Vilamoura Day 9

vilamoura houseIt was a slow start today as it was a bad night. It was hot and there was a squadron of mosquitoes, or at least what sounded like one, in our bedroom. Turned out that the aircon was making a noise that made it sound like mosquitoes and then we also had a real squadron of mosquitoes in room that were feasting on me most of the night. Needless to say I didn’t sleep much and so when I did get to sleep I didn’t wake up early.  When I did wake up I found that Helen had gone for a morning run again down to the beach. It was pretty warm already and she didn’t want to run back again so I went down and fetched her. It was a very hot day today – probably the hottest we have had since we got here – around 32C – with very little or no breeze most of the day as well. The picture is the view from our bedroom of some of the other houses nearby (and the clear sky).

We pretty much loafed the rest of day around the pool and thequarteira nite house (including a midday nap). Stephen and I went out to do some food shopping so that we had some food for dinner tonight.  The supermarkets in Vilamoura aren’t great, or at least we haven’t found a good one.  The best one is the one we went to today and it is in fact the one we found when we came here for the first time in December just after we bought the house.  Portugal could definitely learn from the rest of the world about supermarkets.

After dinner this evening we (H, C & me) went down to the beach and boardwalk at Quarteira.  Quarteira is slightly to the east of Vilamoura but there really is no distinction between the two places. Quarteira is like the second counsin of Vilamoura though. The beach area has apartments lining the road and reminded me chloe on beachof Strand in Cape Town. Lots of people were out walking along the boardwalk and many of them seemed to be locals. The beach was empty though. Helen pointed out that in Cape Town there would have been people having sundowners or picnic suppers on the beach but not in Portugal.

We came back to watch the end of the football game which saw Netherlands finally going through on penalties. I am hoping for a better night sleep tonight so long as the mosquitoes behave themselves.  Note to self … bring mosquito repellant next time.

Until tomorrow …. P, H, S (because he came to the shop with me), C (because she came to beach for an evening walk) and M (because he really did do nothing today)

Vilamoura Day 8

old courseAnother day, another game of golf. I got up at 8am so that I could have chat to my two direct reports whose last day it was in the office for a few weeks.  One is going on holiday for 2 weeks and the other is going on the Advanced Management Programme at INSEAD (in Fountainebleau in France). That brings back memories because that was the first time I started blogging while away.  Helen went for another morning run which was pretty impressive because it was already warm at 9am.

Our tee off time was only 11:50am today and it was pretty warm by that stage.  Again impressively as we were leaving for golf Helen was heading out on her bike for Quarteira which is the town just next to Vilamoura (they are pretty much right next to each). Michael and I played another new course today – this time the Old Course (http://www.oceanicogolf.com/our-courses/oceanico-old-course/). It is the course nearest us. We could almost walk to it. Not more than about 2 minutes drive. It is meant to be a better course than the Millennium one we played last week but neither Michael nor I thought it was. That might have been related to the fact we didn’t play nearly as well as last week but it also might have related to the fact that there are thousands of trees on the course and they kept getting in the way of the ball.

It also might also have been related to the fact that we were stuck behind a 3-ball who played as if they were 90 years old but were in fact in their late forties. It is seldom that I have played behind 3 people who thought they could play golf but clearly couldn’t and took long about it as well. They parked their golf cart in the wrong place, they walked slowly to and from their cart, they took forever to play helen and chloe beachand shot and they played multiple more shots than we did. It was seriously frustrating at times and was a test of patience. But as someone once said to me, how do you learn to be patient if no one ever tests your patience. It was very amusing hear the 3 guys talk after the round while we were having a drink. They spoke as if they were pro golfers and hitting the ball a mile. They would hit two shots for every one Michael and I would hit. Their imagination was clearly running wild or the heat had gone to their heads or something.

We got back late afternoon but in time to watch Germany beat France. It was a lovely evening and we had dinner outside again and then Chloe, Helen and I went for a late evening walk on Praia da Falesia. It was pretty windless and a lovely evening and walk on the beach with my two favourite ladies. A nice way to end the day.

Until tomorrow …. P, H, M (because he plays golf with me), C & S (because he never left the house today except to take the rubbish to the bins)

Vilamoura Day 7

silvesAnother leisurely day in Vilamoura. The weather was back to the predictable – high 20s, light breeze, no cloud in the sky for most of the day. I reckon the weather stays like this for most of the summer. The breeze tends to pick up from about mid-morning and sometimes becomes quite strong but besides that you would have to say it is ideal weather.

Helen and I were up at a reasonable time and Helen even managed to go for a fairly lengthy run (just under 7km).  By the time she got back the rest of the household were still snoring.  After eventually rousing the sleeping dead (aka S, M & C) we headed out for a nearby town called Silves.  Silves was formerly the capital ocastle wallsf the Algarve and has it’s origins as far back as the Roman Empire. On the top of the hill is the Silves castle which has origins from as far back as the 8th century.  Most of the construction you can see today dates back to the 12th century. Pretty impressive construction that is still standing about 900 years later. Pretty sure that most constructions done today won’t be standing in 900 years, in fact a lot of them probably won’t be around in 100 years time.

The castle was interesting but not sure it was worth the €11 entrance fee (M & C free and again S was a drain on resources). The best part of the castle was that you get quite a good view of the surrounding area from the castle walls as you can see in the photos.  The construction of the houses is very typical of the Algarve with the white walls and orange tile roofs. The area is also surrounded by orange groves and vineyards.

castleProbably the best part of the trip was I noticed a small shop as we exited the castle and popped my head in and found that it was actually a wine shop. The owner was very friendly and quickly offered for me to taste two of the local ports. I have so far been underwhelmed by the Portuguese wine (only bought and drunk Portuguese wine so far) but their Port is in another league though. I guess you wouldn’t name the country after Port if you weren’t good at making it. He persuaded me to taste the white Port (which you drink chilled) and I immediately knew I was going to have to buy a bottle. And then I tasted the tawny Port and that was even better. So now I have 3 bottles of Port at the house and will have to decide which one I take back to SA with me and what I will leave here for future consumption. Will be a hard choice.

We had parked right up at the entrance to the castle which seemed liked a sensible thing to do when we went up (as it saved the walk up the hill) but then we had to drive down again and through the town. The GPS wasn’t overly helpful in leading us through the smallest streets I have ever driven in. The high pitched grunts from Helen in the passenger seat also didn’t help.  I said she should only scream out if I was actually going to hit something and not if I was just close (because otherwise it was going to be one constant scream). Eventually we managed to squeeze our way out and back onto a normal size road with no damage to the car.

narrow streetOn the way back we stopped at our favourite Hypermarket to re-stock on food and upgrade some of the household goods. The meat section is my favourite part of the store.  Today they had whole skinned rabbit. Chloe & Helen were not impressed especially since we have rabbits as pets. Horse meat is also pretty common. The fruit is the other thing that amazes me because I thought I knew every fruit that was known to man but clearly not. Today I took the plunge and bought Platerina’s.  They looked like squashed Nectarine’s. I haven’t had one yet but expect them to taste similar to a Nectarine (will let you know tomorrow when I actually try one).

Leisurely, late dinner followed by 2 more episodes of Suits, writing this blog and then off to bed.  Hopefully we won’t be attacked by the same mosquito that attacked me last night. The fact that the overhead ceiling fan is on (and won’t turn off now) will probably help to keep it away.

Until then … P, H, M, C & S (because he was once again a financial burden this trip)

Seville back to Portugal

huelvaAfter another late night last night watching football go into extra time, we slept in again. A late breakfast (at 10am) on the roof top was this morning accompanied by live guitar music. It seemed fitting to be sitting on the roof of the hotel looking over Seville eating breakfast with classical guitar music in the background. And the guy was even quite good.

We drove back today from Seville to Vilamoura. We decided to drive back via Huelva (pronounced Welba) which is a port town in Spain. It was where Chris went to seek out the support of the Franciscan monks for his second exploratory voyage. From the look of Huelva, that was the last good thing that happened there. If you are ever tempted to good to Huelva, don’t make the mistake we made. It was a waste of fuel and the 30 minute detour.

It was much cooler today with the temperature only in the mid 20s. We also saw the most clouds in the sky (and even a few drops of rain) than we have seen since the first day we were here.  Besides the few drops of rain the trip back was uneventful and easy. The landscape on the trip is a lot like the lowveld in South Africa.  It would be easy to believe that a lion or elephant could just walk across the road at any moment. I am pretty sure though that it would freak out the people of Portugal if that did happen.

trip back to PortugalWith the hour time change we got back to Vilamoura at about 12:30pm and just in time to re-stock the kitchen and have some lunch and then have a Portuguese siesta. It feels good to be back at our house again – almost like coming home.  We are very comfortable here already navigating around the neighborhood. A late afternoon walk around the neighbour (just Helen and I because the kids were too clearly too tired from the active day), dinner and 2 episodes of our other favourite TV series (Suits).

As you know, I always give some thoughts on the countries we visit and I generally restrict my comments to a maximum of the number of days we spend in the country.  As we only spent 2 days in Spain I think it is fair to only restrict myself to two comments:

1. Something strange happens in Spain. The men (according to H & C) and women (according to P, S & M) are generally quite attractive when they are young but at some point all the women & men morph into the same shape, size and demeanor. The men become short, squat, white haired and grumpy. The women become stooped, grey haired and grumpy. How they get from the young, pleasant form into the old, grumpy form is the mystery we are yet to solve.

2. Seville is a beautiful city and really worth a visit. Over the next few years of visiting Portugal I am pretty sure we will go back again. It is one of the loveliest cities we have visited in Europe. If you are ever anywhere near Seville – do yourself a favour and spend a night or two in the city – you won’t regret it.  Make sure though that your hotel is in a good position near the Old Town so that you can simply walk around – a car is not necessary then and will save you the hassle of driving around.

Until tomorrow … P, H, S (there was some reason why he got promoted but I can’t remember what it was just that I promised to promote him), M & C

PS: I was castigated for wrongly saying that Chloe had translated Real into Palace when she had in fact said it was Royal. Her Spanish honor is at stake and so I humbly apologize for defamation brought to her Spanish character …

Seville Day 2

seville breakfastAfter a late night last night watching the end of the Germany v Algeria game (which went into extra time), we all slept in this morning.  We had a continental breakfast on the roof of the hotel with views over the city of Seville. It was already pretty warm at 10am and it was clear it was going to be a hot day.

We walked to the Old Town especially to see the Seville Cathedral and the Real Alcazar which are the top 2 things to experience in Seville.  We went into the Cathedral first. €24 for the family – only Chloe was free as she was 14 years old. The ticket office (felt strange having a ticket office in Cathedral but Catholics don’t seem to hesitate to take money from you if given the chance) required proof of Chloe’s age. Either she doesn’t look 14 or I don’t look like I should be trusted (must be the first).

seville cathedralThe Cathedral was always believed to be the 3rd biggest in World after St Peters and St Pauls.  However, with modern technology they have now determined that it is actually the largest Cathedral in the world by volume. It is seriously big and impressive.  They are 22 chapels inside the Cathedral. It was originally a Mosque and was only converted into a Cathedral in 1218. The original Mosque was built in 181. The conversion into a Gothic Cathedral was completed in 1517. It must have cost an absolute fortune to build. I could only think of how many people could have benefited from that money rather than going into a Cathedral of that size and decorations. I could probably post about 50 pictures displaying it’s opulence. It is amazing to see and I am glad they have preserved it but I really do think a lot of money was wasted and could have been better spent.

Colombus tombBesides the Treasury which contains more gold (in the form of vases, plates, relics etc) than I think I have ever seen in one place, the other significant thing in the Cathedral is that Christopher Columbus’ tomb is inside the Cathedral. Columbus (or Chris if he knew him well) wrote in his will that he wanted to be buried in the Americas he had discovered. When he died they moved his remains to Seville as Seville was the port of departure to America. His remains were then taken to the Dominican Republic and when Spain lost control of that they were taken to Havana, Cuba. However, during the Cuban v America war they were moved back to Seville again and into the Cathedral. He might have traveled more dead than when he was alive. The picture is of his tomb held up by the four statues.

After the Cathedral we went to Real Alcazar (not the fake one). I was told by our Spanish authority (Chloe) that Real means Palace in Spanish. It is the oldest Royal Palace that is still in use (by the Spanish Royal family in case you are wondering). It cost us €21 to enter (cheaper than the Cathedral) mainly because both Michael and Chloe were free and Stephen got a reduced student rate.  This time they didn’t believe he was a student and so he had to produce his student ID as proof. It was originally a fort and built in the 9th century. Since then, every culture and every civilization that has lived in the Iberian peninsula (and there have been a few) have used the Real Alcazar. gardens at palace

The gardens of the Palace are about 4 times the size of the Palace itself. They are beautifully manicured and maintained and have peacocks wandering around. Peacocks are apparently a symbol of a long lasting dynasty and immortality hence why they are found in the Palace. The Arabic influence is clear in the pools, washing fountains and tiles throughout the Palace. While the buildings are impressive, seeing them straight after the Cathedral resulted in a little bit of old building overload. We enjoyed the gardens of the Palace especially since they were lovely and cool. They even had a maze in the garden (which Helen fancily calls a labyrinth). I would say that a visit to the Real Alcazar is worth it if only to see and experience the gardens.

paella lunchIt was past lunch time when we exited the Palace grounds (it was harder to find the exit of the Palace than it was to find our way out of the maze). We stopped at a sidewalk restaurant and once again relied on Michael and Chloe’s Spanish skills (Chloe used hers this time) to order Paella for lunch. We got one Chicken one and one seafood one. Both were excellent and restored our faith in Spanish cooking. The Paella came with a pitcher of beer (that was the only way to buy it) and so everyone except Chloe drank beer for lunch with the Paella.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel as it was 3pm and the outside temperature was 34c. You can see why a siesta is necessary in Spain and when in Spain do as the Spaniards. All the smaller shops were already shut when we were walking back to the hotel so it definitely is the done thing to have a siesta.

Late afternoon we watched the Swiss defending for 117 minutes before finally conceding a goal. It looked like they were happy to get to a penalty shoot out but that wasn’t to be. We then went out for dinner at 8pm after the game was finished. After wandering around a bit trying to find a suitable place we ended up at a pub where most of us (excluding Helen) had burgers for dinner. Not very Spanish but then we had done the Spanish thing for lunch. Ice Creams to finish off the dinner and back to the hotel to watch Belgium v USA.

Until tomorrow … P, M, C (they both get promoted for their Spanish use today), H & S (all he has done is cost us today, bit of dead weight really)

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 (http://www.hotelbecquer.com/). 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 (http://www.oceanicogolf.com/our-courses/oceanico-millennium-golf-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 (http://www.oceanicogolf.com/our-courses/oceanico-laguna-golf-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 worth.golf 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 ….