turned round and headed back towards the hotel. After travelling for some time, we thought we had overshot the turning again and in a fit of idiocy, we turned round again, heading back to Faro. You’ve guessed it…going the wrong way again. I’m getting good at U-turns now (I should be a politician!!). Reminiscent of our Versailles/Paris train journey! Finally found our way back to the hotel. Had nibbles and drinkies before turning in for the night.


Thursday 24th March

As we were flying home rather early on Sunday, we thought it would be a good idea to pop into the car hire place and check that they would be open early enough for us to return the car and get a shuttle bus to the airport in time for our flight home. Everything was OK so off we went again, travelling west along the N125. Virtually everything of interest is west of Vilamoura. We had made our minds up last evening that we would go up in the hills to Monchique. Another pleasant drive through the roadworks, turning off the main road and headed inland, arriving in Silves. We IMGA0073spotted a Lidl store and popped in to do a bit of shopping. On speaking to a customer in there, they told us where we could find Sand City which is a tourist attraction. We had seen a number of roadside signs advertising the place so we took the decision to abandon the drive up to Monchique and turned back to Sand City. We were glad we did. A very impressive park to visit. Full of larger than life “sand sculptures” with a musical theme. Rather than try to describe it, it would be easier if you just went to our gallery and looked at the pictures on there. (If the main gallery button doesn’t work, please use the gallery link at the top of the side panel). Drove back through Albufeira and on to our hotel. Usual drinkies and nibbles before turning in for the night.


Friday 25th March

We read somewhere about a market in Vilamoura, so we caught the free shuttle bus down to the harbour area. We were going to get off and make our own way to the market, but the driver told us to stay on the bus and he took us right to the market. Oh! The excitement as we battled our way through the hordes of about a dozen buyers round the twenty stalls. It took us all of fifteen minutes to walk all round them. Now what, we thought. The shuttle bus only runs every three hours. Plan “B”. Took a taxi back to the hotel, got our car and headed out to Albufeira again. Our daughter IMGA0128Angela had mentioned to us that Albufeira Old Town was worth a visit, so we HAD to go, didn’t we!! As it turned out, after being able to park very near to the Old Town centre, we had a steady wander round and Angela was right, it is a very nice area.  On our wanderings, we were approached by the usual café touts with one in particular who showed us their menu board which we had to admit was tempting. We told him we would call in on our way back. After spending some time exploring the area, the old town square, narrow streets and beach area, we made our way back to the café and were ushered inside, seated and our order placed. I ordered fish and chips while Diane ordered Portuguese Steak. My meal was quite good but Dianes steak was very tough. On the menu board outside, the fish and chips were quoted at €5.00 but when we got the bill they tried to charge us €8.50. We challenged them on this and they said that we hadn’t ordered “off the board” (we think because we were seated inside the café). They eventually very grudgingly reduced our bill by €3.50. Dianes steak was as tough as old boots. The name of the café is ZANSI. Make a note of it! Back to hotel for the usual before bed.


Saturday 26th March

IMGA0187Last full day in the Algarve so we headed west again on our way to Alvo. Beautiful little beaches and coves with amazing rock formations. We loved it. Then on to a very small village called Burgau. When we said a very small village, that’s all it was. Rather disappointing. Not to worry, heading back now, calling in at Praia De Luz. Again a rather pretty little village but nothing to write homeIMGA0170 about. Headed back to the hotel to get ready for an early start tomorrow.


Sunday 27th March

As we had only brought hand luggage, there was very little to pack, so, after a quick breakfast, we took our hire car back and took the shuttle bus to the airport. Pleasant flight home and then everything back to normal. All in all, we enjoyed our time in the Algarve and the rest did us good.