Albufeira in Portugal’s Algarve, is one of those resorts that you either love or hate. I would probably not like it in summer when it is crowded with tourists but I love it in winter. It’s great to sit overlooking the sea, eating an ice cream, or sipping a glass of wine, or a cocktail and admiring the waves of the Atlantic. It’s great for surfing, although not many people seem to. The sandy beach is welcoming, if you like that sort of thing which, personally, I don’t.
I first went to Albufeira with some trepidation as I don’t go on package holidays, but succumbed to a two-month holiday in Albufeira that was ridiculously cheap in January and February. I loved the fact that it was out in the countryside and I could see the sheep below the ‘apart-hotel’ with white egrets on their backs, picking our tics and enjoying the ride, I suspect. I was with a chef, who decided it would be wonderful to go and gather some wild asparagus for breakfast, in the waste land behind the hotel.
Off we went with a pair of scissors and a bag – better to travel hopefully than to arrive as always. He discovered that the tasty asparagus sprues were heavily defended by thorny shrubs and so scrabbled in his coat pockets and found some leather gloves. Chefs are very versatile in the pursuit of fresh ingredients I’ve found. We were collecting a lot, when there was a disturbance in the bushes and a young rabbit bolted. I squeaked and the brave chef did a backward bunny-hop which almost knocked me over. I had forgotten how terrified he was of snakes! After that scare we went back with the asparagus and he cooked it with eggs for breakfast.
Later that day we got into the lift and the lights went out. He grabbed me and muttered “Never mind, we’ll go down together!” as I stepped out of his bear hug and hit the lift button. He had omitted to do this when he got into the lift.
After a few days the room started to fall apart, cupboard doors came off their hinges and the doves which came into the apartment left fleas. The boiler burst and I had had more than enough. We changed rooms, but I still felt the need to explore more of Portugal. We’d seen Faro already so decided to go to the Alentejo.
I would go to Albufeira again, if only to visit the wine festival – the 5th Grand Wine Show was held between 11th and 13th May this year with the opportunity to sample wines form 53 producers from Portugal. I love the vinho verde so would have enjoyed it immensely.
Like Faro and the rest of the Algarve, Albufeira was influenced by the Phoenician, Carthaginians and Greeks and then the Romans and Moors. They call it Al-Bhera which means Little Lake or lagoon.
It can be cold in other areas of Portugal and they had snow in the Serra da Estrela mountains on the 16th May this year, so summer is coming slowly to the Welsh and our oldest allies, the Portuguese.