Portugal: Faro and the Algarve region

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Remember this post a little while ago about budget airlines and how annoying they can be? Well, they definitely haven’t gotten any less annoying; although, we have just recently had a free holiday off them because of their horrible planning, so there is that! My sister recently came for a visit (which if the inspiration strikes I may write a post about) and whilst she was here we made a trip over to see some family in Ireland. Now, the good thing about budget airlines like Ryanair is that they enable us to make multiple weekend journeys throughout Europe over the year, and Ireland is one we frequent as often as we can. As we’re leaving in January for a year and won’t see anyone during that time, we wanted one last trip over to spent some time with various family members. My sister has previously spent time on the Emerald Isle and really loved it, and all the family seem get on with her quite well. As she could afford the plane ticket because we were flying Ryanair, we were lucky enough to make a visit work before she flew back to Canada.

It all seemed like it was going to plan until Ryanair announced that they had over booked the amount of flights they were flying but didn’t actually have enough pilots to pilot the planes. Cue thousands of flights being cancelled and mass panic ensuing as hordes of angry Brits got told they could no longer board the flights to their hard earned holidays and Ryanair told them it was tough. After days where the fallout from Ryanair was the first, second, third, and fourth stories all over the news, they finally realized that they probably needed to start recouping public favour (and cash) and with this in mind gave everyone who had a cancelled flight an £80 voucher to use on their next Ryanair flight (as long as it is before the first of March). Thanks Ryanair.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, we got caught in this and our return flight from Ireland was cancelled. After a lot of annoyed phone calls to customer service (along with half of the UK it seemed), we finally managed to get an alternate flight home without losing any money. Once all that was sorted, we were left with £160 in Ryanair vouchers and not a lot of time to use them. There are a lot of people out there who will have used this opportunity to moan and complain, and social media was awash with people saying to boycott Ryanair and that they were never going to use them again. Evidently, we are not those people. We decided we weren’t going to waste a free flight. Instead we decided to use this opportunity to go somewhere new, and have one of the cheapest holidays ever. As an added bonus, Rich’s parents were able to come with us as well, making it even cheaper (we have no qualms about letting them pay for dinners 😉 ). The outside of our Airb&b

We didn’t want to go anywhere cold or with snow, and we wanted to go to a place where the return flights were covered by our vouchers, so with that in mind we settled for Faro, Portugal. We left on Friday and stayed until Monday, which made it a really nice long weekend. The weather was beautiful – Saturday ended up being clear and about 25 degrees, and Sunday was cloudy and about 21 – perfect for some winter sun. We didn’t land till about 8pm on Friday evening, so after picking up the rental car, we stopped at the store for some provisions (i.e. cheese and wine) and made our way to our Airb&b for the evening.

Saturday we got in the car and made our way east along the coast through the Algarve region, which I definitely recommend and would like to go back to at some point in my life. That’s saying something, because I rarely entertain the thought of going back to places a second time – why go somewhere I’ve been when there are a lot more places that I haven’t been?? But the entire area was gorgeous and there was a lot we didn’t see and do. Also if it’s 22 degrees in December, then it’ll be a whole lot warming in July and I like the heat! After wandering through a few food and seafood markets, we ended up at an almost deserted Praia do Barril where we spent the afternoon on the sand and in the sea before getting a late lunch in the sun.

 

Before heading back to Faro, we stopped in Tavira along the way to wander around and enjoy the mild evening and watch the sunset. We only spent about an hour there as everything was starting to close down for the night, but it seems like it would be a good town to explore in the summer.

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Sunday was another warm day, although very cloudy, and so we headed west this time heading towards Benagil. There are numerous caves there along the coast that can only be accessed by swimming or a boat, and we set out with the intention on swimming to them; however, when we arrived we were told there was a storm blowing in and that they were only allowing boat tours that day. Although still lovely, it was a bit of a shame as you don’t actually get to go into the caves on the boat tours; however, it was a good call because the water was really rough and I think we would have really struggled to do the 200m swim to the caves. Despite not swimming, the waves were so high that we ended up almost as wet in the boat as we would have been had we swam!

After drying off we continued west heading towards Sagres, the one of the most western points of Portugal with some amazing cliffs to watch the sunset from. We made it on time, although it was pretty cloudy and overcast so unfortunately the Sunset we got, though pretty, was a bit underwhelming.

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In between trips and eating copious amounts of cheese and drinking a lot of (incredibly) good wine, we were also able to explore Faro itself. Due to it being December, it was pretty quiet and there were a lot of places that were closed, but there was a nice relaxed feel to the town which we all really enjoyed. Half of Faro is considered the ‘old town’, and the other, more built up half, is the new town. Our apartment was right in the heart of the old town, and that’s where we spent most of our time wandering around. We stopped in a few different local restaurants for food and drinks at various points during the weekend and we were never disappointed.

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Meanwhile, back in the UK they were hit with the biggest snow storm since 2010, resulting in country wide chaos and multiple snow days. One of the reasons I left Canada is because I don’t really like dealing with snow, so suffice it to say, I was okay that we were away from it and nice and warm on the beach. We did; however, fly back to the UK on Monday and went from this:

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to this:

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We definitely did not have a snow brush with us…

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