Friday, February 25, 2011

Holiday in Portugal

San Rafael Beach, Albufeira, Portugal
For the past month, as many of you know, I have been in Portugal on holiday.  We went to Albufeira in the south of Portugal which is known for its large number of sunny days and warm weather.  The average temperature in February is 16 degrees Celsius or 61 F with 7 hours of sunshine.  More weather info.

Arriving from the depth of winter and snow in Toronto this is pretty exciting.   It was cool at night when we first got there on Jan 24th but by 10.30am, most days, it had warmed up enough to sit in a sheltered spot outside in a tee shirt. Yesterdays temperature was 22C/71F. I knew we should have stayed longer!

Stormy Clouds over the beach
We loved to sit and have a coffee or lunch while watching and listening to the sea. The coffee that is available cheaply everywhere is fabulous and always made through an espresso machine.  An Americano is around $2 US including tax and there is not a Starbucks in sight!  The local Portuguese wine from Alentejo is also inexpensive.  We had many bottles for $2.80 US that were fine for everyday enjoyment.  I love the way the prices include tax and that tipping is almost optional and certainly not 15 to 20%. 

Almond and fig goodies at the market in Loule.
One thing that really impressed us too is how lovely the Portuguese people are and how helpful they are to English speaking tourists.  We had four or five women helping us find sesame seeds in the supermarket one day along with lots of smiles and laughter and we tried to explain what they were for and what they looked like.

One of the nice lunch spots
I couldn't stop taking photos of the beaches.  They are beautiful and at this time of the year almost people free.  There are wonderful rock formations and long stretches of golden sand.  The picture below is taken at the Fort of Henry the Navigator at Sagres west of Albufeira.  It is a stunning place to visit with its sheer cliffs and lonely position.

Church at Sagres at the Fort 
There is so much to see in the area.from the local culture to castles and roman ruins and I will post some photos and info about them in another post.
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