This Algarve blog is intended to keep you in touch with the latest in Algarve affairs. Now that I'm living here, I'll be able to keep you right up-to-date with what's going on in the Algarve and around those wonderful beaches.
Here's my regular take on occurrences in what used to be my favourite vacation spot... now it's my favourite place to live.
Confused? You Soon Will Be!
Senhor Barroso, who is currently
head of the European Commission and used to be Prime
Minister of Portugal, called again recently for a European
He was quoted as remarking that he thought old questions should
not be reopened.
No mention, note, of the fact that,
only two years ago, France and Holland rejected the
Constitution in their respective referenda.
Added to which, recent
polls suggest that almost 70% of Portuguese would favour
returning to the Escudo as currency and ditching the Euro.
This suggests that our 'leaders' are even
further out of touch with the rest of us than I had
But it does tend to confirm that they
really dont care what voters think.
And, likely, theyre determined to have their way however
many referenda it takes.
Of course, European Commissioners
dont have to be elected.
They get their jobs via political cronyism.
So I suppose they really dont need to care what
ordinary folk want.
be a sort of Euro version of 'Catch-22'... Heads they win; tails we lose.
Monday 30 April 2007
Men in Black
The fire brigade in Albufeira
is on its way to becoming the first in Algarve that can
rescue you while conversing in English!
Os Bombeiros, to give them their
Portuguese title, are receiving lessons from foreign
expatriates in the area.
Its sad that more expats dont
speak Portuguese, but I can vouch from my own experience (at
weekly lessons) that its not an easy language to learn. Lets hope the Bombeiros dont find
English as difficult!
The idea stems from the realisation
that, while Albufeira has some 40,000 full-time residents,
the numbers during peak season swell to 10 times that many. A large percentage of tourists are, of course,
British or English-speaking, and most of the rest have a
working knowledge of the language, so I suppose that it
makes sense for the rescue services to be able to
communicate with the rescued.
Lets just pray that the firemen keep
up their language skills during the winter off-season
Friday 27 April 2007
It wasnt me, officer
There was a fairly hefty police raid on
the weekly market in Estoi, located not a million
miles away from my new abode.
It took place a couple of weeks ago,
and I thought I saw a couple of hundred (!) policemen there,
but the reports I read claimed only 95...
They were mostly armed which, as a Brit
used to unarmed coppers, I always find a tad alarming. Especially since they were turning over market stalls
for things like counterfeit videos and DVDs, not Class A
drugs or surface-to-air missiles (at least, not on the
stalls Id been perusing!)
Some 21 individuals were arrested or
fined during the raid, but Im happy to report that I made
it home in one piece
Presumably because none of the
fruit and vegetables Id purchased had been illegally
copied or smuggled into the country as grey imports.
Exciting stuff, Algarve shopping!
Tuesday 24 April 2007
Everyone, it seems, is talking about, considering, or about
to try going green. Whether you watch TV or
read a periodical, you cant get away from the subject.
Of course, when so many words are written or spoken about
something, its inevitable that some of them will be waffle, ill-thought-out,
or just plain silly.
We perhaps worry about what we're doing to the world, and so heed what's written and said on ecological matters more than we used to...
Recently, I was perusing an article in an Algarve free
newpaper. The text had been submitted
by a director of an asset management company, though why this would make him an
expert on anything other than charging exorbitant fees for managing other
folks money I failed to establish.
The usual stuff about carbon trading as an antidote for
global warming were dutifully trotted out then came the first gem.
The gentleman claimed that the average person in Britain
emits about 11 tons of carbon dioxide a year
Now, unless the average Brit eats many more cans of baked
beans than was previously thought possible, that quote doesnt stand
scrutiny. Each Brit may on average be responsible
for the emissions quoted, but is probably not emitting them personally.
Its just such woolly thinking that turns people off what is
a serious subject, and one that deserves our full attention, if were to leave
succeeding generations a world worth living in.
Okay, rant over. Now I quite fancy some baked beans on toast, but would that constitute
mistreating the planet?
Sunday 22 April 2007
A Bridge Too Few
Plans are afoot (in fact the work has
started) to repair the metal bridge that crosses the Arade
river in Portimao.
The authorities have issued assurances
that the bridge is not actually in danger of collapse, which
is good news for the banana boats
that sail beneath it to visit Silves. Apparently, the bridge is long overdue some
maintenance, on account of its advanced age (131 years, it
Fortunately, there are other means of
crossing the river, as you can read in my page about
do check that you know how to get about the town if youre
visiting any time before November, which is when the works
are due to finish.
Meantime, there's the new retail park
just outside Portimao, where you can shop 'til you drop (I
spent 7 hours there, last week!) when you're taking a break
from those Algarve beaches...
Saturday 21 April 2007
Ever keen to be seen at the forefront
of world matters, the politicians in tiny Portugal are
trying to take the lead in green energy, it seems.
Billions of euros are to be invested in
renewable energy projects.
I always feel queasy when such huge
sums of money are mentioned. One only hopes that Portugal wont be as hopeless
as Britain at forecasting how much large schemes are going
to cost. (The
escalation of the projected cost of the 2012 Olympics in
London comes to mind, since it jumped from 2.5 billion
sterling to 9.3 billion in only a few months!)
Its not that I dont think the
Portuguese should play their part, though. The new biomass plant near Castelo Branco
looks like a good step forward.
The plan is to increase Portugals
percentage of renewable energy from 36 (not bad) to 45 (very
impressive). I didnt see a date when that 45% was to be
achieved, however, so either that was an oversight, or the
politicians are being cagey about targets.
And Im worried about all those huge
wind turbines that were likely to be seeing on Algarve
hilltops, as it's not that far to the border and you know
that famous Spaniard Don Quixote could never resist tilting
at a windmill.
Thursday 19 April 2007
Its not rocket science
Portugal has signed up to a target for
renewable energy, I read recently. With over 300 sunny days (that's 3000+ hours of sun)
every year, it should not be beyond the wit of engineers and
scientists to harness some of that readily-available Algarve energy,
I would hope.
Im doing my bit by soaking up as
much sun as I can. Then
I radiate it outward after sunset, thus saving on heating
bills for our house(!)
Face it, when its a choice between
housework and catching some Algarve
sun, its a 'no-brainer'.
Which is how Nev describes me once the
solar gain has addled my poor head.
Just as well that I dont care.
Tuesday 17 April 2007
The latest addition to the sky routes terminating at Faro (as per my Algarve flights page) is one from Zurich, Switzerland.
It is due to commence on May 12 and will offer a single flight, on Wednesdays.
Rumour has it that it will be a budget service, which is good news for Algarve residents who want to pick up a Zurich suntan.
The 100-seater plane, operated by Helvetic, is unlikely to mean that the available space on Algarve beaches will be much diminished, but the region needs any influx of tourist Euros, so all are welcome.
And I suppose, if nothing else, the service should run like clockwork!
Saturday 14 April 2007
The regional government has decided to launch a PR initiative to introduce more potential visitors to the delights of Algarve.
How? By changing its name for the upcoming campaign
This strikes me as the equivalent of British Airways asking people to fly Brutish Airways, and hoping that they get the point (whatever that might be).
Most huge corporations spend pot loads of cash on brand-placement, with highly-paid teams of experts involved.
Algarve, it seems, gets its inexpert bureaucrats to dream up a pointless variation on the famous name, then insists that its a whizzy idea.
According to what Ive read recently, most local politicians and those involved with Algarve tourism think its a crackpot scheme, offensive to the people of Algarve and incomprehensible to those at whom its aimed.
I can only suggest that the regional government officers involved should stay out of the sun more, or at least wear wide-brimmed hats to protect their grey cells
Wednesday 11 April 2007
Vamos, As Senhoras (Come on, ladies)!
After blogging recently about the tennis ladies at Wimbledon getting something like three times the hourly rate of the male players, I learned more about the other side of the coin!
It seems that, in Portugal, although women are generally better educated than their male co-workers, they are paid something like 15% less per hour.
Disgraceful, I say!
And my suggestion to turn around this terrible state of affairs is for all the Portuguese ladies to become professional tennis players, thereby out-earning the men in one easy move.
Moreover, it turns out that Portugal boasts less computer literacy than most European countries. So might I suggest that the women (mentioned above) also launch their own websites (like yours truly) and get a head start on the fellers.
With all this problem solving I seem to be doing, its only a matter of time before I put up a Dear Jennifer
webpage, where all and sundry can ask my sage advice!
Keep your eyes peeled
Sunday 8 April 2007
A recent online poll conducted by an Algarve weekly came up with 77% of respondents voting for a complete ban on smoking in all public places.
At first, I was surprised, until the penny dropped - its an English-language paper! I somehow think the result would have been different if the question had been asked in a Portuguese-language periodical. More chance of getting a result in France, Id have thought.
Meantime, we gamely search for bars and restaurants where massive doses of passive smoke arent obligatory
Thursday 5 April 2007
FIESA 2007 and no wonder!
Hot on the heels (well, a year later) of the last sand sculptures exhibition at Pera in Algarve,
FIESA 2007 will be themed around the Seven Wonders of the World (and of Portugal, I believe, though Im not sure which wonders those would be. Perhaps as theres sand involved, they mean those glorious Algarve beaches?)
For reasons Ive not been able to establish, this years bash wont start until June 7.
Usually, the opening is around May 22, and the shenanigans continue until September 22 (see my various Fiesa pages, but especially FIESA 2006, to see what youll be missing if you cant make it!).
More details as I discover them
Monday 2 April 2007
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