Newsletter March 2006

  by: Karen Telling

February started with some beautiful, warm, sunny days, the first Sunday was nice enough for me to sit out on the terrace all afternoon, with a good book, something I haven’t been able to do for several months – and it made a very pleasant change.

The beginning of February saw Ele Ela, Oasis and A Vela, all in Rua do Barranco, re-open after their winter break, Imprevisto across the road set their tables out again, and Maximes, Lanterna Velha and Xico Zé in Estrada do Farol also re-opened. By this time of year the village is just about back to normal, with almost all the bars and restaurants open, so there is plenty of choice for winter visitors. On Saturday 4th we popped out for a late dinner at Casa Algarvia, which turned into a late night at Havana Bar, when we bumped into my parents and their friends leaving A Galé, and decided to go for a nightcap. We had enjoyed our meal at Casa Algarvia, which was very busy as usual, and A Galé was also full.

The following Thursday I had an appointment with my chiropractor, Tracy, at Lutz Chiropractors in Lagoa – she has an uphill task tackling my long-standing back problem – not helped by the amount of time I spent hunched over a keyboard, both for work and for! My husband picked me up from the clinic and we decided to go out for lunch to Bar Bacchus, on the N125 at Porches Pottery. It was quite a cold day, but there was a lovely fire burning, and we had a delicious lunch of pea and mint soup, followed by filled baguettes and salad – including water and coffee our bill was a very reasonable 17 euros.

On Thursday 9th the weather broke and we had heavy rain all day. We braved the downpour and went to Algar Seco Bistro in the evening, for the regular meeting. It was one of the busiest ever, with over 20 people from Germany, Belgium, UK and Portugal, and as it was the eve of Bruxinha’s birthday there was cake and champagne, and several renditions of ‘Happy Birthday’ in English, German and Portuguese! Gerrit and his wife Lieve had brought some delicious Belgian chocolates to finish our meal in style. We headed straight home, but I understand the party carried on at Anteak bar until well into the day itself!

As some of you may know, I had a ‘significant’ birthday last year, and one of my presents was a voucher for beauty treatments at Vila Vita in Porches, so I took a trip over there on 14th for some pampering. They offer a wide range of relaxing and therapeutic treatments, and all the staff are extremely helpful, so it has been lovely to be able to choose which treatments to have – the only problem was deciding which was most urgently needed! This time I went for an intensive eye treatment, to try to keep the bags and wrinkles at bay. For Valentines night we went to Bella Vita at Clube Atlantico – the restaurant is perfect for a romantic evening, and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal as usual.

The weather had been warm and sunny again from Friday 10th until another day of heavy rain on Thursday 16th. In the evening we went to Algar Seco for another international night, with German, Danish and British visitors, members get special discounted prices on Thursday evenings, and the two of us can have a main course and several drinks for around 20 euros. In the summer there is the added bonus of the beautiful view of the sea over the cliffs, and the fantastic sunsets that can be seen from the terrace.

On Friday evening we popped in to A Vela for dinner. Although Portuguese, Antonia and her husband worked in Switzerland for a long time, and their menu has something for everyone – including vegetarian options, and I can particularly recommend the home-made orange tiramisu!

The following Sunday we went to visit some Portuguese friends at their home in the countryside near Alcantarilha. They have a traditional farmhouse set in acres of land, with hardly another house to be seen, it is a very tranquil area and it is hard to believe that you can be on the beach in Armação de Pêra in less than 10 minutes. We had a tour of their kitchen garden, and they are so generous that we came away laden with gifts of fruit, vegetables and herbs, plus a jar of their own olives. We continued on to Armação de Pêra for a late lunch at Carlos’s beach bar, the weather had turned very blustery, and we ate our seafood protected from the heavy downpours by the plastic awning which surrounds the outdoor eating area. The dramatic weather made for a fascinating seascape; I find the sea much more interesting in bad weather than in calm, sunny conditions. Later that evening when we let the dog out into the garden, we were surprised to see him come back in covered in hailstones – a rare sight here in the Algarve.

The following week, after a lovely meal in Jota Lita, we met up with friends in Round-Up, newly re-opened and with new floors and windows. The bar was quite busy as Alan sang, and encouraged everyone to have a go at karaoke - fortunately for the other customers I didn’t volunteer, but our friends were among those who did, and they really enjoyed themselves.

Friday 24th was the official opening of The Lounge at Rascals, under the new management of Rachel and Sergio, the bar was very busy and we bumped into several regulars as we enjoyed the cava and canapés provided to celebrate the event. It was the first time I had ever been in the bar, and I was very impressed – as it is only a short stroll downhill for us I am sure we’ll be back soon. As the alcohol took effect we decided it would be best to get something to eat, so went next door to Tia Ilda – the restaurant was decorated for Carnival, and the staff were all dressed up too, we were waited on by a pirate, and the wine was served by a geisha! Fancy dress is very popular during Carnival, for both children and adults, and it is also not unusual to be on the receiving end of water and flour bombs as you walk around the village at night – another local tradition.

The following day saw torrential rain again, so along with most of the Algarve, or so it seemed, we went to Algarve Shopping – it was so busy that there weren’t enough seats for everyone who wanted to eat in the Food Court! The shops were full of fancy dress costumes for Carnival, everything from superheroes and princesses, to witches and pirates – there is a wide selection and any families who visit the Algarve at this time of year could stock up on fancy dress, and dressing up clothes for the rest of the year.


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Sunday was the day for the children’s carnival and due to the continuing drainage works on the square, the stage was set up next to O Patio restaurant, instead of next to the beach as in previous years. Fortunately it stayed dry as the children queued up for their turn to get up on the stage, show off their costumes, and receive their bags of sweets.

Monday 27th was my dad’s birthday, and to celebrate we went to A Grelha, close to the fisherman’s beach at Armação de Pêra. This restaurant, supposed to be the oldest in the Algarve, offers a wide variety of traditional dishes – again with vegetarian options – and is excellent value. It was very busy and we were lucky to get a table, as lots of Portuguese families took advantage of the ‘bridge’ day before the Carnival holiday.


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On Carnival day itself, we went first to see the pancake races being held on the beach in front of the Hotel Garbe in Armação de Pêra, in aid of charity. In spite of an overcast sky, there was a good turnout and plenty of competitors in the boys, girls, grandparents, three-legged, backwards, and relay races. We then headed back to Carvoeiro, and had lunch at Imprevisto as we waited for the Carnival procession to begin. The motorbikes came first, ridden by a nun, a bear, several clowns, and our own forum member, Lagartoroxo – one of the bikes even had a dog riding pillion! The rest of the floats followed, led by a marching band and including the little train – all organised by Sr Jorge Pardal and the members of the local Freguesia.

We returned home and I went straight to my pc to check my e-mails, suddenly I heard a yelping sound from outside, and then my husband appeared at the door calling for help. Barney, the street dog that we had inherited when we bought our house eighteen months ago, had been hit by a car and run off in shock with what appeared to be a broken leg and blood pouring from his mouth. We followed him and eventually managed to coax him back to the house, and after a quick call to the emergency vet, we carefully lifted him into the car and set off for Lagoa. After a general anaesthetic and several x-rays they found that he had a dislocated elbow and we brought him home three hours later, with a tightly strapped leg. Having always been a free spirit, his wandering days are now over and he is going to have to get used to being confined to the garden – I don’t think any of us can cope with a repeat of the accident – what an end to Carnival!