Newsletter August 2006

by: Karen Telling

Well, the football is just a distant memory now, but back at the beginning of July the Portuguese certainly celebrated their victory over England, and although they were subsequently defeated by France, the Portuguese flags continued to fly long after Italy had lifted the World Cup. As the football fever subsided, the summer visitors started to arrive in ever-increasing numbers - filling the beaches, bars, shops and restaurants, and the weather grew hotter with daytime temperatures in the mid-thirties and still in the early-mid twenties at night.

On 6 July, some friends arrived from the UK for a week’s break in Carvoeiro. As their flight landed at 7pm at Faro, we got to Casa Algarvia in time for a late dinner around 9.30, and managed to get a table outside. We could hear live music coming from Flic Flac bar - Klonakilty were playing, and it sounded like they were getting a great reception from those listening in the bar.

Still in the midst of renovations at home, we took a trip to Leroy Merlin (another large new DIY store which has opened next to Makro and opposite Algarve Shopping) that weekend. Along with AKI at Portimão Retail Park, there is now a much wider range of products than were previously available in the area, and hopefully more competitive prices too. Both AKI and Leroy Merlin are worth a visit if you are looking for anything from soft furnishings to bathroom fittings, and power tools to garden furniture. With the forthcoming opening of some new supermarkets in the area, we will soon have almost as much choice here as there is in the UK!

On the evening of 9 July we met up with friends in Rascals for a few after dinner drinks and could hear live music drifting up from the square - Ricardo, a previous winner of the Portuguese version of ‘Pop Idol’ was singing to a large and appreciative audience. So far, I haven’t seen a programme of the planned entertainment for the summer, but there seems to be something going on most evenings, and the stage is a permanent fixture on the beach, just next to the square. The market stalls and artists seem to have been moved to an area on Estrada do Farol, between the Carvoeiro Sol hotel and the jewellers, and I even spotted a live ‘statue’ outside Smilers.

Please find the photos here (opens new window).

The following day was quite overcast and humid, and to celebrate a friend’s birthday we went to Rei das Praias at Caneiros beach for dinner. Fortunately we had booked a table (always recommended at this restaurant) as it got very busy, and we were seated at the window, watching families still playing on the beach and in the sea until quite late in the evening. I noticed some new, wooden loungers for hire on the beach, along with a large, double lounger with circular mattress under a canopy – the height of luxury beach furniture in prime position close to the water’s edge. Apparently this bed is free to hire for the day – with the obligatory purchase of a bottle of Moët e Chandon costing 70 euros! Perhaps a bit of indulgence for a special birthday or anniversary? After a lovely meal of tiger prawns, seafood rice and home made desserts we went into Ferragudo for coffee and liqueurs in the square. There wasn’t any live music, but the square was still very busy with locals and tourists enjoying the warm evening and the lively atmosphere.
The next day continued overcast and humid, and by the afternoon we even had a rumble of thunder and a short, but heavy shower – quite unusual for the Algarve in July, but the sun soon shone again on the 12th and the temperatures rose again to 36-38 degrees. Along with the high temperatures came warnings of high UV levels. The UV Index, which measures the strength of the ultra violet rays, goes up to a maximum of 11 – a figure exceeded in Madeira and parts of the Alentejo - and the rest of the country was rated between 8 and 10. With the sun at its strongest between 12 and 4, everyone was advised to cover up or stay indoors, but there was little evidence of the warnings being heeded! That evening we went for our regular meal at Bella Vita – excellent as usual, followed by cocktails at Havana bar, which was full, keeping Craig and Jenny very busy!
One of the well-known difficulties of living in Portugal is dealing with the never-ending bureaucracy – even the simplest tasks can become extremely complicated and time consuming, and one that affects almost everyone is the purchase of car tax or ‘selo’. In Portugal, everyone renews their car tax at the same time – usually in June or July, but the exact dates change each year and you have to watch for announcements in the newspapers and on TV. Once the dates are known you have to queue at the local Finanças with your car registration documents, fiscal number, and payment. In the last few years the number of places where you can buy the ‘selo’ has increased to include some newsagents and Freguesias (Carvoeiro included) and now you can even pay online! I decided to go to the Freguesia, but on my first attempt I arrived at ten past two, to find that they stopped issuing tax discs at two o’clock. I returned a few days later – only a couple of days before the deadline - produced the relevant documents and filled in the form, only to find that they had run out of tax discs for my car. I left my telephone number, expecting a call the next day when they had more supplies, but then read in the Correio da Manhã that it was a national problem and the whole country had run out of ‘selos’ – not just the Freguesia de Carvoeiro. The situation was so bad that the deadline for purchasing the ‘selo’ was extended to the end of July – and following extremely long queues at the Finanças on the 31st, it has now been extended again until 14 August. I finally got a call on 18 July, and rushed straight to the Freguesia – before two o’clock – and came out clutching the precious stamp; success at last and the car is legal again – until next year!
Towards the end of the month we went to Barnard’s in Ferragudo for the first time – this is another restaurant that has been recommended to us on many occasions but somehow we have never managed to get there until now! We were lucky to get a table on the terrace in front of the restaurant, and had a lovely meal including delicious home-made desserts, the menu also includes a good choice of vegetarian dishes – not always easy to find in local restaurants. We were so impressed that we took advantage of their ready meal service, and ordered several items of home cooked food for the freezer. After dinner we went into Ferragudo square – this time there was live music in the square, and there was hardly space to squeeze through the crowds.

Please find the photos here (opens new window).

On the 31st we decided to try Le Mistral, on the ‘out’ road of Carvoeiro, having heard some very good reports since it re-opened earlier in the year. When we got there the restaurant was completely full – and so busy that it wasn’t even worth waiting at the bar for an empty table! The food, being cooked on an open grill next to the entrance, looked very good, and I’m sure we’ll be back soon to give it a try – maybe we’ll book next time! Still hungry, we went up the hill to Maxines, and had a very enjoyable meal there – rounded off with the best Irish coffee in Carvoeiro, prepared at the table. We then strolled back down to the beach, where crowds were listening to live music on the stage.

Please find the photos here (opens new window).

Following the success of the Car Treasure Hunt at Easter, Gambrinus and Roy4eyes were able to present a cheque for 500 euros to the Pirilampos children’s home in Albufeira during July, and are hoping to organise further fund-raising events in the future for this very worthy cause – check the Events section of the forum. Unfortunately the home is over-populated and under-funded, and is in need of structural repairs, play equipment and items of children’s clothing - if any forum members are able to help in any way, please contact for further details.