We hear it all the time. Went on holiday but there was nothing to do. Great beaches, plenty of sunshine, but how can we otherwise occupy our time? The other day, I even had to convince a Portuguese person that he was falling into the trap of paying lip service to that ill-gotten, and much maligned, it must be said, reputation which places like the Algarve have earned, for being, dare we say it: boring?
Our weekend started before we realised the week had ended. The first of the summer’s night tournaments was being held at the Portimão tennis club and we had one of the family members playing in the seniors event. The warm-up was interrupted by a phone call to attend a meeting and by the time I returned to offer my support, the match was well into the second set. Two and a half hours later, with plenty of bifanas and refreshments being liberally distributed among the attendees, singles and doubles matches were still in full flow. In this tournament there was even a celebrity attendee. Stefan Edberg, former world number 1 and a frequent visitor to the Algarve, brought his family along to watch his son play. The only give-away that they might not be local club members, was the group of blonde-haired supporters sitting on the long wooden benches alongside an otherwise dark-haired audience.
The first night was an early night, as players and supporters managed to get away by 01:30 and doubles was largely held over until the following evening. Nonetheless, the next morning I drive over to the same club because a younger family member is participating in an U/12 tournament. Hours and several victories later, and we are looking at another full day on the Sunday interrupted only by the continuation of the senior tournament in the evening.
Much to my disappointment I don’t make it over to the Arte Algarve gallery in Lagoa which holds its first auction. Around 80 people attend to see 170 works go under the hammer. Interest is good for this debut occasion and more than 20 works, including prints by well-known Portuguese artist Guimarães and famous Spanish painter Miró, are sold off to art lovers.
From there, it is only a short hop to the Feira do Doce Conventual, a traditional sweets fair held annually in the beautiful Convent of São José. The visitor is greeted by the gentle sounds of a saxophone and flute duo, soloists drawn from the local orchestra. As much a feast for the eye as for the taste buds, the event includes the Big 4 of endogenous ingredients: carob, orange, fig and almond. My comment to one exhibitor that the mere sight of such sweetness is enough to increase cholesterol levels is not appreciated by the person in question, but other visitors smile between mouthfuls of sweets. Outside, the traditional fado performers are getting ready to entertain the visitors, their haunting melodies soon floating into the balmy night air.
Sunday’s tennis more than eliminates any excess that might have resulted from the previous night. Players and families leave the club after the finals. Just enough time to wander down to the waterfront and treat everyone to an ice cream…just another weekend in paradise…