Perusing Portugal—pleasures of The Algarve in the off season

When the summer ends and the most heat I’ve felt is a measly 22 degrees I am not a happy camper. In fact, I didn’t even go camping this year for that very reason! Why then, you may ask, do I live in the UK? At any given time of the year the temperature here ranges by a maximum of around 15 degrees Celsius. Winter thermometers never vary far from 5 degrees or so while in the summer it generally hovers around a ‘balmy’ 20. For a Canadian girl who is used to four distinct seasons it can get a bit tiresome. At least when I lived in Melbourne, Australia, I got four seasons, admittedly often in the same day… but I digress!

Cue a last-minute trip to the sun and sand of Portugal!

Praia de Marinha-Algarve, Portugal

Praia de Marinha, Portugal

One of the joys of living in the UK is the ease with which I can travel to the rest of Europe, or ‘the continent’ as I like to refer to it in my moments of 1950s movie star delusion. So two hours and a cheap flight later and we’re basking in the heat of sunny Faro! After some minor difficulty in negotiating the expansive faro Airport car park, we locate our hire car and we’re off on our adventure.

While the Algarve isn’t one of the most unusual or exotic locations (it’s one of the most popular warm weather tourist destinations in Europe), if you go at the right time you can avoid the crowds and enjoy, arguably, more palatable weather. On our trip in mid-October we didn’t once have to deal with traffic, unnaturally puce-coloured beach hoards, chock-a-block swimming pools, or rain. Our daily round of ‘spot the cloud’ always ended in a scoreless draw with blue skies and an average temperature of 26 degrees; I’ll have an order of that please!

My boyfriend and I have developed our own means of measuring our satisfaction with the new places we visit, the “would you live here” test. Paris = yes, Prague = yes, Cambodia = yes, and now Portugal = another resounding yes!

Cabo de Sao Vicente- Algarve, Portugal

Cabo de São Vicente

The Highlights:

  • The weather, obviously!
  • One of the most amazing beaches I’ve been to, Praia de Marinha
  • The drive through the mountains to Caldas de Monchique, so tranquil and beautiful
  • The place we stayed, Vitor’s Village. It was cheap, clean, friendly and almost devoid of other people.
  • Cold cans of Super Bock on a sun lounger by the pool
  • Walnut gelato at Cabo de São Vicente, mmmm…..gelato…..
  • Discovering a 17th century fort and getting to explore it all alone.
  • The food – mystery cheese from the grocery store, Nutella filled pastries, and piri piri chicken (Portuguese Viagra). My mother also decided she had the best fish ever.
  • The amazing pottery and ceramic shops of Porches, I wanted to bring everything home!

The Lowlights

  • Finding vegetarian food, anywhere! (Anyone for Pizza…again?)
  • Navigating the horror that is the one way street system in Portimao
  • Not having a surfer’s body or tan on the beach!
  • The seemingly random traffic lights that whimsically switch to red whenever the mood takes them!

Comparing these lists, it’s easy to see that the positives far outweighed the negatives. It is a struggle eating out as a vegetarian, but I think some better planning and investigation in advance would sort that out. Portugal, you are lovely and I will see you again soon!

Sunset in Ferragudo - Algarve, Portugal

Sunset in Ferragudo

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9 thoughts on “Perusing Portugal—pleasures of The Algarve in the off season

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