I returned to Carvoeiro in the Algarve, Portugal with nothing but happy memories from my previous trip and the hope of creating many more. Staying in the same place as before – only a different hotel – proved to me that it’s never boring to return to the same place more than once (as some travellers may say), so please don’t believe this.
This time around I stayed at Pestana Palm Gardens, a pretty complex of apartment villas painted in mellow hues with sunny yellow detail on the edges set between cobbled paths of many big and beautiful palm trees and fuchsia flowers scattered around giving a lovely contrast of colours. I couldn’t have been happier when arriving at the Gardens as it seemed we received an upgrade to a cute two-storey villa, which exceeded our expectations.
Our villa was centred towards the front of the resort, closest to the entrance however after taking a stroll in the other direction, we stumbled across a large yellow villa with a gated entrance with a small pathway hidden away between trees. The pathway led onto the cliffs surrounding the sea and gave the most amazing view. We looked across the secluded cove down below and admired the turquoise shades of the ocean washing in and out against the beige.
Just outside of the resort turn left and Carvoeiro town is a 15 minute walk down a hill, turn to the right and you will come across steps leading down to the nearest sandy cove. Carvoeiro itself is a small fishing village in Lagoa, Algarve. In ways the town caters a great deal to tourism but would also not be complete without the simple touches of local businesses and cuisines and the friendly locals. In one moment, you can be walking down a street surrounded by tourist shops and in the next with a swift turn around a corner, you can be presented with quaint streets away from the tourists with pretty villas separated by palm trees and those familiar fuchsia flowers.
One small area of Carvoeiro that struck me was a street in particular which started looking less appealing the further you walked. The white-washed buildings started looking more tinted with greys, more covered with debris and over-grown trees and littered with empty bottles and boxes. There was a particular building, painted bright purples and blues with a certain mysterious vibe attached to it. A small part was clearly once a bathroom and further along crates of beer bottles and old tables were seen on the ground. Everything was in a battered state, completely uncared for and in need of fixing. Peering through holes in the wall, i discovered it was an old restaurant. How had it all gone wrong? I wondered. As much of a wreck this place looked now, there was still an eery beauty to it and it was easy to imagine the part it must have played in the town when it was in business. I think I liked it so much simply because it was real. Much like my home town, it had its run-down, ruined areas. Not everything is perfect.
Something I will struggle to write about is ancient buildings and art museums to visit in Carvoeiro or to tell you what famous monuments exist there because quite honestly, I don’t know if any of those things exist in this town (if they do, they’re not advertised) But does that always necessarily matter? Travel is travel. I left my home for a week to stay in a beautiful part of Portugal and travelled around the town, exploring each corner of it, eating gorgeous new cusines and embracing the local way of life.
The thing I love most about being here is the homely charm it holds and the feeling of comfort that it gives me. It makes me genuinely happy. I woke up everyday looking forward to my walk into town, stopping off at this cute bakery for Portuguese custard tarts (natas) and walking by the same old familiar stores and restaurants, the same houses I always admired, listening to the accents of guests coming out of the same hotels and joining the walk down to town. People watching is another of my favourite things to do when abroad. Analysing people and where they come from, what they do, wondering if they love this place as much as I do.
If you’ve been to a place, and you loved the time you had there, never rule out returning to that place for the sake of being a ‘versatile traveller’. Returning to a place and re-living moments and memories is sometimes the best kind of treatment your life needs.