Hate to be too british and talk about the weather but it has had quite an influence on what we have been able to do here in Portugal. We have had what you might call superb English spring days complete with wild flowers and birds most of the time.
These Paper White Narcissus growing in a ditch next to our camp site were a delight in January.
These Brugmansia would do well to flower in a greenhouse back home but grow in gardens and hedgerows here.
Between the rows of trees in the orange groves spring flowers grow in profusion.
The fruit and nut trees are all in blossom making any day in January like a March or April day back home.
This month has been a good one for meeting family and friends. Dave and Jacks came down in their motorhome and were with us for a couple of weeks – a time for good food and wine and plenty of sightseeing. Rob and Alison also flew in for 3 days at a luxury villa complete with indoor swimming pool and en suite bathrooms (with a BATH!) Here is Quarteria; a good place to stroll up and down the promenade with my son and his wife, sampling the local food and drink.
Rob flew in and out of Faro airport where Sheila and I found a vantage point to wave them goodbye as they left. (They never waved back – probably too busy consuming their free champagne and peanuts!)
Then on to Albufeira to catch up with some of Sheila’s friends: Mike and Lin who were in the area for the golf (there is a lot of golf about in the Algarve) and met us for some beers and a wonderful lunch on the seafront. We stayed just a couple of miles north of Albufeira town in grand campsite with no fewer than 3 outdoor (cold cold cold!) swimming pools but had a great pitch with morning to evening sun.
Getting in to town was different matter, however. Over to Sheila for a blow by blow description:
How not to catch a bus from Camping Albufeira to Albufeira Old Town
Having sent John to the reception to ask about buses, he was told to catch the bus outside the gates of the campsite to the Old Town bus station…..Sounds simple and as we were new to this area and having made arrangements to meet my friends Mike and Lin for Brunch we decided the bus might be quicker and easier than walking. Mike had advised us to make sure we got off at the Old Town bus station and not the new bus station and they would meet us there.
We arrived outside the gates in plenty of time and stood at a bus stop; we observed a few buses passing in both directions old the dual carriageway and decided that as our bus stop was on the wrong side of the road, it was probably only used for the return journey. We braved the traffic and rushed across the road in a gap in the traffic mere seconds before a bus pulled up..Phew! We then asked politely for tickets to the Old town bus station. He then pointed to the bus turning up at the bus stop we had just vacated and said in pretty good English that that was the one we needed and his bus didn’t go direct and would drop us at the new bus station where we could get another bus. While having this conversation the bus we wanted had already pulled off so we made the decision to stay put and get a connecting bus. So we found ourselves in the New Bus Station which was about the same distance from the Old Town as we were when we got on the bus….not a lot of progress in the right direction yet. Ever hopeful or just plain naïve we waited ten minutes for the bus we had been told would take us to the old town. It turned up and we stood patiently by the door as the driver ignored us and obviously did the counting up, tidying away before handing over the bus to another driver, who then chose to check all the tyres and windscreen wiper blades!! We were the first in the queue and being very British thought the local old lady with the walking stick very rude when she pushed in front of us, again being very British we stood back and smiled politely hiding our real feelings. (We later saw signs in a bakery to the effect that old people, the disabled and pregnant women will be served ahead of you in a queue. This is actually very respectful and nice!) We got on the bus, which is a circular bus (the bus is actually “bus” shaped but it is driven on a circular route) but still we were slightly puzzled when we passed the same auditorium 3 times and had still not stopped at the Old Town bus station. John eventually said he thought we were just leaving the Old Town and got out his phone with GPS…it clearly showed that we were heading away from the Old town….I suggested that John pressed his stop button which was located above his head which he did. Nothing flashed above the driver as it had when others had pressed their button so I suggested he press it again a little harder. Still nothing happened and we were now at least 2 kilometres away from where we wanted to be! The bus pulled to a stop and we could see the sea about 500 meters down the road so in a quick flash agreement we got off and decided to head for the beach and walk back! We starting walking along the sand and phoned and spoke to Lin who said she was sat having a coffee with Mike at the Old Town Bus Station! They walked down to the beach and we hurried the 2 kilometres along the sand until we met them. Bruch was put on hold and a few beers and a good catch-up later we all enjoyed a lovely lunch of pan fried sea bass sat looking out over the beach in the sunshine. A few days later when we again visited Alburferia and caught the correct bus into town we walked back as we realised we were so near it would be quicker!
Once in town, Albuferia presents more than one face. Of course it is the cheap and easy to get to summer holiday destination full of night clubs and bars for the brits to embarras themselves in but it has other aspects. The harbour is a thriving fishing port well worth a peek. There are thousands of the concrete hotel and villa complexes (some of which were half built and then abandoned) overshadowing places like the green tiled hotel from a bygone era.
Onwards tomorrow and this wiry old knight atop the last roundabout before the bridge over the River Guadiana will be the last thing we see before re-entering Spain.