Although I can't spend as much time there as I'd like to, that doesn't stop me from keeping in touch with what's going on in the Algarve and around those gorgeous beaches.
Here's my regular take on occurrences in my favourite vacation spot...
It's true, apparently. On Monday 13 December 2004 an earthquake shocked Algarve (and most of Portugal).
Fortunately, the centre of the 'quake was some 100 miles out to sea, south west of Cabo de São Vicente. Even so, the tremors in Faro measured 5 on the Richter scale. That's enough to make inanimate objects move! (So it might even have got husband Nev out of his armchair, had we been there).
Suitably reassuring 'official' noises were made, with a statement from Coimbra University to the effect that Portugal's regulations regarding earthquakes are world-class. That would, I imagine, apply only to new buildings...
So, am I put off? Lord, no... These things happen, and it's not like living on the San Andreas fault, as do many Californians. The last major earthquake that hit Portugal was 1755, so if another was due, that was probably it on Monday.
I'm still planning to get my little white legs back in Algarve as soon as I can.
Friday 16 December 2004
Who Needs Local Colour When You've Got To Go?
Although I love the Algarve and its people, there's one thing that haunts me whenever I visit...
The selection of public toilets on offer!
Now, I don't mean the condition in which they're kept. Most of them are maintained in very clean state by the formidable ladies who haunt such buildings (even the Gents') and hang about hoping for a gratuity as you leave.
Let's face it, since I live in the UK, I could hardly complain about the state of repair of Portuguese toilets. At home, public conveniences are routinely trashed by our well-educated youth (Government figures suggest that 50% of them have degrees, so a BSc in Porcelain Demolition must be a popular subject).
No, I'm referring to these strange devices with two foot-shaped marks on either side of a hole in the ground! The very sight of them fills me with dread, as I never know whether my desperation to 'go' will overcome my feeling of vertigo (and worse!) as I balance precariously over a pit.
Perhaps the European Union's Community Fund could cough up for some facilities that would propel the Algarve into the 21st Century and mid-European lavatorial standards.
Don't get me wrong, there's much about the Algarve and its charming way of life that I would defend tooth and nail. It's just that those 'lead bombardier' bogs aren't among them.
Sunday 5 December 2004
Algarve In The Raw?
I read that, in an effort to boost tourism, there are plans afoot to increase the number of areas within Algarve where naturists can 'do their thing'.
At present, there is only one 'official' naturist beach, although there are several spots where nudism has not regularly attracted 'constabulary attention'.
No less a figure than Senhor Hélder Martins, chairman of RTA (Algarve Tourism Region), is planning to work with naturist associations. One hopes he won't feel the need to do more than roll up his sleeves...
One argument put forward is that Spain has many more facilities for naturists - but, then again, Spain is a much larger country, so that would make sense.
You can read what I've discovered about what's on offer at my Algarve Naturism page
Sunday 28 November 2004
The Right to Choose...
I don't know that much about Portugal outside of the Algarve...
... except, of course, that the laws apply equally throughout the country.
Being a Catholic country, with a religious heritage that's difficult to miss, Portugal is something of an enigma.
The end of the dictatorship and 30-odd years of growing popularity as a tourist destination have rather dragged Portugal into the modern era through a 'squeezed' time-frame. Nowhere is this more evident than in that contentious modern issue - abortion.
Only last year, in Portugal, there were more than 1000 women treated for illegal abortions that 'went wrong'. The difficulty, in such a religious country, is highlighted by some of the confusion felt by health professionals.
'Illegal' abortions are occasionally reported, in spite of official guidance that cases should be fully recorded, but that the patient's identity should not be included.
The law seems to be 'honoured in the breach'. Abortion is not 'illegal' in cases where the foetus is malformed, where the pregnancy is judged to be too risky for the mother, or when the pregnancy is the result of rape. It seems that health professionals increasingly interpret these rules according to their own consciences.
Few reported cases of 'illegal' abortions result in a successful prosecution, suggesting that Portugal is more 'modern' than many observers give her credit for.
Of course, depending on your own view of the morality on this issue, that may or may not be a good thing...
Tuesday 23 November 2004
Road Toll Chaos Ahead?
That's the only word that describes what they're proposing for the Algarve's prestige east-west artery, the A22 (Via do Infante). Word is that the authorities are keen to make it a toll road. This has brought out lots of opposition groups to campaign against the measure... and thank goodness, say I!
One of the best things about Portugal and the Algarve is the good, cheap travel within and between regions. This is what keeps the tourist money circulating, as I've stated elsewhere in these pages.
What is it about politicians that makes them want to mend what's not broken... And to tax everything that moves?
Anything that serves to make the Algarve less attractive to visitors has to be counter-productive to the region's economy.
I'm forever telling friends and acquaintances about how well organized and reasonably priced are the travel alternatives in the Algarve. Now the politicos want to make some easy money without thinking about the long-term implications.
So, is there a better word than barmy?
Let me know if you think of one...
Friday 18 November 2004
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