I'm dreaming of a White Christmas

Algarve Travel Blog

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Rotterdam Airport, Transavia is waiting

We were having a hectic year, and even more obligations at Christmas, only when we would stay at home. So we decided to leave.

I was very happy that my brother in law Ton asked me to come to the Algarve, where he had booked us a very large appartment in the Alpinus hotel near Albufeira.

My wife and daughter would come but my slightly traumatised son (Holland lost* against Portugal in an unfair game of football:) stayed at home, thus I invited my mother in law to come with us. (and contrary to popular belief I must say she behaved well) 

Ton had booked cheap tickets with TAP from Amsterdam, but he needed to change over in Lisbon. I had booked Transavia, a direct flight from Rotterdam to Faro.

Three generations in a row
It was 15 Euro's pp cheaper (!) and parking in Rotterdam is less expensive.

We travelled on Saturday afternoon and had a smooth trip. Our rental was a Peugeot with a glass roof, and we were in the hotel in less than one hour. In the hotel lobby I saw my sister, but was not surprised, because she had a very early flight and would be there all day, they all should have.

Their flight was cancelled because that day the TAP personnel went on strike. A Transavia plane and crew brought them to Lisbon where they were packed on a bus that brought them to Faro. Ton tried to get his rental in Lisbon, but they didn't want their cars to be returned in Faro, so he had no deal. The bus was crowded, hot, and it took a long time without anything being served. (Hop of the bus, Gus) They had just arrived, half an hour before us.

Unser letzter Bratwurst vor Amerika

Our apartments were large and we had enough room, so I asked my niece over at our side to share the room with her cousin. She spent her holidays with us, and it was great having her with us.

We have been to the most western part of Portugal, where we bought a "Letzter Bratwurst vor Amerika", a nice (do not call it hotdog!!) bread and sausage, German style, with certificate! You could buy woollen sweaters, and we would have if it was cold. But the sun was shining, it was 25degr Celsius, business was so bad. It was a pity the lighthouse was closed. We drove round a bit and ended up buying oranges and tangerines at the stunning price of 1.5Euro/3 kilo.

On Christmas day we visited the Dutch church at Albufeira. We were surprised to see so many people, it was packed.

Round-about-art for Chrismas
Very strange to have Christmas in the hot sun. At home temperatures were at freezing point and trees were leafless. Here in Portugal the trees were green at temperatures above the twenties. The vicar told us the good news, the story was the same as every year. After the service we were invited to come and drink coffee under an apartment building. We met al kinds of people. Tourists like us that were staying fo a week, people who were there for one,  two months or the complete winter. The Dutch coffee and cake was lekker, but soon it was time for us to go for our Church Christmas Dinner.

At first I didn't believe it when we entered the restaurant. It had the entrance at the other side but was located right under the church:) we had been to.  It was a Chinese restaurant, and that big I had never seen before.

Compramos naranjas.
They had made the tables, three rows of 15 meters to have at least 125 Dutch people, and there was still room for three times as much. There was an abundance of food, and it was very good. Most people coming to the Christmas dinner were regulars, people that stayed in the Algarve in winter to flee the cold (Yes!, I will do that too, but wait... I have still at least 15 years to go before my 65th, :(((  I found out that the place to get a good lodging is the church. Here is someone who will help you get a cheap house, because they know almost everybody.

Of course we visited the beaches, walked thru marinas, we went shopping, but most of all had a good time. Especially in the hotel, where everything was done to entertain the guests. Seasons Holidays is running this hotel and their staff really worked hard to give us a good time.

Drinking coffee after the service
We had a Brasilean evening with Samba dancers (boys and girls;), a local folklore dancing group from Portugal, male and female singers, the Hoy Bingo and a quiz evening, yes, great entertainment for in an hotel:)

We saw a sign with <menhir> and decided to find these celtic stones. After a long single path with holes deep as to bury an elephant, we came to a place where 2 stones were standing inside a cage, with a sign that this was a copy, the original was to be found at a museum. Very nice scenery, no disappointment at all.

We have been to a castle in Alcoutim on the border with Spain. Here the tourist guide said that peace between Spain and Portugal was signed on a boat in the river.

Crowded house
 We have never found the castle on the Portuguese side of the border -not even a sign it was brought to a museum- but we could see the castle on the Spanish side. The bridge that was on the map was not there in real life. The trip was down to the south and cross the border on a big hanging bridge and drive up to Sanlucar de Guadiana. This is in Andalusia. Look at the map: Portugal is crowded, Andalusia is empty.

The navigation device, a PDA with Tom-tom V6, was behaving well, but didn't have all the streets in its map. Sometimes we would drive in a city on a blank screen with only an arrow to follow. On bigger roads we had no problems. The navigator sent us down to the south. I saw  there was a bridge on the map, I didn't trust it and asked for directions. The bad news was the navigator was right.

Oranges...

We found the town, and even better the bar/restaurant/tapas-whatever. In my best Spanish I ordered drinks and all types of tapas, and a tomato salad for 3 persons. The woman was making the food with a cigaret-but in her mouth :)) (nobody gets ill there from food poisoning, only we clean-cooking-westerners - or is this the reason Andalucia is empty?) and she served the tapas (Iberico ham, Choriso and others) and a large plate of tomatoes with tuna fish, all for me - for nobody likes fish. The castle was not much, the view however was great. A shepherd passed us with his sheep, it was astonishingly quiet.

We found nice people on our way. The elderly Portuguese trying to help me when I had questions. I spoke Spanish, pronounced as Portuguese -maybe not a good way to communicate- used hands and feet, but it worked.

... and lemons, say the bells of St. Clemens

Once a woman (African- Angola?) tried to get me into a position to have me robbed, as she came to me with a story of some sort and that I needed to come in a hurry. We were on a parking, not ten feet from a bus with open doors and a native Portuguese speaking driver. With me she had a big language problem, with him she wouldn't have. Behind the bus I saw a bunch of very idle dark men. I hurried back to the swimming pool, sipping pina colada!

The return flight was good, we arrived at new-year and saw the fireworks, first as two dimensional flowers, but as we descended they suddenly changed in three dimensional flowers (rockets that burst). I brought everybody safely home and finished a great holiday, to find later that nobody had missed us, phew relief!

*Who cares

 

jeanh2 says:
Sounds like you had a great Christmas. I've spent Christmas in the sunshine several times and it's beats the ice and snow any time ...
Posted on: Mar 20, 2014
Transitory says:
Mmmm tapas with cig. ash yum, smokey just the way they should be prepared :)
Posted on: Jun 04, 2009
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Rotterdam Airport, Transavia is wa…
Rotterdam Airport, Transavia is w…
Three generations in a row
Three generations in a row
Unser letzter Bratwurst vor Amerika
Unser letzter Bratwurst vor Amerika
Round-about-art for Chrismas
Round-about-art for Chrismas
Compramos naranjas.
Compramos naranjas.
Drinking coffee after the service
Drinking coffee after the service
Crowded house
Crowded house
Oranges...
Oranges...
... and lemons, say the bells of S…
... and lemons, say the bells of …
The family on their tennis court s…
The family on their tennis court …
Our private terrace
Our private terrace
Grandma waving goodbye, tears from…
Grandma waving goodbye, tears fro…
Beach near our hotel, look at the …
Beach near our hotel, look at the…
Oh baby, take a walk on the wild s…
Oh baby, take a walk on the wild …
on a beach
on a beach
Sunset
Sunset
I wanna dance the nights away, wit…
I wanna dance the nights away, wi…
Quiz night in the hotel
Quiz night in the hotel
Cama matrimonial, look at the way …
Cama matrimonial, look at the way…
Alcoutim somewhere on an unpaved r…
Alcoutim somewhere on an unpaved …
Portuguese shepherd
Portuguese shepherd
A fronteira, la frontiera, the bor…
A fronteira, la frontiera, the bo…
Eating hot chicken
Eating hot chicken
Panoramic view, obscured by people…
Panoramic view, obscured by peopl…
The arcs of Civilisation:)
The arcs of Civilisation:)
a teapot in a huge ceramics store:…
a teapot in a huge ceramics store…
estão Holandeses aqui?
estão Holandeses aqui?
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"every guy, grab a girl"
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No trumpets allowed, photo specia…
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This tree is driving me nuts
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Andalusian sheep with herder
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Castles in the air, Andalucìa
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This side Spain, other side Portu…
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My bags are packed, I'm ready to …
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photo by: huibdos