First Visitors of 2016
Well that is January gone and well into the first week of February. Where does it go? Highlight of January was Mum and our friend Barbs came to visit for a few days. They didn’t stay on the boat but in an apartment in the Marina Club Lagos Resort Hotel, which as it suggests is in the marina, so they weren’t far away.
Mum and Barbs paid for a hire car instead of transfers and Neil and I picked them up from the airport on Thursday morning. I was very excited. Not just because we had visitors but also Mum was bringing along a suitcase of stuff that I had left packed from my visit to the UK before Christmas. I knew it had 6 x packets of No7 Face Wipes (bought when Boots had their £5 off make-up vouchers), tea, stock pots and some clothes but couldn’t really remember exactly what so it was going to be surprise when opened.*
The day we picked them up was overcast and when we got close to Faro Airport it started to drizzle. I was gutted. I wanted them to have warm sunny weather. This was the first rain we had seen in days and had been having good weather. We were at the airport for about an hour before they came through. As an aside we paid €3.30 for the carpark for this time. Unlike £12 for 34 minutes at Birmingham Airport!! It was grey but got brighter as we travelled west towards Lagos. We got them checked into the hotel and they were really pleased with the apartment. It was large and with separate air conditioning/heating controls for the bedroom and main room. It was a one bedroomed apartment with a large lounge/kitchen/diner (the sofa’s converted into 2 single beds) with a balcony overlooking the pool and part of the marina. We then went over to the Pingo Doce supermarket to pick up some lunch stuff and naturally some wine. We had lunch on board Gleda, admittedly sat in the pod as rain was threatening and enjoyed a glass or 2 of rose vinho.
We then went for a walk into Lagos town along the river. Mum and Barbs had not been to this end of the Algarve before so it was a new place for them to visit. Quite a few of the shops and restaurants are shut for January but still enough open to enjoy a visit. We shot into a cafe for a coffee when the rain was a bit more than drizzle for 20 minutes and then headed back. That evening we ate at The Marina Bar and all had their special which was 1/2 chicken and chips with a glass of house vinho or a beer for €6 each. It was delicious and hard to beat at that value. In fact, as of last night, it is the third time this year we have had that dish and every time tasty and loads of chicken.
Friday was bright and warm. After a full English breakfast at the Oasis cafe in the marina, we made a quick trip over to the fruit and veg market where Barbs bought some piri-piri sauce to take home and then Neil drove us to Cape St Vincent, “the end of the world”. The windswept cliffs and lighthouse here are the most southwesterly point in Europe. It was blowing well and we had a potter about the lighthouse courtyard where randomly there is a large chair! A mooch about the 2 gift shops and watched the mad fisherman that were fishing from the what is a pretty dangerous cliff face. We then headed back east via Sagres and showed them where we anchored for the first two nights when we reached The Algarve. Sagres is said to be the town where Henry the Navigator established his Navigation School. You will see statues, streets, town squares dedicated to Henry all around Portugal. Either Henry or Vasco da Gama.
We parked in Praia da Luz and had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the beach. It was hot in the sun out of the wind and cardi’s came off so we were just in t-shirts enjoying the sun, wine and our lunch. After a leisurely lunch we headed back to Lagos via Ponta de Piedade (Point of Piety) which is an impressive stack of cliff formations which create bridges, terraces and grottoes. We walked down the stairs to just above sea level but dodgy knees, feet and unwillingness to go right down, turned us around and a slow walk back up. Needless to say, Neil bounded back up – show off.
That night we ate at the Adega de Marina restaurant which is on the main street overlooking the river leading to the marina. We had been here once before when Nicole and Simon visited and it was great. I must admit to having the tenderloin skewer again. Barbs had the swordfish and Mum and Neil Sea Bream which we were told had arrived only 10 minutes earlier. It was a great meal with a jug of house wine and desserts to finish. We left about 8.30pm and people, including locals, were still arriving. Always a good recommendation I feel if the locals eat there (when there is plenty of other choices).
Saturday started with yet another full English at the Oasis. We could certainly get used to this. Then Neil drove us to Alvor, which you may remember is where we spent 6 weeks before coming into the marina. By road, it’s miles away. Took us about 1/2hour to get there. Again the sun was shining and we had a good mooch around the town. Again some shops and restaurants were closed but enough open to entertain. We sat on the waterfront and had a drink overlooking the bay where we had been moored. It did seem very odd to Neil and I that Gleda wasn’t there (back there in April!). Mum, Barbs and I went back into Lagos in the afternoon (let Neil off another shopping trip) and enjoyed the sunshine. That night, Mum and Barbs last, we ate at Portofinos the Italian restaurant in the Marina. We had a good night and whilst the food was fine, it didn’t have the atmosphere of the Adega or Marina Bar and we wouldn’t recommend particularly as so many other good choices.
We were up early on Sunday to pick up Mum and Barbs to take them back to the airport. The sunrise was spectacular and I had a little cry when we said goodbye at check-in and watched them go through security. It was great that they came to visit. Mum and Bry are coming out in March so not too long to wait for more visits. Neil and I drove back along the N125 coast road and called in at the Algarve Shopping Park to visit Fnac an electrical shop to take back a faulty item. We will need to call back to pick it up when Mum and Bry are here. Lots of shops to keep Mum busy for hours. I must admit to being drawn into Kiko again and getting another flavoured/coloured lip balm and a bright pink nail varnish.
Before we took the car back Monday we did a trip to the DIY store in Portimao and a trawl around the big supermarkets. We came out of Aldi and the car showed 33º stood in the sun and only dropped to 26º as we drove back. It was bizarrely hot for the 1st of February, but very welcome.
The more we see of the Algarve and around here the easier it is to understand why so many Brits come and stay. It is only maximum 3 hours flight time from UK, the nearest place on mainland Europe where the weather is noticeably warmer in the winter season, the cost of living is cheaper and the quality of life is better for less cost than back in the UK. Here as well it is not necessary to speak Portuguese in order to live although I wouldn’t say that is particularly a good thing as it doesn’t give an incentive to learn as the shop keepers, waiters will respond to a Portuguese “good morning” in English. We must look English, whatever that look is.
I loved having Mum and Barbs come visit and can’t wait to see Mum again next month.
*suitcase included clothes (new shorts and t-shirts), shoes, Schwartz casserole mixes, steriliser tablets, tumble dryer sheets, Aloe Vera products…