Travel-bug Tales: In search of Nata Tarts in Albufeira (Portugal)!
Hello and welcome back my lovely darlings! Whilst my
blogspot blog is still undergoing the rather complex custom domain transition to become WalkingInMay.com I have decided to continue with posts writing as usual.....and in an unexpected fashion it happens to be another travel post as I am yet to disclose all on my little trip to Portugal (after the 3week American series). I have always wanted to visit Portugal actually, but unlike other people of sensible minds, my reason was not mainly the beach or the weather.....it was because of my love for Eggtarts and that the Portuguese version of the custard Nata tart was something I just had to try! So when my lovely friend Judita asked where we should go for a holiday this year, I decided to put Portugal on the list of possibilities and luckily enough we found a brilliant deal.....so Portugal it was! Following the advice of another kind friend we finally booked in the Albufeira area, and since it was October we also crossed our fingers to hope for good sunny weather during our 5 days adventure. For those who have been following my blog for a while, you might remember the trip I took with Judita to Montpellier last year and how we stayed with the amazing fellow blogger Olivia! [To catch up on the Montpellier adventure we had last year, please click here: walkinginmay.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/eating-our-way-montpellier]
Getting from Faro Airport to Albufeira was a more complicated process than we thought, eventhough it should have only been about one hour and a half away and we had already done our homework by booking a transfer service online with a website called Resorthoppa. On the booking documents we were informed that there may be a wait at the airport after making contact with their representative but it should not exceed 45 minutes before we would leave the airport to be on our shared shuttle journey towards Albufeira. The reality was far from the promised version.....after an hour waiting in the airport we were led to an old coach bus in the carpark, but the wait on the un-moving bus continued for almost 3 hours with a driver who spoke "No English" as a reply to all questions from an entire bus of English speaking passengers, and no representatives were in sight.....to which by that time we realised we were waiting until the last flight had arrived so that the bus could be filled to the max and other forms of public transport have ended services. Surely that was not the ideal way to begin a holiday, but the challenge did not end there.....the bus finally did move and drove an hour into Albufeira through the darkness, only for us to be alerted by another fellow Brit who has visited Albufeira before that we were actually going around the city in circles. For some unknown reason to us, the driver had the journey of hotels alphabetically mapped out in a list and passengers were being dropped off according to his listed system.....which did not make much sense to us or the other sleepy passengers who also seemed to be in a daze. After another hour of circling the town and the driver not seeming to understand our protest, a fellow passenger decided to confront the driver by chasing him off and around the bus for a while during one of the stops. Being unfruitful in confrontation both men scurried back on for the bus to continue the long circling process again, and shortly after a woman screamed at the driver to let her as well as her two young children off in the middle of not knowing where.....so by the time we reached out hotel it was past 3am and we were utterly exhausted as well as shocked that we were indeed still within Europe. Judita was very impressed by how tolerant us Brits can be even in difficult situations and I made a mental note to complain once I got back to London, then we both drifted off to sleep.
Our first full day in Albufeira was draped in rain, so most of it was spent inside cafes with a book, the view of the rushing sea and a pot of warm tea to keep us entertained. We soon discovered that the city has been transformed into a British tourist destination with most food and drink tailored to British preferences.....English tea, chips, cheese toasties, sandwiches, pizzas and burgers were the identical items on almost every restaurant or cafe we went to! We almost felt brave to try whole calamari, grilled fish, roasted pork with spices and peri-peri chicken.....so there are a few places I can recommend if you ever drop by in Albufeira. The "Openada" cafe is a lovely little place on a secluded street after you have taken the lift up from the beach, where you can watch the waves roll in from a beautiful height and enjoy a cup of tea with a book or some chatter.....staff are relaxed, friendly and accommodatingly nice (photo above). Then there is "Baillott" restaurant near the main street, which has free wifi access, reasonably priced food and entertaining waiters who made us laugh whilst waiting for the food.
The next day, still fearful for the wet and cold autumn, I was prepared with my thick coat and knowingly committed the big fashion sin of wearing tights under my summer sandals.....having packed my luggage more for sunshine than rain it was a compromise I had to make. Though still chilly with strong winds, we had a lucky day of sunshine on the beach and I even discovered how tights can be extremely efficient as a secret weapon to keep your feet utterly sand free! Jumping around in the sand, sitting in the sunshine to watch the sea roar gloriously aloud and having a sweet treat of Nata tarts as well as ice cream, we had a relaxing bit of heaven on earth right there in Albufeira. In the evening, after a dinner of salad, sticky buffalo wings and a glass of famous Portuguese red Port, we took a walk through the sea facing town and as we browsed we were suddenly surprised by a man on a balcony shouting out declarations of love to us.....like girls returning to the days of their youth we waved at him with a glance, turned away and raced down the street giggling our heads off. The following days were filled with a mixture of sunny and rainy weather, so we gratefully spent our time reading on the beach, walking in the rain, eating Nata tarts, drinking tea and watching the sea.
One last place to mention is a restaurant called "Altrium" near the main street.....with a small entrance leading up the staircase we entered a rather grand room with tiled artwork, shiny chandeliers, marble columns, decorated ceiling and glass windowed balconies overlooking the street. The food menu was longer than most other restaurants with a wider selection of local fish or seafood, and though the prices were a little higher, it was certainly a good and tasty dinner. As you can probably tell from the photos (below) it was closer to a fine dining experience, the waiters were politely courteous as well as attentive and on certain days of the week they even have a traditional Portuguese band playing on the old wooden stage.
All in all we had a lovely October break by the sea, which left us wondering where we might have another adventure next year! Before Judita had to return to Vienna, we also had a few days in London to do some shopping and have English as well as Chinese afternoon tea. Now that Christmas is drawing closer, thoughts of presents and putting up the tree becomes more vivid.....also my excitement for the series of Qipao posts soon to come and the fruits of collaboration with some photographers that will be revealed in time. Are you lovely darlings all ready to put up your tree and welcome the New Year? Whatever you might be up to.....have a fabulous weekend my lovely darlings!
|The church near the town centre....Albufeira, Portugal.|
|Tea in the "Openada" cafe overlooking the sea.....Albufeira, Portugal.|
|The cliffs near the beach.....Albufeira, Portugal.|
|A platform to watch the sea.....Albufeira, Portugal.|
|We loved all the beautiful tiled artwork on the buildings.....Albufeira, Portugal.|
|Watching the clouds on the beach.....Albufeira, Portugal.|
|Ta-da! Albufeira town on a sunnier October day.....Portugal.|
|Flowing in the sand of time.....Albufeira, Portugal.|
|Pretending to be the ice cream Liberty Lady.....Albufeira, Portugal.|
|On the beach for some sun.....Albufeira, Portugal.|
|At the beautiful dining room of "Altrium" restaurant.....Albufeira, Portugal.|
|"Altrium" restaurant with a stage for traditional Portuguese bands to perform...Albufeira.|
|Munching on a high chicken kebab in Altrium restaurant.....Albufeira, Portugal.|
|A sand sculpted display in the town centre.....Albufeira, Portugal.|
|The famous Portuguese custard Nata Tart at our favourite breakfast bakery by the church...Albufeira, Portugal.|
|Ah...caught by the cold sea water! (Albufeira, Portugal)|
|Judita and me at the beach.....Albufeira, Portugal.|
Until the next time,
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