So recently I travelled to Portugal (Portimao) it was a beautiful trip. Flew in to Faro, were i greeted people cheerfully with Bom Dia (good day) swiftly followed by -I don’t speak Portuguese- “yo no fal Portuguese” (eu não falo português) scared that the locals would engage in conversation with me in a language I could only nod blankly at 🙈. In all the journey took about 5 hours from the plane , shuttle to the hotel and I gaped on like the excited tourist I was despite having risen at 4.30 am – military style.
Once landed and checked in one of the first things we did was look for food. After having salivated like starved dogs at the scent of over priced hot paninis on the plane which my frugal evil conscience refused to let me buy, my appetite was on steroids & no longer willing to be ignored.
Being naive tourists we (my girlfriends & I) agreed to try the very first restaurant we came across because of free wifi promises & hunger of course but mostly wifi. The man in the street ushered us into his restaurant under the impression that this was the Mecca of broadband connection and only he could provide us to the key…(later we came to know wifi was no added incentive, every restaurant there had it, free!) Anyhoo, the food was good and fresh (no one does wine and fine dining like the Portuguese -ok maybe the French and Italian but a little competition never hurt…hehe).
On a serious note: never! I repeat never! Seriously, do not eat Portuguese chicken! (if by some coincidence you are there now ordering chicken, change it; If you’ve already ordered: I can only now sympathise and offer my commiserations)! It’s the one thing I found could not be cooked to my liking in Portugal. Instead, I recommend you try swordfish especially at Atlantis on the Prai da Rocha beach promenade. Here, the swordfish steak was cooked to perfection served with capers, a succulent sauce which I cannot name and sides of fries and vegetables. The steak was tender and melted in your mouth, the sauce tangy but not over powering the vegetables adante and unsurprising but a nice balance to the explosion of flavour going on with the meal. The rabbit (also off the same menus at Atlantis) was a competing second or a first choice if you aren’t a fish lover.
“This is winter” they continuously reminded us. All water sports, most restaurants, most hotels were “closed till March”. We went in December. Regardless we still had plenty to see and do. We met some amazing gentlemen who took us out to sea on their boat, we visited some glorious diving sites and learnt about their underground caves. These caves had formed over years and have now become famous tourist sites were you can go diving & surface inside a cave, breathing freely without a mask on standing on dry ground yet fully submerged in the deep blue with only a wall of cave rock holding the sea at bay, spectacular! We also managed to go swimming and skinny dipping for a couple of days. The sea was warmer than the locals made it out to be; but funny enough the outdoor pool at the hotel was too cold, freezing even, so avoid stagnant water swims. But overall for a December vacation the weather was fair & at night a shawl would suffice as it can get a little chilly.
PEACE OF MIND
What I really enjoyed most though was the peaceful vibe and energy I got from Portugal, life is stress-less and simple. The people were welcoming and helpful always willing to converse and share a moment. Here, it seemed life happened at a slower pace were people took time to really appreciate the day, they seemed so tuned in to life it was infectious and beautiful to see. I breathed, I slowed down; I took life in. The atmosphere was oh so healing in comparison to bustle of England. I truly felt happy ☺️.
Overall I enjoyed the vacation and the time spent with my girlfriends! I would recommend this location to anyone. If it’s the culture you seek visit during the less busy times when it’s more of the locals about. Visit Ferragudo… Portimao, Prai da Rocha beach (really beautiful). For a livlier time and party experience go in the summer (May to August) when you can sky dive and water ski around the July month. Either way, Portimao is a place to see, the surrounding Lagos and Guia towns as well. I hope to go back & I recommend others try it as well. Portimao, Portugal; a slice of heaven.