Albufeira – April 2019

So, we went to Portugal for a week. You’d think there’d be a lot to say – like my 5-post, 5000-word epic series on our Athens trip – but really we spent a lot of the time lazing around and eating so it would get pretty repetitive pretty quickly.

But here are the essentials. We flew with Ryanair, which was adequate but definitely not inspiring. We took off on time and landed pretty much on time both ways but we had to skimp on baggage and didn’t get so much as a seat pocket to put your book in on what was a seriously frill-free plane. The flights were quite straightforward though – the kids read their books all the way there, even though Eva had taken quite some persuasion to pack a book in the first place. Her suitcase was full of unicorns and, as I said, our baggage allowance was stingy at best.

Flying from Stansted was pretty good – we were playing a serious long game moving to Highams Park because that 29 minute drive to Stansted in the middle of the afternoon felt remarkably stress free. The airport itself is nothing spectacular but it had a Burger King with super quick service so that was all the kids really look for in an airport.

And the holiday itself? Pretty good too. We stayed at Monica Isabel Beach Club in Albufeira. It had some less than favourable google reviews but we’re not overly fussy on decor and things like that so it suited us fine. There was one day where we had no towels for four hours in the afternoon so I had to shiver dry after a chilly outdoor swim…but that was the only glitch. We dined three times a day in the restaurant, enjoying the all inclusive food and booze and Reuben in particular really embraced the ethos of “It is available to eat, therefore I shall eat it”, often squeezing in a hotdog meal between lunch and dinner.

We had one day away from the hotel, when the clouds were gloomy and so our usual swimming and sunbathing activities seemed off the table. There was a shuttle bus from the hotel to Albufeira Old Town but it never materialised so we walked the mile or so in the end, down a very steep hill that we might come to regret on the way back. Coming into the Old Town, there was an outdoor escalator down to the beach, which was a novelty for all of us, and by the beach was a 5D cinema. I thought it would be a bit too scary for Eva but she was the one who loved it the most. At 5Euro per person for 5 minutes, it was pricey but we really hadn’t spent any cash at all since we’d arrived so that was OK. Especially as Eva says it was the best part of the holiday for her.

We chose the Wild West Rollercoaster and it was..intense. You’re strapped into theme park-style seats and given 3D glasses so it really feels like you’re on a tiny cart, rattling through the mountains. The 5th Dimension element – a bit of water squirted in the face – was underwhelming but the overall effect was convincing, if nauseating.

The plan was to go for ice cream straight afterwards but three of us were feeling a bit sick so we wandered around the town for a while first. We visited an art gallery where all the paintings were made with coffee and a shop that sold gigantic versions of Eva’s unicorn Fantastia. I mean, almost as big as Eva. We did not purchase it. But eventually we felt well enough for a yummy ice cream from Sailor Ices on the main town square:

And after that we visited the famous cliff elevator, which really was just a lift on a beach. I mean, the views were cool but not overwhelming. It was free though, so can’t complain.

That’s pretty much all I need to blog about. Compared to the Calais trip, it all went very smoothly and successful trips don’t make the best blog posts. There was one glitch when we arrived in Faro and our transfer driver was not waiting for us as promised – if you ever book a transfer with Best Airport Transfers, always read the small print and realise that you have to check in at their desk before you get a driver. There will be no-one with a sign with your name on it.

Apart from that, a good holiday I thought. Which is why it’s taken a month to post about it…Happy half term!

 

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