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Last weekend here in the Algarve was a good one. It was lovely to have a car again after feeling rather isolated at times in our little town.
On Saturday we ventured out and headed west to Praia da Gale, just past the tourist mecca of Albufeira. We were pleased that even here, the crowds had subsided and it did just feel
like a busy Saturday.
Praia da Gale is a west-facing beach with the signature orange cliffs, typical of this end of the Algarve, with just a few beach restaurants. One of these, actually just called Praia De Gale, we enjoyed on our last visit. We had exactly the same light lunch – bread, olives, clams and white wine. Simple and delicious and some of the best clams we have had this summer.
The only difference to our last (off-season) visit to Gale was that the sands were almost completely covered in sunbeds and sunshades for hire. Although this detracted from the natural beauty of the beach it gives us more reasons to come back to these places when the weather is not so good later in the year.
One “benefit” of the touristy stuff being there still was a small watersports hire company down one end of the beach. While we swam, we noticed a young couple climbing onto a long yellow banana boat. Riding one of these things, which is pulled along ridiculously fast by a boat in front, has been one of those things we have always intended to do, so completely on the spur of the moment we ran to the hut and asked if we could take a couple of the spare seats.
Five minutes later, we are bouncing along the open sea, in my particular case hanging on for dear life. Maybe I am getting old but I have to say it was just a little bit too much! Perhaps because there were only adults on the banana, the people driving the boat made no concessions for fear – particularly when they manoeuvred the boat in such a way as to deliberately send us all flying off the boat and into the deep water.
My wife thoroughly enjoyed the experience, despite having to be helped back onto the boat after we were all thrown into the sea, so I was a little embarrassed to admit I was counting down the seconds until we got back to the shore. It would be wrong to say I didn’t enjoy it at all, because it was certainly an experience, but my favourite part was when we were near enough to the beach that I could dive off the thing and swim back to solid ground.
I held on so tight to the boat that it was a couple of hours before my arms stopped shaking and the vibrations of the boat seem to have pulled every muscle I have. I am still, two days on unable to straighten my arms, or open the terrace doors without wincing!
After Praia Da Gale we headed to the Apolonia supermarket. Expats tend to have very strong opinions on Apolonia as there is really nothing remotely Portuguese about this upscale establishment that exists to sell expensive imported products to wealthy tourists. However, we make no excuses, we were celebrating our eleven year anniversary on Saturday and fancied a treat – and for that purpose, this cross between Waitrose and Harvey Nichols food halls is the perfect place. I will be posting a report on Apolonia over at Food and Wine Portugal, later in the week.
On Sunday we headed over to the new property that has been purchased by our relatives, who are, as I type, driving down to the Algarve through Spain, having just arrived on the Santander ferry.
We were greeted by the old owners – truly lovely people who reminded us of one of the biggest reasons we wanted to move to Portugal in the first place. They had left the place beautifully for when our family arrive and I am so excited for them to be starting their own Portuguese adventure in a few hours.
On the way home we had a quick beer overlooking the fishing boats on the sparkling sea in the village of Santa Luzia.
On return home I must confess to reading an English Sunday paper, something I promised myself I wouldn’t do once I moved here, that has now returned to being part of my Sunday
We finished a really special anniversary weekend with a leg of lamb we procured from Apolonia. It was very good indeed, especially after experiences of a lot of rather tasteless lamb we have come across since we have been here. My wife has already said this is what she wants to eat again on her birthday. Luckily, given the prices in Apolonia, that isn’t for a few months!
Have a good week!