Algarvean Daze

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

Travel Tip: General Strike Thursday 24 November

The anticipated general strike planned for Thursday 24 November will cause travel chaos. If you have travel plans for Thursday contact your travel operator or airline to confirm the impact on your flights.

"ANA, Portuguese Airports, advises all passengers with flights scheduled between 10pm on Wednesday and midnight Friday, departing from any Portuguese airport, to contact your airline or travel agent before departing for the airport, to check the state of your flight."

Casting The First Stone

Ever since it was announced that Iceland, the UK frozen food chain, would be opening a store in the Algarve I have followed, on the many forums aimed at expats, the frequently heated debate about the desirability of such a commercial endeavour. While I will not be a frequent shopper I will be an occasional one, in the same manner that I occasionally shop at a number of different Algarve establishments. OK, that's my position. But now about the furore.

There is a small but extremely vocal group of people who would like to restrict my choice, your choice, our choice of where we shop because they can not understand why people who have relocated their homes, their families, their lives to the Algarve would want to maintain ties to the UK and it's produce. These proponents in the 'Buy Portuguese' camp seem to have cut their dietary ties with Blighty, and while I have a degree of empathy with their argument to buy locally, the hypocrisy latent in their arguments leaves me cold.

If integration into the local community is paramount to this band of naysayers, why are they posting, in English, on expat forums aimed at non-Portuguese? Have all of these pro-Portugal opponents of free choice taken up official residency and converted their driving licences? And forgive me if I'm wrong, but are they, by any chance, watching UK television via Sky, Freesat and the internet?

If the philosophy of Iceland's detractors is that of 'When In Rome, do as the Romans do', surely their credibility would be enhanced if they said so in Italian.

What Rhymes With Banker?

This is not my tale. The events chronicled here happened not to me, but to a friend. I have no doubt as to the veracity of his account, so I pass it on to you without reservation.

My friend, we'll call him Dave, found himself in a situation where he could no longer use his bank card because it had expired. Never having encountered this before, as the bank had always posted his new card in a timely manner, he visited his local branch of a bank we'll call - since we have to call it something - Millennium BCP.

The conversation then goes something like this -

Dave: I haven't received my replacement card.

MBCP: We posted it to you but it was returned here as undeliverable.

Dave: What address did you send the card to?

MBCP: To your house, of course.

Dave: But I don't receive post at my house. I have a post office box. You send my statements to it.

MBCP: We don't send cards to post office boxes. We only send them to where you live.

Dave: Ok, if the card was returned to you here, may I have it now please?

MBCP: No, we always cancel all returned cards. We'll have to apply for a new card.

Dave: Where will it be sent?

MBCP: To your house.

Dave: I told you I can't receive post at my house. Why can't you send it to my post office box?

MBCP: (Exasperated response) - Because ... you ... don't ... live ... in ... the ... post ... office ...

Dave: (After a period of incredulous silence) - OK, have the card delivered here to the bank, and I'll collect it here.

MBCP: We can't do that.

Dave: Why?

MBCP: Because ... you ... don't ... live ... in ... the ... bank ...

Fast forward a couple of weeks. Dave returns to his local branch and closes his accounts, as his new bank has sent his bank cards to his post office box. When the manager overhears him closing his accounts Dave is offered the facility to receive his cards at the branch.

A most magnanimous offer, one which he however declines.

DIY, Algarve Style

This is not a recent phenomenon. My first encounter was a few years ago when I sent an anonymous email to a well established - but according to the management, struggling - Algarve tourist resort where I have a managed property. This email asked what was to me, a simple question about rates and facilities. When, after more than a week, I received a reply, I was advised that the information I required could be found on their website. That was it. No direct answer to my direct question.

More recently I have have been interested in multiple items that were advertised in private sales on a number of the good Algarve expat forums. Good descriptions, good prices - but where are the goods available to be seen? A direct question to the sellers, one that would allow me to determine whether it was viable for me to travel from my Central Algarve home to: Vale de Telha, to Vila Real de Santo Antonio, to Odeceixe, to Alcoutim? Where are the goods located? Simples! The typical response received from the sellers required me to phone, to email, to send private messages in order to be advised of the location.

In some of the cases where items were being sold, the reason for selling was a failed commercial venture. Commercial ventures that relied on the general public for success. Is it any wonder that such ventures failed, if the response provided to customers' queries was anywhere akin to that which was provided during the everything must go sale?

Is it just me, or does anyone else share my frustration in having to beg sellers, commercial or private, for information that may ultimately end up in my putting money in their hands?

I'm tired of doing other peoples' work. An email answer that provides ONLY a link to a website (a response without a thank you for your enquiry, we'll get back to you ASAP but in the meantime why not look at our website, etc) will not get my custom.

'The customer is an interruption of our days' work' may be your motto, Mr Businessman. It's not mine. So please respond quickly to my emails asking the location of your Going Out Of Business sale.

Algarve Rain

With the arrival of fairly consistent rain, which is genuinely now needed in the Algarve, I now have more time to ruminate about - what else - the weather. Not, however, statistics about hours of sun, minimum and maximum temperatures and frequency and depth of autumn rainfalls. No, my thoughts about rain lean toward what rain delivers, not what rain is.

The onset of rain provides many chances for reflection, and not just in the puddles. Some of my observations, in no particular order, are -

- The ability to find the leak in the roof that needed to be repaired before the rainy season arrived, but which was elusive during the dry season due to lack of, uh, rain.

- The bizarre set of circumstances surrounding umbrellas. Umbrellas which are rarely in the same location as their owners when rain commences, umbrellas which, if in the possession of their owners, are only infrequently required due to their ability to cause rain to fall elsewhere when in their owners' possession. Umbrellas which, if in possession as mentioned above, will frequently be abandoned when their owner departs, leading to the situation first alluded to.

- Pets love rain, and this love affair bubbles over into their relationship with their owners. When your dog or cat feels good about themselves due to an extended frolic in the showers, their greatest desire is to share their enthusiasm by entering into lap-snuggle mode.

- A sudden shower will immediately identify to the driver which of the windscreen wipers has perished in the summer sun and needs replacing. This is normally, but not always, the driver's side one.

- 'Brain Training' on your Nintendo DS is not required provided thunderstorms are sufficient in their ferocity. Your ability to navigate through your home in the total darkness occasioned by a night-time, storm-induced power cut, to the location of the candles and matches, will provide the necessary cerebral massage. The massage of your shins after their encounter with the coffee table will further assist your grey cells in their Pavlovian ability to remember small things. Like the location of the coffee table.

With rain-induced benefits such as these, why would we ever want a return to sunshine? That's rhetorical, by the way...