New Year & Gids becomes “The Michelin Man”
Friday 29th December 2017
Two days of sight seeing left us with a yearning to just sit around and do ‘not a lot for a bit’ and today seemed as good as any. Angie had booked a hair appointment with a local lady recommended by the site and it was for 10.30 this morning and I dropped her off then headed to the Chinese emporium of tac and tat. Now if you have ever been to Spain or Portugal you will have seen the Chinese shops that seem to sell everything. They cram everything that you never thought you needed but now all of a sudden can’t live without, at rock bottom prices into tiny isles. This one is just like those but the size of a B&Q Depot. Despite the fact that I nearly always buy something “useful” at these shops I came away empty handed for once returning to site after having a drive round some of the Algarve’s small developments to see if I could be hooked into a lifetime in the sun. Well after deciding that I really could, but unfortunately my budget didn’t stretch to the lofty prices being asked so I had to leave the gorgeous villas with pools for someone else to buy. Angie returned suitably wash, cut, blow dried and coloured and we enjoyed an afternoon with a BBQ, booze and a new hairdo in the sun.
Saturday 30th December 2017
I had ‘google earthed’ the area and thought that a walk on the beach (or paths linking the sandy coves) May be a nice way to spend the afternoon. We drove to Gale beach and headed east along the tracks that had been worn into the cliffs above. Every few hundred yards another pretty cove appeared all begging to be sat upon, swam in and photographed. The waves crashed in through the gaps in the rock formations and a myriad of arches, stacks, pools were engulfed by the swells creating waterspouts, showers and waterfalls. When we ventured on the the sand the waves raced up the beach grabbing at our feet trying to suck us in. Molly was in her element like a mountain goat racing up and down the cliffs chasing the water, bouncing about in the sand like a new born lamb and grabbing anything she could in her mouth and shaking it as if her life depended on it. We decided that we would return to one of the coves on New Years Day to have a proper afternoon on the beach.
Sunday 31st December 2017- NEW YEARS EVE.
Another lazy morning allowed us to bimble into the old town and wander the streets in the hope of finding a table for tonight. The restaurants we asked said they were fully booked. We ended up sitting in the square outside the “Down Town” bar enjoying a few drinks in the lovely afternoon sunshine, Chilling watching the world go by with a beer/ sangria in hand. The bar was closing at 5pm for a month so we made the most of it and ordered another. Everyone we spoke to said that the town would be heaving this evening and there would be nowhere to sit, queues for a drink, lots of pushing and shoving but the fireworks and live music will be amazing. Angie was not fussed about going into town as a result and was also worried about Molly, midnight and how Molly would deal with the fireworks. She decided to stay in the van to dog sit. I wanted to go-see for myself with the view of coming back early if it was as rammed as expected. I left at 10pm and returned at 1.30am. Contrary to what we had been told the town was brilliant.
Lots of bars and temporary bars set up in the street, loads of places to buy food, snacks, shots and spaces in all (but a few) bars and restaurants to sit down or dance. The fireworks were awesome and the live band loud. The enormous beach was a third full by midnight of mainly Portuguese singing the lyrics to the loud full on rock band that continued until 2am. The bars – post midnight, lost many of the chairs as the streets became one big party zone until about 6am on New Year’s Day. IF Angie had been with me I would have loved to experience how to really see in the new year Albufeira style especially as many of the bars were blaring out Salsa. I felt somewhat lonely however without my better half and wanted to make my way back before I drank too much and would have to walk. Angie was waiting on my return and had spent much of the midnight celebrations calming down a neurotic Molly. We had a quick drink together before snuggling down in bed with our books.
Monday 1st January 2018 NEW YEARS DAY.
We vowed to have this day on the beach and the weather did not let us down. Suitably packed with wet suit, body board, towels and a blanket we jumped into the smart car and made our way back to Gale beach and headed for one of the pretty coves we spotted the other day. After donning my wet suit I headed out into the huge surf not sure if I could power my way out over the huge white horses crashing to the shore to get to the decent surf beyond. Well – I couldn’t. The power of the sea always amazes me and no matter how hard I tried I was unable to venture any further than chest height before being hurtled back to shore like a piece of flotsam. The waves managed to pull the rear zipper of my wet suit down and then filled the suit up with a few gallons of the Atlantic’s best sea water. As a result I emerged from the sea not only looking foolish as I was unable to break through the surf but I also resembled a huge black “Michelin Man” from the waist down with Chankles, cheighs, chalves and the biggest wobbliest backside that would have out-done the biggest Mama in Harlem. I waddled up the beach with half of the Atlantic still in my latex suit laughing out loud at what a sight I must have presented to the onlookers. I finally pulled open the ankles of my wetsuit when I was in front of Angie to allow what felt like gallons of sea water to flood out. The rest of the day was non eventful, we paddled, I swam we sunbathed and Molly made some new friends in the shape of a Dutch family who’s four children fell in love with her and her antics.
Tuesday 2nd January 2018
Now I know I have moaned about the Portuguese non toll roads in previous blogs however the next time I travel through Southern Portugal I am going to use the FREE N125 which runs along the coast rather than the A22 Toll motorway. Firstly because what we have seen of the N125 so far it seems to be a really cared for and looked after stretch of tarmac with lots of investment going into it with new roundabouts and resurfacing underway it’s also FREE. Secondly since driving on the A22 eight years ago when IT WAS free and amazing quality it has now been made into a toll road and it seems to have had no money spent on it in those eight years except the cost of adding the number plate recognition gantries and cameras at regular intervals to make sure you pay for the privilege. It has become rutted and a large stretch of it full of fissures and huge pot holes. Having already purchased and paid for the non refundable pre paid number plate recognition toll cards however I was definitely going to use them up and despite the bumpy and expensive drive we found our Free Aire in Castro Marim GPS N37.21984 W007.44434 nestled at the bottom of a castle which had lovely views towards the Spanish town of Ayamonte from it ramparts.
After walking its walls we drove to Vila Real De Santo António realising that we had been there when we stayed in Ayamonte eight years ago so chose to continue to its beach and the adjoining monster beach of Monte Gordo where we had a drink in a beach bar before heading back.