Praia do São Rafael

Praia do São Rafael

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This post might well have been another in the series of “Not a Lot Happened” entries. I’m writing this retrospectively and just had to chase up which geocaches I found on this day to try to get some form of memory about it.

We had a lazy morning at the apartment and headed out at a sort of late lunchtime.

Kas dropped me off above Praia do Arrifes then took the kids to Praia do São Rafael. I was off to do a bit of caching.

There was one right by where I started and then another to the east which required a scramble down some rocks onto a beach. After far too long a walk along that beach I reached a headland that I couldn’t pass because the tide was in, so a DNF there then. On the way off that beach I tried a set of steps halfway along, to avoid the scramble I’d done earlier, but the steps went nowhere and I had to go back down them again and return to the scramble.

From here I walked west along the coast to meet the girls, continuing to search for caches with mixed fortunes.

By the time I arrived Izzy seemed to be confidently paddling around on a body board all on her own, which was a major step forward in confidence.

We packed up late in the afternoon and went home to get cleaned up before heading out to Albufeira town for dinner. We ate in a small restaurant at the end of Fisherman’s Beach – the service was quite slow but the food was good when it arrived.

We were quite late getting back home.


Parasailing

Parasailing

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This morning we got up quite early because Kas and Ami had an appointment with some parasailing.  Izzy and me planned to go caching for a while. So we arrived down at Albufeira Marina without having breakfast.

The caching was on the hill up above the marina mainly, with one cache being out on the jetty on the south side of the marina. Getting to this last one involved a very dodgy bit of road and a scramble down a bit of a cliff. Izzy did well.  However, when we got to the end of the jetty we couldn’t find the cache.

Before we could say “how’s yer wotsit” Ami and Kas were on their way back in from parasailing, so we figured we’d better get back to the marina. When we got there it was well past breakfast time, so we found a cafe and ate something that was well past breakfast.

After breakfast we went back to the cache on the jetty, except this time we stuck to the reasonable roads, parked outside someone’s house, and proceeded to walk through a boatyard and around the edge of the headland at sea level (well, slightly above sea level) rather than scrambling over the rocks. It was significantly easier.

When we got to the end of the jetty again the cache was an easy find, partly because this time I decided to ignore the hint and just follow the arrow on the GPS.

We didn’t do much in the afternoon – just some chilling and some swimming. And we had dinner at home, ready for another day.


Seville

Seville

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We got up fairly early, had a quick breakfast and got onto the road by 9:30 am.  We were on a mission to go to another country. Spain if you must know. We were heading to Seville for the day, partly just so we could say we’d been and partly because it’s somewhere both Kas and I have always wanted to go. Partly also because I wanted to do a few caches there so I could “get another country”

On the way we stopped to put on suncream. Somehow the previous day in Carvoeiro I’d managed to get myself seriously sunburnt through the armpits of the shirt I was wearing, and to put it mildy, I was in some discomfort. I have no idea how I managed to achieve that.

The journey along the motorway towards Spain was pretty uneventful until we decided to stop for fuel. We had several problems. We couldn’t figure out whether we had to pre-pay or not (we had to), and we also couldn’t figure out how to get the fuel filler cap open. There was no lever like my car has, and it didn’t lock with the key. It took us ages, having pulled up to a pump, then pulled away again to allow the queue behind us to clear, and so on. Eventually we enlisted help from the kids. Sure enough, within a minute or so, Izzy had got it sorted. The fuel filler cap on a VW Golf is spring loaded apparently, and you just have to press the cap inwards to make it pop out properly. D’oh! I’m sure this foreign driving game is easier in your own car.

When we got into central Seville it was about midday Portuguese time, but we’d completely forgotten that Spain is 1 hour ahead. The phones remembered, but we didn’t. We thought we’d just wasted an hour somewhere without noticing.

So we parked up (eventually) and grabbed a fairly leisurely (but relaxing) lunch at a cafe just outside the Plaza de España.

The Plaza de España is apparently a landmark example of the Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival (Neo-Mudéjar) styles of Spanish architecture. Whatever that means, it’s pretty impressive, consisting of a very wide semi-circular promenade with big towers at each end and in the middle. Within the semi-circle is a series of canals with little squares, fountains and bridges. It’s really pretty. The whole place gets a bit of a fairytale look from the fact that many of the surfaces (especially around the waterways) are ornately tiled in bright coloured ceramics.

One of the great features of the Plaza de España is the row of tiled “Provincial Alcoves” set into the inside ring of the semi-circle. There’s a little alcove for each Spanish province (all 48 of them at the time it was done), each of which is ornately decorated with a religious or historical scene representing the relevant province. Each is big enough to have a couple of tiled benches guarding its entrance and therefore allowing the opportunity to rest up a bit and appreciate the architecture. Due to the Spanish treating their provinces in much the same way we English treat our counties, a number of the alcoves now have the wrong name (for instance Oviedo is now called Asturias and Logroño is now called La Rioja. To make matters worse, having a single province for the whole of the Canary Islands was not sufficient, so the single alcove for Tenerife now represents the provinces of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas.

While we were in the Plaza de España we found a few caches in the park and on the building.

From here we meandered our way past a couple more caches on our way to the Reales Alcázares de Sevilla – a substantial complex of palaces and gardens originally built by the Moorish kings. The current Spanish monarchy still uses the upper floors as an official residence when they’re in town.  It’s quite impressive.

Next on the agenda was a walk towards the Catedral, where we bought souvenirs and mooched about a bit. The cathedral is the largest Gothic, and the third-largest Christian church in the world. It’s also (one for the pedants here) the largest cathedral in the world, as the two churches that are larger aren’t the seat of a bishop. Given that one of the larger two is The Pope’s Gaff it seems a bit harsh claiming to be the biggest on a technicality like that.

Anyway, by this time we were getting a bit hungry, as it had been a while since lunch. This is when we hit upon a bit of a problem. Sunday evening in Seville seems to involve restaurants not serving food. The first place we tried made sure we’d ordered and received drinks before telling us their kitchen was shut. We drank up quickly and moved on. The next place we tried left us sitting unattended for ages before we finally just got up and left.  At the place where we had lunch they were still serving, but not food, just drinks. At this point we decided to cut our losses and start heading home.

We managed to get out of town with only one navigational error, and we drove all the way to the motorway services at Olhão before needing to stop for a drink.

Oooh look! There’s a cache in the car park.

When we eventually got home it was quite late, so we had some quick snacks out of the fridge for tea and then hurried the kids to bed.

Parasailing tomorrow for Kas and Ami.


Algarve 2015 Day 8

Silves and Carvoeiro

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We got up fairly late today and decided not to go to the nearby waterpark place, as this essentially would cost us €75 for something we were planning to do later in the same week at Zoomarine.

So instead we packed up some stuff for the day and headed off for one of the other trips on our hit list – the trip to Silves.  We took swimming stuff with us too, as we had the chance to scoot down to the coast to a supposedly lovely beach (with Portugal’s only webcam cache) at Carvoeiro.

Meanwhile, back at the plot.

The drive up to Silves was uneventful and we parked up in a massive and apparently free car park at the bottom of the hill, right underneath the castle. There was a geocache in the car park.

We walked around the road to get to the top of the hill. There evidently used to be a convenient boardwalk route up the side of the hill which started at this car park, but the ticket office and fencing were dilapidated and obviously not open for business, so we walked around, generally following the crowds.

When we got to the top we were greeted by full-scale planning for a local medieval festival of some kind. There were wooden trestle tables and straw bales everywhere and the distinct aroma of roasting animals.

There was also an entrance to the castle, so that’s where we headed. For the purposes of this exercise, Ami was demoted to being a 10 year old. Well, she’d only been 11 for a few weeks.

Inside there were a lot of walls (presumably the same walls also appear on the outside, but you know what I mean), most of which could be walked around and upon. In the centre courtyard, there was an array of real fruit trees of various kinds – apples, pears, lemons, oranges, limes, figs, dates, and the like. Ami took a real shine to these. Maybe she’s not actually seen fruit in its native habitat before. Anyway, she was rather taken by them.

On the way out it was time for lunch, so we stopped at the most touristy cafe possible and ordered ourselves some pizza and nachos. They were good though.

While we were waiting for our order I tried a quick walk to access another cache that was supposedly halfway down the old boardwalk I mentioned earlier. From the top of the castle though there didn’t seem to be a way down that side, so after a fruitless few minutes I retired to the cafe for lunch.

On the way back to the car I scrambled up the old boardwalk to fetch that cache, quite easily as it turned out, even though by now the sun was fierce and it was extremely hot.

We drove around the bottom of the castle and parked up in a car park so I could grab a puzzle cache I’d solved while the girls sat in the car with the air-con running.

From there we drove down to Carvoeiro. Kas got to drive down the narrow, cobbled streets again.

After a couple of fruitless laps, we drove up to the top of the hill at the east end of the beach and parked up right next to a cache that was part of a 3-cache mini-series.

The centre of Carvoeiro has Portugal’s one and only webcam cache. It’s right outside an ice cream shop. Ice cream o’clock then? It would have been rude not to.

From here we wandered over onto the beach, making a quick change and heading for a dip in the sea.

Ooh ooh ooh ooh cold!

After half an hour of beachyness I scooted off up the cliffs on the west side of the beach to find the other trad cache in that mini-series and its bonus puzzle cache. The view from the bonus was spectacular.

I headed back down to the beach for some shade, cliffs and incoming tide. It’s a really nice beach if you’re into that kind of thing. I would imagine it can get ridiculously busy at times.

We came off the beach at about 5:30 and grabbed a cold drink to sip at while Kas walked back up the cliffs to fetch the car. The kids were jiggered.

The drive back home was uneventful and we stopped off at our new favourite supermarket to grab some things for doing a barbie in the evening – some sausages and chicken/pepper kebabs. And some cold beers.

The apartment complex was busy with new visitors going through the normal first-day motions. Many of those motions involved barbeques. Some involved jumping in the pool after hours.

We had a fairly lazy tea then got ourselves all cleaned up before getting the girls to bed nice and early. We weren’t much later ourselves as we’d got a big day planned for the following day.


Algarve 2015 Day 7

Wotta Lotta Notta Lot

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Every holiday we go on has to result in at least one blog post entitled “Not a Lot Happened” or something similar. This year I have decided to vary the theme and go with “Wotta Lotta Notta Lot”, but the general theme is the same. We didn’t do much.

I got up quite late. Ami was still in bed and Izzy had only just surfaced. Kas was just coming back in from her morning run.

So I had a lazy breakfast outside and the kids got their swimming cozzies on and went for a splash in the pool. Then I grabbed all the recent washing and ironed it. Well, someone has to.

The rest of my morning (up until lunchtime in the cricket) was spent listening to said cricket, doing sudoku puzzles and snoozing.

I then managed to snooze my way through most of the afternoon too. I spent some time pondering whether to go out and do a few caches, but eventually couldn’t be bothered.

Izzy managed to pick up another injury – something to do with one kid trying to save her from being pushed into the pool by another. She scraped skin off one shin. The girl who saved her was rather upset because she thought she’d upset Izzy by helping her, which wasn’t true. Kids, huh ?

So after a very lazy day we decided to go out to Albufeira for dinner. We stopped for puzzle cache on top of hill on the way in, then parked in big park above Fisherman’s Beach again.

We ate at a restaurant called El Rancho, right on the seafront by Fisherman’s Beach. Ami experimented with BBQ ribs, and decided she likes them.

We found some entertaining sand sculptures on the beach as we were leaving.