a Travel Description

Carvoeiro by Adrian Caffery
One morning, I decided I'd had enough!  I grabbed hold of the remote control and started searching the Teletext pages on television in search of a cheap holiday in the sun. Anything to get away from the bleak skies of London and the misery of the endless grind of work. And there it was!   Perfect! A seven day holiday in the Portuguese Algarve for the ridiculously cheap price of £125 including flight and accommodation. Bargain! I'll be singing all the way to the bank, I thought. After verifying the price and the details with the operator I made the decision then and there: "I'll take two please."

A few weeks later at the end of October, my wife Lori and I, were arriving at Faro airport on Caledonian Airways after a very comfortable flight indeed. Despite the warnings of friends about how dreadful the weather would be at that time of year, we found to our delight, bright sunshine and warm temperatures greeting us. And so it continued for the rest of the week apart from one day, which was a bit overcast but still about 18 degrees Celsius. Bloody marvelous, I say, for an Englishman in November!
It was the first package holiday we'd ever been on, despite my many travels throughout the world.  I'm usually a determined independent traveler but this time I decided that, for the price I couldn't go far wrong and was curious to see what package holidays were like anyway. The tour operator was a company called Style Holidays. Now we didn't expect much for our £125. Indeed, we would have been happy for the plane to get us there and back safely and for the accommodation to be reasonably habitable. We did not expect transfers in comfortable coaches, travel representatives receiving, advising and guiding us all of the way. Also, the accommodation was beautiful. In fact it was much better than my own flat back in London. We had a spacious 2 bed-roomed apartment with a fully equipped kitchen, en-suite bathroom plus another shower-room, cable TV, a large lounge and a balcony area with table and chairs. Plus a maid service to boot. And it was only 5 minutes walk from the beach.
Carvoeiro is beautiful, especially when viewed from the hills on either side of the town.

Carvoeiro is beautiful, especially when viewed from the hills on either side of the town, which we did every night to observe the beautiful sunsets. It is layered with white-washed villas and buildings, which seem to undulate in harmony with the natural rocky landscape.  The beach is small but ample and is fringed with seaside cafes and restaurants and still home to local fishermen whose boats complete the picture postcard scene. There's also a discotech, which fortunately was shut when we went. It was a good time of year to visit as we had avoided the crowds of the summer deluge and found plenty of time and space to perform all of our explorations. 
Carvoeiro is quite a commercialised town but you have to expect that anywhere on mainland Europe these days, especially if it's by the sea and anywhere near the Mediterranean (although the Algarve's shoreline is actually on the Atlantic).

The best local beach that we found was Praia Vale de . Not noticeable from the roadside you need to take a taxi from Carvoeiro for about £2 or walk there in about 20 minutes.  The taxi drops you by some steps, which wind endlessly down through rocks until you reach an enclave ensconced on all sides by towering rocks. There you can enjoy a secluded beach ideal for sunbathing and in the Spring, Autumn and Winter almost entirely to yourself.

Carvoeiro is an excellent resort to use as a base for touring and exploring the region. You can travel by bus, which is the cheapest but the services aren't too reliable or frequent especially out of season.  We chose to travel by taxi as the fares seemed very reasonable to us coming from London where prices can be extortionate. But probably the best method is to hire a car as it is very inexpensive and because of the competition, there's a lot of good deals to be had.

A good day trip out is to the nearby historic town of Silves where you can enjoy the Moorish castle perched on a hill at the top of the town next to the church. They usually have displays on there and we enjoyed the gruesome mediaeval torture exhibits. We were pleasantly surprised when we made a stop at a local café down a narrow alleyway, which seemed to be patronised solely by Portuguese people. The price of a glass of Port and a half bottle of wine was a staggeringly cheap 200 Escudos (the Portuguese currency) which is about one pound sterling. Portugal is a very economical destination and still one of the best value places to be enjoyed anywhere in Europe.
Further along the coast is a beautiful town called Lagos which has all manner of attractions including excellent shopping and a large marina crammed with ocean-going yachts.  Other popular places to visit, include the windswept hills of Monchique in the interior and further along the coast to the West from Carvoeiro is Sagres - the most south-westerly point of Continental Europe. There are numerous other beautiful towns, villages and idyllic spots to be discovered in the Algarve and it's worth renting a car and buying a map to uncover them.

So if you get fed up of grey skies and what seems like never ending work, reach for the remote control and after the click of a few buttons and a phone call, you could be transported tom paradise - and all for the price of a song!

  Adrian Caffery
20th January 2000

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Adrian Caffery is a 35 year old graduate of the BA Hons Broadcast Journalism degree at Nottingham Trent University and has worked as a freelance journalist for BBC Radio and for Carlton UK Televison News. He currently lives in London with his wife Lorelei whom he met in 1987 on one of his many visits to Belize in Central America.