Portugal Day 3

Monday November 18th

Today looked colder than yesterday when we got up, but still, the three elderly ladies who are also staying at these apartments were bravely lying by the pool. It might have been warmish in sheltered areas but it was goosebumps in the wind. It seems that some tourists have come to get a tan by the pool, and not any amount of cool weather is going to stop them!

We left Albufeira, which we haven’t really explored yet. The area we are in is touristy, but still nice, the buildings not being more than three storeys high and built in the style of traditional Portuguese architecture. Most of the building are white with a few blue or yellow places standing out.

We drove to Vilamoura which is not a town, but the land of golf. OK, so it is a town, but then, it looks more like a giant tourist complex than ever a community. This place had massive hotels and a marina filled with very expensive boats. We came upon more BMBs (Britain’s Most Boring) who were bemoaning the fact that some of the palm trees in the area had not been trimmed and didn’t match the other palm trees.

We booked ourselves in for a boat trip with a guy who was impressed with Glyn’s New Model Army t-shirt and talked about them for a while. He also told me that we wouldn’t get wet on the boat – ha! We had a couple of hours before the trip was due to start, but realised that Vilamoura was not the place to spend those hours in. This is because it is uber expensive and apart from eating, drinking and shopping, there is little else to do there. For all their fancy shmancy golf courses, we could not see any crazy golf!

So we drove to Almancil which is only a few miles away and looked at the Igreja Matriz de Sao Laurence which was very nice from the inside, but shut.

Next we went to Loulé which had a castle and was quaint and cobbled. It was typical Portuguese with filigree iron balconies and colourful peeling paint. We quickly ran out of time and drove back to Vilamoura for the trip.

We needn’t have rushed. I sometimes think that the British are the only nation that are uptight about time keeping. Whenever and wherever I go abroad, nothing starts on time and no one but me seems bothered. So we had to wait for the captain to finish his lunch and the trip started 15 minutes late. During this time, I saw some feral cats running under the pier and near the restaurants. These cats were very nervous and shy, I had no hope of getting near them.

The large speed boat could accommodate about 12 passengers but there were just 6 of us. The seats were very comfy, like an open padded version of a rollercoaster seat at Alton Towers. Glyn and I sat near the front as we were told there would be less spray but more bumps. We went along the coast for a while and saw the orangey cliffs and caves, going past where we’d walked on our first day and further. We came to a small cave that we didn’t think the boat was going into, but it did – rather tightly.

After getting close to a few more caves and rocks, the speed boat headed out into the sea. It was incredibly bumpy and the water turned out to be very hard as we flew over choppy waves and smashed hard into the sea. Anyone with a bad back would have suffered – badly. In Portugal, people over the age of 12 do not have to wear lifejackets but we were informed that jackets were under our seats should we need them. How we are meant to retrieve said jackets when we’ve bounced into the sea, I do not know. At first everyone was laughing as we jolted violently over the waves and got covered in spray. After an hour or so, the laughing quietened down and the sun went behind a cloud making it a little cold.

Then in slow motion, a giant wave came crashing over the prow, hitting me and Glyn with full soaking force. There was no sun to dry us and we became a little subdued. Our captain was determined we would see dolphins and kept slowing down but everyone on the boat had given up looking as we began to realise just how far from the coast we were.

Then suddenly the captain got excited and no one at first would believe that there were dolphins…. but there were…. and lots too! Some jumped right in front of the boat and some in the wake behind us. We could see them just under the surface of the choppy water, swimming alongside us. All the passengers tried to take photos and mostly came back with blurry shots of the sea at various angles. I have managed to capture a coupe of fins, but won’t know if they’re in focus until I get home.

After the dolphin action, the captain was satisfied that we could go home and it was full throttle back to Vilamoura. We didn’t realise how easy he had been taking us before until now and it was pretty awesome at speed in the salty wind, although it wasn’t until we slowed for the marina that I could breathe again.

We’d spent 2.25 hours on the boat and I didn’t realise I was cold until we were back on land. Glyn and I decided to splash out on an Italian meal as we couldn’t be bothered with cooking and desperately needed to stop for the loo. The meal was very good and they gave us huge desserts plus complimentary lemon liqueurs- but oh woe, Glyn doesn’t drink, so I have both 🙂

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About the author

Having only one cat, Claire is currently failing at being a mad cat lady, but she does have a mad cat, Bod. When Claire isn’t chasing cats and other animals with her camera, she works as a Graphic Design Manager.

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