Another Beach – Carvoeiro

Another beautiful cliffside beach in the town of Carvoeiro. I go walking along the Algor Seco boardwalk on a lovely day in March.

It’s 2021 but Portugal is just emerging slowly from the COVID lockdowns imposed in mid-January. A lot is expected to open after the Easter Break or April 5th. The town of Carvoeiro when I visited is almost abandoned. Less than 5 sun tanners on the beach and the restaurants are only available for “take away” – “to go” for us Americans.

The boardwalk is an easy, maybe 1 km in each direction. Easily accessible for all abilities. I think the iWatch said it was about a mile round trip. This is, what I’m told, a quieter part of the Algarve. Although I think downtown Carvoeiro, what must be the “party” strip from the beach to the center of the medieval quarter of town, is probably loud and busy in Summer in a normal year.

Today, I almost have it to myself. One of the reasons I chose the vineyard property is that I am less than 5 miles from beaches like this but I will be away from the crowds and the noise in the evenings. I can come down here, enjoy the beach, have a drink by the beach and then take an Uber back to the vineyard and relax. There are bbq facilities at the vineyard, I have a full kitchen and can enjoy making a quick meal in the evening and enjoy the quiet of the countryside and I still have a nice view of the vineyard to boot. Although, I am next to a dog rescue and do hear some dogs at night, but it’s better than drunken revelers arriving at your apartment, condo or hotel complex at 1 a.m., or late, any given night!

These beaches remind me of Southern California in some ways. We have some nice cliffside beaches, I’m looking at you Salt Creek Beach, but a lot of these beaches here in the Algarve are only accessible by boat, paddle board, kayak, etc. I look forward to exploring them further when it’s permissible.

On my way here, I took the Google maps route which did not lead me through the center of town but skirted it a bit. I went through a very nice neighborhood with high fences and once in a while you had a peak of a stunning home. Once in a while you could see the view of the ocean beyond. In my mind I thought, “this is the Beverly Hills or Bel Air of the Algarve”. So far I’ve only been to a couple of beaches and I look forward to exploring more for Southern Portugal’s coast.

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Voyage Toujours Tales – Rainy Days

When you travel, are you fixated on the sunny skies, time outside in the sun? Well, some of my most memorable days have been rainy! That’s right. I am originally from Southern California, where its favorable weather about 90% of the year and maybe that’s why I like a little inclement weather once in a while. In this clip, we are taken to the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye in Scotland and to the opposite end of the world, Milford Sound, New Zealand. Both days spent in those locations were rainy and boy, did I have the time of my life.

Isle of Skye, Scotland – May, 2019 – A celebration of my 50th found a group of my friends and I in Scotland. We started in Edinburgh where we spent a few days enjoying the usual sites, Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile, Arthur’s Seat, etc. before heading out to the Highlands. Our base was Glencoe. One of our friends had a distant mate that lives on the Isle of Skye and we went for a day trip – Americans! Isle of Skye deserves more than a day trip but it was a memorable one. We had lunch with his friend and then went to the Fairy Pools. The skies opened up and started to rain as we arrived. Luckily, everyone with was properly dressed and we ventured forth. What is it about rainy days and letting the kid inside you want to leap out and make a splash in the puddles? I always find that in UK, the gray skies intensify the green and grey of the rocks in the hills and it’s such a technicolor mash of beautiful melancholy. Just fabulous!

On the other side of the world, some of those same friends joined me on a trip to the South Island of New Zealand. I arrived a couple of days prior to take a bit of the capital city of Auckland. The weather their was quite agreeable, as it was throughout the NZ trip. It was September, 2017. Celebrating the 50th of another friend, we decided NZ was the place to go. She and her husband had previously been to the North Island a few years prior as a celebration to a wedding anniversary, now, it was a celebration of her 50th. This time, just a handful of us took the journey. It was about a year after the tragic earthquake which devastated Christchurch. When we visited, there was much to be redeveloped, but it was still a nice visit. We drove south to the southern part of the South Island and ended up in the town of Te Anau as our jumping point for the glow worm caves and the Milford Sound. Both experiences were fantastic. The day we went to Milford Sound, the weather was okay in Te Anau but by the time we got to Milford Sound it was rainy. Not to worry! What that meant for us was a cornucopia of waterfalls all along the cliffs of the Sound. On the deck of the boat looking at all the waterfalls, still able to see the tops of the cliffs and a few boats in the Sound was an elation of my soul that I can still feel.

So, even when the day is misty, rainy, grey, look on the bright side – you just might have the time of your life!

I’ve reached the beach

For all you non 80’s children, Reach the Beach is a fantastic album by the FIXX.
If you’re interested, you can hear it in its entirety here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5An9Ii1Tbk

Portugal is still in lockdown and has recently announced that the lockdown will be extended until end of March. The good news is that some things will open up as soon as next week – the week of March 15th. They are also announcing their plan for the gradual reopening in the next couple of days. Portugal, especially this Algarve area, relies heavily on the summer tourist crowds which would typically start arriving from May and run through to October. My plan is to be in Portugal until end of May and hopefully pay a visit to the family around the US Memorial Day timeframe. After that, I hope the rest of Europe is also a little more open and I could venture out. Whether that’s going to involve proving you’ve had one of the accepted vaccines is yet to be seen but there is heavy talk about requiring this to enter certain countries. I believe most of the EU will require such evidence from the casual tourist once they feel there’s been enough time for most of the adult population to get vaccinated.

I arrived on March 1st and made sure to self isolate for the prescribed 10 days. Yesterday I went in to the town of Portimaio and visited the Praia da Rocha. There are a lot of bars/restaurants that line a man made boardwalk – all completely closed at the moment. There were just a few people down at the beach taking a walk but you are not supposed to go to sunbathe. Other than actually being on the beach, everyone was obeying rules of distancing and not just being idle. I had a delightful 2 mile walk mostly along the elevated boardwalk. It was probably in the upper 60’s – about 20 Celsius. I need to start thinking in Celsius! Not a cloud in the sky. I didn’t have sunscreen and got a bit of color in my hour or so out there. I can’t imagine wanting to be here in the height of summer when it’s probably around 30 or more Celsius – that’s above 85F. I’m not one for really warm weather. I bought an investment property here and hope to have it rented in the high season and hang out here in the low season, which is generally November through April. Last and perhaps some of this year being the exception.

It is often said that the Algarve has aspects of Southern California, and I do believe it reminds me a lot of the Laguna Beach area, where I was just from. There is a lot of surfing and mountain biking for those seeking some sports. They also love canoeing and paddle boarding, hiking, etc. I can’t wait to venture out a bit further as things relax. Next week I have my first doctor appointment – on St. Patrick’s Day! I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m Here!

I made it over – barely. I spent a nice and very quick month just outside of Charleston, South Carolina with dear friends of mine. They have what is practically an estate by Southern California standards. A 3 story house of which the 2nd floor was mine. I arrived on Friday, January 30th and left on February 28th. Seeing that Portugal is on a more restrictive lockdown then SC, I maybe should have hung out a while longer but I’m not sure about the rules regarding the start of my Portugal visa and how long I had to get over here and get things started??? Need to check out more YouTube videos from other expats. Regardless – I’m here! My friends dropped me off at Charleston airport about 11am on Sunday, the 28th. I had a JetBlue/TAP Portugal flight booked. I wanted to avoid having to change planes in Europe so that I could avoid whatever rules the intermediary country had imposed with regards to COVID. I was able to book my luggage all the way through, which was a big help. In “normal” times, I would fly LAX to London Heathrow no matter where I was going beyond the UK as I prefer to fly Virgin Atlantic. That always requires me to go through customs to collect luggage at Heathrow and check it in to my further destination.

As in most airports, things are pretty dead but that means you get through security without problems but there’s almost naught open. Charleston was better than Newark in that regard. I was able to find a place for lunch in Charleston that had decent food. By decent I mean more than just fast food. Another good thing about the current “situation” is that flights are pretty bang on time and you have plenty of space on the airplane. I checked in 2 bags and had another one with me on the flight. Three bags is all I brought over – plus my “purse”. Which held some of my electronic gear. Smooth flight to Newark and I had 5 hours to wait. Surprisingly, it didn’t seem as long as it sounds. Newark airport was running at a bare minimum. Only a food court was open in my terminal and given my low carb diet, I was able to wrangle a taco salad – didn’t eat the high carb, seed oil, deep fried, shell it came in. There was also a Starbucks there and my friend had given me a gift card which I used to get some caffeine. When we were allowed to check in – I lost my tooth paste at security. What a rookie move! I forgot to put it in the checked luggage. It was a bit larger than the allowable 3 ounces. Oh well, I got some later in Portugal. They have Crest & Colgate here, too, in case you are wondering. I think I even saw Sensodyne at the super. I hung out at the bar – those who know me know I like my tipple. Spoke to a young guy that is in medical school in NYC. He was going to visit his Spanish girlfriend in Valencia, Spain and was taking the route over through Portugal. He, along with the rest of us at the bar, did not have a mask on and was chatting with those around. Hmm. No one got crazy or out of hand about masking up. We were about to all get on a plane, in a tube and share air. But I digress.

Flight was pretty darn smooth. I had rows to myself. I’d say about 1/3 of the plane was occupied so there was plenty of room for people to spread out. Food on TAP was abysmal but the comfort of the seats and the entertainment selection was fab, as well as the service. I would fly them again if I wanted to come straight through and avoid other countries from the US to Portugal or back to the US.

Arrival turned out ok, but, I had the WRONG COVID TEST! I thought I purchased the correct test but the customs agent pointed out that I had an RNA test and not a PCR test. The horror! Luckily, he was cool about it and advised that I need to be careful of that next time. All my other documentation was in order and he let me through. I still felt so bad about it. Back in South Carolina, I drove a ways from where I was staying to get the test I thought was the correct one, so that I would be in compliance. Even after driving down from Lisbon to the Algarve, I was still feeling bad about that.

My shuttle for the rental car came about 20 minutes after I exited the airport and I was on my way down South in a short time. I was pretty tired by the time I got to my place in the Algarve. If I haven’t already mentioned, I bought a place on a vineyard but, it’s not ready yet. Due to the delays with permits and work around COVID, there have been delays for everything. However, the vineyard has other accommodation on site and I’ve opted to stay here for a while. I booked 3 weeks here. I’ve booked myself an appointment with a local doctor – I’m a type 1 diabetic and need to make sure I will have prescription for insulin ongoing – so this step is very important for me. Prior to getting approved for a visa, I needed to have proof of private insurance, which I acquired through the people that helped me get my Portugal property.

As is advised through the Portuguese health authority, I have been self isolating for 10 days – symptom free! There are still curfews and other restrictions here but now I feel I can explore further than the supermarket a couple miles down the road. I hope to hit the beach tomorrow and be able to explore the Algarve a little further as things get better – and I know they will.