The approach to Faro Airport’s runway 10/28 is over the sea and during finals, extensive salt pans are visible on both sides of the aircraft. Faro Airport was completed in 1965 and at this time it is something of a building site with extensive work going on inside to cope with the increasing number of passengers. After picking up the hire care we headed west on the A22 to the area around Praia da Senhora da Rocha. Driving is relatively easy and free of the lunacy you find in other Southern European countries.
Justabritabroad was as promised waiting outside a hotel when we arrived. I would really like to thank him for his generosity on firstly providing the apartment as prizes and also for his time and kindness for accompanying my son on two rounds of golf, which he had teed up and for providing the clubs. The apartment was comfortable, well-appointed and well stocked with a get-you-in package of all the essentials such as wine and beer. Naturally. He’s a gentleman in every sense of the word.
If you are into your golf, then the Algarve is the place for you, according to my son. The courses can be pricey, but they are immaculately maintained and must consume vast quantities of the precious local commodity, water. They are green meadows and pastures in an otherwise quite dry and arid land of scrub, bushes and trees clinging on to existence in the dry, sandy soil.
Whilst Periphery the Younger was tramping across the Algarve in pursuit of a little white ball, Madame Périphérique and I took a look around the local area. Silves is a town that nestles in the Western, hilly area of the Algarve, 12 km north-east of Portimão. It’s quite easy to see why a fortification was built above the town, sitting on east-west, north-south routes and the Arade River that winds through the valley below. The fortification has been described as one of the finest examples of Moorish architecture in the Iberian Peninsula, but like most attempts to sanitize the Islamic conquest and occupation of this part of Europe by rapine and sword, the Moors merely added to a fortification that had been built in the Lusitanian era, improved on by the Romans and later the Visigoths. Nevertheless it is an impressive structure with commanding views around the surrounding countryside and well worth a visit for a circumnavigation of its walls. There are gardens within the curtain walls with displays of falconry and a few exhibited artifacts.
The Algarve is not an affluent area with the average monthly pay being around €600. As a result it remains largely un-enriched by benefit economic migrants. The prices in the supermarkets are similar and in some cases more expensive than in the UK, but I’m sure the locals know where to go. Eateries are many and plentiful with all tastes catered for, but in the well-trodden tourist areas prices can be steep unless you are in an all-in package, as can be the bars.
Just to the northeast of Pera is the International Sand Sculpture Festival, and area covering a couple of acres of sand sculptures. The sand had to be shipped in and the sculptures are really good and done on a vast scale. The sculptures have clearly had some elasticising and setting agent added to the sand for durability, but they are regularly replaced when the elements take their toll. Unfortunately even here the disease of irrational Trump hatred rears its foaming maw. Personally I believe that this a hyper case of dislocation of expectation, taken to a new height by the Sunny Delight generation who have never had to strive, compete or fight for anything in their irrelevant lives. The seeming cataclysmic event of stupid people voting for the wrong person, has brought their world crashing down round their preciously sensitive ears.
Obviously the Algarve is very heavily built up with hotels and villa complexes, particularly close to the coast. The local authorities seem to have a laissez faire approach to building planning regulations. The area is covered with complexes that seem to have been randomly thrown up, with scant regard for location and infrastructure. My son was told that occasionally the local authorities would have a purge and demolish unplanned buildings, while allowing those to remain that have proved their utility by occupancy. Some of these abandoned complexes have a mournful quality of decay and dashed hopes, in a country that boasted an empire covering most of South America, South Africa with strong trading bases in India, Indonesia and Japan.
On the evening of the last day, at Armação de Pêra I walked along the mainly deserted sea front. The Atlantic wind was keen caused by Ophelia’s kiss and gulls circled like Stukas waiting for a target of opportunity. I noticed a man, favouring a stick, sit heavily on a low wall surrounding a bed of shrubs. As I approached he looked at me and I smiled. He was a middle-aged man with a short beard and long, prematurely grey hair. He had a hard, brutal face with a broken and badly set nose. But it was the harsh, jagged scar on his forehead that was most disconcerting. He smiled back, but the warmth never reached his eyes, which were grey and cold. He had what we used to call the 1,000 yard stare; eyes that had seen too much. He was sharing an ice cream with a scrawny, little, tabby cat that nudged his forearm with its head, caring little what he looked like. I nodded my thanks, because without him, I would never have been there.
More from Blown Periphery here.