Saturday, 7 January 2017

The great Escape-get here if you can


I have recently been sorting through piles and piles of old tear sheet recipes saved from newspapers over the years.The top of the wardrobe just could not take it any more and every time you opened the doors you were showered with a storm of paper sheets raining down on you. You may not be far wrong in thinking that this is how we spend our winters in the Algarve. Its a time to take stock, renovate, tiitivate and dissipate in anticipation of the coming season.
In my ruthlessness ( not a noun  i´d normally apply to myself) of sorting, something caught my eye.A full page advert from the English newspaper The Independent On Sunday, 2001.
"You´ll love the Algarve winter just like we do", it said.Never a truer word has been written.Winter here is a time to unwind and enjoy walking on the beaches, taking a drive through the green hills or up the river. A time to soak up the nature before the teeming hoards of tourists arrive and you can no longer walk along the beach without treading on someone.

 "Tourists" arrive and tranquil places become overrun. With ankle biters attached to them they may favour little around-town toy trains (yes each Algarve town has one of those annoying attractions) water parks, marine worlds, zoo worlds and restaurants with menus bearing photos of ( if you did not know what it looked like already) a "full English". Such things evoke shudders.But Is it taboo to be a tourist nowadays, no not at all chacun a son gout as the french so rightly say (to each his own taste).And there is a rightful place for both the independent explorer and theme parks.Of course children need to be catered for and provided with more entertainment than just a bucket and spade.It is January now and soon our television screens will be awash with endearing all inclusive tourist packages to villa complexes and such like resorts.But nowadays with Airbnb and tripadvisor there is also the choice to be an independent traveller.A chance to go off piste / off season, finding secret places and experiencing a real Algarve as it once was and still is.This is a chance to experience authenticity,something to write a postcard home about.A chance to be at one with nature and not holidaying under the umbrella of concrete and high rise.We holidayed in the beauty and tranquility of Tavira  for 25 years and each year came back for more before finally deciding to up roots and settle here.The things we learnt and the discoveries we made were all recorded and filed as useful information that could help in delivering an extra special holiday.The old saying - never go back to spoil a memory - is comprehensively kicked into touch on a return visit to the East Algarve.The real travellers are the ones that got there first. If they had not wandered off the beaten track and then returned home to write a tripadvisor review or blog about it, the rest of us would still be in the dark, remaining in our undeveloped purity.We would have missed out on the land of sun,wine,olive oil,bread and fish situated at the easternmost tip of Europe´s southwesternmost point.a place where traditions continue to thrive.Returning to the fold it is always about the pride of telling friends about the secret they have uncovered.

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