Absolutely melting in Albufiera - it ain't half hot mum!

andromeda of plymouth
Susan and Andrew Wilson
Tue 22 Sep 2009 14:54
37.05.063N 08.16.012W
Well, what an interesting day on the trip from Portimao anchorage to Albufiera. The first thing was that Susan saw a large cruise liner, the Rotterdam, outside the harbour entrance to Portimao with 3 of its lifeboats milling around. As the queen of melodrama, she wondered aloud, at 07:30am in the morning, when us more serious cruising folks are still asleep or at the very least wondering whether to get up and make a cup of tea, whether there was a case of swine flu aboard and all the passengers were being taken ashore as part of an emergency evacuation!! As there were no hoards of boats with blue flashing lights and the pilots were happily going backwards and forwards, and other fishing vessels and yachts were being allowed to enter an leave, it was clear that little miss melodrama may have been slightly off the beaten track. As it turns out the liner was simply too big to come into Portimao and that those wishing to see the bright lights of the town (and if they can find any we'll be surprised having walked around the place already) and using the lifeboats was a way of easily and safely getting them from the ship to the port. We later heard two Ausie sounding voices on the VHF repeatedly asking "how many left in the lounge, how many in the lounge??" Brings to mind the phrase, I counted them all out and I counted them all back - what fun to be employed on these liners. The lifeboats were kept very busy ferrying the passengers too and fro and probably would be all day long.
When the sense of adventure and excitement had calmed down on Andromeda we raised the anchor and set off west towards Albufeira. After passing the giant block of flats that was the Rotterdam, we were overtaken by a 25 metre replica pirate ship taking folks out to see dolphins - and dolphins we saw too. About an hour out of Albufeira we too came across dolphins happily swimming around some ribs. We slowed down and they swam around the boat. They were very much larger than those we saw approaching Cape St Vincent, almost 2 metres in length and almost wholly dark in colour. They stayed with us all for about 15 minutes before they grew bored with the boats and probably went off to see what all the fuss was about around the Rotterdam - if only they'd asked, we could have saved them some energy! However it was absolutely great to see dolphins again, fantastic creatures.
Albufeira is an intriguing sort of place. The marina is in the middle of a partly completed complex of brightly coloured apartments - yellows, greens, blues, pinks, orange etc all of which appear to have a form of nautical theme. Its referred to in the pilot books as "legoland" and its quite easy to see why - we will post some picture somewhere so you can see. Being the end of the season it's quite quiet, though a range of tripper boats continues to operate through-out the day. The marina is reached through a narrow canal, cut into the rock, before opening out into a basin that now makes up the marina complex. To get into town, which is about 1.5km away, you have to go down the Rua da Sir Cliff Richard (and we are being serious here), and very happy we were too - there is a link with the man, but we've not yet summoned up the energy to find out what it is as the temperature outside is over 26 degrees C, with not much wind and lots of sunshine ;-) Maybe later. There was a picture of him holding a bottle of wine called Vinho Verde - perhaps he's an investor or perhaps he has a place nearby? The town is very touristy with many little back streets full of the usual shops but in unusually larger numbers from our experience so far and  it seemed quite busy, so we are glad it is not high season. Amenities overlooking the beach include a glass lift and, believe it or not, 2 escalators to take you up the 80 - 100 ft cliffs which we happily took advantage of. The beaches are ok and water the right side of freezing - we did paddle and who knows, we may take a dip at some stage. Again there was the biggest number of folks enjoying the water as well as a few being taken skywards on the parasail boat.
The marina advertises WIFI, and indeed there is a vey strong signal, but we can't use it because we can't buy time online as the application crashes, and the marina office says" we've been waiting for cards all season, but none have arrived". Sure is frustrating - however there is an Internet cafe on site so we've been able to sort out a few things on the domestic front.
Yesterday was Isaac's birthday and, just like his sister, has started walking on his first - well done Isaac - worn out parents look out!!!!
Not sure what we will do over the next few days, but do stay in touch for more thrilling adventures from the Queen Melodrama and Captain Bligh..............
Andrew & Susan
S/V Andromeda