Newsletter February 2008

by: Carol Carpenter

After our disastrous Christmas and a very bad start to the New Year after suffering from a really bad tummy bug we are now back on form. This has been helped by the glorious weather we have enjoyed since the 2nd week of January. Every morning we have enjoyed breakfast outside in the sunshine, whilst listening to the news and weather reports for the UK. We definitely do not miss the English winters and hope the weather improves for you all very soon.

Carvoeiro has been very quiet this winter with a lot of Bars closed along with the usual restaurants. Our friend’s, who have been staying in Villamoura for three weeks and joining us for the weekends, informed us that both Albufeira and Villamoura have also been very quiet. We took them into the village on Saturday night but it was like taking them to a ghost town it was absolutely dead. The only bars that were lively were Habana – not one of my favourites, The Irish Times and the Anteak Bar, where an 18th birthday party was in full swing. After a few pints in there we decided to go on to Donatos in Sesmaries, as they are open from 11pm until 4am for Tapas - we should have stayed in the Anteak Bar where a full buffet was brought out just as we left, as Donato was only cooking Pizza that night!! After our late night snack and listening to the local workers playing their guitars in return for a meal, we decided to call it a night. The next weekend we returned to find that Charley’s Bar and Sully’s had also closed. The reason for Sully’s being closed was probably due to the fact it is now under new management, nevertheless we were so surprised to find Carvoeiro this quiet.

We said a fond farewell to Severine – known as Thunderbolt on the forum. We met up with her and some friends in the Inside café - apparently this was her third farewell party!! Her job has taken her to North Carolina for a few years and I am sure she will do well. We wish her all the best for the future and hope she will visit the Algarve again soon. Unfortunately there is not a lot to report on Carvoeiro as it has been so quiet. The ice-cream parlour is looking rather smart after the refit - I would be very tempted to try the waffles and crepes if only I wasn’t on a diet. There are rumours that one or two establishments are closing but until all bars and restaurants start reopening I cannot confirm this. A good sign though is that Smilers bar has reopened, so the rest will follow and Carvoeiro will eventually awaken from her winter sleep. We took our friends up to Algar Seco and stayed for lunch. The lunch menu is basically the same as are the prices but the evening menu tends toward French with dishes like Chateaubriand and stuffed mushrooms with Escargot plus several pasta dishes and the prices are a little higher. According to the very friendly Portuguese waiter with a lovely smile they are trying something a little different to their restaurant at Clube Atlantico. It was very busy and I hope it works out well for them.
The Refugio dos Burros opened its third charity shop in the Lagoa area. Situated on the out road of Carvoeiro just before the Moto-Rent shop it is open between 10am and 6pm. Probably better described as a second hand furniture showroom than just a charity shop, the sanctuary’s latest venture is currently thriving. Beautiful nearly new and second hand furniture can be found in excellent condition along with the traditional rails of clothing, bric-a-brac, ornaments and books.

Portugal’s smoking ban is now in force and is expected to cause a surge in the sale of anti smoking products. Both Italy and Spain had a 30 per cent increase in sales of these products during the first six months. However, the law states that smoking areas can be created in some establishments. Smoking areas can be designated up to 30 per cent of the total space or up to 40 per cent of the space if the smoking area is completely separate for indoor public establishments larger than 100sqm. Any establishment measuring less than 100sqm must choose the designation and can opt for the establishment to be smoking friendly. In this case, signs must be posted prior to entry and within; there must be walls or separations and ventilation units. According to the food and safety officers from ASAE, the law is balanced as “proprietors will be able to decide whether their establishments are for smokers or not and in the case of mixed spaces, will have to comply with the conditions”. Smokers who ignore the new regulations could face fines between 50 and 70 euros.

The closure of the “Old Bridge” over the Arade River last year, has caused a heavy build up of traffic especially on the roads surrounding Portimao’s Barlovento Hospital. In March there will be a new form of commuting, in the shape of a catamaran, for the thousands of inhabitants that populate the two sides of the Arade River, Portimao, Lagoa, Ferragudo and Parchal. Commuting by boat was put forward as a solution to relieve long unnecessary journeys as well as help relieve the intense traffic build up in and out of the city via one single route. It is estimated that the catamaran will carry up to 120 people at any one time and will cross parallel to the old bridge. Journeys will be more frequent during peak times, with 30 crossings a day.

The Penina aerodrome near Alvor will be the venue for the 7th Portuguese SkySurf Cup held in conjunction with the 3rd SkySurf Pro Tour in February. The airfield has become an important sky-diving centre over the last 10 years, with many English and German clubs visiting on a regular basis during winter and spring. If anyone would like to try Skydiving you can have a twin jump with an instructor at a cost of 190 euros. For more information Tel 00351-916521545 or email

Although I have not supplied any photographs this month, I will make up for it next month, as it is the start of Carnaval here in the Algarve. Everyone is getting ready to party and it’s a really fun time. Loule is the largest and the most colourful so I hope to have some great photos for next months Newsletter. The trees are all in blossom at the moment and look really beautiful. They are a little early this year, probably due to all the rain before Christmas but they are a welcome sight and summer might come earlier.