The moment I told Kevin I’d booked my flight, he went into trip planning mode. Two weeks was a lot of time to fill, but it got booked up fairly quickly. We considered and rejected visiting the North & Porto (too far), some additional castles (I rolled my ankle), another historical town (Heather got sick), and a winery (we slept in). But still we ended up seeing a lot. A couple days sightseeing in Lisbon, a few days on the road being steeped in history, and finally a full week exploring the Algarve.
Avo Olimpia & Exploring Town
Because Heather works remotely and at night (Australia hours) we usually get a pretty late start our day. We typically didn’t wake up, shower, have breakfast (a Canadian tradition apparently) and a cafe [Editor’s note, we now refer to ‘coffee’ in Portuguese, hence ‘cafe’], and head out until at least noon. Avo Olimpia, on the other hand, is much busier in the morning. Everyday when I would wander downstairs to scrounge up some breakfast around 10am, she would be well into her day – a trip to the market complete, laundry washed-dried-folded, and soap-opera watched. I’d get a “bon dia, bread’s on the table” and she’d be off yet again, now to the cafe with friends. She’s always on the move, and we rarely knew where to.
One day I got the grand tour of the town and Kevin’s childhood playground. We walked to the pool, fed ducks in the creek, and saw the old-old church, the new-old church and pointed out every coffee place in town (there were many). There were some really cool sights too! Other than the history (“so the Romans built those walls”, “this buidling pre-dates Canada” etc.) my favourite sight was the giant Portuguese flag overlooking the entire town. Apparently during a previous World Cup (soccer…er I mean, football) some kids had scaled a nearby hill and painted a Portugese flag to cheer on their nation. This act of fan-dalism has since remained, and honestly looks pretty great!
I thought Grimsby (pop 20,000) was a small town where everyone knows everyone, but Alte puts it to shame. Throughout the week of exploring we rarely walked down the street without stopping to chat with a neighbour, old friend, or relative because everyone knows each other. Case in point: Alte, it turns out, is so small you can accidently run into family. On one of our urban tours we stumbled upon Avo. We chatted for a bit with her friends (all in Portuguese so have no idea what was said, but assume my height and fair skin were questioned) but she was too busy for us (going dancing?) and we each continued on our separate ways.
All in all I enjoyed seeing this small town.
Avo Maria, The Farm, and the old House
While we spent the week with Avo Olimpia, one of our day trips included a visit to see Avo Maria and some of the family farm land. If it was nice having fruit trees in the yard for fresh juice, then visiting Avo Maria was a delight. She has fruit trees as far you can see – grapefruits, oranges, lemons, limes, whatever – just sitting there ready to be picked! I got a tour of the farm (included more Kevin stories “used to climb this tree”, “had a tire swing here”) and we loaded up on fruit, all while dodging chickens underfoot.
The most hilarious part of this day trip was meeting Daisy. Daisy is Avo Maria’s older but still very much active dog. She followed us around for the whole tour, chasing chickens and keeping us entertained. As we got back to the house though, she surprised all of us by hunting down and catching a pigeon out of mid-air before scampering off to finish her treat!
One of my favourite Algarve day trips included visiting a beach hidden from the mainroads and mostly known to locals. Here we got to walk the beach for a little while with the sand, sun, and ocean breeze all to ourselves. Kevin knows about the place because he used to visit with his grandfather and fish for clams in the summer. We got a full theatrical explanation of how he would walk in neck deep water (“it was up to here!”) trying to keep up with his grandfather while fighting the ocean (“current was trying to suck me out the whole time!”) so they could eat fresh seafood for dinner. It was a neat story which gave a beautiful pit-stop all the more meaning.
As were leaving the beach we noticed it had rained earlier (sidenote – apparently it rained so much during my visit I’m not allowed back, bad luck) and the dirt parking lot was now filled with mud. So while Heather rolled her eyes Kevin and I hooked up the camera and drove circles through the mud having a blast! Check it out:
Doesn’t get any better than that.