RSS

Tag Archives: Algarve

Lisbon & The Algarve, Portugal

Expectations are a funny thing. I’d heard so many good things about Lisbon that I expected to love it. It was almost a disaster. First, our flight from Amsterdam was scheduled for 7:50am, meaning we had to be at the airport around 6:15am, which is before the main public transport is running. Therefore, we had to take the night bus. We stayed up late the night before packing and cleaning, and went to sleep around 12:30am. The alarm was set for 4:45am. No big deal, I stumbled out of bed and got ready. We walked the 3 blocks to the bus stop, and got in. It was full, so we had to stand for the entire 45 minute ride to the airport. Then, our flight was delayed, as the cabin crew didn’t show up. Eventually, we made it to Lisbon, which was experiencing a cold and windy snap. Not the best start to the trip.

The apartment we rented from airbnb.com was nice, and in a decent neighborhood. We ended up walking around a bit, and taking the 28 tram around the city to see the sights. The internet wasn’t working on my phone, which was frustrating to me. We were dead tired, staring out the windows of the tram like zombies. After a quick nap, we tried to go to a nice neighborhood for dinner, but ended up getting lost. Not having internet on my phone just exacerbated the matter. Back at our apartment, we agreed that Lisbon was not living up to the hype.

Oh what a difference a day makes…

The next day, refreshed from a good night’s sleep, we set out once more. The sun was out, and we stopped at a bakery for a quick breakfast. From there, into the main part of the city, where we sat on the waterfront and soaked in the sunshine. Over the next 24 hours, I saw what all the fuss was about. Lisbon is a unique city. Some parts of it seem to be crumbling, like Venice, but other parts have beautiful buildings. The city is built on hills, and has many narrow windy streets, with barely enough space for the tram to take the corners, much less with the pedestrians scrambling to get out of the way. Some awards ceremony was happening, and we hundreds of people line up outside, the men in tuxedos and the women in every sort of dress you can imagine. Lots of fur coats. Meanwhile, beggars and homeless roamed the streets looking for handouts. All on the same street. Lisbon is a city of extremes.

Having now been there, I’m not sure if I want to go back. I would, but it wouldn’t be at the top of my list. After 2 nights, we hopped on board the train to Faro, and spent the rest of the trip laying on the beach enjoying the sun. Photos below.

The buildings of Lisbon

The buildings of Lisbon

Inside of Lisbon's old tram 28 as it crawls through the city.

Inside of Lisbon’s old tram 28 as it crawls through the city.

A large garden in the center of the city.

A large garden in the center of the city.

A tram rides by the Lisbon Cathedral in the evening.

A tram rides by the Lisbon Cathedral in the evening.

The walls of St. George's Castle at night.

The walls of St. George’s Castle at night.

A statue at night, with a monastery illuminated on the hill in the background.

A statue at night, with a monastery illuminated on the hill in the background.

A scenic overlook of the city.

A scenic overlook of the city.

The city beach in Lagos, Algarve.

The city beach in Lagos, Algarve.

The Lagos beach from another angle.

The Lagos beach from another angle.

An old fort on the Lagos waterfront.

An old fort on the Lagos waterfront.

The farmer's market in Loule.

The farmer’s market in Loule.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Photo Posts, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Algarve, Portugal

The old city walls of Faro


After our previous trips to cold Venice and cold Dublin, when my wife asked where we should go in May, I said “I don’t care, as long as it’s sunny and has a beach.” I love Amsterdam, I really do, but sometimes the weather can get you down. It rains here a lot (though usually it’s just a light rain), and it’s frequently pretty cloudy as well. Rare is the sunny day, and I needed some sun.

Roxy did some searching around, and finally settled on the Algarve region of Portugal. The Algarve is the southernmost area of the country, with hundreds of kilometers of beaches. She found a nice apartment on 9flats.com (similar to airbnb.com, but smaller and cheaper) in the little city of Quarteira.

We flew from Amsterdam direct to Faro, Portugal on Transavia.com airlines. It’s the budget carrier owned by KLM, and flies mostly to vacation destinations. Upon arriving in Faro, we rented a car (a Diesel Ford Focus, with a stick-shift). There was a slight mishap at the parking lot, as Roxy went to stand in front of the car to tell me how much room I had. I thought I put the car into reverse, but really it was in first gear, so I ended up running into her. She’s got a bit of a bruise on her leg. Oh well, what’s vacation without adventure?

View from under the umbrella


We drove the 30 minutes from Faro to Quarteira, and found our apartment. The hosts were an older couple with limited English, but were very nice and helpful. By the time we arrived, it was 8pm. We made a quick run to a local supermarket, and then found a place on the beach for dinner.

The next day, our plan was to go bask in the sun, but the winds were blowing at over 30kmh, and we lasted about 5 minutes on the beach before we had to hide from the blowing sand. We drove back to Faro, and explored the city for a bit.

The next day, the winds were still blowing, so we drove the opposite way, a little over an hour to Lagos, where the winds were much calmer. We found a nice beach right outside the city, Meia Praia, and laid there under a grass umbrella for 5 or 6 hours. On the way back, we stopped in the touristy city of Albufeira and had dinner.

Driving again was quite an odd experience at first. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like for my wife, who hasn’t driven a car in almost 2 years now. At least I got to drive last fall when I went back to the US. I was nervous at the beginning, but soon got comfortable again. Roundabouts still concerned me, but over the course of the trip I drove through probably a hundred of them, so I do feel better about them now. Time to work on getting my Dutch license.

A little restaurant right off Meia Praia beach.

The final 2 days we spent in Quarteira just laying on the beach enjoying ourselves. One of my favorite parts of the trip was my morning ritual. I’d wake up, throw on my swim trunks, then go sit outside on our balcony with a bowl of Rice Krispies and the laptop and just enjoy the warm air. We also found a nice little cafe/snack-shop right on the beach that we went to every day for sandwiches and drinks. Portuguese beer is perfect for laying on the beach, as are plenty of Mojitos and Caipirinhas, which is a rum, sugar, and lime drink.

Naturally, since coming back to Amsterdam, it’s been cold and rainy. I already miss Portugal. We will definitely be going back.

The best way to spend vacation.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 17, 2012 in Photo Posts, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,