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The Algarve. Deflated chests in Albuferia and Vilamoura.

3rd October 2012
Seville, Spain


The Algarve.

Deflated chests in Albuferia and Vilamoura.

From the lusty lesbians of Lagos we set of for Albufeira a little further down the Algarve coast. There was no wind but we had more sunshine in a few hours than cringes caused by Donald Trump on Twitter. It was good to dispose of the tee-shirt and feel the sun on your skin.


Vertical sailing or idiot?

Sailing on the Algarve

Swinging off Albuferia

Our son also found a new sport he loves which he calls vertical sailing. We just call it him being a “total fruit bat”. As the boat is sailing along he ties himself to the side of Cygnus via a rope from the top of the mast. This allows him to push out and jump from one end of the boat to the other over the sea. Initially there were a few disasters with him hitting the boat at all sorts of painful angles but luckily no blood (otherwise he would have been cleaning it off no matter what bodily part he had dismembered). Now he has it down to pat and skims over the water like a flying fish.


Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal

Albufeira marina is in the middle of the Algarve and secreted behind a well-protected hill down a canal. It is a little out of the main town and pretty quiet which was nice after the hustle and hussies of Lagos marina. Cliff Richard apparently lives nearby and sells his own wines locally and I don’t mean his records. We were shown a boat which is supposed to be his but I have my doubts.


Albuferia is more British than Britain and that’s not good

Albufeira beach views

Albufeira beach views

When we later walked into the main town we also walked into a complete culture shock. It was more British than Britain. The only difference was that this was in the sun and had no Polish shops. The supermarkets including Lidle and Iceland sold every conceivable English food including mushy peas. The chalk board menus listed genuine Danish bacon, real Lincolnshire pork and sawdust sausages washed down with PG Tips. There were happy hours, bad Elvis impersonators and English music everywhere. The only thing missing were shell suits, but that was only because they would have melted in the heat. The beach had lifts and escalators down and up for the hordes of rooster red Brits who could not manage a few stairs after their cooked breakfasts. The beach was awash with tattoos and the only six packs we saw were the cans of Carlsberg being carried. The women stood parading their deflated chest balloons which were hanging like flags without wind. It was as if somehow we had been transported to a Blackpool on the Algarve only there was no tower and let’s be honest here, that is the only good thing about Blackpool. We could not leave the town quick enough to get back to the marina.


You need to get out of Albuferia to find the real Algarve

Algarve Chav

Dressed for Albuferia

What we did find half way up the undeveloped hill overlooking the marina was a fisherman’s social club. They take the local catch every day and the fisherman themselves take turns at serving. They may have the bedside skills of Sweeney Todd as they throw your food down in front of you but the excellent fresh fish is served at a very cheap price. Please just don’t tell anyone else about it.

Albuferia was not the place for us so we left and made the short passage to Vilamoura. Aiden was  again doing his vertical sailing act along the side of the boat. We knew Vilamoura was going to be another Brit enclave as we had stayed there on a weekend break some six years before. At that time we stayed in a five-star hotel and I remember thinking what would be like to sail there. We were also meeting some friends, Jon and Danielle who we had met in Lisbon.


Vilamoura. A town built round a marina

Vilamoura still has all the Brit trappings but it is more Harrods than Primark compared to Albuferia. It is purpose built around the marina with beautiful long golden Algarve beaches which have giant four poster beds on them! In summer Vilamoura marina is probably the most expensive marina on the Algarve. October however falls in their winter months and was relatively cheap. We had a good time with Jon and Danielle and caught up over a good few beers and Sangria. We even managed to give Jon one of the only headaches he has ever had. He described it as like spending a night with Oliver Reed and Peter O’Tool although we are still trying to work out who is who?


The Algarve is all about tourists

We knew further up the Algarve coast in Faro were unspoilt parts of Portugal but as winter was approaching we needed to move on. We did promise ourselves we would visit these creeks and estuaries if we came ever came back. We have been told that it is a world away from the touristic Algarve everyone sees and back to a truer picture of Portugal.

It has to be said that the natural landscape of the Algarve is beautiful and the beaches are some of the best in the world. Even the cruising area is amazing. It can be the ideal destination for some. It is a little England in the sun but personally it is not the place for us. For now we needed to escape this coast and its commercialism to find something more natural.


Back to the future… Portugal to Spain

Portugal had been good to us and the locals were always friendly. We don’t know what it was but there was always something a little false about the places we had visited. Most of the locals spoke English and even the TV showed English films. We just felt, I suppose that they had given up too much of their own identity and become a little too British.  We decided we needed to sail onward and back into Spain where the locals had always made us feel so welcome and they had kept their own definable culture.

The next stop would be Rota in Spain; a good overnight’s sail away. We needed to put some distance between us and the 9 carat gold chained “Keith’s” and mascara clad, Prada bag carrying “Sharon’s” of the Algarve.

If you would like to see more images of Albuferia then click here



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  1. Great description and I love the picture. I would also like to try the swinging from end to end of the sailboat like your son is doing, that actually looks life fun.

  2. a note to horaciomateus – what’s wrong with Erie – you’ve got Erieau (eerie-oh if we’re being honest) if you’re up on the Canadian side, and those islands on the US side to the east of Cleveland with everyone getting naked…

    1. Wally,
      Well, you’re right. There’s nothing wrong with Lake Erie, but I prefer the Portuguese coast.
      I did cross Lake Erie – from Port Dover to Erie (the city) – a couple of times, but I must admit I didn’t explore it that much other than places around Port Dover.
      Besides, the naked people east of Cleaveland would probably look a whole lot better clothed.

  3. Mark,
    You visited Algarve’s “English towns” and your description, although quite entertaining, is quite accurate. I don’t mind it so much because, for me, it’s like going to the UK…and not all chest balloons are deflated, I’d swear some of the women would float away if silicone weren’t so heavy!
    I’ve been to all those places by car (mostly in low season), but only to Lagos by boat. I like the Algarve in summer – by boat – because I anchor at Sagres, Alvor, Portimão, Culatra, Alcoutim (upriver) and a couple of other places. Not to mention the ports on the way to and from the Algarve.
    Being a sailor on a short leash, it’s the best I can do…sure beats sailing around Lake Erie, Canada.

    1. I think for sailing the Algarve is pretty darn good but the towns there just put me off. They are essentially wonderful old towns that have given in to tourists and money. I would love to have been there before it all became so commercialised.
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

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