|The real Algarve is not just "beaches"|
Tourists under fire? We are all guilty of pointing the figure at `the tourist.´As one of the `expat´(estrangeiro) proprietors of a Portuguese guest house I constantly hear myself saying to enquiring guests "avoid such and such as it is very "touristy"".What snobbery is that coming from someone whose livelihood is now dependent on that `tourist´.This year in particular we need that `tourist´ more than ever .However a high percentage of our guests are `independent travellers´ who have not subscribed to the package.Here we find a different mindset-the traveller who seeks the Hidden Portugal, the untapped Algarve.
|Your restaurant choice is all important|
Only today a Spanish guest asked us to recommend remote villages far from the maddening crowds who throng the beaches, and walk in a straight line from the car park.If only they turned right or left and walked for a few hundred metres they would find a tranquil patch of beach on which to pitch windbreak and picnic. In any culture this amounts to the `sheep instinct.´These are the `tourists´who know nothing other than standing in the sea in a crowd, where no one can move let alone swim or achieve the pleasure of some all important holiday exercise.As residents in the Algarve our recourse is "you take the low road and I´ll take the high road and I´ll be in Tavira before you". In High Season we bypass the coast road and make a slightly longer and more beautiful detour through the serra (hills).Very often we offer our guests a chance to share the experience.The response we get is always "we would never have experienced this nor would we have even known this Algarve even existed had we been on a package.Thank you". I remember many years ago on a return flight from one of my first holidays in the Algarve having the following conversation with the passenger sitting next to me.
Traveller Had a nice holiday? Where were you staying
Self a small pensao in Tavira
Traveller Tavira, yes we went there for the day, bit quiet, could have done with a karaoke bar
Traveller What was your pool like?
Self there is no pool
Traveller No pool? what about the breakfast
Self They dont serve breakfast, anyway we prefer to potter down to the river front and
sit having our breakfast outside a local cafe.
Traveller ( with dismayed look) Ohh we have a nice English breakfast.
Self ( trying to be polite and hide the fact I had nothing whatsoever in common with this man´s choice of holiday)
Traveller So if there was no pool, how do you spend your day?
Self We take the boat to the beach or get in the car and drive to a different beach
Traveller Did you have the chicken Piri Piri?
Traveller Oh they serve it everywhere you know
Self I know ( beginning to get frustrated and wanting to return to my newly purchased copy of Côté Sud
If I had wanted Chicken Piri piri I could have had Chicken Piri Piri, but then I could have a better piri piri when I got home at Nando´s, or at home from an off the shelf jar from Sainsbury´s. Oh well "chacun a son gout" as the say in France.If I wanted this man´s holiday I would have booked Destination Albufeira with Thomson holidays.
The do´s and don´ts of an Algarvian holiday
Turn East out of Faro airport and head towards Tavira or further
|A simple straightforward menu of tasty Algarvian specialities|
Check out restaurants which dont display menus in six languages
Hire a car,you will be able to explore the real Algarve and its hinterland
Look for flights during school terms
Linekers bar in AlbufeiraAny establishment advertising The full English, all day breakfast or English newspapers available here
Theme nights, usually Thursdays
"Tourist" or independent traveller.The choice is yours, but why not turn East rather than West for a more rewarding experience and holiday with a difference.