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.
More Kids' Stuff
I recently found a new attraction for younger visitors to
Algarve! (This is an equal-opportunities website, after
The attraction is called Braveland, and it's an adventure
park that includes a holiday camp with plenty of things for
younger folk to enjoy.
There are Day Care facilities on offer.
Even better, for long-suffering adults - they've not been
forgotten, and some of the stuff on offer is suitable for
their enjoyment, too.
You can read about it on my Algarve For Kids
Thursday 20 November 2008
Democracy and Bureaucracy -
Is it a coincidence that they rhyme? I'll let you decide.
reminded, when I detoured through Almancil earlier this
week, that the Portuguese (and perhaps especially Algarveans)
can exhibit a wry sense of humour.
There, in the centre of a familiar roundabout, was a new
group of sculptures of Portuguese citizens, dwarfed and
overshadowed by a huge rubber stamp that symbolises the
country's cloying system of red tape.
The two white-collar workers are looking up at the handle
either in surprise or awe, while the family group of mother,
father and child have their backs to the stamp, unaware or
Compared to the terrible banality of much of the UK's
'municipal art', I found this one refreshing and amusing...
... so much so that I parked, found my camera and
captured the scene for sharing on this page. See it for
yourself next to Almancil's Jardim das Comunidades
(the local green space that Nev and I know as 'Frog Park').
Sunday 16 November 2008
In the name of tourism...
I hear they've got a bunch of folk who analyse data about
Algarve tourism (at least, I think that's what they
what's to analyse? If I go somewhere for a vacation and I
like it, I want to go back there. I probably mention it to
friends and family. I may even wax lyrical about it to
strangers in a restaurant.
In extreme cases, someone might enjoy a region so much,
he or she would start a website to let others know...
So, what's to analyse? If an area has a great climate,
there's nothing the authorities can do to help or hinder
Same goes for the locals; they're either friendly and
welcoming or not. Legislation won't help.
Things to do?
They're provided by entrepreneurs and business owners. Not
the local authorities.
And yet, they have a bunch of folk who analyse data about
Algarve tourism. Go figure, as they say!
Wednesday 12 November 2008
Just the ticket!
A formal request has been sent to the Portuguese
government by the European Commission. It has to do with
discrimination; but this time it concerns a select and small
band of people - lottery winners!
Apparently, if you win a 'foreign' lottery while in
Portugal, you are supposed to pay tax on the winnings.
Unless, that is, you won one of the two lotteries organised
in Portugal (Euromillions and League of Millions), in which
case, they're tax-free.
I'm wishing good luck to the EC on this one, since its
frowning on Portugal's blatant disregard of other
Europe-wide tax agreements goes on. In particular, the
walloping 'matriculation' charges levied on foreign (EU)
cars imported into Portugal stand out as ripe for change.
But, since the fines imposed on Portugal for these
unethical imposts are less than the amount collected (by
some margin) the practice goes on. As I've noted before, if
you break the law as an individual, you risk jail; if you do
so and you're a government, a slapped wrist seems
Anyway, I'm holding off buying any foreign lottery
tickets until I learn which way the government jumps on this
'formal request'. I've no wish to share my good fortune with
any departments in Lisbon!
Monday 10 November 2008
Let's Fly Away...
Bucking the trend of impending recession and touristic
gloom, Irish airline Ryanair has announced four new services
to Faro airport.
It's even launching the new enterprise with a 'sale' of 1
million tickets at 1 euro each! That should put some pep
back into Algarve tourism.
The new routes are from Dusseldorf in Germany and
from East Midlands, Liverpool and Glasgow
in the UK. This reflects the importance to Algarve's economy
of tourists from those nations.
Ryanair estimates that it will be responsible for flying
some 310,000 passengers into and out of Faro airport
annually, making it a very important player indeed.
Once the 'sale' has ended, more normal ticket prices will
be between 42 and 66 euros. Combined with some off-season,
accommodation, that should make a short or medium
break in the region affordable to many.
Saturday 8 November 2008
The metric system is a great cause of division in the UK,
where younger people who were taught the system at school
don't mind it, while many older people who grew up with the
Imperial system of weights and measures struggle to cope
The metric system is supposed to be easier to understand,
being based on a decimal system, unlike the arbitrary (and
ancient) units of Imperial.
But, it turns out, the metric system is quite difficult
to grasp if you're a developer or a local authority in the
There's a law stating that you may not build within 10
metres of a body of water in the Ria Formosa Natural Park
area. This area includes Fuzeta, despite which a large
(actually, enormous) apartment complex has been erected
close to water, seemingly with the blessing of Olhao
municipality. (If it didn't have their blessing, they must
have been asleep for longer than Rip van Winkle, since the
edifice didn't spring up overnight!)
The offending apartment
blocks - (a little too large
to have sprung up unnoticed?)
An environmental group has lodged a complaint and the
matter is finally being investigated.
Whatever the outcome,
I couldn't help noticing that the place was deserted, with
not a single apartment looking to be occupied. Economic
downturns and empty apartment blocks are not surprising
colleagues. But it's not like there was a shortage of
available apartment accommodation locally anyway...
And, in the meantime, the water's edge of the Ria Formosa
protected area is littered with building debris that the
constructors were too lazy to remove, since neither the
developer nor the authority has required them to do so...
Let's hear it for sustainable development!
Wednesday 5 November 2008
The new Algarve Autodrome opened on the 2nd of this month
to much fanfare, but will it work any wonders?
It'll certainly put Portimao on the map in motor racing
circles, but will it result in the hoped-for influx of
petrol-heads and race fans that the authorities seem to have
As with most major projects, it seems to have been the
'little folk' who lost out. Homeowners in the immediate
vicinity have been subject to all the noise, dirt and
disruption that construction works entail, but some have
suffered even more.
One family were told that compensation for loss of a
corner of their land (to build an access road to the
Autodrome) would be in thousands of euros. Then, the
authorities said they'd made a mistake - sorry - and it
would only be a few euros...
Another unfortunate couple had part of the perimeter wall
of their garden demolished by a landslide of mud and earth,
when unfinished raised roadworks became unstable in the
recent heavy rains. Imagine the owners' joy at having to
complain long and loud to have any reparation made. And,
even when that's done, they have the noise and inconvenience
of the traffic to and from the Autodrome every time there's
One hopes they're not close enough to suffer the noise of
the racing while it's underway.
Although I've been a motor racing fan over the years, I
have to admit the racetracks aren't pretty, and to lose a
chunk of beautiful Algarve countryside to something so
unprepossessing isn't reassuring.
Especially when its inauguration coincides with a likely
downturn in world travel and tourism. The authorities are
going to be relying on locals to fill the stadium...
... but why bother if you can hear what's going on from
your terrace at home?
Monday 3 November 2008
Praia da Rocha Facelift
Unlike injections of Botox, this work will entail
some radical surgery, as Praia da Rocha enters the third and
final phase of its refurbishment programme, expected to last
until February 2009.
The disruption will occur on the Av. Tomas Cabreira,
between the Post Office and the Fortaleza de Santa Catarina.
The intention is to alter the traffic circulation and the
parking provision and also increase the amount of pedestrian
space. That doesn't sound too bad, but they will also be
replacing and rerouting water and drainage pipes, so expect
lots of deep excavations.
When the holes are filled, there should be new 'urban
furniture' (don't you love how flat and uninteresting that
sounds?), more and better lighting, with new leisure spaces
and more green area. How will they fit it all in, I wonder?
In addition, between the Jupiter Hotel and the viewpoint
(Miradouro) there'll be new pavements and lighting.
They're also promising a cycleway along the length of the
Avenida. I can't find mention of where it might lead after
So, traffic restrictions, altered locations for bus stops
and more can be expected until 15 December, when they'll all
go away until January 1. This should allow any touristic
Christmas activities to be unhindered by the public works.
Whether that means any holes will have been filled in or
barriered off for safety is another matter.
One thing's for sure, it'll have cost a lot of money when
it's finished, so let's hope it will have been worth the
wait and the commotion.
1 November 2008
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