Surprisingly, the temperature was warm each day; if I had wanted, I could have sat in the the sun for at least five hours each day. I still didn’t need a jumper in the shade, and the evenings were quite mild. Staying just outside Albufeira, it was ideal for walking (though you do need a good map). The local bays are idyllic and the countryside is fascinating.
Walking to Albufeira Marina, I was pleased to see two boats that I knew from home at St Katharine Docks. The Marina project has problems because many of the roadside shops etc have been unoccupied for some time, and the choice of bright, bizarre paintwork is probably a bad choice. However, the harbour is fine and relatively unspoilt, well worth an hour or two relaxing with a local beer (cheap and better than the Spanish alternative). Unspoilt beaches are within easy access, with their magificent Atlantic views and lush sand. Albufeira is charming to amble around and manages to avoid souvenirs being too tacky. The seaside restaurants have superb views and sensible prices. For those who need their fast food fix and flashing signs, there is the jazzy ‘new Albufeira’ that I know my grandchildren would adore, tastefully further on from the old village.
I thoroughly enjoyed each lunch out, ranging from excellent salmon, hake and sardines, to good pizza and pasta. Prices were agreeable, with service and cleanliness to a similar high standard. Local workers love their country and are keen to benefit from the boost in tourism, though at the expense of problems in Egypt and Tunisia; they love us visiting and enjoy talking about their rich and diverse history. Portugal is one of the oldest nation-states in Europe and had a great empire at one time; it has known many highs and lows in its economic and political history. Culturally, Portugal is rich in its own styles of architecture, cuisine, literature, and music, having fifteen Unesco World Heritage sites.
My accommodation at the Baia Grande Hotel was extremely good, with varied food, pleasant indoor swimming pool and beautiful views from the rooftop lounge. The shuttle bus to the beach or into Albufeira was very efficient and the staff always eager to please. Though the quiet evenings were blissful, more evening entertainment would have been ideal, relatively easy to organise with Portuguese guitar or similar. Do buy one of the ‘Roosters of Barcelos’ as a souvenir- my own collection is much admired by friends.