Newsletter September 2011
Margarida Sampaio @
Ah September. A quick straw poll (completely non scientific) revealed that this is the month most enjoyed by those living in and visiting Carvoeiro and it is easy to see why. The sun is still shining, the sea is warm and the place still has a holiday atmosphere however in September you dont' have to fight for a space to lay your towel on the beach, deal with all the irate drivers frantically trying to find a parking space within a five mile radius of the town and you can once again pop into the supermarket without having to encounter thousands of trolleys -each being guided round by eight people.
Without August Carvoeiro would be in trouble but there is no denying that September is generally welcomed with a sigh of relief as the pace returns to normal.
Every year all the hotels, bars and restaurants lament that the season has not been kind to them but from what I saw this past month it looks like August has been a generally good month with most being full or near to full all month – even if the money is down at least we can say that Carvoeiro remains one of the most popular spots for a holiday from all nationalities.
August in the Algarve is great for anyone living here who has a couple of hours off to head and see what is going on in the rest of the region and this year was no different with a great choice of free and paid for activities to pick from.
At the start of the month I braved the crowds and put on my tasseled bra for the Medieval Fair in Silves which took place through the streets of the city between August 9 and 15.
With all the cuts to the municipal budgets there are now very few events that are actually free to attend and this is one of them (for now at least).
I had decided to head off early to avoid the parking problems but it seems that 6pm is no longer considered early and we were trapped in a boiling car with no air conditioning on one of the hottest days of the year for about half an hour before we could finally get in across the bridge to Silves itself but it was worth the wait and turned into a great night of medieval fun.
Essentially the fair is just another excuse for vendors to sell random tat that you would normally never consider buying but because they are all dressed in ye olde clothes it is so hard to resist! Highlights of the evening had to be the medieval rock band that kept on giving impromptu performances throughout the streets and the team of drummers who continued to scare small children with their menacing beats while the low points would be the constant walk up hill on slippy calçada and the choking smoke from “traditional” food.
Silves is only usually a ten minute journey away from Carvoeiro and is worth visiting at anytime of the year. The quaint cobbled streets, riverside area and castle feel a million miles away from the beaches and hotels of Carvoeiro while there are also some great places to eat and drink there too.
The other big draw of the month is Fatacil, on our doorstep in Lagoa and reputed to be he biggest fair in the Algarve. This year was however a disappointment in comparison to previous years and to be honest my expectations are never all that high because it is essentially an agricultural fair that has grown over the years and living in an apartment in Carvoeiro means I don't have much call for a tractor or a cow.
Every year there are the rumours that the fair hasn't made enough money and will not be continuing but this year it feels that those rumours may be true as the fair covered around half the usual space it takes up and even the regular stall holders you see year after year, were nowhere to be found.
The live acts were also less exciting than usual and with all of these elements combined I was not surprised to see Fatacil empty in comparison to previous years and at €5 each to enter you expect a little more from your money here.
Lets hope the organisers can work with the current economy to offer stall holders more incentives to take part and then the Fatacil can go back to the having mass of people that it usually is – I did manage to get me smelly cheese and presunto sandwich though, so every cloud!
Back in Carvoeiro there has been entertainment for everyone everyday. In the square there has been the live musical performances with everything from traditional singers to Djs and cover bands. Also if you are around on Rua do Barranco by the Imagine jewellery shop or up in the square by Mungo's, Colibri and Classic, then there is also live entertainment throughout the week.
The streets have been packed with people promenading, stopping for an icecream, a beer or both and it really has felt like a holiday town all month with the high temperatures adding to the atmosphere.
Following the success of the first Carvoeiro beach party the organisers took it upon themselves to put on another party with the Portuguese DJ China being the main draw for the night.
In my experience nothing ever seems to run smoothly in Portugal and the party was to be no exception with the behind the scenes nightmares resulting in palpitations, medication and huge outbursts but like a graceful swan the frantic work under the water was hidden on the whole and the show went on.
This time the bars were on the square itself rather than on the beach which changed the dynamic of the evening however the place was packed out with people dancing in the square an the beach while the drinks were flowing and everyone was enjoying themselves.
Overall the night was deemed a success however the difficulties of trying to organise an event such as this in August has left the organisers thinking that in the future parties should not take place in the peak of the summer season. Generally trying to find authorisation from Câmara officials, the maritime police and others while appeasing businesses at their busiest time of year was more than difficult but watch this space to see when the next party will be taking place.
Just because the busiest time of the year has past it doesn't mean that here is now nothing to do in the Algarve, far from it. In an area with so many foreign residents Carvoeiro really comes to life in September as those who escaped the heat and the confusion of August return home.
In Lagoa every Saturday in September there will be a street fair held in the grounds of the Adega winery (opposite the bus station). The street market as been put on by the same people who now have opened the art gallery in the winery and they are hoping that it will become a similar market to those found in northern Europe where people can come along and pick up homemade products, crafts and art and even German sausages.
For the first two Saturdays stall holders can take part for free and after that there will be a charge of €15 while anyone wanting to visit can go along for free between 10am and 3pm.
Also in Lagoa this month is the annual Scruffts dog show. This is a charitable event to raise money for the Algarve animal charity fund the APAA who are trying to raise enough money to build a new rescue centre for abandoned animals in this part of the Algarve.
The show takes place at the Fatacil ground on September 18 and has a range of different classes for both mixed breed and pedigree dogs to take part in while this year there will also be a craft fair to accompany this and plenty of food with a hog roast available.
You don't have top own a dog to go along, this is also a great place to catch up with people who you may not have seen for ages as everyone seems to pop down at some point.
Stray dogs in the Algarve are a continuous problem and upsetting to many people so if you want to support this charity and are around on the 18th then go down and do your bit at Scruffts and if you have a dog then make sure you bring all its relevant documents to be able to enter into the different classes.
Well we are already in September and still the tolls have not been brought in yet although it looks like our days may well be numbered with this.
Everyone here is still complaining about the tolls and how they should not be brought in but a protest against them in August only managed to muster 40 people who cared enough to go out and make their point known. Holding a protest like this in August in the Algarve was never going to work mainly because all of the people who would want to protest are too busy at work to stop ad protest and too scared of loosing their jobs if they did stop to protest.
The Câmara mayors have said that they don't want the tolls, the residents have said they don't want the tolls, the tourists have said they don't want the tolls but nobody seems to be listening so it looks like the tolls are coming.
So now I am going downstairs to get into my car and drive up and down the A22 willy nilly because I can for now and when I have finished wasting petrol I will head down to the beach and enjoy Carvoeiro in September, the best time of the year to be in this piece of paradise.