Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Clube Albufeira in Portugal's Algarve

19 April 2014
Recent windy weather had pointed a sign in the wrong direction so it took us half an hour or more to actually find Clube Albufeira on the Algarve, our home for the next four weeks. It's within 2 kms of the town of Albufeira and right opposite Albufeira Campsite .... which we may use on a possible future trip.

This is our last timeshare holiday, and because we haven't been able to use it for the last three years or so, we've accumulated enough points for a whole four weeks of this luxury resort! Since buying Milly the motorhome in July 2013 (last year) we've taken to "glamping" and motorhoming like Winnie the Pooh to his pot of honey, so decided to get rid of the timeshare I've had for about thirty-two years. The annual subscriptions have got quite out-of-hand - as have the utility and deposit costs at many of the timeshare resorts - and we'd far rather spend that money on keeping Milly ship-shape each year. I have to say the timeshare has been very worthwhile through the years, taking us to many places within Southern Africa (the Eastern Transvaal, the Western Transvaal, Zimbabwe, Durban's Umhlanga Rocks, Durban's Ballito Bay, the Drakensberg Mountains in Kwa Zulu Natal, Namibia, Cape Town, Langebaan - on the coast north of Cape Town) and Europe (Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England) ... but the time has come ....

We're in a very comfortable studio apartment where the bedroom area is open-plan with the "lounge" (bench couch) and diningroom. The kitchen and bathroom are separate with a small area housing a bunk bed (which we have stuffed full of things from Milly). We're in a corner apartment with two sets of french doors opening onto their own patios, one of which looks out to the humungous swimming pool.

This is exactly how we like the pool ... empty! Selfish. Selfish.
And to enjoy it like this, on the days when we're not going out somewhere,
we get up early and slink in before breakfast and the sun-bake-rush,
for a bit of an exercising swim. I'm also a floater and love to just
hang in the water, on my back, looking like a drowned person, but
Alan's too fidgety ... exercise and out is his routine. Good thing too -
got to keep him out of the sun with his fair skin.

This shot shows you the little tapa cafe next to the pool.
We've only been there once for a drink and a pizza.

Stunning at night time!

If no-one parks in "our" parking spot, we can see Milly from our patio.

More idle shots taken while the brain was going off duty:

The bird life is great here. It's ages since I've seen Sparrows (probably since I left Kwa Zulu Natal because there aren't many, if any, in Cape Town either); there are loads of Seagulls of course; a biggish bird that I can't name but he is light brown, has blue on his wings, white on his undercarriage and a black cap on the top of his head; and a couple of pairs of Hoepoe, like this little fella.

The pics aren't that clear because I couldn't get close enough to him.
They were taken with my favourite 300 mm lens from the
balcony of our apartment.

At sundowners, around about 7pm, just as the last folk leave the poolside, hosts of Sparrows dive-bomb the water for a sip of their sundowners. At the edge of the pool, the water drains out and over a ledge leaving a lovely swimming ledge for small birds. At least a dozen Sparrows duck and dive and shake and splash around having a wonderful swim.

There's one Seagull, a beauty of a specimen, who has a float and a swim, also in the same part of the pool each evening. He too ducks his head right in, shakes it all about, flaps his wings, then stands on the side preening his wet feathers. You can almost see the glee on his face. He's the most active of the Seagulls. The others just dip their toes in on the ledge of the outer edge. Shame. They don't know what they're missing!
(14 May 2014 .... last evening I rushed out and took quite a few pics of my swimming seagull. I've posted most of them at the bottom of this blog as my own little treasure of memory - and only one here)

Not much else to tell you about our lazy month here and I'm not going to bore you with details of the resort which you can pick up from the website. We need to count the pennies so tend to go out for a day and stay home for two days - blogging, reading, sketching, painting (hmmm, not much of that has taken place I'm afraid!) and a bit of swimming.

Enough ... I'd rather get on to the other blogs and tell you about our days out and the two-night trip to Lisbon!

Practical info:

My personal gallery of my special swimming seagull:


Obidos, Portugal

18 April 2014
Good Friday.

We've got it down to a well-oiled routine now ...alarm (yuk) at seven o'clock, up at 7.30 am; breakfast; shower; tidy; travel routine of check air vents closed, switch off gas, switch fridge over to battery, close windows and open shutters for best driving vision, switch off power switch and water switch, check nothing can be dangerous or breakable flying missile in case of fast braking .... water and road snacks handy, and off we go just before the clock strikes 10am. It reminds me of that TV ad where the couple show off their morning breakfast routine, like a dance, catching cooked toast, pouring juice, eating etc with not a word said but with complete harmony of coupledom :-) A Symphony of Marriage.

Yet another pleasant drive, to Obidos, just a little off the coast and north of Lisbon. Alan had read about a big, sandy parking lot, opposite the official, tarred parking lot at the edge of Obidos, which would be suitable for motorhomes. When we got there we were even more pleasantly surprised to find that they had created a separate parking lot for motorhomes with water and download services as well. Brilliant.

Again, these pics are a combination of Alan's and my own.

This is a view from the gate of the motorhome parking lot (which is
behind us) looking over the presently empty car parking lot next to
this stunning old aquaduct. The walled village of Obidos is straight ahead.

Just below the tarred parking lot a large outdoor market of antiques and second hand objects had been set up. It looked like it may well be a fixture, at least for the tourist season months.

This pic made it to the blog for two reasons: the lovely pink blossoms
and the old wooden horse for sale and to be seen on the extreme left.

If I lived nearby one of the wooden cart wheels, centre bottom and
against the car wheel, would be mine now.

Stunning old farm equipment - probably a grape-stamping barrel
on the right, something a bit fierce-looking all set to make holes in a circle on the left,
and the best of all, a primitive water wheel at the back. Can you see all the
metal pots hung strategically to collect and pour water as the wheel turns? Love it!

We wandered up closer to the entrance to the town, passing market stalls selling biscuits typical to the area, meringues, cork handbags, belts, purses and other accessories, and local cherry wine.

And wouldn't you know it? We bought a litre of cherry liqueur.
Well, you have to don't you?
This was one of Alan's "hip shots" capturing the seller of the
liqueur as well as that rather interesting chap second from the right.

Slowly and relaxed, we headed for the town gate, and I'll try and get the images in the correct sequence here, as we wandered through town:

Heading for the town gate and wall which would have
completely surrounded the old town.

View up to the left before the gate, to give you an idea of
how the town is situated on a hill.

Walking through the wide gateway, there is this
balcony within the gateway, beautifully tiled and painted.
The palm fronds are to celebrate the Easter Weekend.

Personally I think this lamp looks a little daft with
its palm ears, but I appreciate the Easter gesture :-)

So old, so historic and so beautiful,
no amount of photographs can do it justice!

And the archway leads you out to this scene.

A good welcome by a local.

The following images are random shots of the village, taken as I tried to keep my coffee-lover husband to hold out for a lunch-time brew. We had a look at the menus displayed at the more touristy cafes as we walked by, but as usual, looked for back streets and side streets where it was more likely the locals would congregate.
 Tourist-type cafes

Every metre of the town produced something photogenic and after a while it becomes necessary to pick and choose what you load into your camera. There were loads and loads of people everywhere - a mix of both tourists and locals - mainly on the two main pedestrian streets where the bulk of the shops were.

Geraniums are one of my favourite flowers and plants.
There are quite a few varieties and I bet a lot of you folk
don't know that if you rub the leaves between your fingers
and have a gentle sniff, you may be rewarded with lovely
aromas of lemon or rose. Not all geranium leaves produce
something beautiful ... but try it ... I think the lilac ones
smell a bit like lavender.

In the centre of the old part of town was the main church, preparing for a ceremony of (mock) crucifixion that evening ... it being Good Friday.

More lovely trappings of Easter.

The painting here must be hundreds of years old.
Close inspection of the tacks used to secure it
and the ancient paint on a brittle-looking surface
were testimony to its age.
Hopefully, to preserve it, it's only revealed at Easter
and Christmas!

These folk were sitting at a cafe on the edge of the main church square.
Loved the barrels of oranges!

Locals :-)

And then we found lunch! We spotted this place with wooden benches and umbrellas
A close-up of the cafe entrance

Himself and the starters. We forgot that they
charge extra for the olives, fish paste, butter and rolls
... only remembering when we got the bill. But it's not
at all expensive (I think about 75c each item)
and so tasty and enjoyable, that we
don't mind it as an extra each time we eat out.

The food was reasonably priced and tasty .... these pics
speak for themselves. Alan's lunch above (Halibut)
and my lunch below (veal casserole) ...

We rolled out with full tummies and headed for the first little road heading upwards. It lead us straight to this great art gallery owned by artist Sonia Borga. It's worth a look at their website
This is the entrance to the gallery:

And, as well as a little gift each for Meghan (my daughter) and Nina (Alan's daughter) ..... sigh ..... I bought these for moi .....

Oh so beautiful vase by an artist called Bolota
and .....

... gorgeous, gorgeous bowl (I call it the Egg Bowl) by
Sonia Borga herself.

Moral of the story:
Do not enter art galleries when you are happy and content
after a good lunch.

Looking back down the road from the gallery.

More beauty

This was a balcony of flowers (geraniums again)
on the periphery of the main church square

See what I mean by everything being so photogenic?

This shot was just meant for me. Purrrfect.

 Alan walked up to the terrace level of the castle and took these shots from up there. You can see me (in pink) sitting down below, on a step, against the yellow stripe on the wall, in front of the green Land-Rover.
I guard bags while Alan climbs things.

Lovely things for sale - and I wasn't the only one who bought something.
A tea-drinking owl on a tile caught my eye as I walked past it, thinking "Hmmmm, Alan"
so I turned around to see him looking at the same tile. He bought it.

 He's a bit of a cutey.



And finally it was time to head back to the gate to the town .....

.... and say Adeus to Obidos.

A great place. A great day.
Oh, and did I mention that Obidos is known as The Wedding Present town?
 Traditionally it was given as a wedding present to the incoming queen.