Newsletter February 2015 Primary tabs

Margarida Sampaio @


They say that mid January is the most depressing time of the year and I guess for many people around the world this can be a grim time, but luckily for us in Carvoeiro we have been blessed with some pretty good weather this past month, even if it has been blowing an arctic gale if you are out in the open or standing on top of a cliff top (not something that should be done when the gale is blowing may I add).

They also say (They being the Daily Mail in general) that mid January is the time that most people are not only likely to give up on their New Year’s resolutions, it is also the time that those in cooler climbs longing for an escape to the grey skies and muddy roads book their summer breaks so I hope that everyone has been onto the internet and searching for cheap flights to Faro!


To be fair, there is not exactly a lot going on in Carvoeiro during January, especially not when compared to the bustling summer months and manic times of August but there one thing that people tend to love about our little town is that it doesn’t close for the winter entirely and that there is still something going on – even if you have to look a little harder than usual for it.

This month we had the annual celebrations to mark the anniversary of the Sociadade Recriativa de Carvoeiro – the Portuguese equivalent – sort of – of a working mans club.  The little bar and dance area complete with ping pong table and tables for playing heated games of cards, is located above the Indian clothing shop on Rua dos Pescadores, just before the pharmacy and is open for anyone to pop in and say hello or to enjoy a drink especially at carnival time when there is a great atmosphere and all ages getting down on the dance floor.

The place itself is named 20 Janeiro and this is the day that the anniversary is celebrated on and this year marked 80 years since it opened its doors to the local people of Carvoeiro which was celebrated of course with a “baile”, an evening of dance and traditional music usually accompanied by at least an accordion or two!

If you are about in Carvoeiro and want to see some of the local faces then it is always worth heading up the stairs and being brave enough to slip around the corner to see what is going on – and if you are here this month then be sure to pop in around Carnival time.


If there is one thing you can rely upon in Carvoeiro is that while pretty much everything always stays the same in the town, everything is always changing (just a little bit!).

This month we have seen works steaming ahead to form a new shop – Praça Velha II – to which I am taking a wild guess and assuming that it will be along the same lines of the original Praça Velha  - the Old Pottery Market on the in and the out road with the blue railings and the huge collection of pottery, souveniers and other bits and bobs that is a treasure trove of goodies for most and a scene of horror for anyone in possession of a child between the ages of 0 and 12.

The new shop is being built pretty much into the rock face at the bottom of Rua da Escola (opposite the cat hotel and the bins) and is a welcome addition to the town, not least because it has final seen them finishing off this building that has stood in a state of half built for a number of years and wasn’t exactly a shining example of the town for anyone coming in to visit or for any of us that live here either.

There are no doubt far too many unfinished buildings in the local area which I find myself constantly moaning about so at least there is one more off the list!

There has also been a good deal of work going on along Rua do Barranco between the tobacco shop and the little Lolita jewellery shop.  Where there was once a little dilapidated single story building squeezed between the new apartment blocks there is now a gaping hole, a good few cracked tiles, lots of mud and a general health and safety hazard that only Portugal would allow.

There were tales of burst water pipes with dramatic spurting water as builders smashed the beautiful, reasonably new paving stones as they removed the last traces of the property.  No news yet as to what it will be when it finally becomes a building again but it is likely it won’t be another quaint little house and is far more likely to be a mini apartment block in a similar style to those already along this part of the road – I will leave it up to you to decide if this is a good or a bad result for the town.

We have also had a lot of movement in casa Algarvia on the O Farol opposite Chef António, with the previous management moving out after many years and some new blood taking over in the soon to reopen restaurant.

This place used to have a real buzz about it that had been diminishing gradually over the years, not least thanks to the recession I am sure, so let’s hope that some new life will help to return this gem of a restaurant back to its best again.

And finally we have the situation at the Tivoli, what use to be known as the Almansor hotel at the top of the O Farol and on the way to Rocha Brava.  For years the hotel has been a favourite for many and if you have never stayed there or been to a wedding there (they seem to happen every couple of days during the summer) then it is well worth just nipping in for a coffee to sit on the amazing terrace and take pictures of yourself to post on social media that will make friends without a stunning view of a giant cave, aqua marine waters and crumbling cliffs, feel a little queasy and consider unfriending you.

This grand old hotel has had its future in doubt for some years but now it appears to have finally been sold to a Thai group, along with other Tivoli holdings in the region and what will happen next is anyone’s guess – let’s just hope that the new investors can see its potential and at the very least keep it open and in a best possible scenario – they rip the whole place out and give it a fantastic face lift to encourage a whole new lot of visitors to discover Carvoeiro.


The new Apólonia supermarket that is being built between Lagoa and Carvoeiro is coming along very nicely now.  Sadly they have put up hoardings around the site so it is harder to take a peek at the progress without nearly causing a traffic accident or parking up at Aldi.

It has been reported that the project represents an investment of around nine million euros into the site, an amount that is certainly not to be sniffed at and the signs have already been posted up looking for people to work in the new store when it opens and offering secure jobs for local people which can be no bad thing in a town that struggles with seasonality.

Many will be rejoicing at having the chance to shop in such a high end supermarket, if you have ever visited the other branches of the supermarket in Guia or in their flag ship of Almancil then you will know that it is pretty impressive (along with the gasp inducing prices most of the time) but just how this is going to affect the local Intermarché is going to be interesting.  Let’s hope that there is enough custom to go around for everyone and that perhaps the proximity of so many supermarkets together will encourage some more competitive pricing.


If you have been into Lagoa recently you may noticed that a good part of the city has been dug up and it has been announced this month that the traffic system in Lagoa will be changing to a new one way route around the notoriously skinny streets.

If you are worried about missing an appointment because you have to drive around three times before you work out where you are, or would like to know more about the new traffic plan then visit the Lagoa Câmara website (only in Portuguese) where there is a useful map available ( You have been warned!


In my book February is generally even more grim than grey January days but luckily here in Carvoeiro we have the antidote in the form of Carnival!

The Brits may celebrate with a pancake and a dusting of sugar – I know this still happens because my Facebook feed is filled with pictures of homemade stacks of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday (stop that by the way) – but here in the Algarve Fat Tuesday is celebrated with men dressed as women, women dressed as dubious women, children dressed as super heroes and princesses the rest of the men dressed as babies!

This year in Carvoeiro it will all be starting on Friday, 13th February at 9.30pm with a traditional style dance at the Sociadade, and another the following evening – same time, same place – if you would rather sack off a romantic dinner for two in favour of some cheap beer and wine and dancing with your cousin instead.

On the Sunday, 15th February there will be the big parade through the streets, scheduled to start at 3.30pm and if it follows the pattern of previous yeas the floats and revelers will walk down from the municipal market then along Rua do Barranco and cut through to Rua dos Pescadores before doing it over again for a couple more hours.

The past couple of years have seen some pretty impressive floats from the locals and a great turn out to support them too, so it is well worth coming down and parking a little earlier (as the roads are closed for the parade) and then watching with a couple of beers and a statutory spit roasted piggy sandwich.

At 5pm there is then going to be entertainment in the street – I have no idea what this will entail as it could be anything from Danny riding around on his bicycle wearing a sexually explicit costume, to a man with a donkey and an accordion – all the way up to fire eaters and stilt walkers – we will just have to wait and see!

Monday, 16th February is not an official bank holiday but it is likely that a lot of shops and businesses will be closed on this day in what is known as a “ponte” or bridge day between a weekend and the actual bank holiday which falls on the Tuesday.

Tuesday, 17th February is the official day for carnival but the same proceedings will be repeated as those that took place on the Sunday.  If you missed the Sunday then here is your second chance to get involved, if you were already there on Sunday, then you known the best place to stand to get a beer quickly and to avoid being hit in the eye with a rogue boiled sweet thrown off a float.


Thank you to everyone for joining in the conversations with me on the forum, it is great to hear some new voices and to of course hear the wisdom from the more seasoned users!  This month I have posted a new topic that I would love to hear your opinions on and I think would help those interested in perhaps coming to Carvoeiro for the first time to make their choice.

So if you want to join in, then visit the forum!

I am off now to stick some feathers onto some skimpy clothing in a bid to try and finally outshine Danny at Carnival…..