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Adventures in the Algarve Region of Portugal

Updated: Apr 8

My Square in Lagos

My Square in Lagos (photo by author)

In week 50, I was settling into Lagos, my home for the next month, and where I would mark the end of my first year in Portugal.

Party Tis Arrives in Lagos

After leaving my dirtbag landlord in Lisbon, it was quite lovely to meet Nino and his wife Vida who are my landlords for the month I’m spending in Lagos. They offered to launder my sheets while I am here and brought me an extra heater when the weather turned colder than expected. I could get used to landlords who are, how do you say it? Human beings.

As luck would have it, the first night I arrived, my favorite football team had an important game. After eating a lovely meal of black pork, one of my favorite Portuguese dishes, I headed to the local pub a friend had recommended for optimal game viewing. I figured there was no need to wait to declare my football loyalty, so I rolled in wearing my Man City jersey, took a seat at the bar and ordered a beer.

Party Tis with Random Football Fan in Lagos (photo by author)

Party Tis with Random Football Fan in Lagos (photo by author)

Beside me at the bar, a fellow Man City fan and Lagos resident was celebrating his birthday. His friends were preparing his party at the bar complete with signs, streamers and a cake, while we focused on watching the game.

After a win for my team, I was heading home when a beer appeared in front of me. Most will recognize this as the one you should leave behind. However, my new buddy was so excited that his friends were throwing him a party that he bought all of them a round and included me, his new City friend.

Party Tis is off to a roaring start here in Lagos.

Cooking and Chilling

The next day, after working all day, I headed out to Pingo Doce, the local grocery store, to buy enough supplies to make a few meals. With a well-stocked kitchen in a nice cozy one bedroom apartment, I was excited to spend more time cooking and relaxing at home. Bonus: the apartment has no threat of a drive-by from my Former Incompetent Portuguese Slumlord or his idiotic henchman, further adding to the tranquility of my new space.

The rest of the week I spent taking long walks around the characteristic streets and the waterfront, trying new recipes and watching some shows I’d been wanting to see. I did yoga every morning before settling into the table by the window where I set up my desk. While I worked, I could see out over the rooftops and watch as the sky changed from morning clouds to afternoon sunshine. I worked in my little window perch while serenaded by the mewing of seagulls, taking breaks to walk in the sunshine when it flooded my window and grab a cup of tea at the local café.

Life was perfect.

The Strip in Albufeira

The Strip in Albufeira

A Weekend in the Party Town of Albufeira

Meanwhile in the town of Albufeira, my friend Ava was taking a break from Lisbon as a guest at a friend’s empty apartment. Unlike peaceful Lagos, Albufeira has a seedy reputation, as much as a Portuguese town can have a seedy reputation. It is known as the drunken party capital of the Algarve, popular with British “stag-dos” and any group of people looking to spend a few days getting blind drunk for cheap.

For this reason, most sane adults stay far away from Albufeira. However, since my friend was there and it was the off-season, I figured this might be the best chance I’d have of ever seeing Albufeira, which was supposed to be quite lovely minus the drunk party crowd. So, I rented a room at a nice resort for peanuts and hopped the train Saturday morning for a night in the Algarve’s version of Sin City.

After checking into my hotel, I headed out to meet Ava for lunch. As I walked, I took in the scenery full of strip clubs, steak houses that were certain to have dancing girls giving lap dances in the back, and regular old pubs. It felt like the cops had swept through on a raid about two months ago and left a seedy ghost town behind. Signs on the clubs said “Thanks for a great season! See you in April.” I will be long gone by then.

Sunset in Albufeira (photo by author)

Sunset in Albufeira (photo by author)

As I walked, Ava suddenly caught up with me and we made our way to a lovely café. It was a delight in the middle of such a cesspool. After lunch, we wandered down by the waterfront to enjoy the view. As I settled into my seat, I realized this view is why you come to Albufeira. I watched the seagulls fly past the cliffs that were the rugged backdrop for the beautiful beaches.

After a colorful sunset, we finished our drinks and headed over to check out a pub quiz Ava had discovered. After a respectable showing for a team of two, we called it a night.

Shades of Green on the Deep Blue Sea

The next morning, we headed out on a boat tour of the caves. I had wanted to see the Benagil cave and the tour promised that we would go inside of that one and see all of the others. Perfect! We boarded the boat and headed out on the water just east of where the caves lined the shore.

As soon as we got out of the harbor, it was apparent the sea was extremely rough. Not being a person that has spent a lot of time on the water, I did not realize that during winter, the seas might not be ideal. As we headed far from shore, the staff mansplained that we were taking a roundabout way to get to the caves to minimize the impact of the unexpected rough seas.

Liars. We JUST left the harbor. Of course you knew the seas were rough. Alas, they sold the tour on a high chance of dolphin sightings and were trying to find some to save their tips. Meanwhile, yours truly was turning the color of sea creatures. With every crash of the boat, I became increasingly likely to toss my breakfast.

After no dolphin sightings, we were thankfully heading back toward the shoreline as we had reached the location of the Benagil cave. Of course, we were not able to go in because of the “unexpected” rough seas.

The Last Thing I Saw Before Going into the Fetal Position (photo by author)

The Last Thing I Saw Before Going into the Fetal Position (photo by author)

Finally, I tried to go to the bathroom, thinking a few quiet moments might settle my stomach or give me an opportunity to hurl in peace. After locking the door and instantly getting thrown to the other side of the bathroom, I realized there was no light. It felt like I’d been thrown into solitary, as the boat tossed me from one side of the bathroom to the other, spraying me with the contents of the toilet. I waited for the moment it launched me back towards the door and grabbed at the handle, finally making my escape.

Back on deck, the staff came over wanting to know if I was okay. I gave them a look that clearly communicated how I was feeling as I tried to steady myself on the tossing ship while giving off a scent that gave a new meaning to “Eau de toilette”. Immediately, they busied themselves, helping me hold the rail so if I puked before I was united with a barf bag, that it would not be an added “perk” shared with the other guests.

With my barf bag in hand and increasingly afraid I might get tossed into the sea, I headed to the closest seat in the back row and curled into the fetal position. As we rode, I could hear the staff describing all the wonderful sights everyone else was seeing as I turned various shades of green.

My quiet life in Lagos was looking pretty good.

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