Posted by: Marco | March 2, 2011

Coasting in Portugal

Well, we’re in trouble now. All that hard-earned “character” (those cold nights in the tent, the cramped quarters, the shared bedrooms, the nightly ritual of doing dishes) is all for nothing. Here we are living in the lap of luxury in the south of Portugal. And we are getting spoiled. We are getting soft.

Not that we mind getting spoiled every now and again. It’s just that the next phase of our travels may seem more difficult by comparison.

The end of the World

You see, we are holed up in a large house near the Algarve coast on the outskirts of the beach town of Carvoeiro.  My parents rented the house, which is owned by a couple in England. It is part of a community of rental homes in this tourist area of Portugal. All the houses in this part of Portugal are named. This one is called Casa na Colina (House on the Hill). It is a lovely home, designed in the characteristic Algarve style. The roof is clay tile and the walls are all white stucco with flowing lines, covered porches, verandas, and walkways.  The large landscaped yard boasts a heated 10m pool and enough chaise lounges for a soccer team. Before supper, we pick ripe lemons from the lemon tree to squeeze on our fresh fish or giant local prawns. Inside Casa na Colina, everything has been provided: rooms with en-suite bathrooms for everyone, comfy beds (even if they are twins pushed together), and satellite TV from England. The icing on the cake (and the thing that makes Shannon really uncomfortable) is the cleaning lady that comes six days a week for five hours a day. Celeste makes the beds, cleans the bathrooms, and does the dishes, if we want her to. She is a lovely lady who speaks virtually no English but is keen to teach us Portuguese. She has been working here at Casa na Colina for 24 years. Every morning, she strides in and shouts “Bom dia! Muito sol!” and laughs.

Beach heaven in Algarve

The south coast of Portugal, the Algarve, is stunningly beautiful. All along the coast, tall imposing cliffs have eroded into perfect, and often secluded, sand beaches. The remaining cliffs are a maze of rocky outcroppings, natural bridges and arches, caves and grottos. It is a landscape which never gets boring. The weather, however, has been boring. Always the same: sunny and warm. Since our arrival it has been perfect: not a cloud in the sky and average temperatures of 20C. On the secluded and protected beaches, it feels more like 26-27C. Since this isn’t tourist season, the beaches are virtually empty and we have our choice of spots. The water is pretty cool still, but Anique and Owen brave it by playing in the surf.

The people we have met are friendly and often talkative even when they can’t speak English. The truth is, in this area of Portugal at least, most tourists are British or German or Dutch, so the second language of anyone wishing to make a living from the tourist trade is English. That makes it easy for us, of course. Portuguese is reasonably easy to read, if you know French or Spanish, but to the un-initiated it is impossible to understand when spoken. The sounds are very different from Spanish or Italian. Luckily, we aren’t often in a position to fend for ourselves in Portuguese.

Interested in seeing photos of the gorgeous beaches and coastline in the Algarve? CLICK HERE.

Keen to see some photos of day trips in this area? CLICK HERE.

Want to see photos of Casa na Colina, our house?  CLICK HERE.

Carpe annum,


Our little town of Carvoeiro


  1. OH EM GEE, WOW ! ! ! (I guess that defeats the purpose of an abbreviation). Your pictures are so beautiful. Definitely a place for softies. But now you can recuperate from all that hard work, walking at the beginning of your trip (who am I kidding? I somehow doubt that you’ve become sedentary).
    I’m sorry you’re having such boring weather. Ours is very exciting here. Snow, rain, sun, clouds. It would be a hit for reality TV.
    Boy! Five hours a day of cleaning??? Sounds like celeste lives to clean. How could there possibly be that much work to do if she’s there six days a week?
    Now, your pics of “beaches in Algarve” came up a little blurry for me, but it looks like you chose a picnic spot right in front of a monolith, creating visions for me of you approaching it after dabbing the corners of your mouths with dainty napkins, and with it’s magnetic aura, telepathic-ly teaching you how to teleport, self replicate, use clubs and make fire and so on. Be careful is all I want to say.

  2. These are the best photos yet. I looked at them as I was preparing my retirement remarks, and they really calmed me down! Lucky for you that you did not start your tour there…I would never have left. What spectacular views. I hope you spend a lot of time out on the beach.


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