Archive for the ‘Portugal’ Category
Portugal October 2012 – The Algarve
Since moving to Ireland, I had heard a lot of about the beaches and holidaying in the Algarve area of Portugal. To be honest, I had never heard of it and Portugal in general didn’t interest me much. I had been to Lisbon, Fatima, and Coimbra all briefly in my 20’s while living in Madrid. It struck me as a downmarket Spain: dirtier, poorer and less interesting. I am glad to say that my impression of the beach areas of the Algarve are somewhat different. First off, there ARE lots of similarities to Spain. Sharing the Iberian Penisula makes this inevitable. But Portugal is a distinct country with its own language, food, and culture. I found the people to be equally as warm as the Spanish and just as welcoming. I could even get around with just my Spanish, although I attempted to speak as much Portuguese as I could muster.
The beaches themselves were quite beautiful, with reddish-orange cliffs dropping into the blue green sea. It was still warm enough to swim, although the water could be described as bracing by this time in October. I would say that many parts of the Algarve are too touristy and developed for my taste, much like the Costa del Sol area in Spain. When all the signs are in English and most people in the town are British/Irish retirees, it can dampen the feel that you are in a foreign country. I don’t feel the need to have a “full Irish” whenever I leave home to travel. But then again, I’m not Irish. Maybe I would’ve been thrilled if they had American style breakfasts everywhere. The prices were certainly rock bottom. I don’t think we paid more than €25/pp for any dinner including wine and we were frequenting the nicer places in town. That being said, the little town we were in did also cater the retirees on a budget. I would be interested to go back to the beaches in Portugal, but pick somewhere a little off the beaten tourist track. I would also like to go in the summer, maybe not August as the height of holiday craziness. But a May or June visit would be lovely. I am glad for the chance to see it and to re-open my mind about Portugal. I think I was only cheating myself.