Praia de Falesia


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Europe » Portugal » Algarve » Albufeira
September 21st 2017
Published: September 22nd 2017
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The massive seagulls are again causing mayhem at breakfast. One of them has hoed into someone's leftovers on a table near mine and there is now broken crockery and glassware all over the paving.

Issy decides to have a domestic morning, so I set off in the car on my own. I head towards Praia de Falesia, which is a beach about five kilometres east of Santa Eulalia. I park the car and take pictures of the beach from the top of the high cliffs at the back of it. There are again signs everywhere warning that the cliffs are unstable and that you should stay away from the edge. They look stable enough to me, so I walk right up to the edge to make sure that I get the best possible vantage point. I then lean forward and realise that the bit of ground I'm standing on is an overhang. It is made up of very soft loose dirt, and the cliff face below it is about a metre back from where I'm standing. I think that if I keep standing here I might be about to take a quick ride down the cliff face to the beach. The upside of this is that I will get to the beach more quickly than if I walked down the stairs; the downside is that I don't think I'll feel very well when I get there. I tiptoe slowly and carefully back to safer ground, and decide that in future I should take warning signs a lot more seriously. I'm glad that Issy isn't here.

I walk down the stairs onto the beach. It is wide and sandy, and extends for as far as I can see in both directions. It is a great beach, and other than the sunlounges and beach umbrellas for rent, I feel like I could be back home. The cliffs behind the beach are spectacular, and are about thirty metres high. They are bright orange and yellow, and have had deep patterns eroded into them. In some places the cliffs have eroded into canyons that extend a long way back from the beach.

I decide that I must go for a swim. The water is freezing, so I stretch out on the sand to warm up again. There are lots of people here, but the beach is so big that I don't have anyone else within about fifty metres of me. I hope this is because the beach is so big and not because I look like someone who should be avoided. I walk for kilometres along the beach, and then find some more steps up the cliff, so I can walk back towards the car along a path along the cliff top. I am very careful to stay well back from the edge. The views along the beach in both directions from the cliff top are stunning.

I drive back to the hotel and find Issy lazing by the pool. My cousin Barbie from England is arriving here this afternoon to spend a few days with us. We catch the bus into Albufeira to meet up with her. We chat over some drinks at a bar overlooking the beach. I order a dessert called "After Eight". The waitress tells me that I can't have it because it isn't after eight yet. For a moment I think she is serious but she assures me she is only kidding. She has an unusual accent so we ask her where she is from. She tells us that she is Brazilian, and that Brazilians speak Portuguese with a very different accent to the Portuguese from Portugal. Her accent seems to have a slight American twang to it. People from Portugal seem to have a Russian twang to their accents. I then wonder if Russians can have twangs. I thought that only Americans had twangs.

We wander through the streets of Albufeira with Barbie, who tells us that this is her first time in Portugal. We walk up the hill along the back of the waterfront, and stop at a terrace overlooking the marina. We watch as lots of fishing boats come in and seagulls swoop to try to get a share of the catch. I think they might have more luck getting breakfast leftovers at our hotel, but I suspect that maybe they prefer fresh fish to soggy cereal and cold toast.

We settle in for dinner on a terrace at a restaurant on the top of the cliff overlooking the main beach. There are signs on the railing warning patrons to keep their feet on the floor, so I think they must get a lot of diners here wanting to eat their meals standing on the tables. I wonder why anyone would want to do that. The views from the terrace are excellent and the food is good too.

Barbie shows us her flat which is right in the middle of town. She says the owner told her that it is in a block that was built in the 1960s when tourism first started to take off here. We read that up until then Albufeira was a very quiet little fishing village, which had fallen on hard times. The permanent population is now around 40,000, but this swells to 300,000 in mid summer. Albufeira seems to have had more than its fair share of hard times. All but about thirty houses here were destroyed by ten metre high tsunami waves that followed the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. A lot of people sought refuge in the church, but this then collapsed killing more than 200.

We stop for a nightcap at a nearby cafe.


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