Vilamoura Day 2

We really didn’t do a lot yesterday but that is sometimes what makes a great holiday. Admittedly Helen might argue with that as she went for a 15km run in the morning down to the Marina and back again. By the time she got back the kids were just waking up. Chloe and Helen went shopping to there favourite mall – Algarve Mall – also happens to be the only one nearby. They managed to spend the rest of the morning there and some of the afternoon while the boys and I watched Super rugby (Bulls v Sunwolves).

The joys of owning the house are that we figure out all the issues when we are here and then have to get them fixed.  We do have a relatively good agent managing the house but they unfortunately never tested to see whether the air conditioners were all working on heating and some of them (mainly the ones downstairs in the living area) aren’t. It is about 10-12 degrees C overnight and the downstairs is tiled, it gets pretty chilly in the living room. They spent some of the morning and a large chunk of the afternoon trying to fix it and eventually in broken English told us they couldn’t do it yesterday and so they brought us two heaters instead. The most irritating thing was last night when I wanted to have a bath to warm up (and maybe get clean), I discovered the hot water has stopped working. Not sure if it was something the guys fiddling with the air-conditioners did or whether that is just coincidence. Either way it is pretty annoying not having hot water when you want it (yes I know that we’re all privileged and many people don’t even have running water in world).

Stephen never left the house at all yesterday but I’m sure he’ll claim a productive day doing some work on his laptop, watching rugby, cricket, Suits and Monuments Men (good movie for those of you who haven’t seen it – true story of how a group of men saved the artworks as World War II was drawing to a close – they saved over 5 million pieces!) and playing table tennis. Michael and I at least went to the golf course to book a round (because they hadn’t replied to my email and when I got there they asked why we hadn’t arrived for the round yesterday afternoon .. gggrrrr – maybe because I never got a reply from them?!).

Last night the clocks changed in Europe/UK. This is the first time some of the family have experienced this event and it has thoroughly confused Helen. I said she should just look at her iPhone (which adjusts automatically) and believe that time. The clocks moved forward an hour so we are now only 1 hour behind SA. All I know is that it is 9:20am on Easter Sunday and very quiet downstairs while I type this post.

Happy Easter Sunday everyone!

Vilamoura – Our second home

Yesterday was our first full day in Vilamoura which really does feel like our second home. While Portugal is a predominantly Catholic country, it doesn’t seem to stop them from opening shops on Easter Friday (fortunately). We had no food in the house so I managed to find a store open at 8am to buy enough for our breakfast. The family were all up relatively early (given we have a bunch of teenagers in the house) and so at about 10am we headed out for the main restocking shopping trip to Continente (Hypermarket type store) in the Algarve Shopping Mall.

Every time we come to Portugal and browse the supermarkets we learn something new or see something new. Helen was surprised by the lack of Hot Cross Buns (they clearly don’t do those in Portugal at all) and Easter Eggs. The latter wasn’t actually true – she just hadn’t seen the whole section of the shop dedicated to the 3000 different Easter eggs yet.  When it comes to meats, chicken is the national food but a close second is pork it seems. piglet Buying a whole piglet seems to be what is done here in the supermarkets over Easter (we all thought of Janet when we saw this and so we have included the photo especially for her).

The rest of the afternoon was spent watching SA throw it away against the West Indies (why do I keep thinking SA will have a chance of winning a major cricket tournament!) – at least the boys and I did that while the ladies caught up on the sleep they have missing. We also did some more shopping at the supermarket of the things we managed to forget to buy the first time. Even thought the Rand has slipped considerably against the Euro since last year, the food is still not significantly different in price. Chicken is still about R40-R50 per kg which is the same or cheaper than what we pay in SA (for example).

vilamoura view from houseIt really was quite a nice day in Vilamoura yesterday as you can see from the photo. It isn’t very warm (highest temperature was 20 degrees C yesterday) but it is still and clear. Today seems to be very similar. Helen is already out on her normal Saturday am run (making up for missing out on the Two Oceans Half today).

Easter in Portugal

We have quietly started another visit in Portugal.  I left on Sunday evening as I needed to be in London to work Monday-Thursday. The rest of the family flew out on Wednesday night. Unfortunately there are only a few connecting flights from London to Lisbon.  That meant that the family arrived at about 8am yesterday and had to spend the day at Heathrow until 3:30pm when our flight left for Lisbon. They at least did have the comfort of the BA lounge to use.

I got to the airport just before 2pm and joined them in the lounge. The flight left on time and we landed on time.  In between we met the grumpiest gate guy I have ever met.  He was arguing with most of the passengers about their carry on baggage and when we gave our boarding passes he started to insist that we had to check our bags in. Not only does the BA policy permit us to take the bags on board (and believe me I know what the policy is), we actually had business class seats for the flight. I pointed this out and he said ‘it doesn’t matter what class you’re flying’ … blood starting to boil.  After a relatively heated exchange him insisting Michael put his bag into the ‘test the size of your bag thingy’ we finally got on the plane.

Needless to say I mentioned the exchange to the chief cabin controller and she handled it extremely well. She reported it herself through her channels and gave me a form to complete so I could give the details first hand. And to top it her service was really good and at the end of the flight she came over and gave us a bag of drinks including two bottles of champagne.  Chloe had told her (while waiting to use the toilet) that we still had a 2.5 hour drive to the Algarve and so she said the drinks were for the trip and the champagne for when we got there. While I have the propensity to complain for poor service, I am equally happy to acknowledge excellent service and because of my regular BA traveling I have a way I can acknowledge any staff member and so I made sure I got her name and will do precisely that. She was extremely good.

We were the first people in the passport line and the bags come off relatively quickly (including the important golf clubs). We had to rent two cars (because of the luggage situation) and even that went relatively quickly (by Portugal standards). We got upgraded from what we booked.  The guy at the counter tried to sell me an upgrade for Euro20 per day for a Mercedes but I declined. I know they do it when they don’t have the car you booked so if you decline then they have to give it to you for nothing. Which is exactly what happened.  I got a BMW station wagon and Helen has a B-class Mercedes.  Neither of us is complaining and it made it relatively comfortable to drive down.

One stop on route to buy a snack for dinner (crisps and chocolate).  We arrived at the house at about 9:35pm. It is not particularly warm here at the moment (was about 14 degrees C when we arrived) so the house is a little cold as well and we haven’t managed to get all the aircons on heating yet.  At least our bedroom one is working properly.

No food in the house and as it is Easter Friday we are hoping we find at least one grocery store open this morning. They are meant to open at 8am (and it is now 8:05am) so hoping for the best!