Destination Portugal; The Last Minute Family Holiday

Destination Portugal; The Last Minute Family Holiday

We recently indulged in a last minute family holiday in the Algarve. I say recently we have been home well over a week now, I am just slow on the uptake. Anyway we followed the advice of one of the North’s funniest comedians, Peter Kaye, and ‘booked it, packed it, fucked off’. We booked everything on the Thursday and flew Saturday morning. Like I said the last minute. Best decision we have made for long time.

We booked our flights with Jet 2, an airline I was yet to fly with and I was impressed, like really. They have lots of staff at the airport to help you through check in, which in summer I imagine will be worth it’s weight in gold. It certainly made it easier for us navigating, two prams, two pushchairs, two toddlers and a car seat. Someone was always ready to lend a hand. As we booked our flight late we were unable to book seats together as the flight was full, the staff at the airport however made it possible for us all to sit together, a massive bonus when travelling with two small ones. The flight on the way home was nowhere near full so they gave us a row of seats with no one in front and no one behind. It is a simple consideration that certainly took the pressure off us and those arose us when flying with a one and two-year old. The flight itself was fab, ahead of schedule, reduced airtime, clean with incredibly friendly and helpful staff. When in taxiing mode a little disco esk, with some choice lighting but no complaints here. Oh and 22 kg luggage as standard – life saver.

Zara and MR Tammy on flight

Disco Disco!

We booked our villa through James Villas. Again a company we were yet to use. I have told the story about how the villa came to be insanely cheap. Like £229.00 for a week cheap. The villa itself was lovely, it was spacious, great grounds, beautiful sunset, all the amenities you need. Sadly there was no pool fence or stair gate, I knew this when booking so it is not a complaint however for an easier life I would certainly recommend them when you have little ones. We made our own but it’s not ideal. A good thing about James Villas however is that their cots and high chairs come included, at no extra cost. Frankly I think this should be standard, as paying extra for what is essentially a bed or chair for my child irks me somewhat. I mean we don’t pay an add-on for our own beds. Either way I am pleased to see James Villas stance on this.

We stayed in Albuferia, I have been there before some 5 years ago when I looked like this…

Me and Lauren 5 years aho with silly make up on
Err, ok and this…

Me and Lauren in Vilamoura

We stayed close to the old town, a 5 minute drive out. The old town is lovely, cobbled streets, a court yard more bars and restaurants that you could use. A lovely beach, with a convenient escalator cliff side to help you get to it…less convenient with prams I grant you but we made it happen. There is another way to get there that doesn’t involve the escalator, we just couldn’t be arsed. You can see why Alubferia is such a popular destination for holiday goers. There is also a new town, erm, well the beach is lovely, as for the town… put it this way, I would have loved it 10 years ago on my girls holiday, with my toddlers though, not so much. A bottle of vodka in a cooler with 5 red bulls on promo…not this time, sadly.

During our weeks stay we really explored the area. We visited the local Marina where there are boat rides a plenty. I wasn’t overly keen on the aesthetics of the Marina, however if you want to go on a boat trip whilst in the Algarve, this is your place. It is also lined with bars and restaurants for a bite to eat beforehand. Unless you’re with toddlers….this was our attempt at lunch…

Me and family

We also drove further down the coast to Armaco De Pera, strange place, felt a bit like Famugusta in Cyprus. You know the place that has been a no mans land for 40 years and looks exactly the same as the day everyone was expelled…. I assume this is Largely because it was out of season, but nonetheless it was eerily quiet. Excellent steak though and again a beautiful beach.

Slightly further up from Armaco was the beautiful resort of Gale. This may have been my favourite place, almost. It was just stunning though. We had such a fabulous morning on the beach with the children, followed by a walk along the coast to a pop up bar serving ice-cold G&Ts. Mr Tammy waxes lyrical about how this was his favourite day. The sand was clean and bright, the sea clear and blue and looked just gorgeous in the sun. I think this beach honestly rivalled some I frequented in Australia.

Zara and Mr Tammy on the beach

Gale beach

Gin and tonics on the beach

IMG_4295

We also journeyed a little further a field to Quinta, Quertaria and Vale do Lobo. I think these were probably my favourite places. They were stunning. Gorgeous lakes, amazing villas and hotels. Vale do Lobo is known for being on of the most exclusive resorts in Europe and boy can you see why. Everything is beautifully maintained, clean and exquisite. Yet family friendly, it is not somewhere you felt uncomfortable or awkward taking your boundary pushing toddlers. I certainly want to return to Portugal and I have my eyes set on Quinta or the Vale do Lobo as our next destination… whether we will get there or not… watch this space.

Finally we returned to Vilamoura, again somewhere I have been previously. I enjoyed it more this time and appreciated it for what it is. Again the beach is amazing, the Marina is well-kept and offers plenty of bars and restaurants of varying types. You can sit in a champagne bar gazing at the power boots or par take in a more modest set menu further down the marina yet there is no compromise on location, view or standard. We chose to eat in a lovely restaurant on the marina, well, I say ate. I walked up and down the Marina occupying my two hangry mouths, until the food came. Once it came it was a particularly hot day and we literally watched our boy wilt in the afternoon heat. Massive error not sitting in the shade. We inhaled our food and took them to an amusement park we remembered from 5 years ago. They were infinitely happier. Standard.

Zara on a ride

 

So not only did we get to see some lovely places and beaches, the children were on pretty good form, and lets face it that is what makes a holiday. Tantrums were relatively minimal, they were happy and entertained. They loved the weather and being outdoors. They loved the heated outdoor pool on site. The boy, being who he is, face planted the non heated pool on one occasion, fortunately I was sat next to him. He was NOT impressed. Although  it did him (and us) a favour as he was much more cautious around the pool after that. Harsh? We often, not all the time, managed to eat out, with something almost resembling normality and even got to sit and enjoy the sun around the pool and on the beach…on occasion. We did not however sleep. Uncharacteristically neither child slept, at all, all week. The only thing that made coming home bearable was the thought of their own beds and a hopeful nights sleep. My plans of coming home with minimal washing was however scuppered when we came home on our penultimate day to this…

washing in the pool

I am not sure what was worse, the wasted washing or having to dive in to fish pegs off the bottom. It wasn’t heated…

 

SO there we have it, all in all a bloody good time. Have you ever been to Portugal or any of the places I mentioned? Have you ever jetted off last minute? I’d love to hear from you.

Oregon Girl Around the World
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6 Comments

  1. Laura
    April 21, 2017 / 7:34 pm

    Sounds lovely! Maybe we will go and have a nosey ourselves one day soon 😀

  2. April 22, 2017 / 8:43 am

    I have been going to the Algarve for the past 28 years.
    My grandparents moved there back in the 80s and it is now my second home.
    We go at least twice a year with our tribe of 4 soon to be 5 children and honestly I wouldn’t take them anywhere else!

    • Tammymum
      April 23, 2017 / 6:41 pm

      Oh wow, lucky you. I so do not blame you it is a beautiful place and fabulous for kids. Oh and wow 5 children , that’s amazing :)

  3. April 22, 2017 / 2:02 pm

    Ha ha, sounds like a lovely and eventful holiday. Portugal really is such a beautiful place, love the weather and the people!

    • Tammymum
      April 23, 2017 / 6:39 pm

      Yes I love Portugal and would like to see a lot more of it! Thank you for your comment xx

  4. April 24, 2017 / 8:21 am

    Love love love Portugal. Haven’t been since before we had our children but when we do decide to venture abroad on holiday I know exactly where we’ll be heading x