Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Algarve

Liv and I share a carousel ride at the MarineZoo

After nearly two years living here in Portugal, we made it to the Algarve. The Algarve is among the most popular tourist destinations in Portugal (it's where Michael Phelps celebrated after his epic Olympic wins), mainly for the Mediterranean climate, beaches and reasonable prices (in comparison to other parts of Europe). English is commonly spoken and many local newspapers are even published in English. The British, Irish and Germans frequent the Algarve on holiday and many even make the Algarve their home.

I've been itching to go for months, begging Matt on a near daily basis. This week, he was able to get some unexpected time off and I threw together the trip in just a few hours. I was able to find a reasonable deal on an apart-hotel (the girls got their own room - score!), complete with a kids pool, fantastic restaurant (I had the best rabbit and the best tiramisu I have ever had at this restaurant) and ideal location.

I'm trying to learn how to save more money on trips, especially in the food department (I'm a bit of a foodie and, therefore, am usually fairly resistant to pack lunches, eat at fast food restaurants, or cook in our room - I really appreciate getting to know the local gastronomy and food is where I think splurging is hardly ever a waste - unless the meal and/or service was horrible - which has been rare for us so far) so I packed up food for our breakfasts each morning (which did save us a bit) and some snacks for the road.

I also made sure we each brought a reusable water bottle. I absolutely refuse to buy bottled water (unless I can't get tap water served to me at a restaurant). I am sure there are places in the world where it would be in your best interest to buy bottled water. However, so far, I have yet to have a problem finding a safe tap water source in which to fill up my water bottle. Can you believe that I have yet to get sick from tap water (in my entire life - and my family did travel a lot growing up)!! Who knew that tap water could be so safe and, well, free!

Sorry for the reusable water bottle pitch. You all love a good lecture don't you!

On to more important things - like pictures from our trip. Below are pictures from the MarineZoo and our hike around some of the beaches.

Lila and I hiking on trails around the beaches. I'm wearing a dress because I forgot that I had packed gym clothes (but I did remember that I had sneakers - can we say, "mom brain?") that would have provided me more comfort than this dress!

Liv had a blast being buried by daddy.

Beer kiosk open and ready for service, mid-day, off a main street - refreshing.

Liv and Matt take a plunge down a water slide at MarineZoo

Lila hiding from the dolphins (see below). She loved the sharks, was petrified of the dolphins - poor, confused child!

Olivia enjoying a cool dip in the MarineZoo kid's pool

And, finally: These recent US college grads know how to enjoy a vacation (minus the stupid water bottle)...anyone want to guess as to what they are reading? Seriously, even I didn't leave home without one of these books!

Update: The answer to what the young women are reading is: "New Moon" - book two in the Twilight Saga. And, until you've read at least 100 pages of the first book (it'll take you an hour or less to read 100 pages), no dumping on the Saga is allowed.


Jay and Amie said...

Looks like fun!

I too will drink tap water whenever I can. Bottled water is such a waste! However, don't ever risk the tap water in Mexico! That is one place I can almost guarantee you will get sick!

The Matthaidess' said...

Looks like you guys had a great time! Ed and I are foodies as well. We constantly splurge on food whenever we go on vacation (Besides, aren't you supposed to splurge on vacation?). I just love tasting specialties from other countries.