Newsletter April 2005

  by: Nigel Anteney Hoare

I began last months Newsletter with comments about Carnival and Easter and how those movable festival dates are calculated. This drew a response from Friedhelm Nolden who told me that he has been a regular visitor to Carvoeiro for the last 35 years! Friedhelm explained that Easter “is always on the SUNDAY after the first FULL MOON in spring time”. Thus this year you take the 20th of March (spring equinox) and wait for the full moon. That falls this year on the 25th of March and as Friedhelm says “surprise, surprise the next Sunday, the 27th is EASTER”.

Thanks for that information Friedhelm and if you have some recollections of Carvoeiro back 35 years ago, or better still photographs, please get in touch with the Webmaster so that you can share them with us.

March started with some much needed rain. The 1st threatened rain all day and then in the evening we had a good steady downpour. Not the crazy stuff that simply runs away but good earth drenching rain. Next day we had more but by Friday 4th things had cleared up and the sun shone to give some respite for the few tourists around. The temperatures however remained very low and we were still suffering from the icy blast coming down on us from northern Europe.

We were away from Carvoeiro from the 8th to the 15th and on our return found that the weather had a much more spring like feel to it. The mornings and evenings had lost that cold edge and the days were sunny and bright.

Arriving late on the 15th we had a meal at our local restaurant A PALMEIRA on Rua do Cerro (up the hill past the Municipal Market) A Palmeira is a Portuguese owned and run restaurant specialising in fish and seafood. They do particularly good seafood rice which is available just for one person which is a little unusual and very reasonably priced. Quite easy to park near the restaurant as well which is a bonus in summer! Try it. Next door is a great little Alisuper Supermarket run by Sr. BOTO and his wife. They stock a very wide range of goods with a nice charcuterie and bake those delicious fresh baguettes every morning.

No sooner had we returned than St. Patricks Day was upon us and the Irish, residents and visitors alike, made sure as usual that everybody knew it. If there is a nation on this earth that knows a better way of having a good time I would be pleased to hear! I dropped into SULLYS after work that evening at about 6,30pm to meet someone and was having a quiet beer when all hell let loose as we were invaded by a mob of Irish revellers on what seemed to be the second lap of a Carvoeiro pub crawl! FLAVIO was flat out pulling pints and pouring drinks. PAULA, a local lass of Irish descent knew he was short of ice so had brought two bags with her – very well organised the Irish! I managed to take a few photographs to try and convey the chaotic scene and then made a hasty exit before I got enthused with the celebrations and joined up with them!

see these pictures and more here (opens new window)
About this time the weather changed dramatically and we were subjected to what is known as a “su-oeste” pronounced “swest” which basically meant that the wind had veered to come from the south east as opposed to the normal westerly direction. I guess what we get is something to do with the Levante wind which sweeps up the Mediterranean through the Straits of Gibraltar.

For Carvoeiro this “su—oeste” always brings strong warm winds and grey skies with a strange sort of low “haze”. The sea water warms up but takes on a dirty look and you notice the waves coming to shore from a different direction. It is quite weird and always lasts a few days. If the wind veers more from the east I understand, rain may follow but by the middle of the following week although the wind had dropped and changed direction we still had no rain.

Some work colleagues were up from Gibraltar on business over the weekend of 19/20 and had stayed in the HOTEL CARVOEIRO SOL to be close to the action. On Saturday afternoon we met up with them at HEMINGWAYS to watch the Wales v Ireland Six Nations rugby match. There was as usual a good, well humoured and vociferous mixture of Irish, Welsh and other nationalities there with MURRAY and HAZEL the bosses present and PAT also helping out. Murray being a Scot went on to see the later match when his team were soundly beaten by England to win the Calcutta Cup – sorry Murray but ....!

One of the guys from Gibraltar, being Welsh, left HEMINGWAYS particularly happy and we finally managed to recoup some of our betting losses incurred over Englands previous poor showings!

That evening our friends ate at CASA DO BIFE and were very enthusiastic about the food, the service and the bill! They particularly appreciated that they had asked the owner to select a bottle of wine for them and hadn’t been ripped off by him choosing an expensive one.

Sunday morning it was out early to Faro to drop my wife off for her EUJET flight to Kent International(?) Airport to collect our children for Easter. Returning to Carvoeiro I stopped at Intermarche (car park full at 0930?!) where I bumped into my son in law. He told me of a large Police operation the previous evening where all road exits out of Carvoeiro had Police road blocks! It seems a few had been caught out with being over the alcohol limit. Whether this had anything to do with a much larger operation in Quarteira and elsewhere in an attempt to also flush out illegal foreigners I don’t know but it is a real warning on the drink drive front

With my mother in law staying with us for a month, just after 10,00 it was off up to the little Church of Nossa Senhora da Encarnação on the cliff top. This being Palm Sunday the church was packed with worshippers standing in the porch to try and see the service. As usual palm fronds and olive branches were distributed to celebrate this important day in the religious calendar which commemorates the spreading of palms and clothing in Jesus' path as He entered Jerusalem prior to His crucifixion

Sunday evening we had a meal in O CANTINHO. It was good as usual. The place has had a face lift and gone are the football scarves hanging over the bar. It has been painted and looks good and fresh. Next on the agenda I was told, probably for next year, are remodelled toilets and new floor.

On Monday 21st I had to make an evening round trip to Seville airport to collect my family for the Easter holiday. On the Huelva-Seville motorway I ran into a heavy rainstorm which looked promising for the Algarve perhaps, but on return to Carvoeiro the streets were still bone dry.

The newspapers were by now reporting that 60% of the country was in a true serious drought situation with the Algarve and Alentejo the worst hit areas. The chief of Portimão Bombeiros resigned due to the apathy of his superiors to face the oncoming fire risk season saying that he had no stomach for their inaction. If things continue like this we will be suffering fires in May this year!

Wednesday 23rd started really dark and sure enough about 11am we started to get some of the much needed rain. Mixed feelings now as we do want it to be good weather for the Easter holiday and the tourists who are taking an early break but also so need the water. In fact once again the rain never came to much at all.

Easter week saw the usual arrival of tourists and by Good Friday things were looking more promising. As always there were plenty of Spanish cars about, our neighbours taking advantage of the motorway to get a change of scenery.

Easter weekend the weather was largely good with mixed sun and some cloud. Temperatures were creeping up and the evenings had lost their cold edge making it quite pleasant. I had a few reports from business people that Easter was not living up to what was hoped and passing through town the bars and restaurants didn’t seem that busy. I wondered if it was simply too early for people to be risking a break?

The Easter period saw greatly increased activity on the part of the traffic Police who had mounted their usual “Operation Pascoa” (Pascoa = Easter) to try and bring the road accident toll down. This coincided with the introduction of a new “Highway “Code” with increased penalties and on the spot fines for traffic offences. If you haven’t the means to pay there and then the Police can seize your driving documents and you have 15 days to pay up. Also introduced was the necessity to carry a fluorescent yellow jacket in the car (note - not in the boot!) to be worn at any time there is a breakdown or accident. Whether this applies to foreign cars here just for holidays or not I am unsure. Maybe safer to buy one but make sure it is marked EC 471 on the label so that it complies!

Operation Pascoa resulted in 12% fall in accidents compared with the same period in 2004 but still saw 17 deaths and 676 injured (53 severely). Moral is – pay attention when driving in Portugal, you may be a safe driver but it is the others you need to worry about! The new Government has pledged to halve road accidents over the next 4 years!

Wednesday we dined at O ANTÓNIO and as usual had a pleasant and reasonably priced meal. Quite busy really but not really warm enough yet to sit outside although a few hardy souls were trying it. António was working in the kitchen which I think is always a bonus for the diners and the usual staff were in attendance. All in all very enjoyable.

The final days of the month saw very good weather with temperatures climbing into the early 20’s but some Mad March winds to cope with as well.

Até logo!