Well after a delayed flight (six whole hours!), late night arrival and a severely postponed transfer I finally arrived at the hotel in one piece. Having survived the airports and the flight by myself I was ready for anything else that could be thrown my way. I suppose in hindsight it was a good thing. It's safe to say that whatever was worrying me about travelling solo, soon went out the window when I became tired and frustrated, ready to face another challenge should one come up. Fortunately for me, not so fortunate for the people that met me at the airport.
After a long night travelling on what should have only been a 2 hour flight, finally getting to the hotel, and checking into my room was bliss. Pyjamma's, lights, bed!
Well to make up for missing out on my first night we headed to "The Square" as the locals called it. Street music, Sun and Sangria – what a way to relax! Restaurants and cafes, bars and souvenir shops lining the cobbled streets of the "Old Town" extending from the square, out through the side streets and alleyways.
After a wander about town and some lunch we headed back to the hotel (making most of the wifi as we passed through the hotel bar) and headed down in the lift to the beach. Our Hotel was built into a cliff which faced onto a private beach.
Each room had a balcony with a sea view, and what a view it was. Complete unobstructed beach and horizon as far as the eye could see. The beach had sunbeds availble for hotel guests, and beach bar/cafe which we made the most of.
After relaxing in the sun (and more sangria) we headed back to our rooms to get ready for dinner. One thing I've found with Portugal is everyone is friendly. Of course they're polite, plesant etc, but whoever you meet really puts that extra effort in to make you feel welcome.
We opted for dinner at the hotel on our first night to get our bearings and after a selection of traditional Portuguese delicacies and desserts we headed to the bar for live entertainment. The atmosphere was very welcoming and relaxing which was a nice way to end our first day, rested and ready for what tomorrow might bring.
After breakfast we headed to the pool for a swim before another wander around town. The shops hosted plenty of handmade clothes, jewellery and gifts which were good value. We grabbed some lunch at a café overlooking the square and took in the sights and sounds it had to offer. Street performers and gift stalls earning a living; it was nice to enjoy the surroundings and watch the world go by over lunch.
More shopping and some sight seeing then we headed back to the hotel to ready ourselves for tonight's meal.
Just walking around the side strees and through the square you're sure to meet various restaurant staff trying to tempt you into trying something from their menu, and while all are nice, most are obviously after your custom. There are of course a few exceptions, wishing you a good evening as you politely decline and move on.
Tonight we opted for dinner at "Casa de Fonte" which means house of the fountain. Walking through the front of the restaurant is a quaint bar area with red brick walls an comfy chairs for those who want to cosy up near the fire. Through to the restaurant, and you're welcomed with tables on terrecotta tiles, orange trees overhead complete with fairy lights in the branches. Trees inside a restaurant I hear you ask? Correct. On warm, dry summer evenings the roof can be retracted for dinner under the stars, now turning the restaurant in to somewhat of an orange tree courtyard.
Unfortunately for us it happened to rain that one night we chose to visit so the roof was keeping us dry. There was something about hearing the rain hitting the roof while having dinner, gave the place a cosy feel and the food was perfect. Everything on the menu was cooked fresh to order. You wanted steak? No problem. Fish? They'll fillet it. Seems strange for this to be a big deal, but imagine ordering your main, watching the kitchen staff prepare your meat through french windows in the kitchen parallel with the restaurant, then give the waiter your raw meet to the chef for him to cook it right in front of you on a large grill in the corner on the courtyard. The noise of the rain combined with the sizzle of the grill and we were quite content to stay there until the rain had passed. Even if that meant closing time.
We decided to head further into the old town and explore today. This part of the town offered more local shops and cafés and a couple of market stalls with traditional Portuguese snacks and sweets.
Just past the main parade in the old town is the harbour. Slightly grey and overcast today so there wasn't many people out on the beach which was kind of nice to get the place almost all to ourselves.
Tonight we headed to dinner at Bailote. I opted for the steak which came with fries and vegetables. The steak itself was huge, tender and juicy. Perfection!
The sun decided to make an appearance today so we headed for the beach to make the most of it.
For lunch we decided to stay local to our hotel and beach (and to keep working in our tans) so we had lunch at the beach side café on the hotel's doorstep.
Doce Jardim, a popular cafe by day and restaurant by night, was our choice for dinner in town. It's name translates to "Sweet Garden" which gives you a clue to the atmosphere of the place. Al Fresco diners, free to take in the sights from the square in the cool spring breeze, while listening to the calming music from local street perfomers. What's not sweet about that?
Today after breakfast we took a walk through town to make the most of our last whole day. Last minute gift and souvenir shopping and some lunch in Bailote. The staff recognised us from dinner the other night, so it felt like we were having lunch with friends.
After lunch we stopped by a tour excursion office and booked ourselves onto a last minute parasailing trip that afternoon. We headed back to the hotel to drop off our shopping and made or way uptown towards the marina.
Once checked in at the meeting point and the health and safety checks carried out, we headed out to open water with the trips captain, first mate and the tours photographer.
They helped us into our harnesses and we remained seated until we reached a certain point in the open sea before the staff indicated for us to take our place on the take off platform.
The views from the harness were unbelievable. Sounds like I'm staying the obvious but you really do feel like you're flying. After the alloted time, we were pulled back in (not before being dunked!) and made the journey back to the marina.
Feet firmly back on the ground and we decided to take a slow stroll back through the old town towards our hotel, making the most of the views from of the coastline as we walked. Some pictures of our walk back below…
Back at the hotel it was time to head back to our rooms and ready ourselves for our last dinner before heading home the next morning. We decided to wander around the square and see what caught our eye.
A lady handing leaflets out told us about a traditional Portuguese restaurant hidden just off the main street. We thought we'd give it a try seeing as it was our last night in Albufeira and it would be a fitting end to our time here.
The restaurant served traditional Portuguese dishes and was family run. Another bonus is because it was away from the main thoroughfare the prices were more than reasonable.
Food was delicious, staff were friendly and a good night was had by all. A prefect way to end our holiday.
To some up, the highlights of my time here are below:
– The people, everyone you meet is friendly and welcoming.
– The location, you don't even realise how far you walk. Everything you need is on your doorstep but something about Albufeira's quirkiness, makes you want to go that bit further each time you're out.
– Parasailing; need I say more?
Things I wish I did different
– Take my camera up with me when parasailing
– Take a train to the "new town" and explored further, apparently more expensive but still worth a visit
So let me know what you think. Have you been to Albufeira? How did you like it?