Back From Portugal!

Posted on July 17, 2015

Well, the holiday is drawing to a close and the chances are that after starting this post from our hotel room on Thursday evening, I will probably finish it on the flight home and publish it when back in Blighty.

Since my last post the ‘Little Britain’ family has gone but there have been some impressive cameo appearances from a Dutch couple next door who spent one evening fornicating the hotel to it’s foundations and a South African guy who orders his girlfriend around with alarming and formidable intensity.

An angry looking character, with his shorts pulled up too high, we witnessed him changing his girlfriend’s order from Vodka and Coke to Lime and Soda in such an authoritarian manner it nearly had me saying, “Come on mate don’t be a spoil sport.”

However, judging by the way he eyed the black waitress with a look that suggested a longing for a return to apartheid, I took the cowards route and kept my mouth shut, thus avoiding getting battered with a stick whilst Harry clung on to his back trying to get him off.

If a man pulls his shorts up to high and tucks his shirt in, he can’t be trusted, and the fact he had a baseball hat with ‘Petrol Head’ written on it, confirmed that further eye contact was to be banned.

Ok…I’m on the plane now.

Over the last couple of days we have had the pleasure of meeting up with George and Mary from Ontario, Canada, who seem to spend a fair amount of their time confirming that they are Canadian, not American, as if being labelled American was like having anthrax.

George and Mary, a lovely couple, had been on a cruise from Amsterdam up to the Baltics and back to Amsterdam before flying to Lisbon; a journey that had got them in such a geographical mess, they asked us if we had driven from London. That said, Canada is so huge, perhaps it is nothing out of the ordinary to drive 1500 miles for a holiday, or even a loaf of bread?

We have also been on a boat trip from Vilamoura to Albufeira, a journey that I would like to say was a holiday highlight but sadly, it wasn’t. We sailed along the coast for an hour and a half, took a dinghy and swam in the caves for 15 minutes and came back along the same route.

I guess if there was a highlight, it was the humiliation of having to be pulled back on board the dinghy by about five other passengers as my upper body strength failed me. My emasculation was complete when the guy behind me put one hand on the side and flipped on board like an Olympic gymnast during a pommel horse routine. My mood at the onset of age was compelled further when, later in the day, the reception lady, trying to understand the reason our room key card was consistently failing, enquired whether it might me to do with my pacemaker ( I don’t have one).

On Wednesday, we hired out push bikes and took a ride along the coastline around Vilamoura, which for ten euros was more entertaining than the boat trip, especially hearing the tales of the English guy who owned the hire shop and had lived in Quarteira with his Portuguese wife and children since 1984, witnessing some dramatic swings in this nation’s fortunes in the process.

To try to understand Portugal as a nation is not as easy as it may seem as they do appear to have a matter of fact attitude towards their fate. I am told that in the people’s revolution in the 70’s the only thing that got shot was a horse, which, with all due respect to the horse, was pretty tame compared to uprisings in central and Eastern Europe a decade or two later.

During the world economic crash, two of the major banks were involved in corruption with the then-president and a history of bad investments and fraud have brought economic collapse. However, I am not sure if it is a case of “If I hadn’t had so many riches, I could live with being poor” because I never saw Portugal pre-EU.

What I do know is that many of the small businesses don’t pay tax as they have a “Why should I?” attitude that is perhaps understandable given the track record of previous governments and banking institutions.

A stroll around the back streets of Quarteira gives you a great illustration of poverty and whilst some folk desperately try to forge a living with little market stalls, many others just seem to get drunk and shout and laugh at each other over games of cards and shared cigarettes. They don’t seem bothered and to stir them in to a revolution would seem to be quite an arduous task, even compared to the “Ah well there’s nothing we can do about it” attitude of the British with regards to corrupt banking and corporate tax fraud.


The backstreets of Quateira are an interesting walk

So, anyway, what can I say about the Dom Jose hotel?

First of all, if you are looking for an all-inclusive 5 Star Hotel with a big pool and water slides, don’t bother, it is not that type of place, it really isn’t.

However, if you are looking for somewhere humble and clean with excellent and helpful staff, the Dom Jose is a no-brainer. It is one of those places that you grow to love because of the warmth, kindness a helpful attitude of everyone associated with it.

A fine example of this was the arrival of Gordon, an elderly man on his own and tragically beset with dementia (who let him travel, I really don’t know?). Gordon was a disaster waiting to happen, wetting himself, forgetting to dress properly, dropping money everywhere and getting sunburnt as utter confusion engulfed him.

With admirable but undramatic authority, the management took control of the situation and effectively implemented a system of rotation where the hotel staff became his 24 hour carers in attempt to make his stay as comfortable as possible.

Thankfully, this didn’t stop him telling noisy kids to “Fuck Off”, one of the few amusing symptoms of this dreadful illness.

I have in previous posts mentioned the stars of what would have been a great TV documentary, but in general (The South African apart) it appears that a pleasant and humble hotel somehow attracts pleasant and humble guests. Perhaps Trip Advisor works?

Whether, it was the gay golfers, the Little Britain family, the Canadians who didn’t really know where they were, the bickering Belfast family who all talked like Ian Paisley, or the Dutch fornicators shaking the hotel to it’s foundations, in a hotel largely dominated by Portuguese holidaymakers rather than loud Brits and Germans, there was genuine friendliness wherever you turned.

As for Harry, for a 17 year-old who is not really interested in overt British laddism, this was an ideal place to take him on holiday. The quirkiness of the hotel and Quarteira as a whole, suited his nature perfectly.

Whether it was on boats, push bikes, water rides, or simply just having a beer a pizza and and a good old dose of people watching, I could not have wished for better company. He was great fun to be with.

Well done to all at the Dom Jose hotel, it was a great experience.


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