Back when I was 11, I came to Portugal on a family holiday where my parents contemplated starting a new life – which ultimately ended in us moving to Spain and residing there for the next 8 years of my adolescence. – Im not entirely sure what made us decide to go to Spain instead, but Andalucia became our home.
From what I remember of that holiday all those years ago, was a charming hispanic town coupled with it’s open and friendly culture. We spent a week around Lisbon near the coast in a town called Silves. I don’t have much recollection of our vacation there apart from lots of trips to the beach, delicious food, a time where I explored an orange grove with my mother picking the juiciest fruit to bring home – and an angry farmer who threatened to shoot us if we did it again! So perhaps not all so friendly haha!– Unfortunately my memories were tainted with a big family feud and that’s really the main bulk of my past recognition. But time is a healer and also a life teacher so although some of us walked away with scratches and scars, we also left a bit wiser too.
This time around we spent some time in Alvor near Albufeira with some close friends and their new families. – Brad and I have yet to start our own but for now I enjoy borrowing and returning our friends babies. Temporary responsibility and no commitment! We have far too much of the world to see yet. –
Although this is not our preferred style of holiday – the hubby and I are more inclined to vacation on a low budget and integrate as much as possible with the locals and their way of living, – we booked an all inclusive holiday with a company called Thompson.
My first impressions were not great but the problems we encountered were so quickly dealt with that my faith was restored.
Both toddlers got put with one couple and in order for our friends son to sit with his mother, we all – apparently – had to prebook our seats together as a group and each pay £28 for this “privilege”. When we finally got to the airport to check in there seemed to be a mix up and were told that the seats we had booked were no longer available. Luckily, this problem was very swiftly sorted and upon arrival to the hotel and after speaking to our holiday rep we were given a refund and guaranteed group seats for our flight home. Thank you Thompson!
The hotel we stayed in was The Alvor Baia, a newly built modern resort that wasn’t too big and was very family friendly. The only downside for myself and Brad was the distance away from the beach. – Had we been given the opportunity to pick where we were all staying I’m certain it would have been a beach hut in which the toilet facilities were a hole in the ground. Perfect! – But I’m not sure that would have gone down too well… I guess we are just used to the low maintenance living conditions of back-packing!
Our rooms were fantastic, big and airy and they even had a open plan living area complete with a kitchen! – Not that we would have been using it in an all inclusive resort but still a nice touch. –
Our second day was spent on the beach. We took a bus to the nearest patch of sand and parked ourselves there for most of the day.
Being with two new families obviously changed the dynamic of the holiday for us, as everything we decided needed to be for the benefit of the children. –Which obviously was no problem for us in the slightest. In fact I couldn’t appreciate the down time any more being that I have been working my ass off recently to save for our next travelling experience *SQUEAL* –
I gorged myself on their delicious ‘ensalada de casa’ a huge salad topped with sardines, mackerel and tuna. Mouthwateringly fresh and just what you want to eat when in a hot climate.
The restaurant was very accommodating for the kids given it’s size, and the staff were very friendly and enjoyed our very poor attempt to speak to them in Portuguese. The salad I ordered was 11.90€ which might seem over priced but the plate was large and I left feeling replete. But it probably was slightly more than the locals would pay for being that they are catering for tourists.
After returning from the beach we did the regular holiday-maker circuit of pool, sun-bathe, bar, food, drinks, giggles, more drinks – we also explored the nearest town Alvor in the evening – then we went to bed.
In between such occasions we actively spoke about what excursions or day trips we could go to in the remaining days of our vacation.
The group decided on going to a place called ‘Zoo Marine’, a water park that also engaged in marine mammal shows and exhibiting other exotic animals which both myself and Brad do not condone so we chose to do something else instead.
This lead us to wanting to rent a motorbike so we could venture out on our own and finally explore a bit of the authentic Portugal.
Day 3 was pretty much a repeat of day 2 so not a lot to report, except a series of unfortunate events which lead into day 4 but passed by lunch time where normality was almost restored minus a slight tinge of awkwardness that lingered from the events that took place the night before and the morning that followed. – Maybe there is something in this Portuguese air… –
On Monday we waited for the arrival of our rented motorbike so we could hop on and check out Albufeira and have a night out the following day.
We drove East along the motorway towards our destination, stopped off by the beach for a quick coffe and shared a salad to then realise that it definitely wasn’t beach weather. Thankfully though, due to this, we went further into town and explored the main square with all it’s quirky stalls, street performers, and beautifully cobbled roads.
We had a fish lunch at a gorgeous back alley restaurant called “Casa da Fonte”. The courtyard was green with foliage and the seating was romantically dotted around it. It felt very latin indeed and the food that accompanied this wonderful scenary was an added bonus.
Simplicity at it’s finest, our meals were made up of barbequed fish (he had sardines, I had mackerel) some salad and potato. And a nice big jug of white wine sangria.
The price was unbelievably cheap as well! 6.50€ for our meals. The jug was more obviously but it provided 3 glasses of sangria for each person.
We had a night out on the strip which really wasn’t my cup of tea. But it was also a Tuesday so it was pretty queit in general. Brad had been to Albufeira years ago when he was a teenager and told me that they had inviested quite a bit of money into developing it since his last visit. – It was what I imagined the strip to look like at the infamous “Shagaluf” or Malia; full of drunk westeners and young adults looking to play. I wonder if this is a sign of me getting old… –
Heading back to Brighton after our holiday was a rather humbling moment. Usually the onset of retruning home froma trip fills me with dread and yearning for adventure.
Why do we stress ourselves at work in a job we hate? Working to pay bills, counting down each weekday till the weekend – although this means nothing to me because I work weekends, yippee. Luckily I don’t mind my job. And, it’s only temporary. – Having sleepless nights due to stress and anxiety over material things. Not spending enough time with friends and family. Only to repeat the process, over and over again.
– This is not how I imagine my life right now. This is not reality in my head. –
But this time I am full of excitement and determination. My brain does not switch off at night. My heart races through the day in anticipation for the years of unplanned adventure that lies ahead because in 6 months time we will be having the biggest adventure to date.
Suddenly all the mundane things in my life have a new meaning. Work is merely a temporary means to save up for our travels. The hours fly by as I picture myself working in another country around the world to earn funds to extend our trip. On my lunch break I imagine myself on the beach or in a trendy cafe updating you all on my travels heavily involved in my blog as I sip on a cold drink or delicious and masterfully brewed coffee. Each week will be different. We will take our time to get to places, instead of mindlessly rush on our commute to work. Each face a new one, with the potential of making new friends and extended family. Each day full of adventure and opportunity.
– This. This is the life I imagined. And soon it will all be our reality. –