Algarvean Daze

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

Upcoming Event: World Series of Snooker

The Pavilhão Portimão Arena, in Portimão, will host the Grand Final of the World Series of Snooker commencing the 8th of May 2009 and ending on the 10th of May. This is the first toe in the water for Portugal and the Algarve, welcoming two time World Champion John Higgins and at least 8 of the top 12 snooker players in the world. For more information CLICK HERE

Upcoming Event: Motocross MX3 World & EMX2 European Championship Races

The Cortelha International Circuit at Cortelha, Loule, will see World Class 500cc MX3 Motocross riders, and the top 125cc EMX2 racers take to the dirt on Saturday 2nd May and Sunday 3rd May 2009. Practice and qualifying sessions will take place between 08:30 and 17:30 on Saturday, with races scheduled for the same times on Sunday. Maps to the circuit and more details are available HERE

Freedom Day, 25 de Abril

I've always known where Portugal was. I just never knew what it was.

As a child, a baby-boomer growing up in America, I had a wooden jigsaw puzzle which was a map of the post-war world. Portugal was the long skinny European piece closest to the States. And it was purple.

Even when I first visited Europe in 1972 I really didn't know what Portugal was, other than an exporter of a wine called Mateus Rose. It got no better when I moved to the UK in the late 70s. It wasn't until I visited the Algarve in the 80s that I began to understand what Portugal was all about.

In my politically sheltered world I missed the struggle of the Portuguese people to throw off the shackles of the Salazar regime. The fact that they did so without massive civil unrest, and managed to cope with the social upheaval of the 'retornados' - exiles from the newly liberated African colonies - attests to the strength of character that is the Portuguese. That strength is exemplified on a daily basis as the natives are forced to deal with estrangeiros such as myself, and do so most obligingly.

I can not imagine life under a dictator, although the bureaucratic remnants that still linger give a bit of a hint. That the Portuguese people so successfully moved on from that legacy to become the welcoming hosts that they are today may be overlooked by many, as I did their struggle to become liberated.

The Portuguese today celebrate 35 years of freedom, freedom such as I have always taken for granted. I would just like to convey my respect for the people, their determination and their country.

Thank you for allowing me the freedom to share your country, your heritage, your lives. Although I can't explain it, I think I may just be beginning to understand your concept of 'saudade'.

Utter Confusion

So the morning of our friends' arrival dawned. This will be the first time we have seen Bill and Ruthellen in 32 years. This will be the first time they have been to Portugal. This will be the first time they have flown outside of the Continental US of A.

We awaken to leaden skies and horizontal Algarvean rain. While I am signing on to the ANA Faro Arrivals website, my significant other half is checking her inbox. Yes, an email about our visitors, but not from them. Their son has written to say that their flight from Newark has been delayed for technical reasons.

My validation of the flight times confirms this, as their takeoff was delayed for six hours. Now, thinks I, this is not going to do a lot in facilitating an easy connection in Lisbon, for the final stint to the tropical rain-drenched Algarve.

As we have confirmed online via Newark ATC that their plane is actually airborne, we now verify that there are three further flights from Lisbon to Faro later in the day, so there should be no problem in them getting a connection. A quick check (by attempting to book seats online) shows that the first flight with seats is at 20:30, some eleven hours after they were due to arrive.

The possibility existed, however, that the reason we couldn't see free seats on the earlier 16:30 flight was that the airlines had already allocated those seats to the delayed incoming American flight. Our only real option was to go to the airport in time for the earliest flight, and if necessary, wait.

When we arrived at Faro we went to the TAP desk, explained the dilemma and asked if they could confirm that all connecting passengers who were ticketed through to Faro would be on the next flight, or if not, on which of the two remaining flights. "Not possible" said the TAP representative, as the airlines would not divulge details of the passenger list. Further explanations such as we offered that we were only wanting to know which flight the delinquent voyagers would be on, not the detailed passenger list itself ultimately and surprisingly led to the question of "what is their name?".Our relief turned to amazement after much key-tapping, when we were advised that not only were our friends not booked on the next connecting flight, they were in fact not booked on any TAP flight.

Resigned to the likelihood of a long evening as we would meet each incoming flight - on the hope that our visitors were traveling under assumed names - we were reunited when the first of the possible connections disgorged it's weary occupants, a flight which TAP assured us did not contain our friends.

I wonder who TAP thought was occupying their seats?

Algarve Blog Week 2009

If you've been following Algarvean Daze you will know that we are soon to be playing host to friends from America whom we haven't seen for more than 30 years. As much as I would like to be sharing my time between those friends and you, my loyal readers, (all three of you) I am afraid that the presence of my physical amigos will take precedence over that of my cyber-chums. Sorry.

However, so as not to leave you deprived of Algarve-related articles of interest while I am away reminiscing and imbibing at international level, I have gathered together a few other blogs that you may want to look at while you wait for the glorious return of Algarvean Daze. Seven of them, one per day of my anticipated absence. Or all at once, if you're insatiable!

For whats happening in the Algarve, have a look at Algarve Buzz and Algarve Holiday: More Than Just 'Sun, Sea & Sand'.

My Country Home views the Algarvean life from a native's perspective, while Walking SW Portugal will take you out and about 'a pé'.

You don't need to be a photographer to enjoy the verbal pictures at Exposing The Algarve, and for the gourmets among you a visit to Portuguese Menu will go down a treat.

But my favourite among the lot has to be my good friend Stu, whose writing at Permaculture in the Algarve might be considered to border upon the bizarre, if it weren't for the fact that he always dilutes his spoken opinions before committing them to Arial 12pt and pushing the 'publish' button.

See you all back here in a week or so. Or sooner if thirty years of nostalgia turns out not to be what I remembered.

What A Difference A Day Makes

After more than 30 years apart, we will this week be reunited with the couple who were our best friends when we were first married. At the time we were almost inseparable, even to the point that at one time three of the four of us worked together. We spent evenings together playing games and laying down the groundwork for cirrhosis and dementia. We watched as their daughter grew up, and congratulated them on the birth of their first son. When times got rough we pooled our resources and just got on with life.

Then, after ten years, we left America and shortly after they moved to another state. We lost touch. For three decades we heard nothing from them, they heard nothing of us. Our lives, our careers, became hectic, new friends emerged, and after a time, our old friends became but fond memories.

After years of rat-racing, and having decided to take up a new profession, that of being Professionally Unemployed, I took some of my now excessive leisure time and started using the net to try to locate our missing mates. To make the excruciatingly long story a bit shorter, we found them. Shorter still, this week they fly into Faro.

So, naturally, we have been running around like blue-assed flies getting ready for their arrival on Thursday. All of the things that should have been done weeks or months ago when we were first aware of their impending arrival have now been neatly packaged into a few days of total chaos - no wasting of time here! Having ascertained that all tasks should be completed within minutes of our departing for the airport, we today realised that our friends fly in on Friday, not the Thursday that had been targeted. Oops. So now we have another full 24 hours to complete the tidying-up exercise. All the pressure is off. We can relax. Panic over.

I think I'll have a lie-in tomorrow and go to the beach for lunch.

Resurrection

Sometimes it seems as if all of our Algarvean Daze entries are event driven. I'm not complaining, the occasional spontaneous happening lends itself quite nicely to scribbling down a word or two!

View from the bedroomOn the other hand, while focusing on the exceptional, often we miss the commonplace but nevertheless worthy passing of time and life. Today, I happily bring myself back to the mundane, the ordinary, the unexceptional cycle.

My garden has begun to bloom, to blossom, to really reward me for the time initially taken to clear the rubble, to dig the holes, to source - often through trial and error - the plants that now have no doubts about what their purpose in life may be.

The colour has crept in without any fanfare. The plants which suffered so badly during the frosts last winter and were pretty much written off as dead, have now begun to sprout the tiniest specks of green. Even the Newbiscus Mauvelous, which we were certain had long since passed it's sell by date, is giving every indication that it wishes to stay and bloom another day.

All of this has happened without my intervention, almost without my knowledge. Now, when I open my bedroom shutters each morning, I am confronted with nature's coat of many colours. And as coats go, it's one that fits very nicely.

Red

I never have been able to give a cat a single name. An official name yes, but then I always end up bestowing a nickname upon the critter. (If the truth be known, all animals could probably be given the same name - 'Food'. It's amazing how they all respond to this name being called!) In our case, we named him 'Red' because of his colouring, but he soon became my 'Ruddy Buddy'.


About the time our neighbour's cat came into season, Red appeared. Visits were sporadic at first, but as the days passed he became a more frequent visitor. For more than a month now every morning Red has been ready to start the day content with a breakfast made up of our other two's leftovers. And leftovers were always the intent - nothing more. Hah!

As the days progressed Red not only decided to spend more time with us, he also decided that provided we kept feeding him more and better titbits he would grace us with his presence more frequently. This familiarity growing, to the extent that home to Red has become a chair in our outdoor living room, a nest so comfortable that sleep in there could only be interrupted by the sounds of stirrings around the kitchen, ultimately resulting in another day's pequeno almoco.

With his non-existent knowledge of English, it fell upon us to translate his increasingly frequent conversations. 'Miau' became feed me, 'miau miau' became FEED ME, 'miau miau miau' became FEED ME NOW!

Never scared by our approach or by visiting friends, Red showed all the docile signs of having at one time being someone else's pet. Well, not any more. He adopted us. He even purred for me a few days ago. Mind you, I was in the process of feeding him!

After much discussion about whether we should allow Red into the inner circle, last night we took the decision that Red should join our others in full house privileges. So today, the plans are for trip to the vets for worming, jabs, and a general once-over, as we were concerned that even with his constant eating he was gaining no weight.

But this morning Red did not appear on the patio at breakfast time. We found him eternally sleeping on the chair he came to know as home. My Ruddy Buddy was gone.

Although we never heard his last words. I would like to think that they just may have been 'meow'.

It's A New Dawn, It's A New Day

Not being a particularly early riser, I'm certain that there are many occasions when the Algarve sunrise is as spectacular as the Algarve sunset. I just don't see many of them.


From what I have experienced watching the Sol Nascente, it doesn't last long. So when I recently caught an early morning glimpse of spectacular promise of a glorious day, I grabbed my camera and rushed onto the deck to try to capture the emotion as an image. The colours of dawn were already receding when I got into a position to snap the skyline, and although the colourful vista was on the wane, I was still pleased to be able to capture some of nature's splendour.

Putting it into perspective, I was witnessing the birth of an almost new season, a new month, warmer weather, lighter evenings - all successfully conspiring to drive away the lethargy of the past few months.

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me, and as Nina Simone would so eloquently say on my behalf, "I'm feeling good".