The English Bon Vivant in Albufeira

Let’s start from Portugal, from the south – Algarve. All of my CS trips are so interesting that I have no idea from which one to start. Two years ago we had a great trip with one of my best friends (CS-er as well) in Portugal. It was a small 6 days trip, starting from Faro in Algarve and going to Porto. I think that I’m starting from Portugal and especially from Algarve because Portugal combines the best for me and a CS trip – great nature, warm people, amazing culture and a kind of melancholy and temper so typical for my first home country Bulgaria.

Albufeira is one of those cities on the sea (actually on the Altantic ocean) that I definitely not like. So touristy and so overcrowded. I was at the concrete coast of some sea-resorts in Bulgaria, at Agia Napa in Cyprus, at the French & Italian Riviera and even at Costa Blanca’s  skyscraper resort Benidorm, but Albufeira is unique and different. It is more overcrowded than anything else I’ve seen. If you throw a pin there will be no place for it to fall on the ground. And we were there not in the high season. Don’t ask me why we’ve chosen exactly this place to stay. I suppose that it was exactly on our planed trip way, there were quite a lot CS-ers there and we were not so good informed about this city.

Even better, we were with a car and without GPS, trying to find a hotel in the middle of the city, where half of the streets were closed because of some huge event and all of the streets were one way. Nevertheless, being quite experienced in similar situations and relying on the printed google maps, we managed to find the city centre and even to find a place to park, which seems impossible even now in my eyes. We needed one more hour after that and a lot of explanations from our host to find the exact place.

He lives in a … hotel. Yes, we couch surfed in a hotel. In the european concrete sea-resorts you can always buy or rent an apartment in a hotel middle in the city, middle in the crowd. These flats are quite attractive for the people working year after year in the resort. When I say flat you don’t have to imagine more than a hotel room with bath, refrigerator, but no cooking possibility. Don’t wonder, not only consultants like to live in such conditions. 😉 Nowadays I’m eating always raw, but I still can’t imagine to live in a hotel room without cooking opportunity. Six months in my life living like this are enough.

But let’s go back to our host – he was one of these people used to such a lifestyle. He lives in this hotel in the concrete city of Albufeira for many years and he likes it a lot. He is open-minded and very easy-going and likes to meet new people. And meets every single night a lot of new people at his work as a bar keeper or other similar jobs, where contact with the clients is everything. Because he changes a lot of jobs and works at many places at the same time. Everyone in the city seems to know him and he knows everyone as well. Actually he knows everything about the city. And all those clients and friends tell him their stories. So he learns even more about the city and about the world. An incredible amount of stories to tell. We heard only some of them, because we much more liked to hear our host’s stories and not the stories he had heard.

Our host is about 55 years old, but looks like 35. Very attractive and can have for sure every (or almost every woman) he would like. That was definitely one of the reasons for him to stay at this city full of night life and young girls who only want to have fun. On the other side, he is a father of two already grown children, separated from his wife. He is English, but he had lived in Poland, Brazil, Germany and many other countries I’ve already forgotten. And he says that everywhere in the world is so nice and beautiful and that he can live everywhere. I definitely believe this. If he never gets tired from Albufeira and it’s music which starts at 11 am and ends in 6 am, then he can live everywhere. But … he would never live again in UK. The only country he does not like is UK. He told us, that he had a lot of girl friends from different countries, but he was never with an English girl. But he still speaks a good British English and almost no Portuguese after so many years. A man of contrasts, a man of incredible experiences, a man with amazing life and lifestyle, but a man like us, no better than we are. A man living in full harmony with himself and others. A man who knows how to love, to share, to give, to help, to make others feel good. A man who will ever stay young in mind and body. A man with vision. A real CS-er. We noticed this straight. Although it was his first CS experiance ever. 🙂

I have to say something in the end. It will be unfair to say only what I don’t like about Albufeira. It is a concrete overcrowded sea resort full of young all-inclusive mass tourists who want only one – party, alcohol and sex. Every night. And full of workers and merchandisers who want only one – the money of those all-inclusive tourists. Every night and day 😉 And who like the party in the night as well. People who call you and who sell you, offer you, show you everything possible. All around cheap and bad (fast) food restaurants and bars. Two, Three, four and more bars per house! And the music. Every possible style coming from every single door, window or played directly on the street. And so loud. Music mix all around making me feel in trance, but the all-inklusive mass tourists seem to like it 🙂

But Albufeira is much more. It’s situated at one of the most beautiful costs of the world. Middle in the unique cultural landscape of Algarve. City centre directly on the sea, directly between an amazing rock formations. Actually the other way round, the rocks are now in the downtown. Near one of the greatest sand beaches of Algarve. But Algarve, that’s a different story, for some other post.

Albufeira is an old city with a city centre full of those middle-age narrow streets keeping the hot summer sun and the cold winter wind away from the city. And no skyscrapers! Only old two stock houses full with handicraft stores with typical goods from the region. Not only the cheap touristy staff, but some really nice ones. At this streets and small cute places the city looks like an open air ethnographical and cultural museum. So Albufeira is still worth seeing, but please be sure that you are not going there in summer. If you are not looking for party, alcohol and sex of course.