Personally, I love nothing more than getting away from it all and fully immersing myself in a new culture for a couple of weeks. To share my experience with you, I’ve documented a few of the things my partner and I got up to when we recently visited the Algarve.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with this beautiful part of the world, the Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal, and as you’ll see from what I have to say over the following page or so - it’s well worth a trip if you’ve never been!
The first thing that struck me when we were heading to our hotel in the airport shuttle bus is the sheer scale of the coastline. To say it was glorious would be an understatement. As we headed over the summit of the last hills before the coast, the view really took my breath away. The sea seems to go on forever and the way the sunlight danced with the water is something that will stay with me forever. If you’ve never experienced it, then seeing the coast come into view all of a sudden would be worth the cost of your flight all on its own.
As we weaved our way along the coastal roads to our hotel, I couldn’t wait to get out and feel the sun on my skin. It felt like we were on the shuttle forever because all I wanted to do was get out and explore but to be fair, it was less than an hour! The moment I set foot outside I felt the warm glow on my skin and knew that I’d found my ideal home away from home for the next couple of weeks. What I think you’ll really like is the relatively low humidity. Sometimes when I’ve travelled, I’ve stepped out of the confines of the shuttle bus air-conditioning and instantly started gasping because of the stifling heat. The Algarve has this lovely coastal sea breeze than keeps you cool enough without making you catch a chill if you sit on the beach for an afternoon.
Once we’d checked in, we headed straight out to go and explore the local surroundings and get our bearings. We walked along the coast and found a nice little fish bar. I’d read a lot about how the fishermen of the Algarve bring in fresh catches that the restaurants and bars love to serve up the same day. I tried a simple local specialty of cockles and clams in garlic and olive oil and my taste buds were literally dancing with delight on the tip of my tongue. I’ve had similar meals back home but they couldn’t compare to this one. The simplicity of the flavors worked in perfect harmony with the freshness of that day’s catch. To say that fresh seafood was one of the highlights of my trip wouldn’t quite do it justice. If you haven’t tried it, then all I can really think to say is that all of the subtle flavors are enhanced to the point where they really come to life.
After a little rest by the pool, we then headed out in the evening to enjoy some of the night life. We’re not big party people, so we skipped the bars and clubs and went in search of some authentic local culture. Live music bars where you can sit out in the evening sun and listen to a few local performers are very popular and I can see why. It’s a nice experience that I think you’ll end up enjoying a few evenings in a row. We went to a few different places so that we could get a feel for the whole place rather than basing ourselves at one place for the entire two weeks. This was great and as we saw a couple of acts rotate amongst our favorite spots we doubled back to see them a second time. I loved this because it made me feel like I was really getting into the local way of life rather than staying on a large resort and never leaving.
The final thing I want to tell you about is the people; they really do make this beautiful part of the world what it is. To say they’re friendly would be an understatement. Asking for directions, ordering food, getting a helping hand in the hotel; it was all really nice and friendly no matter what we were trying to do. There’s a subtle sense of humor and a relaxed attitude that pervades the Algarve and if you’re someone who really likes to go out and meet the locals to get a feel for where you’re staying then I think you’ll have a lot of fun.
If you’ve never been to the Algarve then all I can say is that I’ll see you there next year! We booked our trip through Sunway, and we will definitely be doing that again next year, perhaps in a different resort.