Newsletter February 2016
Margarida Sampaio @
I love February in Carvoeiro, this is the month where we start to see everything coming back to life again in the town while it is still quiet enough for us to be able to enjoy it without fighting for a space on the beach!
January saw some pretty good weather for the month with some especially warm evenings which made a pleasant change and not too much rain either, although we had a fair few grey days during the month.
When it did rain last month it did it in style with a super storm hitting the local area and turning the roads in Lagoa into rivers, however we were lucky in Carvoeiro and seemed to avoid the worst of it, or perhaps we have finally sorted out that eternally drainage issue that has plagued the town for years!
Now we are into February the sun is out and the skies are blue and while it may be a bit chilly in the wind, it is a pleasure to wake up and see the sunshine at this time of the year when we know that lots of our friends in northern Europe have forgotten what sunshine even is!
AS CHEAP AS CHIPS
We had some great news last month that helped to push the Algarve into the international spotlight with reports ranking in the region as one of the best places to retire too and also as the cheapest place to come on holiday in the world – according to the UK Post Office that is!
The Post Office survey claims that thanks to a meal for two being cheaper than ever and general food and drink being some of the lowest prices in the world, that the Algarve is the very best place to come to if you are looking for a cheap and cheerful holiday in the sunshine.
Anyone who lives here will know that it is not all that rosy when it comes to costs of living in the country, with our petrol prices being crazy compared to average wages and bills continuing to rise at a rate that will leave you feeling dizzy if you look at it too long, however it is good to hear that the Algarve is not expensive for visitors.
Carvoeiro and the rest of the Algarve relies so heavily on people coming on holiday here to keep the economy ticking over that anything that can be done to encourage more folks to make the trip over and to spend their hard earned cash here with us is only a good thing.
I have to say that I have noticed lots more competitive pricing at restaurants and bars with many not having upped their prices for years, even though the level of VAT on food and drink has shot up. Instead business owners have absorbed extra costs to keep Carvoeiro and the Algarve competitive and it seems to have paid off now. It is said that the VAT on food is going to drop back down in July but it is not going to alter on drinks so remember that when you grumble about the price of a beer, or drink another couple and you won’t remember anything at all!
|Valentine's Day offer: For car rental bookings made until 14th of February 2016 online prices for the mid and high season 2016 are reduced by 15% automatically - likewise peak season prices has not yet been enforced - therefore please book ASAP and before 15/02/2016 Please see www.algarvedriver.com and book without deposit, cancellation or amendment charges.|
For some reason it seems (perhaps the change in the government) we are finally having some money thrown our way to help improve the condition of the EN125 – formerly known as the most dangerous road in Europe and quickly moving back in that direction with fatal accidents occurring far too often.
Only in January there was a head on collision between Lagoa and Portimão that left one elderly British lady dead and her partner seriously injured and with many people choosing to avoid the tolls on the A22, the accidents seem to keep on building, especially thanks to the very poor condition of the road.
Over the past couple of months there have been some intensive road works happening with a focus on between Portimão and Lagos and now these road works have moved closer to home with lots going on in Lagoa.
Please all be aware that the traffic lights on some of the roundabouts in Lagoa on the EN125 have now been removed to make them roundabouts and that you should expect delays during working hours as the machines roll out and they dig up the same piece of road over and over again it seems.
These road works continue all the way from Lagoa to Almancil and if you are travelling to the airport during the day then you should give yourself double (I mean it) the amount of time to get there than you usually would because they are never ending.
Let’s hope that all of these works are completed before the summer and the real traffic comes on to the road and that the works help to make the EN125 a safer road for us all to use – fingers crossed.
On to things a lot more jolly and you can’t get much jollier than Carnival!
Carnival is surely the best antidote to any winter blues you may be having and this year we have carnival earlier than usual with the main event being on Tuesday 9th February.
In Portugal there is no time for making pancakes and squeezing over some lemon (although you can buy lovely fresh crepes if you feel like it) because everyone is far too busy slipping on inappropriate costumes, covering themselves in body paint and rolling in glitter – or you could just buy yourself a beer and a piggy sandwich and watch as the floats go by!
The main carnival parade in the Algarve is in Loulé and this year it is in its 110th edition with a theme of “The great shipwreck”. In Loulé they close of the main street in the centre of the city and you pay a couple of euros to enter the street and then to watch the floats (about 15) and the hundreds of dancers, musicians and participants. This can be a pretty spectacular event and is perhaps the closest to Rio that you are going to get over here with even a few brave souls stripping off to only a very small pair of knickers and painting themselves ready to samba the afternoon away.
If you don’t fancy the huge crowds and want to support our lovely local town then stay in Carvoeiro for carnival instead this year!
The first parade of the year will be on Friday, 5th February in the morning with the children of the local school dressing up under the theme of “Our people, our identity” which basically means you will see lots of little boys dressed as fishermen and girls as women from the canning factory or as farmers.
This may not be the most popular of themes but it is the one the local council has handed down so the kids have to follow it, although I am sure the odd superhero will slip into the little parade here and there!
The theme follows the new branding of Lagoa which you may notice on advertising and in banners around the place as the council have invested in a new logo (again not sure where all this money is coming from…) which is basically the word Lagoa with a little drop of water containing a heart ad is supposed to represent the people and the spirit of the community – I will leave that up to you to assess – and the necessity of it all!
Back to Carnival.
The main parades for carnival in Carvoeiro will be taking place on Sunday 7th and Tuesday 9th from 15.30h (but remember that is very much Portuguese timing so don’t be checking your watch too carefully). The theme for this parade is fairy tales which is a little more open for interpretation and have heard some whispers of some pretty impressive floats that have been put together and lots of the local community taking part.
If you have never experienced a carnival in Carvoeiro before then here are a few top tips:
- You need to buy tickets if you want a drink or food from the stands in the centre of the square. Buy the tickets from the nearby stand then you exchange these for beer and piggy sandwich
- Get in there fast for the piggy sandwich – it is very popular!
- Don’t worry if you can’t push yourself to the front to see the parade go by, it repeats the same circuit around the town more times than you can imagine and by the time it comes to an end you will be the only one stood there
- Look out for our local celeb Danny who will place himself at the front of the parade and will be wearing something that you will find difficult to explain to children – be ready for awkward questions
- Men tend to dress as questionable women or babies…just accept it
- If you want a prime seat in the house then head to Smilers, Hemingways, Improvisto, Matabixo, Sullys etc and head for the front row – people are bound to stand in front of you but will eventually move so you can see
- Take a choice of clothing for all weathers, usually when the sun is out it is boiling but it can feel like you are in the arctic when the sun hides behind a cloud.
- Get ready to dance to some “Baile” music and don’t be afraid to do a bit of woman on woman dancing if you can’t make the men folk stand up
- Don’t forget to head over to the sociadade (social club) after the parade for the big party. You can be sure of a warm welcome and drinks that cost so little you will buy double and end up throwing yourself into the accordion music like you never thought you could.
The great #carvoeiroboxes project has finished its first phase and we have loads of painted boxes now up and down Rua do Barranco and Rua dos Pescadore – well done to all involved they have really brighten the whole town up and are a brilliant addition!
I am off now to prepare my carnival costume that I think this year will include a good dose of spandex and glitter…