Portugal – Albufeira, April 2014
We arrived in Prestwick airport around 9:00 am – It had been a few years since I’d been there last, and I was immediately reminded of how much of a dump it is. At least they had ditched the “pure dead brilliant” slogan from the front – an embarrassment to Scots everywhere.
We found a place to sit with our beer, cheese and wine, and although it was little past 9:30am our holiday had officially started. I turned to Andy with a face full of cheese and asked him “do you like National Geographic Magazine?”
A family stopped near us and began frantically unpacking toiletries. I can’t believe after all this time people still don’t know the 100ml rule!
We had priority boarding for the flight – something I’d definitely recommend when flying with Ryanair as they seem to like getting people through the gate and enclosing them in and making them stand for ages otherwise. We had a few more drinks on the plane, and had a spare seat next to us which was great as we were able to stretch our legs right out.
When we arrived at the hotel we just threw our bags into the room and headed down to the pool to catch the last few rays of the day. We were all-inclusive so took advantage of the free beer! The sun soon went behind the clouds and I wrapped myself up in my bright orange pashmina – something I always take on holiday as they are so versatile!
Andy dived into the pool and there was an audible gasp from everyone else – I’m guessing they weren’t brave enough, but Andy could easily handle it being Scottish and with skin as white as Casper. He actually started a trend, as another man dived in not long after Andy was finished.
We had a little too many beers throughout the day so at night we didn’t even make it out the hotel. We just sat and had a few more drinks in the bar and watched the darts. There was a really annoying guy from Blackpool – I know this because he kept on reminding everyone at the top of his voice. There’s always one. I was so tired I ended up in bed like an old fogey at half past nine.
One of the advantages of going to bed so early last night meant that I was up super early today. Even hit snooze a few times so it felt like a really long lie! Eventually I got restless and made myself a cup of tea (old fogey again!) and waited on Andy getting up
Andy was really ill this morning. He stayed out later than me last night and ended up doing shots at the bar with a guy called James. So this morning I heard strange noises coming from the bathroom “Bleuuurgh – oh no I’ve just brushed my teeth!” It’s only the second time I’ve seen him sick EVER!!
Went down for breakfast around 8:30 – I went for the continental – cheese, meat, croissant, fruit and coffee. There was a bit of an incident in the breakfast hall with a lesbian couple and an old man fighting over cutlery. It was a canteen style breakfast so there was plenty cutlery available, you just had to go up and help yourself, so I’m not really sure what the problem was. One of the women was very angry though!
By this point I’d been up for a few hours so I couldn’t wait to get out and explore! We headed out for a walk, not really sure where we were going, and ended up down at the beach. It was still only about 9 in the morning so it was great to have it nearly all to ourselves!
I couldn’t wait to get my shoes off – bare feet on sand is one of the greatest pleasure in life. We sat in the sun for a while, wrote our names in the sane, dipped our feet in the icy cold sea, then walked along the shore barefoot (how romantic!) until we reached the old town.
We sat in the main square and had a beer, which was so refreshing as the sun was really beginning to beat down. Andy struggled with his to begin with, but I told him the best cure was to try to get the first beer down quickly
There was a group of British women sat at the table opposite who first ordered wine, and when the waitress brought it out they changed their minds and ordered ice-cream instead. Then they changed it to Strongbow – every waitresses worst nightmare!
We sat and listened to a saxophone player in the square before finishing our drinks and moving off. We were still trying to find our bearings, so ended up taking a bit of a detour back to the hotel, but it gave us the chance to explore more of the old town – which was ALL uphill. Even though we didn’t come down any hills on the way there, EVERYTHING on the way back was uphill!!
We stopped at a supermarket next to our hotel which was contained within a shopping mall. There were clothes shops, shoe shops, jewellery, a nail bar… Over the road there was also a McDonalds and KFC – not really my cup of tea, but handy if you like that sort of thing. We just bought some wine, cheese and olives and went back and had a little pic-nic on our balcony. It was still only 12:20 and I couldn’ believe how much we’d managed to fit in so far!
The rest of the day we just spent by the pool drinking more beer, and I had my first dip in the water – I just jumped straight in the deep end, and the water was so cold it almost took my breath away! An Irish couple at the table next to us said I was very brave. I felt quite proud of myself after that.
One of the things I really liked about our hotel is that everyone spoke to each other and was very friendly. The previous evening at dinner we’d got talking to an older couple who it turns out live only 4 miles from us – small world!
That evening we decided to hit the strip to see what it was all about – I was already a bit worse for wear after making the most of the free beer in the afternoon, so I had a little song and dance to myself while I got my evening clothes on. Meanwhile Andy just had a little nap.
I’ve no idea what time we finally headed out, but it was happy hour in most of the bars (all day until around 10/11pm which consisted of either reduced drinks prices and/or a free shot)
We just went into the first bar we came to, and I opted for a cocktail – a green coconut I think?? Which consisted of rum, coconut and lime –yummy!
When we decided to move on to the next place, all the bars had PR staff in the street trying to entice you in, and all it took was for someone to say “Happy hour” to Andy before he responded with a resounding “Yes!” and followed the girl over the road with a sheepish grin on his face.
It turned out to be a Canadian themed bar called BJ’s and we liked it so much we ended up staying in there the rest of the evening. The music was good, mainly 70s rock, and the beer was cheap – what moe could you want. Soon enough our free shots arrived – some sort of blackcurrant sourz.
Now, being a true Scots(wo)man I can spot a free drinks opportunity at 100 yards – there was a guy at the other side of the bar pointing to us while talking to the barman, so I hoped a free drink was on its way. Andy thought I was wrong, but soon enough two fresh beers were placed in front of us – I knew my radar hadn’t been off!
Of course we had to thank the guy and buy him a drink back (who wouldn’t!?) so we got chatting to him and it turns out he was part of a stag party from Derry, Northern Ireland. We ended up partying with the Irish guys for the rest of the night after that, and also another Scottish couple from Cumbernauld, who it turns out Andy went to uni with the guy (small world again!)
Can’t really remember much of the night after that, and didn’t take many photographs that weren’t blurry. The only thing I can remember is me telling the stag he looked like Van Gerwen the darts player (Apologies if you ever read this!) as he was bald, and wearing a lime green polo shirt.
I also remember Andy asking me numerous times to leave, and me refusing until Andy started falling down and rolling on the floor, so reluctantly I had to concede. All the signs were there that a good party was had though!
I’ve absolutely no idea what time we got home last night, but it must have been late – the result was that we didn’t wake up until lunchtime today. We had arranged to go back to BJs to meet the Irish guys again and watch the cup semi-final so we got ready quickly and headed downstairs for lunch in the hotel. By this point we were getting really fed up with the food selection, and Andy had already been sick a few times which I blamed on the food. I tried to play it safe with some sort of cheese and spinach concoction which sat in my stomach like a lead weight, and some breaded fish.
We headed back along to the strip and I was surprised to see a street named after a Scottish town, which I hadn’t noticed the previous evening. I took a quick snap as we passed.
We arrived back along the strip midway through the first half of the game, and met a few of the Irish guys again. Most looked a bit hungover, except one guy who was back on it again, drinking cocktails, screaming at the top of his voice and taking his clothes off. The rest of the group gradually appeared in various states of hangover – with one guy coming in and asking for a large bottle of the wettest wateriest water, which the barmaid just laughed at him. Poor fella.
I wasn’t feeling too great myself, and after forcing down a beer I had to run to the bathroom and rid myself of that disgusting spinach dish from lunch. After that I felt much better and decided to switch to cider, which had the result of making me drunk again after only 2 cans! What can I say, that’s what happens when you drink on an empty stomach – plus I was probably just topping up my alcohol levels again from last night.
We decided to leave after the game – last night proved that we were unable to keep up drinking with the Irish guys, plus I didn’t want to sleep (or puke) away the rest of my holiday. We just headed back up to the hotel and relaxed by the pool. We also sat and watched as the angry lady from breakfast tried to follow a seagull round the pool with a weird grin on her face.
That night we just went for a romantic walk along the beach to the old town. Neither of us really fancied drinking again, so we just wandered around while I snapped away at all the pretty houses and scenery. I took loads of photos, even just of people’s front doors as everything looked gorgeous! The only downside was that almost every street seemed to be on a really steep hill, so we were constantly going up and down, up and down…
We decided just to have a bit of an early night – all the alcohol and lack of sleep was beginning to catch up with us and we wanted to make the most of our last day tomorrow
I woke up in the morning really depressed – partly because this was our last day in sunny Portugal, but also due to too much booze over the past few days. I always feel the same after a bender, and each time I vow to drink less but it never happens.
I decided to read my book for a while – reading is one of the few things that can pick me up when I’m feeling down; plus I usually get through at least one book while on holiday, if not more. This time I was reading Muriel Spark’s “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.”
Andy decided to go for a walk and give me some space for an hour, and by the time he came back I was itching to get back outside again. We decided to give the hotel food a complete miss today – even Andy was struggling with it, and normally he has guts of steel.
We went to the supermarket and got some cold meats, pate, biscotti, salad, cake, cheeses, nuts, olives, strawberries and wine – all for 20€ which is AMAZING! Especially since we figured out that we wouldn’t even have got the cheese and wine on their own back home for that price. Perhaps we got a little carried away, but since we had barely eaten in the past 3 days we decided to make the most of it – plus it was our last day in Portugal and we wanted to go out in style!
It turned out to be one of the best moments of the entire holiday for me. Everything was just perfect – the food, the wine, the sunshine, the sound of the waves, the quietness of the beach. It was paradise.
We just sat at the same spot and relaxed for a few hours. I sat and read the rest of my book while Andy had a nap, then we went back to nibble some more of the picnic.
Since I started practicing Yoga about six months ago, I’ve seen so many gorgeous pictures of people doing poses in exotic locations and so I wanted to try and create a few of my own (pretentious as fuck, yeah I know!) Reluctantly Andy agreed to take some pictures of me, and one of my favourites was actually between poses where he caught me off-guard and it looks as if I’m surfing on a magic carpet!!
After the Yoga, we finished off the wine and strawberries, then decided to go another walk around the old town to work up an appetite – neither of us were particularly hungry after the picnic, but we had already decided to eat out, rather than in the hotel.
We had a look around some of the shops and stalls – I always like to buy some sort of souvenir to take home to remind me of my travels, but it was just the same old tourist tat you see in every resort – bracelets with your name on, hair wraps, henna tattoos… So unfortunately I came back empty-handed this time.
All that walking made us thirsty, so we stopped in the main square to have a drink or two, and just watch the world go by. Although there were plenty of live music bars and entertainment, the resort was still reasonably quiet since it was only the beginning of April. We certainly wouldn’t have got the beach to ourselves at the height of the holiday season, so we were glad of the peace and quiet.
We decided to go to a nice steakhouse for dinner as we had smelled so many nice ones walking around. In the end the one we chose overcooked my steak, but nevermind! You can’t win them all, and it was still delicious anyway. What a lovely and relaxing end to our holiday.
Overall we had a fantastic four days break – sunshine, beer and great people. What more could you want?!
Just wanted to add that on the flight back home we encountered the most ridiculous woman ever! Her ignorance actually made me angry, so much in fact that I couldn’t not write about it. She didn’t read her boarding card correctly and so boarded the front of the plane when her seat was in the very back row. A bit of a silly mistake to make, BUT because she had paid extra for priority boarding she thought this meant she had the right of way to push past everyone else who was now boarding from the back, while calling them rude and ignorant people. Actually the only person who was rude and ignorant was her!
(By the way, we also had priority boarding, and managed to get on the plane correctly.)
We booked our holiday through Beatthebrochure – who provided an excellent service from start to finish, upgrading us to priority boarding free of charge, and were also the cheapest price around. I’ll definitely be booking with them again in future.
Our airport transfers were arranged by (Stork) who had the most friendly drivers, and arrived bang on time. An excellent service.
Thanks for reading, and please check out more of my adventures. Feel free to leave any comments or feedback.