Newsletter April 2013
Margarida Sampaio @
If you have been lucky enough to have been in Carvoeiro over the past month then you are probably reading this while squeezing out wet socks and trying to dry off damp clothing because the weather has been unseasonably bad leaving many people with heads bowed and very few smiles about in the town!
I know we are in Europe and therefore we can’t expect for Caribbean weather, especially not in March but the long grey days of the past month have certainly put a damper on things which has been a shame because there has actually been a lot going on in Carvoeiro over the past month.
Firstly we have had a glut of new businesses opening in and around Carvoeiro with the most prominent of these being the Aldi supermarket on the road between Carvoeiro and Lagoa. The insane roundabouts almost seem like a good idea now, especially on the opening day when the cars were parked up along all sides of the roads as people desperately fought their way into the supermarket to try and pick up possible bargains.
I drove past on the first day but decided to give the supermarket a wide berth until the fever had died down and went in a few days later and was actually pleasantly surprised. Aldi is a discount supermarket that I haven’t actually been in to in the Algarve very many times but this new supermarket was light and bright and had a very good choice of fresh fruit and veggies as well as some interesting offerings in the freezer department and lots of different tinned and jarred goods. Some of the items were cheaper than in other supermarkets while others weren’t which means I will still be shopping at six different supermarkets each week to get the best deals.
One word of warning to anyone coming to the area in the future and shopping in Aldi – they currently do not accept foreign cards for payment, only Portuguese multi banco cards or cash. There is no cash machine in the supermarket so if you are shopping here then remember to stop at a bank on the way before you do your shopping and then have to leave your children as insurance against your shopping trolley contents while you hunt down cash.
While Aldi was busy stealing the local trade away from the regular suspects, Intermarché were busy upping their game and making the supermarket look all sparkly and new. To be honest they were going to have to do something to attract trade to the supermarket and after 12 years to say the place looked tired was a compliment.
The upgrades at Intermarché have been met with a mixture of pleasure and fear by those who have ventured in since it closed for a days to make the changes. On the while the place is looking very smart and the new fish area and butchers area look very good and function much more smoothly now.
The main problem now in Intermarché is the new floor as you enter. The rather fetching shiny black tiles look as lethal as they actually are and I worry about anyone entering with a grain of sand in their flip flop or with wet feet in the summer - perhaps the solution is to make sure you get a trolley from outside to act as a shopping zimmer frame and to ensure a safe journey into the new aisles.
One of the best changes in the supermarket has to be all the new fridge cabinet that keep the food at a good and even temperature while the cakes and bread counter now extends round to both inside the shop and on the other side of the tills making this far more practical. Whatever the changes that are made you know this will still be the busiest place on earth on a Saturday morning in August and you won´t even be able to see the slippy black floor at this time.
While the big boys have been making huge changes the smaller businesses in Carvoeiro have also seen changes with new businesses opening, reopening or upgrading in preparation for the summer season.
Both Harrys Bar and Hemingways bar have smartened up this past month with Harrys getting a new lick of paint and Hemingways now boasting some rather lovely sturdy wooden tables inside now, meanwhile Tapas Bar has had some major refurbishments and has been very busy since reopening.
We also have new businesses opening in Carvoeiro with two new hairdressers opening in the past month, one on the “out” road near to harry Bar and another on the “in” road near to Casa Melanie Chinese shop, where the old sports shop used to be.
Both the hairdressers have already had connections in Carvoeiro but the new salons look lovely, bright, clean and modern and area welcome addition to the village.
Also new is a new Indian restaurant on the “in” road in the building that used to have the Irish Times. I have heard good reports so far from this Indian and it will probably prove to be very popular, especially with those who don’t fancy walking up the hill to the other Indian!
Also on the “in” road we have the newly opened Absolutely Bar, now under new management and benefitting from being refurbished. The opening night was a great success at the end of March with the Champagne flowing so let’s hope that the bar continues to see success as the season progresses.
The final new business for Carvoeiro this month is the newly opened Petit Prince children’s clothing and accessories shop on Rua do Barranco, the “in” road near to the ice cream shops. This shop is owned by the same people who also have Lolita jewelers and L’Atelier clothing also on the same street. As you would expect from the same family of owners this little shop is adorable and has a beautiful selection of children’s clothes from delicate little dresses to the sweetest looking shoes. However if you are more used to dressing your little ones in hand me downs and Primarks best then you probably won’t find the prices as alluring as the dresses in the window.
But the award for the biggest refurbishment of the month has to go to Carvoeiro Clube de Tenis who pulled out all the stops for a great grand reopening party with free food and drink all afternoon at the end of the month.
In between guzzling German beer and after wiping away the grease from mu chicken piri-piri I had a look at the changes and they are pretty impressive with a new reception and lounge area, new floor in the dance studio, new surfaces on the tennis courts and work now starting to completely revamp the gym.
They have certainly been busy at the club and the lure of free food and drink certainly worked to get as many faces as possible back up to the club to see the new changes.
March was also the month of darts in Carvoeiro with both the presentation for the winners of the Carvoeiro darts league taking place and also memorial darts in honour of Pat who used to work in Hemingways and passed away three years ago.
Acordeão Bar were the hosts of the prizes for the three different darts leagues that play in Carvoeiro during the winter months and it was like a who´s who of Carvoeiro in the bar with residents of all ages and nationalities coming out for some beers and sandwiches and to pick up their trophies.
Congratulations in the end to Harrys bar 2 team who were the overall winners after finishing in the top spot of the first league and well done to all that were involved not only in playing the darts all through the winter but also to Evert and John for organising the league once again.
The same week also saw sixteen mixed pairs come out on a cold evening to play in the memorial darts tournament in honour of Pat which took place in Hemingways. After many games, some of which had to be played in Harrys bar, it came down to the final and Sharon from Hemingways and her darts partner Richard were the winners.
I have never seen such a serious match or two players who have wanted to win a shield to sit in a bar more than these two who openly admitted that they “really wanted to win!” at the start of the evening. And after three years of trying the pair finally were triumphant – well done Sharon and Richard!
Outside the bars and into the streets we had not one but two fairs held in Carvoeiro in March. The first was the “Spring” fair and the second was the Easter fair that took place until the end of the month to mark the long weekend.
The bad weather of the month meant that there were not as many people as we would have hoped visiting the fairs that had the usual mixture of handicrafts, cakes and goodies; however the fairs still had a good turn out between the rain.
The Easter fair also brought bouncy castles onto the beach which was a great attraction for children over this period and showed that the people of Carvoeiro are still working to do something a little special for people who visit the town for their holidays.
This month marks a very special date for Carvoeiro.com; it is the 15th anniversary of the site! Steen has asked me to pass on his thanks to everyone who has supported the site over the past 15 years to all the advertisers and users who have made it such a special source of information for Carvoeiro and the local area.
When the site was first launched it was pretty cutting edge and I know I would spend many an hour pressing the refresh button on my computer to see the new picture from the webcam while avoiding all calls to my home phone which was in constant use thanks to the internet connection (I of course had to get my mum’s permission to use the internet at that point because I was so young!)
A lot has changed in the past 15 years but Carvoeiro.com continues to be an invaluable source of information for visitors and residents and over the years a real community has developed through the forums on the site making it a unique place for everyone who loves Carvoeiro.
So let’s hear it for Carvoeiro.com and raise our mice, tablets and smartphones in appreciation of Steen!
I am off now for a well-earned rest after all the excitement of the past month and will be back in May with more tales from Carvoeiro,