Espanha here we come

SevilleToday we left Portugal for a few days to do some exploring in nearby Spain. Spain is only just over 60 kms from Vilamoura. We left at about 11am after having a leisurely breakfast and doing some quick packing.  We were heading to Seville for the next few days.  Seville is only just over 200 kms away and it is pretty much motorway the whole way.  You cross the Rio Guadiana which is the boundary between Portugal and Spain. No border post anymore. Only sign that you are in a different country is that the roads changed (the Spanish motorway was in much better condition) and the biggest noticeable difference are the road signs.  Portugal road signs aren’t particularly good. Spanish ones are better. But as Stephen said, South African road signs are better. While I am on about things SA does better, another one is traffic lights.  Why is that both Portugal and Spain only have traffic lights on the near side of the road.  If you are the first car at a red traffic can you possibly see when it turns green? They have a little light at the bottom of the pole but even to see that you have to crane your neck. Why not simply have the traffic lights on the other side of the intersection like we do in SA? Seriously, some one needs to point this out to the Spanish and Portuguese.

We did have to stop and refuel on the way to Seville. As is always the case in Europe, it was self-service. You had to pay before you fill up the car.  Another stupid idea.  How do you know how much fuel the car needs? I guessed €40 and was lucky that is exactly what it needed.  We also went to get some snacks for lunch and fortunately Michael was with me when I was paying because the cashier asked me something in Spanish and I had no idea what she was saying.  Michael just replied ‘Si’ and we got a plastic bag.

seville stadiumWe found the hotel we are staying at relatively easily thanks to another wonderful invention called the GPS (or SPG as my father-in-law calls it). We are staying at Hotel Becquer ( It is in central Seville, just a few minutes walk away from the Old Town and the River Guadalquiver. Only problem is that their car park was full and so we had to park at a nearby shopping mall parking garage. It is a few blocks away from the hotel but as we don’t plan to use the car for the next 2 days it doesn’t really matter much.

We arrived just after 2pm as there is a 1 hour time change from Portugal to Spain. It feels a bit strange driving for 2 hours only and having a 1 hour time change. It was pretty warm when we arrived so we did as the Spanish do – we took an afternoon siesta. That was followed by the mandatory watching of World Cup football and after having watched France eliminate Nigeria we headed for dinner.

It was 8pm and some places were just opening for the evening. The sun was still relatively high in the sky and only set at around 10pm tonight. We walked down to the river and then through a pedestrian zone and then back to the river again where we found a Tapas restaurant on the side of the river to have dinner. Chloe and Michael both have done Spanish at school. I have never been sure that Michael had learnt any Spanish but it seems my school fees haven’t been wasted on him.  I am not sure about Chloe as she claims she speaks Spanish but I have yet to see or hear her use it to actually help us.  Michael on the other hand did the ordering tonight and did pretty well. For those of you who know me, you know I am not easily impressed but Michael’s Spanish usage did actually impress me. His Spanish teacher would have been proud of him.dinner seville

The Tapas wasn’t the best I have ever had (unfortunately). Too much of it was deep fried and that isn’t really what we expected. Maybe it was poor ordering but I think it might also have been the quality of the place. Hopefully tomorrow we will find a better restaurant. I also had the unfortunate experience of sitting under a tree full of birds and one of them did it’s business on me (it reminded us of Rome where my father-in-law seemed to be a constant target for the pigeons). We walked back along the other side of the river on the way back to hotel. Everyone was out running, cycling or just walking. It was a lovely evening in the mid 20C’s. Seville is a really beautiful city and we are looking forward to exploring it tomorrow.

Finishing the day off by watching the German v Algeria football match with Spanish commentary. They speak ridiculously quickly. About the only thing I have understood was ‘espectacular Neuer’ – which he has been.

Until tomorrow – P, M (because he used his Spanish so well), H, S, C (because I am yet to hear her use her Spanish)

Day 6 in Vilamoura

My family (my biggest critics of course) are complaining my blogs are very short. My response was that it is because we have done very little every day. That’s not a complaint – it is just a fact. We are all quite enjoying the chilled holiday. Just reading, sleeping (the kids are doing enough of that for the whole family), golfing, cycling, occasional visit to the shops, swimming, watching football and a little bit of sightseeing.

The Reders left us today. They are going to Espana for the next week. Helen and Chloe decided to go shopping today. For obvious reasons the male members of the family weren’t excited by that prospect so we let them go by themselves (fortunately Helen has braved driving a manual car on the right side of the road). Portugal is at least not like France – the shops are open on Sunday. They went to the Algarve Shopping Mall.  The boys and I stayed and watched House. House is one of our favourite series and the wonders of modern technology mean we can even watch it in Portugal and fortunately not in Portuguese.  Our Portuguese has not improved much (or at all) while we have been here.  Most of the reason is that everyone speaks English and they don’t even bother to try and talk Portuguese to you, so we really haven’t made much of an effort (though we probably should).

We are also amazed how reasonable Portugal is – cost wise that is.  The food is not significantly different in price to South Africa. Helen and Chloe said they also found the clothes to also be reasonably (and in some cases cheaply) priced. After loafing around this afternoon – Helen sunbathed while Stephen and I watched football and Michael and Chloe caught up with their lack of sleep – we went for dinner at the Marina.

If ymarina dinnerou’re wondering what the weather was like – don’t – it was the same as yesterday, and the day before that and the day before that. 28C with a light breeze, not a cloud to be seen. It doesn’t seem like the weather will be any different for the rest of our time here either. We had a leisurely dinner at the Marina at one of the many restaurants right on the side of the water. No one is ever in a hurry in Portugal and the service was pretty leisurely (most other times & places I would have complained – not so here, I am different person). We weren’t in much of hurry except that some of us were getting hungry. Most of our time was consumed discussing how much it must cost to own a yacht of the type you see in the photo. Michael found out (thank goodness for Google) that they range in price from $500k to $5m – either way it is a lot of money considering you still need to pay for berthing.  By the time we had finished there were a lot more people at the Marina and things were just about to start get going again it seems. There are numerous bars.  We even saw one that stays open to 6am. You can see they are catering for the English tourists (of which there are numerous) – you can tell them by their lobster looks.

We got back just in time for the start of the next football game. I don’t think Stephen has missed a minute of any of them except when we were on a plane. I think he might go through withdrawal at the end of the World Cup. Not sure what he will do with his time.

Until tomorrow … P, H, M, S & C (M gets promoted because he criticized my posts the least)

Day 5 in Vilamoura

golf millenniumThe weather here is getting predictable. Another day with not a cloud in the skies … oh wait … I did see one this evening. A little wispy one. About 28C today with a light breeze. Perfect day for golf. Well, maybe slightly too hot, could have been a few degrees cooler. Michael and I did play a round of golf again today. This time at the Millennium course ( It was a much nicer course than the other one we played. What helped as well is that I had my driver back. Michael played his best 9-holes and best 18-holes ever and I played the best I have played for a few months (and certainly the best Michael has ever seen me play). All of that made us want to go back and play again (which I am sure we will). We also hit some mamarina sunsetssive shots today including the drives in the picture below.  I am standing next to Michael’s drive (about 275 meters and about 40 meters short of the green) and my drive is about 15 meters further up on the left. If you’re not impressed you should be because we were!

Helen and Mr Bluer went cycling around Vilamoura while we were playing golf.  We both arrived back at the same time having departed at the same time. We both enjoyed our sporting outings. After the cycle and the golf, a swim in the pool was a must to cool off and relaxing for the balance of the afternoon watching rugby (SA v Scotland) and the football games.

ice creams2This evening we went for a walk at the Marina to enjoy the evening vibe while the sun was setting. There were a lot of people walking around, having dinner and doing what we were doing – enjoying the vibe.  The temptation of ice cream was irresistible and after walking back to the car we decided to try and find the Old Town (which my Dad said is worth a visit). We have so far managed not to find the Old Town – we will need some more precise instructions from the wiser generation to find it. You would think you couldn’t find a part of the town in place like Vilamoura but we haven’t managed to. I am sure we will be impressed when we do eventually find it.

Until tomorrow …


Day 4 in Vilamoura

sao raphelWe did some sightseeing in the local area today. After everyone eventually got up and had breakfast we headed out at 11am. First stop was São Rafael beach. It took us a bit of a time to find the right road down to the beach. I haven’t yet fully understood Portuguese roads and road signs yet.  They have traffic lights in the strangest of places as well. On the main road they will have a traffic light and a sign which says speed regulation (in Portuguese of course) so we assume it is to slow you down if you are traveling too fast. They just change at random times (or so it seems to me).

The beach was at the bottom of some sandstone cliffs with beautiful azure blue sea. The sea temperature is not particularly warm even though the outside temperature was around 30C today again. As you can see there was not a cloud in the sky and it was like that the whole day. We messed around on the beach with only Michael doing some swimming in the sea. beach sao raphelThe Portuguese obviously have no issue with being topless on the beach as a number of the woman were tanning (and walking around) topless even though some of them definitely should have known better. While on that subject, it is also amazing how many woman also wear thongs on the beach – and in most cases also should not be.

After the beach we headed for Lagoa but on route got sidetracked into another small village called Alcantarilha and ended up having lunch there at a local side walk restaurant.  It was a late lunch as it was lunchalready 2pm when we got there and we only finished at 3pm. The Yellowers decided to head on to Lagoa while we headed back to Vilamoura via the Hypermarket to re-stock.

It was a pretty warm day and so a late afternoon sleep was rejuvenating.  Helen went for a cycle down to the Marina and back again and then we had a late, light dinner of leftovers and salad while enjoying the beautiful evening outside by the pool. Helen said the Marina was alive and thriving and so we plan to head down tomorrow night to experience the vibe.

Until then … P, H, S, M & C

Day 3 in Vilamoura

Marine VilamouraAnother beautiful weather day in Vilamoura. The temperature got up to 30C today. Michael and I had booked to play our first round of golf in Vilamoura. Our tee off time was 11:15am. We brought our clubs over with us and when I went to take my clubs out of the golf carrier bag I found my driver’s shaft had snapped. Not a great start to the round and we haven’t even started playing yet. We played the Oceanico Laguna course ( today. There are 7 courses in Vilamoura alone and they are all part of the same group (Oceanico). As you can tell from the name, the course is played around, over and through lagoon. Lots of water. Lots of lost balls. Fortunately we found almost as many balls as we lost. Not a particularly long course but without my driver it definitely became a lot longer. And then I added to it by hitting at right angles from the hole. Michael on the other hand seemed to be hitting his driver the best he ever had and at one stage managed to drive 250 meters which is undoubtedly the longest drive he has ever had.  It wasn’t the best course I have ever played and at times it was like playing off concrete it was so hard but it was an enjoyable round all the same.

I had asked when we arrived whether there was anyone who could replace my shaft and they called the professional and he said hlagunae thought he might be able to do it.  When we finished he hadn’t come back yet with my club so Michael and I had some lunch and when we were finished he arrived about 5 minutes later.  Joaquin was his name and he basically told us his life history, about his sister who lives in Durban and that he knows another South African in Vilamoura and he wants to introduce me. Michael and I never thought we would actually be able to leave. He did fix the club though and he tells me that the shaft he put on is so good my handicap will now come down to 5! After we had loaded our clubs into the car and were driving out, he came running out to give me his card so that I could contact him again. I like him, he called me a young man.laguna1

Helen and Stephen went shopping at the Hypermarket again for some essential items – a new coffee machine (the one here was a genuine espresso machine which is a real hassle to make coffee with) and bikes. To rent a bike costs €15 per day and you can buy one for €75 so we figured that given we will be here regularly in future we may as well buy 2 bikes and leave them here for future use.  Helen has already been on two rides today and so we already seem to be getting our money’s selfie

Unfortunately we did watch Portugal win today at the World Cup but still get eliminated.  Now all the countries we are visiting on this trip have been eliminated from the World Cup.  Given all the activity especially the cycling late afternoon, we only ended up eating dinner tonight at about 8:40pm. I think that is sort of a standard Portuguese dinner time so we seem to be slotting in to the way of life here.

The town and the country are really growing on us and we have only been here for 3 days now. Tomorrow we plan to do some wider exploring in the area.

Until then ….

Day 2 in Vilamoura

praia da marinaNo one was in hurry to get up this morning and by the time everyone was awake, fed and watered it was about 11am.  We decided to go to the beach and Marina. We parked at the Praia da Marina which loosely translated means Beach at Marina. We went down onto the beach and paddled in the water and then walked across the beach and onto the breakwater and then around the whole Marina.  The Marina is yacht (not the ones with sails – the ones with expensive multi-million dollar powered yachts) basin with numerous restaurants and shops around the edge. It doesn’t compare to the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town but it is still very nice. The predominant language spoken was definitely English. It is like being in an English speaking part of Portugal!

We came back to the house for lunch and just spent the afternoon relaxing aroundmarina the house.  Some went to have an afternoon sleep, some swam and sun tanned and some played or worked on their computers. We also watched the first World Cup game but for some reason the internet kept dropping the whole day so it was a little frustrating.

After dinner tonight we headed to the other beach on the west side of the Marina. It is the Praia da Falesia and to get to it you have to drive through the Eco area which is a wetland with apparently very good bird life. Being a birder I would like to explore it a bit more but I didn’t bring my binoculars with me this time but will do next time.

The sun was setting and so we messed around on the beach taking photos and selfies. Stephen & Michael have also been arguing who is the fastest for about 2 years and so we finally got them to actually race on the beachrace. Michael was the clear winner but Stephen insisted that it was because they were running on the beach. On the way back to the car they raced on the tar and Michael was a Usain Bolt length ahead of Stephen when they crossed the finish line. Finally we  know with certainty who is the fastest and so hopefully that debate is now settled. sunset on beach


Day 1 in Vilamoura

Today was our first full day in Vilamoura. Given how late we were up last night, nobody made much of a move to get up early.  Helen and I eventually had breakfast at about 9:30am and then we decided to try and find the better supermarket to get some real food.  We had coordinates from Google Maps but even with those it wasn’t easy to find but we did eventually find it. Shopping at the supposedly best supermarket in Portugal was not an easy task though. The aisles were so narrow you could hardly pass another shopping cart. It is also hard to actually find things. The layout is strange and trying to read Portuguese labels is not easy work either. Chloe comes in handy as she knows Spanish and some of the words are quite similar so she is our walking translator.

dried fishIt always amazes me that when I go to a supermarket anywhere else in the world how they have items we have never seen before. The amount of salted, dried fish available in the supermarket was incredible. Clearly a high demand item – not from us though! They also had some fruit and veg that I have never seen before and we still need to figure out what it is. The good news is that food is not particularly expensive here and is comparable to SA prices and in some cases cheaper.  Chicken for instance is only €3/kg or about R45/kg and that is definitely cheaper than South Africa. We also noticed that shellfish (like prawns) are about 75% of the price we would pay in SA. I can see we are going to eat a lot of chicken and prawns!  We had a full shopping cart and paid pretty much the same as what we would in SA for a full shopping cart.

Helen went for a run when we got home and we didn’t see her for the next hour.  I thought she must have gotten lost (the roads are like a maze around here – thank goodness for a GPS) but it turned out she was just running a long distance in the rain (quite heavy rain for short while) and she did find her way back to us again.

Stephen, Michael and I then went out to the Algarve Shopping Mall. It is a genuine mall like we know them and included an electronics store and also a Hypermarket. The electronics store was essential as we wanted to get SIM cards but ended up with data only cards (Michael tried out his Spanish on the store assistant and it clearly wasn’t that effective) and also a telephone (we actually have a line in the house but they don’t supply a phone) and most importantly a printer (yes that is an essential item in any Temple household). It also turned out that the Hypermarket is really the best supermarket in the Algarve and so now we know we really to shop in future. We also got some essential items we needed for the house like a new dirt bin for the kitchen and screwdrivers (in case Helen wants to fix something).

poolWe got back just after the football had started but in time to watch Suarez bite another opposing player (what is it with that guy’s brain?!). At about 5:45pm our friends the “Blacker’s” arrived.  They are joining us for the next few days in the Algarve. They had a long day thanks to French airtraffic controllers. They went on strike this morning and will be striking for the next 7 days. That means all flights into and over France are disrupted. They were meant to leave just after 6am and they eventually left at 10:20am. They flew into Seville and then drove to us (about 2 hour 30 min drive).

We had our first dinner in the house – a braai of course (barbecue for everyone in the world who isn’t South African). We tried out some Portuguese sausage which was pretty good and definitely worth repeating. Also had some Portuguese wine – I bought the most expensive white wine I could find and it was €3 a bottle – it actually turned out to be passable as well.  We have actually eaten/drunk a few Portuguese things already include Portuguese Rolls (at least that is what we call them in SA – just called rolls here!) and I have also had the Portuguese beer (Super Bock).watching TV

Helen and the “Yellower’s” went out shopping again for more groceries after dinner while we watched the ref rob Ivory Coast of progressing through to the next round. Now everyone is settled in (at 11:50pm) watching an animated movie (we came with everything needed to connect the TV to the internet so that we could stream off it). Only person not here is “Mrs Yellower” who is in bed and probably fast asleep despite the loud laughter from downstairs.

Tomorrow we will hopefully actually start to have a proper look around the area now that we are sort of settled in.

Until then … P, H, S, M & C