After our first week in Portugal I would say we had well and truly settled in. We were no longer trying to navigate where things were or what to do but actually got into a bit of a groove and knew what it was we still wanted to explore. I love this about two week holidays, there really is something about getting into your own little routine and looking forward to the day ahead.
We of course spent time at the beach and the pool again and I feel like maybe we had so much more fun this week. We were able to get involved with the children, they were happy and confident in the water and on the sand and so digging holes, making sand seats and really joining them to share the fun was definitely the order of the day(s). I showed Eva how I could do handstands in the water and Eddy swam through their legs to squeals of laughter.
After our days in the pool and beach we had our other little tradition from the first week of heading down after dinner for an ice cream and a walk along the beach, it really helped us to get the most out of the holiday and the early evenings without actually staying out too late and the girls felt like it was a little treat despite us almost always being back to bed for 7.30. As Eva can’t have ice cream we would stop at the place that had the most flavours of sorbet which for her is the most exciting thing ever. Therefore one night when she pushed it too enthusiastically with her tongue on the very first taste resulting in it falling with a splat on the floor right in front of the counter we had to quickly remedy the situation with another scoop! I don’t think I have ever seen her face look so devastated that she might have to watch everyone else enjoy theirs whilst she looked longingly on. Another 2 euros well spent! We would sit together and watch over the beach as there were still people swimming and soaking up the last bit of the sunshine and it always felt so calm.
As I mentioned at the end of our first week post we were definitely in need of more exploring and to get out of the immediate area so we ended up hiring a car for the day. I have so much to say about where we went and so many photos to share that I am going to write up a separate post about that day soon with more details of all the places we visited, we did pack in as much as possible into one day!
We drove firstly for about an hour to the pretty town of Silves where we visited the most amazing Silves Castle and even had lunch in the middle of it. I took Eva in to see a church inside which she absolutely loves and took a wander around some of the little shops dotted around. Eva was so interested in the shops where they were making their own products right there in front of her eyes.
We left Silves to visit the natural spa town of Caldas. We climbed a beautiful hill to find the natural spring at the top. The girls were fascinated and Roma jumped with excitement at the ‘tap’. It was a gorgeous little spot and so quiet so we stopped for an ice cream yet again, well that’s what holidays are for right?
I was a little nervous if I am honest whether going on a car journey hopping in and out would be stressful for everyone and boring for the girls but apparently after 8 days of no cars it was actually exciting and they were so good. We would all sing together, talk about what we had just seen, could see out the windows of the stunning view or what we were about to see, it was actually really lovely to have a bit of down time.
Our next stop was Monchique which was another little pretty traditional town but where we also came across a fab honey shop with a beautiful painted wall, perfect for an Instagram picture (as Eva said!) They had a ghetto blaster outside (think early 90’s boyband) which was playing traditional music and we had a bit of a dance in the middle of a deserted street! At the top of yet another hill, was just a stunning view and the girls loved just running around….after a snack stop with Daddy.
At the tourist information office here they told us about Foia which is the highest part of the Algarve so we decided that would be our next stop before heading for some dinner and I am so glad we did. Not only was the view just breath-taking whilst we were there but the drive was gorgeous too. We noticed that there were lots of stones stacked all over the place as far as the eyes could see so of course we had to leave our stamp! I believe no one knows why they are there but it’s nice to leave your mark isn’t it? It was rather windy up there though!
To break up the journey back a bit we decided to have dinner en route but I think we were a little early for most restaurants so ended up actually heading back to Silves where we stopped at the most delicious sushi place. Roma was so tired she ended up snuggled on my knee and it was just a lovely end to probably the best day we had. Whilst I do love the quiet days, the adventures are where I stop and feel very privileged to be doing this with my little family. The return journey saw both girls fall asleep and was another of those moments, where you look at each other and burst. There is nothing more perfect than sleeping children is there?
The last few days were a mixture of relaxation and soaking in the holiday vibe, doing things that we knew would make the most of it. After last year in France when we went to the beach at sunset and it ended up being my most favourite memory ever, we decided to do the same this holiday. So one night we extended our after dinner ice cream to a play on the beach at sunset too. As we got there, to our usual spot, it was clear there was an event or something on and it was their annual Sardine festival. We laughed as we seem to have form at finding random traditional food festivals after again last year in France there was an onion festival on.
There was a stage with music, colourful light and lines of tables. Not to mention the long long line for the sardines! There were also plenty of other stalls from beer to candyfloss which Roma tried for the first time and got so so sticky. There was a real buzz in the air and it was lovely. Some locals even had tshirts on for the event, from that year and some from years gone by! We strolled through taking it all in and also so that we could walk up to on top of the red cliffs. It was such a stunning view of the coastline and you could see to the festival below, I took the opportunity to take our family shots up there and even though it looks like we are just standing on the sand, the other side of that was a sheer drop!
Just like in France it was the perfect night, the children loved it, were well behaved and a joy to be around and I got some of my most favourite photos ever. I don’t know what it is about the beach at sunset but it has such a relaxing and reflective feeling about it. Having seen the rocks on previous trips to the beach it was fab to let the children play around them and take some shots, I just couldn’t help myself! This one of Roma is probably the photo I am most proud of taking and the one with her dancing on the beach with a feather in her hand just shows me her character in one look.
Naturally with the festival going on there were quite a lot of being around and on the beach but rather than take away from the night I really think it made it and despite not talking to anyone I felt that sense of community, of enjoying it together. As the sun disappeared behind the rocks Eddy juggled stones, the children tried to do hand stands, I actually gave Eva a one handed cartwheel demonstration and all I could feel was happy, even with wet sandy bums from sitting together eating yet another ice cream.
I will always remember fondly the exploring that we did in this second week and I am really glad that we did. I definitely couldn’t imagine being in the same place for that time without getting out, even just for a day to discover some more traditional culture. It made all the difference and helped us really enjoy the last few days of beach fun before the long journey home, and it was a long one with a delayed night flight and Roma not going to sleep until 12.30, just as we got home in passport control! But hey what is holidays with children without a little bit of stress and unpredictability. Showing them a little slice of the world and doing that together will always be more than worth it.
I also had so much footage of our day trip that I actually made two videos of our last week but I am so very proud of both if them and I definitely think travel vlogs are my favourite to make.