In the early hours of 22nd September, I took a plane out toPortugal for a late summer holiday. We flew in to Faro airport on theAlgarve and as we sat waiting to leave the aircraft, I laughed at passengers bobbing too and fro in an attempt to see out through the tiny windows. As the doors pulled back, we were immediately met with a warmth breeze as light as cotton. As we stepped outside and loaded on to the bus to take us to the terminal, we felt the sun beating down from the seamless blue sky. I looked at my friend and we shared a knowing smile. We were finally here.
Inside the building, we began to experience the Portuguese lifestyle and were immediately queuing to enter through passport control. Seeing self service machines where you could scan you own passport, we decided to use this as it appeared to be quicker. So we waited patiently in the queue until it got to our turn. I pushed my passport into the scanner and held it down as instructed by the system. Moments later a large no entry sign appeared on the screen and it went back to the start. So I tried again, to no avail. My friend decided to try her passport and did the same thing with hers. Shortly after the screen showed a green entry and she was told to move through the barrier. This left me on the other side of the passport control and facing the long queues to go through and have my passport manually checked. So, reluctantly, I waited and fifteen minutes later emerged from passport control to find my friend waiting. We collected our baggage and made our way to find our transport to the hotel.
Half an hour later, we were being escorted, along with several others, to one of two mini buses which were dropping off around the coast. We left Faro and drove a small distance on the motorway to the main coastal road. From here, the views were breath taking. Everywhere you looked there were large fields with grape vines and flowers, and the earth was so very dry. The houses were dotted about almost hap hazardly, small and simple white buildings, with sun terraces and balconies. We crossed a large river, which was dotted with islands, flamingos and cranes stood tall and proud looking out into the distance. As we chatted, the driver sang along to the radio and tapped his hand on the steering wheel. I realised how much I missed this carefree way of life. We took a turning off the main road and the next twenty minutes were spent winding in and out of small towns and villages. We saw mothers putting out their washing, men working on their cars or the garden, holiday makers walking to the beach, shop owners putting their stock out for the day. And then we came to a beautiful little beach, backed by huge jagged cliffs, which were almost orange in colour. As the small bus struggled up the hill, we looked out of the window and down onto the small coves that began to appear, the twinkling sunshine on the deep blue ocean. The tops of the cliffs were marked out with wooden hand rails so you could walk out to the edge and look out. A few people were doing this as we passed, their faces turned towards the sea, unaware of the lonely bus passing by. Soon after this the bus pulled up outside a yellow building. I glanced up at the sign, hope spreading slightly, and I was pleased at what I read.
‘This is it!’ I exclaimed.
‘Hotel Precidente’ The driver spoke, rich in Portuguese accent. We jumped out of the bus and grabbed our suitcases. As we watched the bus pull away, I could hardly believe our luck.