While I’m away in England I try to visit as many European countries as I can. The opportunity is so much greater to see Europe while I’m away, so I figure I might as well take it all in.
A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I were brainstorming where we could travel to next. Portugal came up as somewhere neither of us had been, so we decided to book a hotel in the spur of the moment. With neither of us having much knowledge of Portugal, we decided to book a trip in the Algarve so that we could enjoy a relaxing beach holiday.
Last week my boyfriend and I flew from Manchester, England to Faro, Portugal. We had booked a flight after my boyfriend was done work which meant I had to meet him at the airport. I arrived early to go through Ryanair’s visa check because I am not from the EU. This usually takes at least a half an hour to queue up and get my boarding pass signed, however, on this rare occasion it only took 10 minutes which left me waiting for my boyfriend to arrive for about an hour.
He eventually came to meet me and we decided to go through security and wait on the other side. As we were about to get to the security entrance, our boarding passes wouldn’t scan and we were sent back to the Ryanair desk to get our passes reprinted. This queue was a little longer, but eventually we got everything sorted and waited for our flight.
I absolutely hate flying, I get the worst anxiety, so as soon as our fight was called I couldn’t board the plane quick enough to get the whole flight over with. The flight was about two and a half hours and I was lucky to sleep nearly the entire time.
We landed in Faro, Portugal at around 11:30pm. We quickly went from the plane, through the boarder control and into the arrivals area, looking for the Ryanair transfer we had set up to take us to our hotel. We checked in with them and waited about 20 minutes until we finally left.
Our transfer was full, which meant my boyfriend and I were squished in the front seat with the driver. Our total drive time was about 30 minutes, however, it was the most nerve racking 30 minutes I have ever experienced. My boyfriend fell asleep immediately (he can sleep through anything) and missed all the action. As we were speeding down the road, our driver was overtaking every vehicle it could. As we got closer to our hotel, we were entering a wooded area where a wild rabbit jumped out in front of the van. The driver tried to avoid it, however, there was a loud thump to be heard in the end. Although I was assured by the driver himself, “I didn’t kill it”. By that time I was ready to be at the hotel.
We eventually arrived and went to check in, only to find a lone man behind the counter. I told him my name and gave him my hotel reservations as he started to check us in. When it was time to pay, he told us the total cost, which was 20 euros more expensive than originally thought. By this time I was exhausted and not willing to argue over 20 euros, so I paid, hoping to get to the room immediately. As he was going over our details he continued to tell us about the all inclusive that we would have, and gave us wristbands to prove it. This was another surprise, as I had booked the hotel self catering. I then assumed this was why the 20 euros were added. I couldn’t complain that we had received all inclusive for two of us, for 5 days. We quickly made our way up to our room and called it a night, excited for what Portugal had to offer the next day.
We woke up late and walked into the little town, about 10 minutes away from our hotel. We picked up sunscreens, after-sun, hats and bottles of water so that we were prepared for the Portuguese weather. In the short time we were out, we had gotten a little red and decided to go up to the room to apply our sunscreen and go lay out for the rest of the day.
We laid by the pool all day, dipping in to cool off. There was a buffet for lunch, which we helped ourselves to. This became the theme for our holiday.
Later in the evening we went for dinner before going for a sunset walk along the beach. The beach was only a minute walk away from the hotel, as the hotel was situated on it. When we got back to our room we had a phone call from reception saying they had something for us at the lobby. My boyfriend ran down, only to return with the money we had overpaid the night before. This of course meant that we had been upgraded from self catering, to all inclusive, for free.
The next day and a half rained. We hid under the covered pool where we swam and warmed up. Both nights we enjoyed shows put on by the hotel, featuring dancing and sketch acts.
The last full day we had in Albufeira was full of sun. We alternated from the pool to the beach, back to the pool. Being silly, we forgot to reapply our sunscreen through out the day, and ended up with the worst burns either of us had ever experienced.
On the day of our flight, we had 5 hours to kill. The original plan had been to stay by the pool in the sun, but our burns decided otherwise. We went for lunch and hid in the lobby for the day playing cards and pool, so that we wouldn’t burn any worse.
Our Ryanair transfer arrived at 5pm and took us back to Faro airport. This drive was similar to the one coming in, if not worse. I was ready to go home by this point.
When we arrived at the airport, we went directly to the Ryanair desk to do another visa check for me, and then continued on to security. We had a long wait for our flight but eventually we were in the air on our way home.
We had a lovely time in Albufeira, Portugal and I would recommend the Algarve to anyone who wants to experience Portuguese culture, or just relax by a beach. I hope to have the chance to go back to Portugal and see more of it.