This Algarve blog is intended to keep you in touch with the latest in Algarve affairs. Now that I'm living here,
I'm trying to keep you
updated with what's going on in the Algarve and around those wonderful beaches.
So, here's my regular take on occurrences in what used to be my favourite vacation spot...
but is now my favourite place to live.
I mentioned on my webpage driving
in Portugal about the stern view taken by the
national traffic police regarding drink-driving...
... but now it seems they intend to take things further,
and have been issued with kits that can detect the presence
of illegal drugs, too.
The kits require the user to swab inside both cheeks of
the mouth, and the fines, should anything untoward be
revealed, are pretty hefty.
Recently, too, they introduced CCTV traffic cameras in
Lisbon, and these detected so many speeding offences that
the government coffers swelled (in the first three months)
to the tune of millions of euros! Since Treasuries
are never averse to a windfall like that, expect such
cameras to be rolled out throughout Portugal soon.
And, while we're on the subject of governments and
... it seems that, last March, the Portuguese government
passed a law which allowed IVA (the equivalent of Value
Added Tax) to be applied to the new form of vehicle licence.
Thus effectively imposing a tax upon a tax. This was done in
full knowledge that it broke European Community law, and
will doubtless be a nice little earner until and if they
have to revoke it under Brussels' pressure.
Funny thing about politicians the world over - they all
think rules are for others to follow.
Thursday 30 August 2007
We visited the 'Mediaeval Days' Fair at Castro Marim
last Friday. Played tennis in the morning, got home,
showered, ate and met up with friends Sue and Alan to drive
It was a hot day, and we arrived about 5pm, so the sun
was still pretty strong. The locals had really got into the
spirit of things, with banners and bunting hung everywhere
and many folk dressed up in mediaeval costumes, from simple
At 6pm, the live stuff started, with the arrival in the
main street of a band composed of drummers (lots!) and a
chap garlanded with all sorts of bells and things, who
played a small flute (whistle?). They were pretty loud, and
stopped at a rudimentary bandstand to treat us to a few
numbers. Couldn't say how authentic the tunes were, but it
Up at the castle, where the main events were going on, we
saw swordfights, falconry, jugglers, stilt
performers, more pipe and drum bands, some magic and a host
of artisans and craftsmen creating stuff for the mediaeval
It was well attended, and everyone seemed to be enjoying
the various sights. Buying a 5 euro ticket for entrance to
the castle got you a cardboard coronet (modelled stunningly
in the picture above) and a commemorative pottery goblet.
When it darkened, the coloured lighting display at the
fortress was visible from the castle battlements (and from
ground level for some distance). Very impressive, but I'm
afraid my camera-womanship didn't help, and the shots I took
are too dark to show. Fortunately, the shots I took during
daylight hours were fine, and can be seen on my new Algarve
It went on until midnight, but we were safely back home
by then. It'd been a long day, what with the tennis and
all... We'll be back next year, or perhaps try the other
mediaeval event at Silves, just for a change.
Monday 27 August 2007
O Futuro de Albufeira
I read where the popularly-elected mayor of Albufeira
states that he thinks he's spotted a better class of tourist
Presumably, more of them are wearing top hats and Eton
collars? I think his comment refers to the type of tourist
that spends more, stays at 5-star hotels and eats at more
Just the sort of scruffy, low-rent tourist
Whether that's the life-blood of Albufeira in the future
I don't know. I can see how less people using the local
services while spending more per head would suit the local
authority, but I can't imagine the owners of
bed-and-breakfast establishments, pensões, and private
apartments would necessarily agree!
Just to show that his heart's in the right place really,
Sr. Silva (the aforementioned mayor) points out that in the
ongoing struggle between local authorities and national
government, he doesn't always see eye-to-eye with Prime
In particular, he thinks that central government will
eventually impose road tolls on major highways like the A22
(Via do Infante east-west motorway). This in spite of
the governing party's opposition to such tolls before it
came to power. (Ah, that refrain repeated throughout the
entire democratic world...)
Asked whether loss of votes within the region might worry
the Government, Sr. Silva is quoted as opining that there
aren't enough votes in the region to bother the men in power.
This is because larger cities like Sintra contain more votes
than does the whole of Algarve.
Despite which, the mayor seemed fairly upbeat about the
future of Albufeira,
where new hospitals and shopping complexes can be expected
in the next few years. He was also proud of the Albufeira
area's 15 Blue Flag beaches, and its ability to cope with
visitor influxes that peak at 800% of the city's normal
Quite right too, Sr. Silva - vive Albufeira!
Thursday 23 August 2007
Smoke On The Water!
Apologies to Deep Purple, and anyway, it's noise, not
smoke, that's the problem.
There's a spat going on between the residents and council
of Ferragudo and their neighbour across the water, Praia
da Rocha. It seems that the beach parties at the
latter are making enough racket to keep the rather sleepier
(they wish!) folk over in Ferragudo tossing and turning.
No less a personage than the Duke of Bragança, who has
been holidaying locally, has written to the Portimao
authorities, backed up more recently by official
communications from Ferragudo's mayor.
The city hall types in Portimao
have responded with the claim that the venues in question
have some sort of temporary 'special licence' which, because
it's short-term, does not entail any sort of upper limit on
That sounds like twaddle to me, as I believe that any
venue must enforce noise limits merely in order to protect
the health of its own customers.
The Portimao bunch have claimed that their sound tests
certify less than 55 decibels, though they don't say where
that was measured (certainly not within any club I've ever
visited, and not within tens of metres of it outside,
either!) Such a low level would hardly be heard across the
street, never mind in Ferragudo!
Culprits are alleged to be Nikki Beach and Sasha Beach,
since they host al fresco events where the sound is
impossible to contain.
In a separate case entirely, residents of Vilamoura
are raising a class action to take before the European Court
of Human Rights complaining about noise every night from the
open courtyard of Klube K. This time, it's Loule
Camara that's under fire (though so far, apparently, they've
chosen to ignore the complaints and threats of legal
I must admit to feeling sorry for those robbed of their
sleep. It's hard enough nodding off when it's hot, without
drum and bass thudding away through the early hours.
There's a fine line between ensuring your visitors enjoy
themselves and annoying your neighbours beyond reason.
Unfortunately, it seems that neither Praia da Rocha nor
Vilamoura is caring much about treading that line.
Quite how many months or years any appeal to a European
Court might take is another matter. Or perhaps it's just the
threat that's meant to work its magic.
19 August 2007
Algarve Oil - Latest
Apparently, officials in Algarve suspect that central government is secretly plotting to exploit any
offshore oil reserves there may be, without consulting local government or those who live by the coast.
Im reminded of how the Scots always believed theyd been
'sold down the river' from the beginning of North Sea oil exploitation. And also of how even local government
(never mind national) refuses to listen to the opinions of residents who object to planning decisions for their area.
However it falls out, the Portuguese politicians would be crazy to do anything that might threaten the cash that
Algarve tourism brings them every year.
Unfortunately, looking around the world, it seems that politicians do crazy things during most days that dawn!
Fingers crossed that they dont kill this particular golden goose
Thursday 16 August 2007
Chaos At Baggage Reclaim
On the upcoming weekend of 18/19 August, there are
strikes threatened by ground crews at all of Portugal's
As is usual in labour disputes, each side regards the
other's position as wrong, untenable or simply based on
The workers want a salary review, while complaining that
temporary and part-time workers (who might not be union
members) are increasingly used by the airport employers.
They've even complained that the luggage conveyors break
down because of overloading (though why that's not the fault
of the workers who throw bags on them isn't explained).
Furthermore, it's claimed that Lisbon airport in
particular is regularly host to flights that operators have
overbooked, meaning that staff have the hassle of dealing
with the resultant disenchanted passengers. (Unfortunate,
but part of the job description, surely?)
Needless to say, the employers dispute all of the claims,
and counterclaim that measures have been put in place to
improve the luggage handling capacity at Lisbon airport.
None of which is likely to be of much consolation if you're
travelling via a Portuguese airport during next weekend.
I pity the poor, fare-paying passenger, that great cash
cow for the tourism industry, whose diet consists generally
of promises and lip service. Whatever the outcome of the
latest altercation, no-one's interests will be served by
making travel to and from Portugal unpleasant for innocent
I can just see the headline now: 'English Disease Strikes
Portugal' (and it won't be referring to Foot and Mouth).
Wednesday 15 August 2007
You're Never Too Old...
... to take care while on vacation.
There was awful news recently about the death of a
19-year old man who was buried alive in a hole he had dug on
a sandy beach. It just goes to show that the perils do not
apply only to the very young. The victim was probably a
strong and fit person, but that's no help when half a ton of
sand falls on you. The tragic event took place on Cavalo
Preto beach, between Quarteira and Vale do Lobo.
It's easy to assume that there's little or no danger when
you're on vacation and your guard's down. Unfortunately,
you're not on home territory, and the unfamiliar can be
There was more sad news, since a male body was found near
a riverside beach. The calm aspect of the water in such
places can be deceiving, as was probably the case in this
instance. The authorities claim that there are many
freshwater swimming locations (unofficial and without
recourse to a lifeguard) where currents can be treacherous
and even fatal.
Neither of the sad events I've described are likely to be
the sole example of such untimely deaths. Sand tunnelling
and swimming in remote spots claim multiple lives each year,
even in friendly Algarve.
So, remember when you take your next sunny vacation,
whether in Algarve or elsewhere, take the trouble to find
out what risks are involved in any activity with which you
are not completely familiar.
There can be few things worse for a family than to have a
member die while abroad, adding logistics and even language
problems to the inevitable grief of bereavement.
Monday 13 August 2007
Handbags at Ten Paces...
Yes, they're having a 'hissy fit'.
Or, rather, an existing row is being extended, refined
and amplified. The ongoing spat between the island region of
Madeira and the Lisbon government in Portugal is back - and
this time, it's personal!
Trouble is, Lisbon doesn't like the Madeiran President, Sr
Jardim, while he insists that Lisbon politicians are a
bunch of degenerates, with terms like 'fascist' being
bandied about. In President Jardim's favour, his
constituents in Madeira seem to like him well enough, since
he was returned with an increased majority after a recent
election that he called to spite Lisbon over alleged cuts in
funds to Madeira.
Sr Jardim is a large, greying man much given to colourful
language and opposed - like many of his fellow islanders, it
seems - to abortion, gay marriage and other harbingers of
doom for the island's morals.
The last round went on points to the Madeirans, since the
Lisbon government was forced in court to hand over withheld
funds. Emboldened by this success, President Jardim used a
speech at a recent festival on the island to reiterate his
contempt for the Lisbonites, and in particular Prime
What's that to you, I hear you ask? Well, should you
decide to spend some time visiting Madeira, you might want
to choose your words carefully, in case an injudiciously
pro-Portugal remark of yours was overheard in a bar or
You have been warned!
Tuesday 7 August 2007
Don't Hold Your Breath!
So, I'm off back to UK to visit friends and attend a
family wedding. Husband Nev's not keen to travel... ("I
didn't mind travelling to Algarve, but now I'm here, I do
mind travelling from it")... or words to that effect.
So he's 'minding the shop' while I'm off on safari (well,
there may be some wild animals involved somewhere).
I'm leaving him in sole charge of my plants and my fruit
trees, into which I have put a lot of effort recently. And
I'm expecting them all to be flourishing still when I get
... or there'll be blood on the dancefloor!
As well as some judicious plant watering, he has a list
of outstanding jobs that's as long as his arm. But I'm not
expecting to see a lot of items crossed off at the end of my
two weeks away.
Unfortunately, he seems to have taken the laid-back
Algarve lifestyle to his bosom and has virtually gone
Yes, I can extract a promise from him to name a date when
he'll start a particular task but, just like the local
tradesmen, when the day comes around, he has a ready excuse
as to why what was agreed can't, in fact, happen.
I'll forgive him all of that however if, before my
return, he's solved the problem of bits of loose garden
blowing into the swimming pool. Nothing worse than having to
avoid flotsam and jetsam when I'm taking my late afternoon
Saturday 4 August 2007
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