I'm dreaming of a White Christmas
Algarve Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!