Algarvean Daze

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

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 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 -

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 and created an account for yourself. If you aren't interested, or you haven't created an account, why not go to 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, where xxxxxxxx is the name of the Twitter user you want to see - like Using simply 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!
________________ 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.

Swine Flu Reaches Portugal

The Irish Evening Echo has reported that the first case of H1N1 Swine Flu has been detected in Portugal. The 30 year old woman who had recently been on holiday in Mexico is now being kept in isolation at her home.

The three most important things that can be done to minimise the spread of the disease are -

Wash Your Hands. Use soap and warm water, rub together vigorously for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Always wash hands before touching/eating food, after using the bathroom, taking out the trash, changing a nappy, handling money or playing with a pet.

Cover Your Cough/Sneeze. Many diseases are spread through droplets from coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue and be sure to throw away immediately and wash hands. No tissue available, sneeze/cough into the crook of your elbow, not your hand.

Avoid Close Contact. If you are sick with flu-like symptoms stay away from others. Do not go to school or work. If you need medical treatment, try to use a mask so you can avoid affecting other people.

Upcoming Event: Portimao Air Festival

At the time of writing this there is very little official information about the Portimao Air Festival, due to be held in the Algarve on 23 and 24 May, 2009. Information such is currently available indicates the event will take place at the same venue as last year, the Zona Ribeirinha de Portimão.

More details about the air show, when they become available, should be accessible on the AeroPress website and from the Portimao Camara.

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

Some Like It Hot

Working along the lines of 'there's nothing wrong with a little deviation now and then', or anything similar that was probably vocalised at some time by the Marquis de Sade, I will take this opportunity to deviate from my normal scribblings about things Algarvean to move slightly north.

Commencing our journey in the footsteps of one taken a year ago, we headed off to spend a few days around our base at the Pousada in Palmela. Although not really a lengthy journey, time and needs dictated that it may be prudent to insert a mid-day stop along the way. We slipped off of the IC1 at Alcácer do Sal, having decided to have a light lunch at one of the many cafes which line the river in this picturesque town.

The only parking space we could find was almost at the very end of the river road. As many cafes facing the shore were closed (it was a Monday), and feeling an ever escalating desire to inspect the local plumbing facilities, we stopped at the first restaurant that exhibited every possibility of being an establishment that would cater to the culinary cravings of travelers such as ourselves - the restaurateur's nightmare, patrons who buy a beer and a toastie in order to justify using the loo.

Greeted by the owner brandishing two large hard-bound volumes, we asked for the lista de snacks, rather than the ementa de refeições. The offended gentleman then adopted the quiet patronising approach that a weary adult takes with a child who refuses to comprehend dealing with the simplest of tasks, opened the menu for my perusal, pointing to the catagories of entradas, peixe, aves, carne and sobremesas, explaining that this was his only menu.

My next action could not have been more comically timed or more inappropriate. Across the top of the menu's first page was a masthead stating in inch-high, gilded letters, 'SNACK BAR'. Pointing to this typographical tyranny only resulted in our host abandoning us to the menus as he retreated into the restaurant.

By now we had decided that as I had seen Bacalhau à Brás (one of my favourite Portuguese dishes) on the board in front of the establishment, and my significant other half was agreeable to an omelette entrada as a main course - and as both of us were bursting, we would stay.

Once we had regained the attention of our host and given our orders, we noticed a slight change in his demeanor. When the food was delivered some of the frostiness had thawed, to the point that during the delivery of the obligatory 'bom appetito', he rested his hand on my shoulder.

As I had not been sensible enough to immediately ask for that without which Bacalhau à Brás cannot be eaten - piri-piri - I requested some and was given a jar of obviously home-made sauce. Asking if this was a molhe picante caseiro, and being assured that it was and of it's pedigree, our waiter now departed the table having bestowed upon my back a hearty slap and another 'bom appetito'.

As our time in the restaurant progressed, each returning visit of our host culminated in more back-slapping and an ever increasing amount of chatter. By the time we left we were being treated like old friends. (By that I mean long-standing friends, not friends who were approaching 100.)

Why the change in attitude within a 90 minute span? Maybe because we decided to spend money. Maybe because we took the time to try to communicate in Portuguese. Or maybe because I know a bloody good homemade piri-piri sauce when I see one, and am not backward in coming forward in singing it's praises. Or just maybe a bit of 'all of the above'.