The Algarve Portugal : October 2017
Rose has asked me to write this episode, which she will edit and crit , I think she’s a little tired of doing all the hard work and me doing all the criticizing.
Welcome to Portugal , where Buenos dia ( Good day) becomes Bom dia and gracias (Thank you) is Obrigado. Easy? Not
We .crossed this fairly wide fancy bridge and were welcomed to Portugal by an imposing toll booth, with fearsome signs as to what tortures await should you fail to pay. . . But how to pay is the question, we scurry into the little information hut alongside where a very helpful lady explains that because there are two government departments running the road system there are two different methods of payment, but different toll roads each use only one method . . . .? Huh
The system on the highway across the Algarve involves taking a picture of your number plate along with your credit card details and every few kilometers, ka-ching€, a couple more of those disappear from your bank account. The highways are fantastic but eerily empty; we later find out that virtually the only people who use the highways are tourists and government ministers. The rest of the population are not so keen on paying the fairly extortionate toll fees and carry on using the old roads; which helps to keep the pace of life nice and s l o w and easy.
Having crossed the border around midday we were a little surprised that Tomtom was telling us that it was just after 11 am, which is when we discovered that even though Portugal is surrounded by Spain, and sea, it is in a different time zone to most of the rest of Western Europe.
My sister, Anne and her husband Jon, own a holiday house on one of the many golf estates dotted around the Algarve, although neither of them play ( go figure?). Anne meets us at the entrance to the estate and leads the way, which is a good thing as it is all curved roads, dead ends and traffic circles. Google maps and Tomtom aren’t much help as they seem to think the house is on a private little island in the middle of the Atlantic.
Anne shows us our bedroom and bathroom, whereupon I instantly get lost just trying to find the toilet. The bathroom is larger than what has been our whole living quarters for the past month; I almost had to call the FBI to help me find Rose in the bed the next morning.
Once we had stuffed the washing machine full of the laundry we had been saving up, we jumped into Anne’s little car and headed for the hills to inspect their new purchase. Once one is away from the fairly international feel of the coast, the villages on the hillside have a lovely Portuguese feel about them; what a magnificent place to have a home.
On the way back we stopped off to help Anne choose some new bathroom and kitchen tiles ( Rose started drooling rather badly and I had to remind her that it wasn’t really feasible to ship them back to S A) and then popped into a fairly large supermarket, more to look than buy ( I’m a bit of a supermarket voyeur); what was interesting was the number of international foods and items on sale, newspapers ranged from The London Times to The Sun to the Frankfurter Zeitung.
That evening we had a lovely meal at a ‘local Italian’, joined by Jim, a most entertaining friend of Anne & Jon who is just finishing building a semi-retirement home in the area.
On the way up to the hills yesterday we had noticed a brand new IKEA, both Rose and I have a bit of a fetish for IKEA and as Anne is decorating she was very happy to take us for a wander around. As you may know going through an IKEA is a little like going to a casino, there are no clocks to distract one and once you are in it is difficult to leave. At the entrance there are these short little pencils ( which always seem to stay in my pocket) and pieces of paper which you take and then note down the code number of the items you want to purchase; within a short period of time we had chosen a color scheme and completely furnished our new apartment in Cape Town. . . Oh well,nice to dream.
In the afternoon we had a snack and some drinks at a beach bar ( Not for the boodget minded) and then relaxed at home. Sundowners at another lovely beach bar, with a most exquisite view of the sunset. Two words that have stuck in my mind are Senor (Mister) and Frango (Chicken). Yes! We were going for supper to Senor Frango where the specialty is, surprise surprise, chicken.
That evening Anne treated us to a most enjoyable dinner, Senor Frango does the most amazing Portuguese style piri-piri chicken with fries and a salad for €8.95, washed down with a couple of drinks, a brilliant meal at a brilliant price. Sorted.
Before we set off in the morning, a cup of coffee and some pastries at the golf clubhouse enabled us to get a glimpse of a retirement style that is enjoyed by many; however we both agreed that it’s not what we see ourselves retiring to.
We had read and heard about Portugal’s Green Coast, Silver Coast and Alentejo region; sounded really exciting. That’s where we are going to next.