Our European odyssey finishes in the south of Portugal
27.08.2013 - 09.09.2013 28 °C
With less than 3 weeks to go before our European departure, we were keen to make the most of the fading continental summer. Greece, Turkey, and Malta were all ruled out on account of expense (the normally miserly [on price] budget airlines were failing to live up to the holiday spirit for these destinations).
We elected instead to head to the Algarve in southern Portugal - a sun-kissed region renowned for great beaches and golf resorts. Aware that the kids were starting to show a few signs of travel fatigue (the impending return to Oz accelerating the mood), we planned an unambitious two weeks of mainly beach and poolside relaxation.
As it transpired we had a lovely time. Our base was a small fishing village called Olhos d'Agua - jammed between ritzy Vilamoura and busy, but unappealing Albufeira - and we were pleasantly surprised to find that most holidaymakers were Portuguese, along with the usual smattering of northern Europeans, English and the Irish.
Highlights included the laidback locals; delicious food (chicken piri-piri, steak on the stone, grilled sardines, morning pastries); lovely weather; gorgeous Algarve coastline which was as craggy as it was spectacular; a day trip we made to Sagres (via rental car); and seeing the girls slowly get the hang of boogie boarding!
However the top of the list for all concerned was a dolphin spotting trip we caught from nearby Albufeira marina. We headed 5 miles off shore in a zodiac (at around 34 bumpy mph), and were very fortunate to come across a big school (pod) of around 80 short-beaked common dolphins. They were incredibly playful - zipping under our boat, slicing through the water, then performing little pirouette breaches - and we were awestruck.