Algarvean Daze

Events & Activities - mainly during the daytime - across the Algarve

Shake, Rattle and Roll

For the second noticeable time, my good lady wife (GLW) has missed out on feeling the earth move beneath her feet. Or, as it was in the early hours of the morning, her back.

The first earthquake I ever experienced - and she failed to - was probably about two years ago. GLW was at the local market, and crushed amongst the throngs of shoppers and pickpockets, she missed noticing the brief figure of eight motion that the ground beneath her feet made.

Last night, blissfully asleep, she missed again. My first thought was that an unscheduled train passed by, but it was just a little too quick and a little too 'shakey'. When I concluded that it must have been a terremoto, I attempted to validate this by using the incredibly good meteo.pt website's seismology section. As access was impossible, I went back to bed convinced that GLW had missed another opportunity.

Graphic courtesy Instituto de Meterologia Portugal
This morning, when I was able to get onto the website, confirmation of the magnitude 6.0 earthquake off the coast of Sagres was there, along with detail of the additional twenty tremors which occurred between 1:43 and 11:29.

Life is never dull in the Algarve.

Letting The Cat Out Of The Bag

Pardon the pun. Sometimes things that are particularly close to me cause me to get a bit carried away. Case in point, the Gala Dinner & Dance that will held on Sunday 13 December 2009 at the Hotel Paraiso de Albufeira, located, strangely enough, in Albufeira.

I don't often wax lyrical about events such as these, but this charity event is being co-sponsored by AGA, the Amigos dos GATOS do Algarve, along with two other animal charities. The work that these charities do is often thankless, and frequently unknown. I will do my best to right this wrong.

Before you dismiss this as of no interest to your good selves, hear me out. This is the best WIN - WIN situation you may find this year. OK, let's assume you are a cat lover, as I am. There is little you wouldn't do to help ease the plight of stray and abandoned moggies here in the Algarve. We enjoy a reasonable standard of life here, why shouldn't our furry friends?

OR, let's assume that you are a cat hater. This is right up your street. The AGA runs programs aimed at providing an environment where feral and stray cats are caught, neutered and released back into their environments.

From the perspective of the cat lover, this affords a better life to the cats living wild, and for the cat haters, this means a reduction in the number of cats who have the audacity to approach you while you are sitting in one of Algarve's numerous restaurants.

So, regardless if you couldn't be without cats or if you can't abide cats, here's your chance to champion your own cause. Tickets for the Buffet Dinner and Dance at the Hotel Paraiso de Albufeira are on sale at the AGA charity shop in Montechorro at €27.50, or will be available on the night at the venue.

For more information, or to reserve tickets, have a quick chat with Lesley on +351 96 241 4584 or email her at normington@live.co.uk

St Nicholas Day

It's 6 December, the sun cannot seem to make up it's mind, it's cool enough outdoors to ensure that we have a fire indoors later, lunch today will not be eaten al-fresco. And today is St Nicholas Day, the day we put up the Christmas decorations.

The Algarve has fallen in line with the rest of the 'civilised' countries in it's ability to promote one commercial season as soon as the previous season's extraction of lucre has drawn to an end. Christmas begins when Halloween ends. As Christmas ends, St Valentine's will begin. This is very unfortunate progress indeed. This is not the Algarve I want. C'est la vie. Or, I suppose I should say, ao vida.


These conspiracies to part me from my money will not overshadow my enjoyment of what Christmas is to me. Although I am not a religious person, it is a religious holiday. And, as such should always remain a religious holiday. I will never subscribe to the theory that it should be watered down to a 'Winter Holiday', regardless of how many persons of various non-Christian faiths it offends. I do not care that the traditional Christmas fare of roast fowl may offend Vegetarians. I so do not care that the iconic imagery of Christmas Trees, Mangers, Angels and Wisemen upsets the fundamentalists who deem such as akin to worshiping idols.

For those of you who may feel targeted by this rant, I will not say 'Get a life'. You already have a life. Let other people enjoy theirs. Merry Christmas.

Cul-de-Sac

Sitting at a favourite venue, one already popularised here on Algarvean Daze in the posting 'Forced To Drink By The Police', our afternoon relaxation and social intercourse was rather rudely interrupted by the sound of an approaching siren.

This is unusual in our tiny part of the Algarve, as rarely do emergency vehicles feel the need to loudly announce their presence. Located as we were, in a quiet, verdant part of the Quinta da Larga Vista, the decibel level grew until it eliminated any chance of reasonable conversation.

When the antiquated, noisy diesel Transit Van turned off the 'main' road onto a side road, my initial thought was that it was getting well and truly out of the way of what turned out to be a police car. This was partially correct. It was not only trying to get out of the way of the police, it was attempting to elude the police. Not quite power-sliding around the corner, the van with it's side door open and people struggling to remain inside, was being pursued by the police so closely that it appeared that the predator vehicle was being towed along.

Eventually out of sight and sound, conversation turned to the futility of the situation from the van occupants' perception. Preventing a police car from overtaking on a narrow, windy road should not have been difficult. Getting to the other end of the road, some kilometers away, without expecting to be greeted by more police was probably folly in the extreme. It's only heresay, but I've been told you can't outrun a Motorola.

Trick or Treat

I wrote this some years ago - if you've already seen it I apologise
_______________________________

The evil spectres roam the land
Beyond control and out of hand
You cannot run, you cannot hide
Their morbid lusts won't be denied

They watch you coming from afar
They always know just where you are
So warn your children as they play
That they should always keep away

From those who cloak themselves in black
Boldly waiting to attack
Their easy prey, the fatted hen
For they will get you in the end

No place is safe, no place secure
No place to run, there is no cure
Your time will come, and be aware
You will be caught up in their snare

Where plaintive cries, ever louder
Get lost in the smell of powder
And pagan customs of the years
Magnify your deepest fears

Of men possessed of secret words
In chambers dark where pleas are heard
For judgement to be swift and kind
So great is the spell they bind

That the mystique must be maintained
(While from you the blood is drained)
Their evil practice never ending
Heed this message that I'm sending

Defend youself against this foe
(Even though you really know
That should you win you will still lose)
Your life is there for them to use

So bar the windors, lock the doors
From Lawyers and Solicitors
Who laugh while listening to your screams
So Trick or Treat, and have sweet dreams

Happy Halloween!

Upcoming Event: MamaMaratona 2009

Avoiding the puns is not going to be easy...

Algarvean Daze does what it can to keep you abreast of current events in the Algarve. There is no more worthy event that we are proud to make you aware of than that of the annual MamaMaratona.

Now in it's 9th year, at 10am on October 25, 2009, hundreds, if not thousands of serious and not-so-serious runners and walkers will take to the streets of Portimão in aid of breast cancer support. Opting for either a 5km or 8km course, participants from Tavira to Titicaca will be running for life to raise awareness and money for breast cancer related causes across the Algarve.

Seriously, do something for breast cancer awareness. Got boobs? Got moobs? Got an attitude? Got a conscience? Join in the fun, participation will only set you back €7. Details and registration forms are available at the official MamaMaratona website, HERE. Don't feel like joining in? Then come along to Parque de Feiras e Exposições de Portimão and support the runners.

Up-to-date breast cancer news HERE.

Another Holiday

Not a holiday, as in going on vacation, but a public holiday, a bank holiday.

We have decided that it would be churlish not to pay homage to all the countries that have had an influence in our lives, and the best way would to be to observe the public holidays in the spirit intended.

As I am American, my significant other half is British and we live in Portugal, we find that we are forced to immerse ourselves in the national holidays of three different societies. There are obvious drawbacks in doing so, for example on days of communal events such as Christmas and New Years, where we are obliged to party three times harder and to a rolling time zone which extends the day well beyond 24 hours, thus avoiding any offense to any one or more host countries.

Today, in Portugal, is Implantação da República (Republic Day). It commemorates the proclamation of the Portuguese First Republic in 1910.

And my proclamation? Off to the beach for lunch!

Upcoming Event: Rouxinol Presents Paulo Viegas


Sunday October 4 2009 sees the Portimao guitarist Paulo Viegas returning to Restaurant Rouxinol at Caldas de Monchique.

Regular followers of Algarvean Daze will know what fans we are of Restaurant Rouxinol, having previously given it Bestaurant Status for the location, quality of service and great food. In keeping with Stefan's tradition of excellence, Stefan is pleased to welcome Paulo Viegas back to perform another afternoon of great guitar classics from the 60s onward.

Music starts at 2pm, and for those wishing to dine it is highly recommended that you book now, on 282 913 975.


Read what we had to say about Rouxinol HERE

A Cry For Help

This is a special Algarvean Daze public service announcement of the selfish type.

The Algarve restaurant referred to in the blog entry below, O Foral, is prospering and now needs to take on additional waiting staff.

Applicants must be bi-lingual and have their own transport.

If this is you, or you know someone who could do the biz, CLICK HERE

My future dining experiences at O Foral thank you in advance!

The Return Of The Prodigal

I'm not going to go into details, but yes, it's been a long time since I put finger to keyboard. Now I'm back. But I'm not the prodigal referred to in the title.

A restaurant we really enjoyed visiting went belly-up in February, just before I was about to bestow Algarvean Daze Bestaurant status upon it. Possibly had I done so sooner, it would still be under the same ownership. And operating. But I didn't, and it isn't. However, all may not be lost.

A new, enterprising restauratuer has picked up where the previous one failed. Hopefully he will not repeat the mistakes but will build on the successes. He has a capital interest in making it work. I want my idyllic venue back on the agenda.


After I have had a chance (multiple chances) to revisit and re-evaluate, the restaurant will again be put in the queue for gaining Bestaurant status. Hopefully it will succeed.

For those whose curiosity has been piqued, the restaurant is O Foral in Larga Vista, located in the forested area between Algoz, Messines and Paderne. Bestaurant status will ensure a proper Google Earth entry on Algarvean Daze. In the meantime try and find it yourself - and hopefully you will be as pleased as we are about the return of the prodigal restaurant.

Upcoming Event: Le Mans 1000km do Algarve


Three days of racing excitement commence on Friday 31 July 2009 at the Autodromo do Algarve (Algarve Motor Park) near Portimao.

The main event, the 1000km Le Mans Series night race starts at 19:15 on Saturday and continues until around 1:15 on Sunday morning.

Test and qualifying sessions for all classes take place on Thursday, with open sessions on Friday. On Saturday, prior to the main race, the Seat Super Copa, Superstars, CER, Radical European Masters, Formula Renault 3.5 and Formula Le Mans classes take to the track.

Sunday finishes the weekend with the final races in the Seat Super Copa Leon, Superstars, Radical European Masters and Formula Le Mans classes.

Algarve Motor Park | More details, in Portuguese

For information about other events occurring in the Algarve, CLICK HERE

Flora: New Perspectives And Newbiscus

With our friend, a recent visitor, safely deposited at Faro airport, we returned home to begin anew the process of recovery from a week of excess. Reflecting on the things that went well and the things that we could have done better, we naturally were pleased to recall the things that impressed our guest the most.

What we have begun to take for granted easily stood out when pointed out to us by our temporary family member. It is still cheaper to live in Portugal than the UK. Not just day to day items, but those little occasional expenses that tap into our reserves. Our friend decided an appropriate gift would be some unusual plants for our garden, and having chosen quite a few, was amazed at how little the total cost was. We can only take her word for it, but she believes that to have purchased the same plants (had they been available) in the UK would have cost her at least four times the amount here, and the plants wouldn't have been as large. So Portugal scores another point, and we've been again reminded to count our blessings.

And for our most welcome friend, who was very impressed with the Newbiscus we bought last year, here's a current photo. Thankfully, the sixty-plus buds haven't all become 25cm blooms together!

Upcoming Event: 15th Loulé Jazz Festival


The second part of the Allgarve jazz season, the 15th Loulé Jazz Festival, commences on 18 July 2009.



18 July, 10 pm, Loulé
Francesco Caffiso Quartet
Cerca do Convento
Tickets: Casa da Cultura de Loulé | Map



25 July, 10 pm, Loulé
Al di Meola World Sinfonia
Monumento Duarte Pacheco
Tickets: Casa da Cultura de Loulé | Map



26 July, 10 pm, Loulé
Chick Corea and Gary Burton - Duets
Monumento Duarte Pacheco
Tickets & FNAC, Worten and Agências Abreu & at the venue only on the day of the concert (unless sold out) | Map



1 August, 10 pm, Loulé
Mário Laginha Trio
Cerca do Convento
Tickets: Casa da Cultura de Loulé | Map

Dem Ol' Airline Trashed My Luggage Again Blues

Not really the truth, as I haven't flown recently. But with the peak holiday season approaching, it goes without saying that someone's luggage, and because of it, possibly a holiday, will end up being destroyed.

What I'm about to suggest that you have a look at is not directly related to the Algarve. It does hold relevance however, to both the occasional attitude of some airline personnel and to the likelihood of gaining compensation for your damaged possessions, entrusted for safe keeping to your chosen carrier.

While the gentleman involved did finally manage to gain some satisfaction from United Airlines, the lengths he had to go to - and fortunately was able to go to - were extreme.

The bottom line is that if you can make enough of a nuisance of yourself, all is possible. Watch how the Sons of Maxwell, a band fronted by Dave Carroll, used the power of the internet and a song they wrote called United Breaks Guitars to bring United Airlines down to earth.

And, as the mere sound of this song will for years to come bestow abject terror in the hearts of airline officials everywhere, learn the chorus - just in case you need it at the carousel!

Upcoming Event: Windsurfing Proam 2009, 2nd Algarve Stage

The second Algarvean stage of the three stage Spanish and Portuguese Windsurfing Federations 2009 Portuguese calendar takes place on 18 and 19 July at Meia Praia, Lagos.


Again, Slalom and Long Distance events make up the card for this two day (Saturday & Sunday) event.

The event is open to all windsurfing enthusiasts, both professionals and amateurs alike.

More details from the PROAM website.

The third stage takes place in August. More details closer to the event.

For information about other events occuring in the Algarve, CLICK HERE

Overtaken By Events


Where has the time gone? I'm now at least a couple of days behind on posting to Algarvean Daze, I still haven't caught up with the ever increasing glut of emails that sit, taunting me, unanswered, and in some cases, unread. I'm sliding into the abyss.

It would be so easy to blame my lethargy on sleepless nights, facilitated by the rapid growth of our new kitten, Chere Khan, who, along with her rapidly growing teeth and irretractable claws, now refuses to be contained anywhere other than where we are. If she is not attached to my leg she is attached to my arm. I look as if I was dragged via a stampeding stallion through a bramble patch. And back again. Not a pretty sight.

Or, I could blame our friends, some old and some new, whose company and beverages I enjoy far too much for my own good. I could blame the Algarve restaurants and their owners for always affording us such good food and good atmosphere. I could blame the Algarve weather for ensuring that late into the evening there was no incentive to return indoors and begin my scribbles anew.

Yes, there's a lot of things I could use as excuses for being a little bit too laid back. But no excuses - I came to the Algarve to chill out. That's what I'm doing, and so far I think I'm making a pretty good job of it.

Upcoming Event: 28th Faro International Motorcycle Weekend

The weekend of 16-19 July 2009 sees the convergence of tens of thousands of motorcyclists on the site near Faro, Algarve. Always a spectacular sight to behold, the 28th gathering will undoubtedly live up to it's reputation as one of the best summer events in the Algarve.

The admission price includes an official bag which contains a T-shirt, rally badge, sticker, a different surprise gift each year, coupons for free meals, coupons to give you the opportunity of entering the draw for both a brand new motorcycle and a free week in Daytona.


Bands and artists confirmed at the time of writing this were Europe, Children of the Damned, Hora Zulu, David Fonseca, Tara Perdida, Loquillo, St Dominic's Gospel Choir, and Fatal Smile.

Plug 37 01'28.00''N, 7 58'38.00''W into your GPS or use the maps link below.

Information | Maps

For information about other events occuring in the Algarve, CLICK HERE

Holidays Up In Smoke?

As if logic needed to apply to having a holiday in the Algarve, my politically incorrect thoughts today revolve around the cost benefit that is available to UK smokers visiting for a week in the sun.

Firstly, I neither condone nor disapprove of your decision to smoke. That's up to you. I don't smoke. I used to smoke. I've been in both camps. However, if you do smoke, you could use the money to be saved by buying cigarettes in Portugal to offset the cost of your holiday here. As an example, and based on prices confirmed within the last week - A carton (200) of Silk Cut purchased in the UK cost £55. The same amount bought in the Algarve was €38.50. At the time the exchange rate was running at about €1.15 to £1.00, but for simplicity sake I'll use €1.10 to £1.00.

£55 would buy you just over €60, which would in turn buy you 311 cigarettes. More than 50% extra for the same amount of money. So lets say that you smoke 20 cigarettes per day. The daily saving on smoking those 20, were they bought in the Algarve, would be £2.15. In a week, £15, a month £60, 6 months £360.

A quick check of the Thomas Cook website showed that even in late July, a self catering apartment in Albufeira could be rented for seven days for under £400. This means that a light smoker could have flights and holiday accommodation in the Algarve paid for based on the savings gained by buying their smokes here. 20 cartons of cigarettes, more than a 6 month supply based on 20 per day, will weigh about 20 kilos, but if more than one of you is traveling and the weight is divided you should be able to pack the swimsuit and take back the goods without worrying about overweight luggage.

The choice is yours. If you're going to continue to smoke, why not do it in a way that at least gives your family a holiday they can remember you by?

Upcoming Event: Allgarve Jazz 09

The long awaited season of jazz commences at the end of June, with jazz in the Algarve heard at venues across the region. Allgarve 09 brings together a diverse selection of jazz and big band performances, cool enough to take on the hot summer nights.



30 June, 10 pm, Faro
Chico Pinheiro and Brad Mehldau with Fleurine and Luciana Alves
Teatro das Figuras
Horta das Figuras, Estrada Nacional 125, Faro
Tickets - At the concert venue | Information | Map



10 July, 10 pm, Lagoa
Esperanza Spalding
Sítio das Fontes
Tickets and at FNAC, Worten and Agências Abreu | Map



11 July, 10 pm, Portimão
Madeleine Peyroux
TEMPO - Teatro Municipal de Portimão,
Tickets and at FNAC, Worten and Agências Abreu and at the concert venue | Information



16 July, 10 pm, Lagoa-Portimão
Glenn Miller Orchestra
Centro de Congressos do Arade
Lagoa-Portimão
Tickets1 Tickets2 and at FNAC, Worten and Agências Abreu and at the concert venue | Information | Map



17 July, 9:30 pm, Portimão
Branford Marsalis and Metropolitan Orchestra of Lisbon
TEMPO - Teatro Municipal de Portimão
Tickets - at the concert venue | Information | Map


These events make up the first half of the Allgarve Jazz Season. The Loule Jazz Festival keeps the ball rolling, with details soon to be published.

For information about other events occuring in the Algarve, CLICK HERE

Upcoming Event: International CSI 3* Showjumping at Vilamoura

Following on from the Concurso de Saltos Internacional 4**** event of the previous week at Portimao, the Centro Hípico de Vilamoura, located in Estalagem da Cegonha, will host a CSI 3*** Showjumping event on 26, 27 and 28 June 2009.

This elite equestrian event continues to remain elite, with valid information as difficult to come by as a clear round. Faults abound with details which should be available on the Equi Events website, but which are hidden neatly away behind some boring web failure message.

The main Federação Equestre Portuguesa website is functioning, but provides little information without going to the abovementioned, unhelpful link.

The Centro Hípico de Vilamoura website at least has contact details listed, which may be of use in gaining further information.

For information about other events occuring in the Algarve, CLICK HERE

Corn Flaked

The season has now commenced. Although some tourist establishments are still preaching doom and gloom, a business report published a few days ago stated that hotel occupancy in the Algarve was, for the previous week, running at 80%. That's not too bad for a recession.

As more people arrive and migrate toward the coast, we will now migrate more toward the north side of the 125. The visitors don't need to be tripping over us in Modelo. And vice versa.

Shopping is a pastime I can agreeably do without. So to be obligated to share the necessary time in a supermarket with ANYBODY else other than my shopping partner and the checkout staff really gets right up my nose. It's not just the crowds. It's the action of the crowds.

As an example - these two blurred images were shamelessly nicked from the websites of Kelloggs UK and Kelloggs Portugal. They are different. They are written in two different languages. But really, people, is it necessary to have a family conference in the cereal aisle, with Mom, Dad, 2.4 children, associated pushchairs and an askew trolley to decide if this is what you normally have for breakfast?

The company name is the same. The rooster is the same. 'Corn Flakes' are the same words in both languages. You do not read Portuguese. Turning the box over, examining all sides, passing it from parent to child and back again will not facilitate your decision making process. You belong on the beach. You do not want to spend your holiday in a grocery store. PUT the box in your abandonned, sideways cart and move along. If your first instinct tells you that the product is the same, go with it.

And PLEASE, do not get out the calculator and determine the cost difference before you make the decision to buy. Even if it's double what you would normally pay, buy it. Failure to buy the product you know requires you reading the cartons of products you have never heard of!

Keep it simple. You're on holiday. You're worth it, regardless of the cost! And I'm trying to get to the Cheerios!

Catastrophe

When I wrote some time ago about our Portuguese neighbour's cat being likely to present us with a litter of fur-squirm, this was done based upon the fact that as it was the neighbour's cat, should she drop multiple bundles of joy somewhere in my shed, I could ultimately devolve responsibility for the furry felines, and pass the parcel back to the neighbour. As it happened, the anticipated event never took place, albeit not for the lack of trying on behalf of the aforementioned kitty. Twice she has now aborted part-term, so maybe it will turn out that she never does become a problem of the type I wrote about.

Not all cats fare equally. Recently, a friend took pity on five kittens, unceremoniously dumped on the day of their birth, and has lovingly and successfully hand-reared the entire litter from wet, blind, scrambling fur into a sibling menagerie of home-seeking purr-fur.


They are now at the age where they are ready to adopt new humans. Reluctant as my friend may be, she needs now to allow them to grace the homes and lives of others. At the time of writing this, it appears that two of the five are already spoken for. The remaining three are here now for you. It's a sad fact of Algarvean life that animals are so frequently abandoned at birth. The sanctuaries, normally so willing to assist in situation such as this, are currently unable to provide temporary shelter, and my friend finds herself in a position where she really must find proper homes for the kitties, and soon.

You can help. Maybe you want to share your love with a new pet. Maybe you know someone else who would happily take on a new lodger. However it pans out, please help us help the little guys. Drop an email to kittens@algarveandaze.com and help us re-home the remaining furballs.

C'mon, look at the picture. How can you say no?

Upcoming Event: Kite Masters World Tour & Kiteboard Course Racing World Tour 2009

Praia de Alvor, Portimao plays host again to the Professional Kiteboard Riders Association (PKRA) Kite Masters World Tour 2009, commencing on Wednesday, June 24. Sixteen world class freestyle riders and four top Portuguese kiteboarders will compete in the freestyle events.

In addition to those freestyle events, the third annual Kiteboard Course Racing World Tour 2009 will showcase the best kiteboard racers taking part in a series of events designed to take kiteboard racing to the extreme, with a variety of course formats.

Activities continue through Sunday, June 28. The full race schedule and registration details are available HERE.

For information about other events occurring in the Algarve, CLICK HERE

The Ever-So-Excellent Algarvean Daze Around The World In 24 Hours Challenge

Today I thought that I would ask the readers of Algarvean Daze to help me in a small test. It's an easy test, there are no questions to answer, you can't fail the test unless you don't participate and you will help spread the Algarvean Daze message throughout the world. And it will all happen in a marathon 24 hours.

There is no real blog entry today, no story, no upcoming event. But, if you need your daily fix before you proceed, why not read about another Algarve Friday, a previous Friday HERE, then when you're done come back and help me out.

OK. What I want to do is see how many new people can be welcomed into the Algarvean Daze family in a single 24 hour period. I have started by publishing this at just after midnight my time (GMT) and will stop counting at midnight tomorrow.

Your part in all of this is simple. Send the link to this page (see below for a suggested email that already contains a short link to this page) to two friends, and ask, beg, plead and implore them to read the entry and then immediately if not sooner, to send the link to two of their friends, and so on down the line. At the stroke of midnight on Saturday their local time, stop. No more emails.

Hopefully, after 24 hours my blog ramblings will have reached new readers - a fact that will make it all seem worthwile for me and my RSI! In return, I will soon after (Saturday, probably after a good night's sleep) make everybody aware of how many people read the blog, and from which countries. And each of you can live long and peaceful lives, knowing that you have helped me with my quest to preach the Algarve gospel to the widest possible audience.

The final thing I would ask of you is be selective in the two friends that you send this to. They really should be the sort of people who are likely to participate willingly and enthusiastically in such unbridled tomfoolery.

NOTE to email users - Please send a fresh email to your two friends, not one simply forwarding the previous one. Nobody pays any real attention to emails that start FW Fw fw.... If you can't think of what to say, feel free to copy this -

Hi Firstfriend and Secondfriend
I'm sending you this as a part of a 24 hour world tour of the internet on behalf of Algarvean Daze. All I'm asking is that you quickly have a look here - http://tinyurl.com/lw4bdh - and then do what I'm doing right now. You'll understand when you read it. If you get this on or after Saturday 11 June 2009, ignore all this silliness and have a great day!

NOTE to Twitter users - You can equally participate via Twitter using the #followfriday hashtag, using something like this - @firstfriend @secondfriend - Read this as soon as you possibly can! Really! - http://tinyurl.com/lw4bdh #followfriday

My thanx to all of you, both for reading this far, and if you have forwarded the message, for your active participation. Obrigado!

Upcoming Event: Lagoa Jazz Festival 2009

June 19, 20 and 21 2009 sees the seventh annual Lagoa Jazz Festival return to the Sitio das Fontes in Estombar, near Lagoa.

Starting nightly at 21:30, Friday sees the Jeremy Pelt Quintet on stage, Saturday Louis Winsberg's Jaleo and Sunday, Portugal's OGRE.

More details about Lagoa Jazz 2009, from the Camara Lagoa website HERE (Portuguese)

For information about other events occurring in the Algarve, CLICK HERE

Óbidos and Óbidon'ts - Part Three


Climbing for the final time, up the hill to the pousada, it was almost impossible to imagine that just a few hours previous, this pavement had been awash with tourists swarming over the wares displayed in the gift shops, chatting noisily, and in the case of the planeload of Japanese visitors we encountered, clicking repetitively and animatedly at things both stationary and human. Now deserted, it felt as if we were walking through alien territory, a feeling enhanced by the glow of amber lighting upon whitewashed houses, shops and churches. The drizzle of but a few hours before had not yet dried on the calcada, making the vertical trek as treacherous as it was eerie.

Settling in for the last time in our 'rooms' at the pousada, we became aware of a distant droning sound, a sound we attributed to housekeeping machinery, possibly a washing machine or dishwasher. However, as the night dragged on the sound never ceased, never even altered in pitch as one might expect of a machine cycling through it's cleansing rituals. If this unwelcome interloper was preventing our night's sleep, surely it must be doing likewise to our neighbours in the adjoining suite.

Pondering on that fact, we then realised that while we had quite easily heard sounds from the adjoining room on the previous night, tonight there was no obvious sound of human occupancy. When this thought was twinned with what happened next, we knew we had found the source of the unwanted noise.

My other half had climbed down from our loft to use the toilet, and when she switched on the lights, the extractor fan burst into it's song, in complete and unwavering harmony with the other unseen but definitely heard musician.

A 3am phone call to reception ascertained that the neighbouring room was in fact unoccupied. Our request to have someone check the room was agreed to immediately and in under a minute the sound of the machine was joined by the sound of feet scurrying across the parapets. The groan of a door opening was instantly improved upon by the cessation of the drone. The door closed, the footsteps faded into the distance, we fell asleep...

...to be awoken by the return of pousada staff, this time in multiples, to examine the scene of the crime and to hold lively discussions, seemingly about the events which led to our complaining about the noise in the first place. The interesting fact which came to light, both figuratively and physically, was that the thin wall which had been erected to divide what may have been a reasonable sized suite in to two monks cells had ceiling-high air bricks for ventilation - between the two rooms. Turning the light on in one room cast a cozy glow in the other. Sound, working to the same physics, acted similarly.

So as to not be entirely negative about our days at the Pousada do Óbidos, let me conclude our journey, and it's tales, by saying that our final breakfast, served al fresco at a table high on the castle walls, overlooking the walled city of Óbidos was almost worth the difficulties we encountered at this particular venue.

Watching the city come to life, the morning clouds begin to burn off, replaced by breezy sunlight, sitting at a crisp linen draped table at the top of a castle, wrapped snugly in plush complimentary robes is an experience I can recommend without reservation. Even it it means having to do it at the Castelo do Óbidos.
_____________________________________
Other Stops Along Our Journey
Óbidos and Óbidon'ts - Part Two
Óbidos and Óbidon'ts - Part One
Whine By The Case
Seven Days Without Pizza Makes One Weak
Some Like It Hot

Upcoming Event: Festival Med June 24 - 28 2009

For the sixth year Loule will host the Festival MED, for 5 days between 24 June and 28 June 2009.

Joining Ojos de Brujo and Bajofondo at this year’s edition of one of the most highly-regarded World Music festivals to be held in Portugal will be names such as Orquestra Buena Vista Social Club ®, La Notte Della Taranta featuring Stewart Copeland and Horace Andy & Dub Asante.

Multiple stages will provide non-stop entertainment.

Official Festival MED website HERE

For information about other events occuring in the Algarve, CLICK HERE

When Only Second-Best Will Do

A long time ago, in a land far, far away, I scratched together enough to make ends meet, selling musical equipment. At the top end of our keyboard range sat the musician's temple of excelence, the Hammond Organ.

The biggest single obstacle I had to overcome in selling against other brands was the fact that the people selling those pretenders would insist that their product was far superior to any other in the marketplace. Including mine. OK, you would expect them to say this, and if they were working for me I would sack them if they didn't say it. But not everybody could be correct, and as they weren't selling the product I was, they were sadly mistaken.

The best tool I had in selling around other's misguided zeal was to ask the potential purchaser to enquire of competing salesmen as to which brand was second best. This rarely failed to gain universal almost-ran status for my product, and frequently clinched the deal on my behalf. Nobody agreed which was the best, but all were in agreement about which was a close runner-up.

Now, before you think that I've lost the Algarve plot, let me tell you about a website I found recently. Called Best Benidorm Holidays, the site exists to sell holidays in, would you believe, Benidorm. As Benidorm is not in the Algarve, or even Portugal, why do I mention it here?

Because at the time of writing this, 9 out of 10 comments made on the Benidorm website were about the quality of the holidays in the Algarve, particularly Albufeira.


So back to my Hammond Organ analogy. If the Algarve can play second-fiddle to sufficient Benidorm-type websites, we can forget about bookings being 30% down. And as for Benidorm, we will see a third series on ITV, later this year!

One Of Life's Mysteries Explained

Picture this. You're on holiday in the Algarve. You don't speak Portuguese. You're driving a rental car that is low on petrol. You see a petrol station ahead, with queues on either sides of the pumps. Cars behind you are also signaling to enter the station. You now need to pull in and get into the queue that will put the pump adjacent to the filler cap. But which side is it on?

You stop short of joining either queue. The car behind edges forward impatiently. You strain to look in the wing mirrors to see if the filler cap is visible. It isn't. You struggle against the seat belt to try to twist yourself out of the window to see if you can see the cap. You can't. The driver behind you has had enough, he veers rapidly around you shouting something that may either be advice about which side your filler cap is on, or a reference to your parentage. He now pushes in front of you. Your blood pressure begins to rise. Somewhere in your cranial cavity there is an artery with a very thin wall. Deciding enough is enough, it expands, balloon-like, then...

You wake up in the recovery room, muttering incoherently, without the use of one side of your body. And why? Because you were not aware of the hidden secret of one of life's mysteries. For years, neurosurgeons have successfully lobbied to prevent the widespread distribution of the information I am about to give you, freely, without even an iota of anticipation of being remembered in your will.

Look at the petrol gauge. See the tiny little pump? While the pump gives a pretty good indication that this gauge is about fuel, not water, this is not it's prime function. See the hose coming out of the pump? It might be on the right of the pump, or on the left. Is this just artistic licence on the part of the pump-icon designer? NO!

The secret is secret no longer. The filler cap is on the same side as the hose!

Pass this unto each successive generation. You will be held in high esteem and your wisdom will be revered. And I take back what I said about being remembered in your will!

The Algarvean Daze Twitter For Dummies Primer Part Three

Not really a part of Twitter, but a very useful add-on nevertheless. Twibes gathers together on a single page, groups of tweets related to a single subject.

Let's say that you have a particular interest in a subject, for the sake of this example, we'll assume the Algarve. Going to www.twibes.com and searching for 'Algarve' would return a result of two twibes, one related to the Algarve, one related to Algarve Golf. Just to humour me, let's forget the golf and go to the twibe with the greater number of members - 'Algarve'.

Once the twibe details have loaded you will see pictorial list of all the Twitterers who have joined the twibe, and beneath, a list of tweets that are only displayed if they contain one or more of the predefined keywords that the administration of the twibe has designated as being relevant to the core reason the twibe exists. In the case of the 'Algarve' twibe these words are Algarve and Algarvean.

Whenever a twibe member makes a tweet, in Twitter, that contains one of these words, the tweet will be reproduced on the twibe page after a short delay. This restricts the potential number of tweets you may need to read to only ones that are of interest to the twibe and you.

Once you are aware of the existence of a twibe you can go there directly by adding the twibe name in the url like this - www.twibes.com/algarve

To view the contents of a twibe you only need to go there. To contribute to a twibe you need to have a twitter account, and once signed in to your twitter account, go to twibes a click the JOIN button on the right. This will automatically create a tweet in your twitter account that when you send, will create your membership within the twibe. If a twibe that is of interest to you does not exist, you may create one which will be linked to your Twitter account. More details about this are on the twibes main page.

This ends my life as an educator. I'll now go back to writing about the Algarve, and you can read all about it here, or in the Algarve twibe. Thanx for following.

Check And Double Czech

A little bit of knowledge is not always a dangerous thing, as a friend of ours, in the Algarve for three months to 'test the water' before possibly making a permanent move here, recently found out.

Unfamiliar with those wonderful pieces of metal so prone to ripping holes in one's pockets, the centimos (and 1 and 2 Euro coins), she did not scrutinise too closely the change she was given for some small purchases made in one of a number of beachside shops and cafes she recently visited. It was only when she subsequently tried to spend the alien lucre that she was made aware that the strangely silver coins were nothing to do with the good old Euro and it's diminutive offspring.

Closer inspection of the dodgy doubloons revealed them to be from the Czech Republic - not really a member country of the Eurozone.

While the message here is cautionary - always check your change - the irony of this particular situation is that our friend, who for many years has lived in the UK, is by birth, Czechoslovakian.

Upcoming Event: Windsurfing Proam 2009, 1st Algarve Stage

The first Algarvean stage of the three stage Spanish and Portuguese Windsurfing Federations 2009 Portuguese calendar takes place on 13 and 14 June at Praia de Alvor, Portimão.


Slalom and Long Distance events make up the card for this two day (Saturday & Sunday) event.

The event is open to all windsurfing enthusiasts, both professionals and amateurs alike.

More details from the PROAM website.

The second and third stages take place in July and August. More details closer to the time.

For information about other events occuring in the Algarve, CLICK HERE

The Algarvean Daze Twitter For Dummies Primer Part Two

If, after reading Part One, you're still interested, there may be a possibility that you went to twitter.com and created an account for yourself. If you aren't interested, or you haven't created an account, why not go to BLIP.fm and listen to some music chosen specially for you. The rest of you, however, can do that later.

The page that you want to be on when you have signed in is your Twitter HOME page (if you're uncertain, click on HOME in the menu bar at the top right). This is the page that you send tweets from, using the box at the top of the page. If you remember from last week, a tweet starting with a '@' is sent to a named person and is visible to all looking at your homepage, a tweet starting without a '@' is visible to all but sent to nobody in particular.

In the right column of your HOME page there is a search box. If you want to follow people who tweet things that you are interested in, this is the place to start. OK, let's say that you are interested in things people may tweet about the Algarve. Search for 'Algarve', and when the list of tweets appears, should you see one that interests you click on the Twitterer's name at the beginning of the tweet. This will open a copy of that particular person's home page so that you can see more of what they have written. If you think that you would like to see future tweets from this person, automatically, click on the FOLLOW button just beneath the user's avatar at the top of their list of tweets. That's it, you're now a follower and any posts made by that person will show up in your HOME page soon after posting. After clicking on the FOLLOW button you will still be looking at that persons home page. Just click on HOME, in the menu at the top of the page, and you'll return to your own HOME page.

Once you're back on your own HOME page, look at the numbers just under your username, which is at the top of the right column. These numbers show how many people you are automatically following, how many people are following your tweets, and how many tweets you have made, in total.

As people begin to see what you have posted, some will begin to follow you. Depending on how the menu options SETTINGS/NOTICES are configured, you may receive an email each time someone new starts following you. When this happens, you may wish to look at their home page and if they look interesting, follow them in return.

Finally, to get back to the page that you use to post tweets and to see what posts have been made which include you, click on HOME in the menu at the top of the page. To see your account as others see it, click on PROFILE on the top menu, or if you're already on the home page, clicking on the your username beneath the menu will also show your PROFILE page.

Details about who you follow, who follows you and how many tweets you have made are shown slightly differently, depending which page you are viewing.

There are two additional functions in the right column that you should be aware of, first is the one that starts @(your user name). Clicking on this takes you to a list of tweets that were sent directly to you, by someone using the '@' prefix to your username. The other is Direct Messages, which are messages sent ONLY to you and not visible even in your homepage. Viewing and sending these is done by clicking on the Direct Messages link.

Next week I'll have a look at Twibes, not a part of Twitter but a complimentary application that allows people with an interest in a specific subject to view tweets relating ONLY to that subject.

If you got the bug and want more, now, visit the Twitter Help pages, HERE.

Bestaurant: Kalu Beach Bar, Praia Grande, Ferragudo

If your idea of Algarve beach bars is in tune with the recent, local municipal thinking that all seaside establishments should be soulless and conformist, you will not be impressed with Kalu.

If however, you enjoy a warm welcome, great snacks, a view to die for in a bar typical of what Portuguese beach bars used to be - and all at prices that don't make you worry too much about the exchange rate, head to Kalu Beach Bar on Praia Grande at Ferragudo.

With a menu that has strong Dutch overtones, you will be hard pushed to narrow your choice down to a single item - nor should you! We have found that the best way to make the most of what's on offer is to order a number of dishes and then share them among the group. And I say group, because once you find Kalu (not an easy thing, first time) you will want to impress your friends by introducing them to this Algarvean oasis.

Heading down the stairs to the beach at Praia Grande, the easiest way to find Kalu is to go straight, all the way to the boardwalk, turn left and follow your nose until your feet hit the sand. Turn left again and head from the beach to the verdant hideaway that is Kalu. There is another, shorter way in, but that two minutes extra walk will set you up nicely for an icy cold beer.

Wilma, Arnaud, Ad and Chico make even the first time visitor feel as if they've been visiting for years. And after trying Kalu once, that is what you will surely wish to do.

Find Kalu Beach Bar using Google Earth

UPDATE: Kalu Beach Bar is now an Algarve WiFi hotspot

Óbidos and Óbidon'ts - Part Two


Bar Ibn Errik Rex


As I alluded to in Part One, while we were waiting for the Pousada to get our room ready, we wandered off into Óbidos, looking for brief respite from our journey. We found it at a bar called Ibn Errik Rex. An unusual name for a bar, not very Portuguese sounding. Well, that's correct. But, after some research I have found that the name is less of a name and more of a title. The first king of Portugal, Dom Afonso I, was known by this Muslim name, respectfully, by the Moors.

So what does all this have to do with our time in Óbidos? Not a lot. But it does have a lot to do with the decor of the bar that we adopted, and by the time we had to return to the Algarve, seemingly had adopted us.

The Moorish influence was unmistakable, if not over the top. Starkly rendered Moorish scenes decorated the walls, along with the mandatory bric-a-brac harking back to a time more noble, but at the same time more aggressive. The only thing really out of Moorish context were the thousands of miniature bottles which made up most of the ceiling.


The table that became 'ours' was in the corner, from where we could see all that was happening on the street and in the bar. People came in waves. The bar was empty on our arrival, then would suddenly fill to capacity as visitors arrived en masse to partake of the obligatory Ginja in a tiny chocolate cup, then would equally as rapidly empty, leaving only us and the owner. This was repeated frequently during our multiple visits.

Having spent the afternoon there, we had no real intention of returning until possibly later that evening for a nightcap, but with a couple of recommended restaurants closed, and with our not really wanting a big meal anyway, the lure of the only menu item at the bar was too much. Linguiça assada, flaming at the table, Sao Jorge cheese from the Azores and fresh bread, €15 for two people.

During one of the populated waves, a couple entered and finding no place to sit, were about to leave when we offered them half of our table. They accepted, and we then spent a very pleasant hour talking about their, and our, travels through Portugal. They, like us, had set out that evening looking for food, and like us, opted for the only item on the menu, even though they were unfamiliar with this means of cooking sausages. Their eyes widened, as did the eyes of the entire restaurant, looking in amazement at the sight of flames leaping toward the myriad liquor bottles which hung above our heads, when the owner dropped a match into the bowl of aguadente and sausages he had placed in the center of our table. And, if our new-found friends were to be believed, enjoyed it both as an experience and as a substantial and tasty snack.

In addition to sharing our table with Erik and Rose, we shared it with the ghost of the bar, a phantasm gliding down steep alley stairs, a spectre that bore an amazing resemblance to my partner, but a few years ago, except for the fact that my good lady hadn't, and still hasn't, yet gone over to the other side.

We ended our first night in lengthy, English conversation with the owner's son. We did return the next evening, late and for a nightcap, but this time only the father was working. This night also ended with us chatting, but as now all communication was in Portuguese, it was undoubtedly slightly less subtle and took considerably longer.

That the elder gentleman took the time to speak with we transients, between the aforementioned waves of other visitors, did make a positive impression on us. After the shaky start at the Pousada, the town of Óbidos - or at least the people at Bar Ibn Errik Rex, had begun to win us over.
_____________________________________
Other Stops Along Our Journey
Óbidos and Óbidon'ts - Part One
Whine By The Case
Seven Days Without Pizza Makes One Weak
Some Like It Hot

Upcoming Event: CSI 4* International Showjumping 19-21 June 2009


This June in the Algarve, Portugal, will see International Show Jumping with prize money of over €160,000. Spread across 9 events, the three days of show jumping will take place on the 19th-21st June 2009.

This Concurso de Saltos Internacional 4**** (CSI 4*) equestrian event is sponsored by the Centro Hípico de Belmonte at Portimao, the Portimao Camara, the Internation Riding Federation (FEI) and the Portuguese Riding Federation (EFF).

The Centro Hípico Belmonte is located at Poço Seco, Portimao

For more information visit the Centro Hipico Belmonte website. A map to the venue is available HERE

For information about other events occuring in the Algarve, CLICK HERE

The Algarvean Daze Twitter For Dummies Primer Part 1

I could have called this something really catchy, like the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which would have really helped my search engine placement, or something more descriptive like the Twitter, the Tweet and the Twibe, which may have only confused you. In the end (at the beginning, actually) I opted for a title which does exactly what it says.

As a savvy internet user, there's a good chance that you are already in one of three Twitter camps. If you belong to the first, you already use and love Twitter. If that's the case, stop now, count the flags or read the ads or leave a comment on another entry - there's nothing about to be said that you don't already know. And if you are a member of the second group you already know about and loathe Twitter. In this case, recommendations given to the first group also apply.

If however, you are ignorant of Twitter, or have only heard of it and are a wee bit Twitter-curious, read on.

You may have noticed there is a 'Follow me on Twitter' icon at the bottom of the left column of Algarvean Daze, like the one just here. It is there for your future use, but for now we want to open Twitter without closing Algarvean Daze, so you can switch between the two. Get ready, and after you CLICK HERE and have a look around, come back. (For what it's worth, getting to Twitter all on you own can be done by going to twitter.com/xxxxxxxx, where xxxxxxxx is the name of the Twitter user you want to see - like twitter.com/algarveandaze. Using simply twitter.com takes you to the logon page, which is handy if you're a user and want to log on.)

The page that was displayed simply showed a list of short sentences. Each sentence is called a 'Tweet'. If the Tweet simply started as a normal sentence would, ie without any funny characters, that's a message I wrote for all to read. At times it will have a link embedded within it to take you somewhere else, and at time it will simply be a statement.

If the sentence started with a '@', that's a message I've written to send to a specific Twitter user, as well as displaying it in my list of non-targeted posts. That's it. Really. Well as far as we'll go right now - this has been about seeing things I've written - in a few days we'll look at how you use Twitter to receive information, that is, how to use Twitter to 'follow' other Twitter users, and how other users 'follow' you. We'll see how multiple Twitterers can pool their information in groups ('Twibes') that target special interests - like the Algarve!

And the rationale is?

It's a bit like those letters that get included with Christmas cards, only a lot more topical. In the Christmas letter you will have the really newsworthy stuff, the hatches, the matches and the dispatches, but rarely do you have a sentence about how funny Joe looked when the nozzle came off of the hose and soaked his new shoes. Unlike fine wine, a seven month old story about Joe's sodden footware really doesn't improve with age. With Twitter, you post a single entry about a single event, sometimes the people who follow you will respond, sometimes they'll just laugh, or cry, or despair. The important thing is that you didn't wait until Christmas.

Óbidos And Óbidon'ts - Part One

With the wine stashed securely away in the boot of the car, we say goodbye to Palmela and head to the other side of Lisbon, north to Óbidos. The journey through Lisbon is fairly unremarkable, except for the fact that the directions we are following, kindly provided by Pousadas of Portugal, tell us to follow the A8 to Torres Vedras. This is a minor but annoying inconsistency, as the signposting to the A8 makes no mention of Torres Vedras. As a driver, I was working on the assumption that most roads go in two directions, therefore if I continued on I would ultimately find a second A8 junction, this one heralding our required direction. Wrong. After one set of roadworks, an unscheduled stop, map consultation, and a return journey through the roadworks we eventually found ourselves at the first, incorrectly (for our benefit) identified A8 junction. Nao faz mal. We were back on track.


On arriving at Óbidos we wound our way through the narrow streets, climbing higher until we reached the Castle. Parking amazingly close, we lugged the cases (I now know why they call it luggage!) up to reception, to be told that our room would not be ready until 2 o'clock (it was 1:10). Why not leave our cases and go wander in the village for an hour, asked the receptionist? Well, I sure wasn't going to take my flippin' cases with me! Yeah, OK, and off we go to kill an hour.

Coming out of the castle grounds and heading down the main street we shortly came across a dark, empty bar. Perfect. Ensconced in seats looking out at the throngs of tourists, with cold beers in our hands, we could chill for an hour before returning to the Pousada.

Two or three beers later, we make the return ascent to our intended home of the next few days, only to be told that the room is still not ready, even though it's now 2:30. Strike One. With nothing really to do, we hover, look in the lounge and the bar (with no staff, else we would have had another drink) then my significant other half queries the staff about the misleading Lisbon directions. "Oh, the road in Lisbon isn't signposted to Torres Vedras" is the reply. Uh, yes, we knew that now. The directions provided to help us arrive and spend money are wrong. That's two strikes.

Eventually the good news is given - the room is ready. We are led through the lounge, through the still unmanned bar, up the stairs, down the corridor, onto the parapets, across the wall to the tower which we will now call home. Through an impressive door into a mini-foyer, ours is one of two suites occupying the tower.

Suite. Sweet? Hardly.

The room was a strip wide enough for a sofa against the wall to face the flat screen television which was sitting on the mini-bar on the opposing wall, with just enough room to walk between. (God only knows what they did before flat screens, as a normal TV would have jutted way too far toward the sofa to allow passage.) The bar/TV was tucked away under the narrow wooden stairs which rose to the mezzanine bedroom, which itself was just wide enough to accommodate the standard sized bed, with some walking room at the sides. At the far end of the lower room was the bathroom, replete with a genuine Wimpey Starter Homes 3/4 size bath. What ultimate luxury! The only natural light and ventilation came from the single archer's arrow-slit window and the door if left open. Eyes having finally adjusted to the light, and with the aide of every medievally dim low energy lighting appliance we could locate and power-up, we could see that this room must have taken the maid all of 23 minutes to prepare for our arrival, allowing time for her coffee break.

Strike three!
________________
...to be continued

Upcoming Event: The Unibet Open Algarve 2009 Poker Tournament


Taking place from Thursday 14 May through Sunday 17 May 2009 at the Casino Vilamoura, the Unibet Open Algarve Poker Tournament will see up to 440 players competing for an estimated €660,000 prize pot.

Competition in this no limit, Texas Hold'em competition starts each day at 3pm.

More info about the Unibet Open European Tournaments is available HERE

For information about other events occuring in the Algarve, CLICK HERE

Whine By The Case

We are the only people in the beach bar. It's still early, just a bit past noon, but we got to the Sado estuary more quickly than we anticipated. Maybe it was because this time we had a rough idea of where we were going, but forgot to take that into account when we set off. The first time we visited here it was an accident of location - we had been out for hours, saw the bar across the bay and drove until we found it - but now we are seasoned, albeit early, travellers.

It had rained earlier, and the tables and chairs were still wet. The owner looks at us as if we are mad, as the pendulous clouds on the horizon are drifting in our direction. Nevertheless, he procures a towel from somewhere, wipes everything down and takes our drinks order. After a while, and another drink, we are still dry on the outside and starting to get hungry. So, toasties and bifanas ordered, we notice that the bottle of wine is an Adega de Pegões, without doubt our favourite economy tipple.


Using the 'Rotas dos Vinhos' map we had earlier nicked from the Pousada, and the information available on the bottle label, we determined that the co-operative was within reasonable driving distance. Now on a mission, lunch was an interruption of our intended days work. We had to get moving. We had to get saving.

When we arrived at Santo Isidro de Pegões, we knew we were at the right place. There was just something about the roundabout in the centre of the village that gave us a clue.


Onward now, in the direction conveniently indicated by a sign for the Cooperativa Agrícola de Santo Isidro de Pegões. Better still, and not too far away, another sign stating Venda ao Público. Yes. We were about to buy, buy big, and buy cheap.

The first indication that our intention of filling the car with crates of inexpensive vinho may have been misguided came when we pulled into the car park. Not a single car, not a moped, not even a shopping wheelie thing abandoned outside the door. Nada, bar a cat asleep on the doorstep. Inside, all manner of Pegões wines were on display, beckoning, tempting us to provide a good home. Fat chance of that ever happening!

Wines were priced at 5% to 10% MORE than we would pay in Modelo, and that was BEFORE the 12% IVA still to be added. Unhappy is a word that springs to mind, but one which really failed to convey my emotions at the moment.

Not wishing to write off the entire experience as a bad interruption of a good lunch, we found some wines with which we were not familiar. We decided that as we had come this far it would be a tad bit churlish to leave without purchasing anything. We decided on a few to try, conveyed our choice to the girl in attendance in the shop and then waited while she went through the process of having to create four copies of multiple invoices for each of the different wines selected, my name mis-spelled consistantly on each document. Why we needed two copies was beyond my comprehension.

The sting in the tail was diminished slightly, when the clerk explained to us that in the cases of six bottles, we were in fact only paying for five. One bottle was a bonus, a gift, a bountiful offering set out to appease our annoyance. The effect of this benevolence was to bring the cost per bottle down to about what we would pay in a supermarket.

So, we had cut short our lunch and laze by the beach, driven an hour with the prospect of another hour's return journey, only to end up paying exactly what we would pay at home for the same tipple.

Taking a pragmatic approach to the entire experience, I guess that our propping-up of the Santo Isidro economy will ultimately ripple down to the inhabitants. And to the maintenance of that roundabout.

Upcoming Event: International Algarve Fair 2009

Saturday May 30 and Sunday 31 May will see the International Algarve Fair returning to the FATACIL fair ground in Lagoa.

Among the attractions will be the popular Motor Show and for the first time at the fair, a Dog Show. Music will be provided by the Ecuadorian Musical Group and Country & Western singer JJ Johns.

Also new to the fair this year will be the three times daily International Algarve Fair parade.

Pizza, Surinamese food and Indian meals will compete with offerings like wraps and salads, chicken piri piri and chips, a hog roast, tapas dishes, & vegetarian delicacies.

The fair will open at 11am on both days.

At the time of writing this, the official website existed, but unfortunately had very limited functionality. (It didn't work...)

For information about other events occuring in the Algarve, CLICK HERE

Seven Days Without Pizza Makes One Weak

Probably because I ate so much pizza in the 80s and 90s I really don't think of going out for one on any sort of regular basis. I knew before we got to Palmela, however, that we would be going out for pizza, as there is a pizzeria between Palmela and Setubal that my good lady believes to be the best pizza anywhere in the universe, with the thinnest crust physically possible while still managing to remain watertight enough to keep the sauce from bleeding through and onto one's lap.

So, after the obligatory, overpriced drinks in the Pousada bar, we mentioned to Fernanda, the Pousada receptionist who has become a dear friend, that we were off that evening to relish the pizza that was only available at Chico's. "No", said our friend, we didn't want to do that, because there was a new pizzeria that had opened in Palmela, within walking distance, one where the food equalled or bettered that at Chico's.

Directions were provided, all we had to do was go out of the castle, down to the church, then up behind the firemen's quarters, then down a street from which we could get to the street wherein resided the restaurant. It couldn't be easier, particularly as it was just behind our friend's apartment. Possibly easy for her, but as we had never been to her apartment, maybe not quite so easy for us. We set off 'a pé', and after meticulously following the instruction, found ourselves needing to ask directions.

The woman we approached as she was loading her shopping into her car probably didn't mean to exhibit such tangible fear. I suppose that the twilight emergence of two estrangeiros muttering quasi-incoherent Portuguese may have just taken her slightly by surprise. Once she regained her composure, she did seem to understand our need for directions, and after telling us that what we needed to do was go up to the church, then down behind the firemen's quarters, then up a street from which we could get to the street wherein resided the restaurant. Simple. We extended our gratitude and were pleased to notice, as we continued our quest, that the colour was beginning to return to her face.

Fast forward five minutes. Maybe we should have gone around the church, then avoided the firemen's quarters, taken the underpass and bought a SatNav when they were on sale at Lidl. As we were standing at a crossroads, looking in all directions for something that might be masquerading as a pizza place, a car pulled up alongside us. As my knowledge of Portuguese is sufficiently lacking, I would guess that the instruction to "get in the car" lacked a suitably perceived degree of menace.

As well it should have, as this was not the Pousada Police, about to 'disappear' us for failing to leave a sizable gratuity in the bar, no, this was the woman we terrified with our questions about pizza. On her way home now, seemingly aware of our on-going plight and obviously exasperated at our lack of understanding, rather than go through it all again it appeared she had drawn the conclusion that it would be easier if she just drove us to the restaurant.

As all of her shopping was on the front seat, she motioned for us to sit in the back, seemingly fearless of what mayhem a rear-seat passenger might be able to cause to a front-seat driver. What mayhem indeed.

Then, just when she thought that she had done her good deed for the day, and had done so without sustaining any serious injury at the hands of the Back-seat Basher, the stark realisation dawned that while we had finally arrived at our intended venue, we did so on their closing day.

Our request to be let out of the car fell on deaf ears. Speeding away from the dark restaurant, she weaved her way through the narrow streets, out of sight of the church, away from the firemen's quarters, then up, down and over any number of lanes and alleys until she finally delivered us to a pizzeria that was open.

...while enjoying our meal (Not as good as Chico's) we couldn't help but wonder if two foreigners wandering the dusky streets of a British town centre would be afforded the same courtesy as we were by this lone middle-aged Portuguese woman? I would like to think yes - but then, I always have been a dreamer.