24th August 2017
When I had lived in Portugal for some time people began to ask if I had been to Algarve.
I had not.
Why not? You have to go to Algarve, they said.
Eventually I decided to go there and see what they were talking about. What is this place? Before I moved someone from Norway had suggested that Algarve would be the place for me. Always hot and the sunshine all year around. This man had a house in Algarve, with a swimming pool and everything. Of course just a holiday home. He was over the moon. Everything so wonderful. You have to buy a house in Algarve, he told me.
I did not buy a house in Algarve. I bought an apartment in centre Portugal, in Penela village which belongs to Coimbra district but is 45 minutes drive from the wonderful city Coimbra. Penela is just a tiny village. Of course the municipal Penela is much bigger and has more than 6 thousand people, many foreigners there living in the woods. In my tiny village we are perhaps 5 hundred more or less, I mean we the Portuguese . I am not a foreigner anymore.
When I moved here 6 years ago the village war more alive than it is now. This is how it is all around the country. The small villages are slowly changing. The small ones get smaller and the big ones bigger.
Anyway, this was supposed to be about Algarve. Algarve is the part of the slice that is in the southernmost part.
I did not want to go there during the summer when all the tourists take over. I wanted to go during the winter. Then I would see the reality, not just the tourism. I spent 10 days in Albufeira, which is a part of Algarve, during Christmas.
It’ s about 6 hours drive from my home and of course I took my car. There is no way I am traveling with a train when the other option is driving myself. I also wanted to see the cork which is in Alantejo and I can tell you, that is a place like no other. It is beautiful and I love the cork. Sadly the cork is retreating because of trees that grow quickly and give money to the farmers almost immediately, while it takes ages to get profit from the cork.
So, I was in Albufeira, in Algarve. Not too cold and I saw some tourists half naked. Of course, they were in Algarve and the sun was shining. The wind was blowing and terrible cold but they did not care. Read skin was the goal. Burned human skin from too much sun was what they were after. And the vine.
My opinion of what I experienced in Algarve during these 10 days was, hotels, bars, more hotels, more bars, more hotels and more bars. Some shops, most of them Shopping centres, but in the summer there are more of the small ones open. More restaurants are also open during the summer but I managed to find a very good Chinese one, not far from my hotel and another one half an hours walk away. An Indian restaurant was also there, quite good one. Not to mention the Portuguese ones, which of course I don´t like because I don’t like Portuguese food. I was nice and tried some Portuguese food there, no I did not like it. Just the same as on the mainland.
In Algarve you can buy vine at every corner. Everywhere. Since I don´t drink that was not a plus for me.
To tell you the truth it took me a while to understand that there were not churches at every corner. In Penela alone we have more than one and in every village here on the mainland there is always a church, always. I also tried to find something really traditional Portuguese but could not.
My conclusion is this. I will not go to Algarve again. I am not interested. In my mind it is not Portugal. It is a tourist place. The wealthier Portuguese do go there for holidays. The common people, majority of them, have never been to Algarve. Everything is expensive. I can buy 5 litters of water in Coimbra for the same price as half a litre in Algarve. Just as an example.
I would rather go to a nice hotel in Portugal if I wanted to take some time off. I spent my birthday many years ago in a beautiful hotel here in Portugal, the real Portugal and would do that again. There I was pampered and I loved it. They even cooked healthy food for me.
If your live is about sunbathing, drinking and eating Algarve is a fine place for you during the summer. The winters are cold, just as they are everywhere in Portugal. If you like the tourist places Algarve is where you could go.
I saw somewhere that Algarve is considered to be a great place for retiring. That may be true if you don´t expect too much, or none, art in your life. If you are a golfer the place might be good. I don´t know how the surveys do come to their conclusions but my life is more complicated than food and wine and sunshine, not to mention the golf. Of course I am an ungrateful bitch. Everyone knows that.
One thought on “Algarve is a tourist place”
True in the west but not in the east or the hills.
We visit every winter for a few months and there are days if not weeks when we don’t see any tourists. Fabulous walks to be had in the hills too 😀