In August, I took my now annual getaway vacation to Europe. I chose southern Portugal in the Algarve region…specifically the breathtaking resort city of Albufiera, Portugal.
For those of you that have travelled to Europe from our area, you know that it is literally a day to get there. After a book, a movie, long conversations with new friends on the three flights to Albufiera, I finally arrived on August 14th. I have learned over the years to travel light and do laundry when necessary. Well, I had no idea what “travel light” meant until I arrived in Faro, Portugal which is the main airport for the Algarve. Upon arrival, I was the lone survivor waiting for my luggage…eh hem…My bag never arrived. What no clothes, shoes or gag sunglasses? What am I to do? “C’mon Marco, you have been through worse and this is just a hiccup”, I convinced myself. “Now you will surely blend in as you will most likely be forced to buy some authentic Portuguese attire”.
So, off I went to the race-car minded taxi driver barreling down the freeways, streets and alleys doing his best impersonation of Steve Sells of Wrecked at Reef trying to capture the Baja to Rocky Point Championship Trophy. I held on and arrived at the hotel and found out that there was still no clue as to the whereabouts of my luggage. So, off I went to buy two essentials to start my trip…a swim suit and some flip flops. Thankfully, the North American version of a guy’s swimsuit was available and I humbly purchased some swim trunks with what else but the Portuguese flag! When in the Algarve!!! Now sensing that I can remotely fit in, I moseyed out to check out the pool and the grounds of the amazingly beautiful Porto Bay Resort. The resort sits on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic with blueish-turquoise waters and a much needed cool summer breeze. The staff was so friendly as I found all of the Portuguese to be…happy, kind people.
After some much needed rest and sun therapy, I showered up and headed out to the world-renowned night life of Albufiera. If you have never been before, just look up the videos posted on You Tube…incredible! My now favorite clothes in my whole life (I had to don once again my only black shorts and aqua polo shirt) were proudly going round #2 with a hefty splattering of cologne. I don’t exactly recall the taxi driver asking where I wanted to go, one whiff and bam I was off to THE STRIP. The Strip is a long avenue about a mile long packed on both sides with bars, restaurants and assorted shops totally jammed with revelers from around the world. The street closes off to cars after 8pm and becomes enveloped with people of all ages seeking a good time and fun.
About half way down the avenue, I was drawn into PatchaClub. Alex, the beautiful bartender who grew up in Greece, was there to greet me with a smile and surprisingly perfect English. I watched as she made cocktails for patrons with such expertise and skill as she adorned each with a bevy of garnishments and yes, even sparklers! Paulo, was her male sidekick and counterpart that put on a 5 minute display of juggling bottles behind his back, over his head, through the air…a born entertainer! I was lucky enough to meet new friends over the week from Ireland, Italy, England, Greece, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Czech Republic, Scotland, Wales, France and of course my great pals from Holland, Martijn, Gertjan and Ginger. Alex and Paulo were always so kind as well, they literally became family.
The beaches were beautiful but I longed for the softer sands and warmer waters of Rocky Point. We truly are blessed with our incredible beaches. Although the majority of the trip accomplished it’s goal…RELAXATION…I did decide to sign up for a Sunset Cruise which would have been more aptly named PARTY BOAT CENTRAL! I went down to the lobby and signed up for the cruise through the Porto Bay reservations and they sent a shuttle bus to drive me to the pier about 15 kilometers away. Upon arrival, I checked in on the dock and the gal told me in broken English to come back at 6:30 to check in and walk down the docks to the boat. Having an hour and 20 minutes to spare, I decided to have a seat at one of the many outdoor restaurants and ordered up a cocktail and a seafood appetizer. The time went quickly…well too quickly! About 6:30 I heard a very loud bull horn blowing and a large boat full of boisterous people dancing to the beat of the DJ as the boat slowly pulled out from the dock. Sharp as a marble, I yelled, “DAMN THAT’S MY BOAT!” So down the docks, I ran dodging in and around an array of boats. By this time, the DJ sees me and starts announcing to the boat revelers something in Portuguese that most likely was something along the lines of “Oh this is great, look at this whacky guy trying to make it”. Well, the whole boat gathered to one side of the boat and was pointing and cheering for me to make it…or possibly splash! By now the boat, was exiting the harbor but there was one last dock to run down through the maze of piers. The cheering got louder as I was approaching the boat but I was running out of room…literally the dock ended and the boat was passing the last piece of the dock. As the boat patrons were yelling a whole array of languages that were completely foreign to me and I could only surmise it meant jump, I leapt from the last strip of the dock and three crewmen caught me and hoisted me into the cheering crowd. THREE more seconds and I would have been back to the shopping mall, trying to buy some more clothes for my trip. I was greeted to 80 of the most fun-loving people who were all high-fiving me and giving me hugs as I entered the boat. All of us were laughing and I was just speechless…so much for a quiet entrance! The cruise turned out to be spectacular with breath-taking views of the sand cliffs that line the Algarve with amazing sand caves that are carved through by the sea and wind. The boats actually ride right through the cliffs which was just truly awesome to see.
My luggage did finally turn up and my trip to Portugal was nothing short of sensational. I would highly recommend Albufiera to anyone. As our flight left Lisbon my last day, I reminisced about the shores of Rocky Point and how I longed to be back and how truly blessed we are with our super-friendly people, beautiful beaches and awesome restaurants and night life. As I write this, I am smiling as I am back in Rocky Point and vacations are vacations but it’s great to be HOME! Always remember, NO ONE IS IN CHARGE OF YOUR HAPPINESS BUT YOU! So be happy and live it up…you only have one live to live…and live it best at your favorite place of all…ROCKY POINT! ADIOS AMIGOS! God Bless! Marco