Christmas 2018

They’re a really lively bunch the regulars here at Camping Albufeira. Quite a few retired Brits live on site all year round in the bungalows and many others return year after year. It’s also a very popular choice for various club rallies. It’s one of the biggest campsites in Europe apparently. We chose it last Christmas because the kids were flying out to us and they wanted somewhere a bit lively. The log cabins for rent on site sleep 4, are well equipped and cost €40 per night or €20 if booked for a month. Very reasonable. Ideal if you have family and friends who want to join you. Flights to Faro are cheap at this time of year and you can get transfers for as little as €10 each on the Green Bus service. If you don’t want the hassle, the site will provide a personal pick up for €35, door to airport. This year we came back as it’s great to have a bit of entertainment over the festive period and a few of our mates were already here. It hasn’t disappointed. The pitches are very generous and the facilities brilliant. There’s something going on most nights either in one of the the bars or the restaurant. It’s lovely to sit around the pool on an afternoon, it’s a real sun trap up there and the lunchtime bar menu is very reasonable if you don’t want to cook.

The cycle path into town is safe, pleasant to walk or bike and takes around 15/20 minutes. Alternatively, hop on a bus outside the gates or grab a taxi from reception for €4.

Christmas Eve was a happy, lively atmosphere. There was a bit of a disco on and everyone took their own nibbles and trays of sandwiches. On Christmas Day they provided a banquet lunch. It started at 12. For €35 you got all of your food, wine, a free bar until 6pm and live music. It went on until almost midnight! Can’t grumble at that. I was a bit of a party pooper however as I wanted to cook my own lunch and just chill. We had a really super day. We cooked the full traditional works. Blasted the Christmas tunes in our party hats while we unwrapped gifts with a Tia Maria. Spoke to the family back home, had a great FaceTime session with Matt and Lucy from Sri Lanka and then watched movies all afternoon. Wend had very kindly posted a fantastic Christmas parcel of goodies containing White Christmas DVD which was playing in the background as I prepped the veg! It was all very laid back. On Boxing Day, we were invited up to the balcony bar in the afternoon for a bit of a do. Prad joined us for a beer. We were made so welcome. The ex pat gang had put on an amazing buffet. They insisted that we ate with them even though we had turned up empty handed. So kind. it was a great afternoon. Went back to the van a little squiffy!

Next day, we needed a good walk. We took the dog, had a brisk stroll along the walkway into town, through the tunnel and onto the beach. Prad had told us about some interesting blow holes at the far end of Albufeira so we hung a left and set off in the direction of Falesia.

The rock formations at the far end of the beach are pretty impressive. The beach is much nicer down here too. We had a lovely time exploring.

The stage on the main town beach is almost ready for the big New Years Eve celebrations. The music concert was fabulous last year and the fireworks incredible. We are very torn this year between coming down town for the free entertainment, it’s such a great atmosphere, and the 7 course Gala Dinner Dance being held on the campsite. I want to do both!! It’s a good weather forecast so I think the decision will be to come down town and then crash the party later for a dance.

We had a great night out with the Porters and Cat and Prad last night. We watched the sun go down with a G and T upstairs in the bar overlooking the beach at Flavours, more drinks at a quirky little place on the strip and then had a delicious curry supper at the Clay Oven, a very smart, upmarket Indian in the new town. Most enjoyable. Such good company this lot.

I went for my morning at the Lotus Spa on site which dear hubby arranged as a Christmas treat. It was fab. Came out floating on air and spent the afternoon lazing on a sunbed by the pool. The Beautician is very good but doesn’t speak a word of English! Google translate is a godsend. This is the life though !

It has crept around to New Years Eve! Our time here has flown. I’m sitting outside the van in the morning sunshine painting my nails with my hair in rollers ready for tonight. We’re going to eat here rather than risk the crowded restaurants down town. I’ve got some nice fillet steak. My biggest decision of the day is how to cook it. Cumin Chilli Stir Fry Beef is a favourite, I’m pretty sure I’ve covered that recipe before on here. It’s quick, easy and very tasty. Very briefly then to recap. Slice and marinate the beef in dark soy sauce, red wine, dark sherry, (4 Tablespoons of each), a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of corn flour and a thumb sized piece of grated ginger. I leave it overnight but a couple of hours is fine. Fry with a splash of sesame oil for a couple of minutes stirring constantly, leaving the juice set aside. Remove the meat, add to the pan a tablespoon of ground cumin seeds (warm them before grinding), two or three cloves of finely chopped garlic, chopped fresh chillies and a handful of chopped spring onions. Mix through well, add the marinade juice, warm through then reintroduce the meat. It doesn’t need long. When the meat is cooked, sprinkle in fresh chopped coriander and serve with Thai Jasmin rice and a wedge of lime. It’s very light for a steak meal an yummy!

We are nipping to the beach before we eat to give the dog a good run. Must have coffee and cake first though. The diet has to start when we leave here on the 3rd so making the most of my ‘happy fat days’!!

On New Years Day we are doing our usual afternoon ‘bring a dish’ party with the gang. We put all our tables together, light the fire pit and everyone brings food, music and booze. Prad has suggested a curry theme as we all love it rather than a cold buffet. I’m making my homemade onion bhajis, Bombay potatoes and a Goan Pork and Pineapple Vindaloo. Prad is making Butter Chicken, can’t wait to try that. Annie is providing pre-curry tapas and Kev’s in charge of the silly games!!

Fast forward, it’s 1st of January, thick heads all round. Happy new Year everyone! Sat up in bed drinking buckets of builders brew strength tea and eating toast. Got in at 3 am. Haven’t done that in a very long while. What a great night! The bands were amazing. Two Portuguese chart toppers apparently. So glad I wore flat shoes! We bumped into Chris and Alan in the square, lovely fellow travellers from Tenby who we met at Falesia last year. Good to catch up with them.

Spent far too long in a toilet queue and drank my body weight in fizz. Standard. Came back to camp to join the end of the Gala Dinner so we could have a boogie! It had to be done!

New Years Day was just brilliant. We all rallied round with a little hair of the dog. Games went down a treat, I’ve never played Nurdling before. Nice one Mr Porter!! All of the food was delicious. Great fun.

Cat and Prad announced their engagement. How lovely is that. Many congratulations to them. Such a smashing couple. Made for each other.

We’ve had a truly fantastic time here in Albufeira. Our friends have played a big part in making it so special. It’s good to have a bit of company at Christmas. The weather has been amazing too. It’s time now though to pack up the baubles, bells and fairy lights, dust off the maps and hit the road. We’ve got a bit too settled, there are more beaches to explore!

We have loads of chores which must be done before we leave tomorrow. Laundry etc., I’m going to strip the beds. domestic detention for a few hours. The van needs a proper good muck out.

I hope you all had a wonderful time wherever your Christmas found you. The new year is upon us, let’s make it kick! Sending love to you all and a bit of sunshine to those back home. A big virtual hug to all our friends and family, we’ve missed you. Matt and Lucy have just landed in Thailand so very happy to receive a FaceTime call from them confirming all is well.

Right, must crack on. Things to do. TTFN folks. Have a fab day. For those of you back at work, it’ll soon be the weekend! Catch you laters 😎

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