Villas Barrocal – The Apartments Review

When I booked this apartment from via easyJet hotels booking system, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Although the transfer was cheap it was a very long trip to Villas Barrocal (an hour more or less from the airport). The apartment itself cost €15 per night for two people, when I had booked it in December (what a DEAL!). 

The villa is situated in Pêra, which is in between Albuferia and Armação de Pêra. Make sure you have instructions ready for the driver (if you are taking a transfer or a taxi), because a lot of people don’t know the area or the place.

The apartment itself is beautiful. I think they need to correct their signs, because we couldn’t find the apartment at first. 

Inside the apartments
Local shops around the area are: a newsagents, cafes, Italian cafe, a vets.

You need to walk down further onto the left to find more shops and cafes. It looks like a run down area, but you will find that one street has everything – the local bank, post office, salon, graveyard and other stuff. 

If you are looking for public transport there are bus stops around but as every local had said to us – you need to prepare to wait around for the bus to come. Do some research on timetables before you go!! 

Don’t ever ask a local (or even a tourist) how long it will take you to walk to Amacao de Pera from the villa – people say it’s 15 minutes (probably if you run). It’s actually about an hour via the beach. I timed it.

Good points:
Quiet,  big apartments, they have everything – microwave, kettle, fridge, cooker and oven, cutlery, local TV stations, free wi-fi – all you need is food, drinks and yourselves ^^

Bad points:
Far from all the touristy places – but you would expect that if you’re staying in Faro!

  • Rent a car or a bike – there is a local gas station Galp, which is just about a 20 minute walk (5 minutes by car).
  • Make sure you have enough Euro on you if you are not planning to bring a credit/debit card.
  • Some shops close for an hour or two for lunch – so watch out for that.
  • Be aware of pick-pockets! Always wear an across-body handbag.
  • Definitely bring sun tan lotion!!!!!!

Mini series holiday: Portugal – Faro, day 7

Day 7 – our last day in Faro and we had nothing much to do… Sit around, eat the rest of our stuff, finish packing and sobered up from the night before, heheheh. We wanted to have a late check out, but the maids said we should ask reception (I’m sure I asked for a late check out!). Anyway, we ended up leaving the apartments a little bit early, left our luggage in reception, then went for a coffee at the snack-bar and then waited for the transfer to pick us up! 

Transfer was 20 minutes early. Yay, they found us! I forgot that the journey is about an hour-ish long from Pera to Faro Airport… It was an enjoyable ride, we kept seeing other vehicles just passing us when they saw a slow driver in front… Hahahahah.

Finally got to the airport, checked in (with someone’s overweight luggage – not mine, uh-hm!), had an expensive hamburger meal for €13.40! :-O Shocking!! Even McDonald’s is not thaaaaat expensive!!!!!!

After that we passed passport control and then the queuing started for boarding! So quick! As we were all queuing, some weirdo went down the escalator, then ran back up on the same escalator (when he could’ve got the stairs – OMG). PLONK. He fell over at the top of the escalator. LOL. More things started happening during boarding… There was a couple in front who held up the queue – the lady had two hand luggages (when you’re only supposed to have one – as with all flights). The reception staff tried to explain that it is the airlines policy that they must state how much hand luggage they have, and that you have to pay extra if you have more than one piece… Don’t these people read?!?! So in the end the couple had to pay and they got on the flight (without the police having to be there). I assume the couple will make a complaint! 

Finally got to London – then there was a VERY long queue at passport control – I didn’t realise that they’ve started using the new system where you can self checkout if you have the new UK passport. (UK is getting very stylish indeed).

Following 3 trains, we finally got to our stop. As we were about to exit the station, a guy flew down the escalator and just randomly took a picture of my stunned face, then walked down further, and took one of Miss Pinky… He got down to the end of the escalator and took another pic of a lady sitting in McD’s… Hahahahah. What kind of randomness is that!!

I finally got home after getting two buses! ^_^ Yipee. Home sweet home.

Didn’t take any pictures – sorry if I’ve bored you to death ^_^

Mini series holiday: Portugal – Faro, Day 6

Our final full day in Faro, so we decided to go to the beach again. We found a lot of shortcuts this time. So from our villa, we went through Vila de Pedro, crossed the motor way, into the same farmland – this time we found a lot of pathways that we could cut through, onto the sandy beach and into the touristy town again – Armação de Pêra! That took an hour. Fast walking this time round. ^_^

Local shop

Local shop

When we were coming back, we decided to take the motor way route, but it seemed too long and endless, so again we cut through the fields. We got to the farmland’s bankside with a broken down bridge. Miss Pinky crossed it first… And Me, I just panicked! I didn’t want to cross it 😛 Eventually I did with the help of Miss Pinky.

Horrid Bridge!

Finally back on track. We got back to the motor way. There was another pathway across the road that we thought was a shortcut. Little did we know it was leading us to a shed. Two dogs were guarding the place. One was on a lead and the other came out and barked at us, so we moved back to the main road… Looks like no more shortcuts for us then!! Hehehehe.

As we were about to retire into the villa, we stopped off at the local snack-bar. This is run by a lovely couple who speak very good English! I had ice tea, my friend had a beer. As we were about to go, I asked what type of food they do… sandwiches, toasties, baguettes, fries and burgers… then he mentioned crab baguette!! I thought crab baguette. We don’t get that in London!! So we said we’ll come back after phoning the transfer company and getting our pick up time.

Lovely café / snack-bar!!

Lovely café / snack-bar!!

We went back out again and this is what we got….

Crab baguette ^^

I ate the whole thing!!

And Miss Pinky was addicted to this machine…

€0.50 to win a chocolate bar ^^

After that, we went back to the villa, we wanted to rest but John our neighbour started a barbie (that’s Australian for BBQ). Anyway, so we got our drinks, went next door and met another lovely Canadian couple from Ontario. We also met an Irish pair (not a couple)… Chat, chat, chat, eating and a lot of drinking (I had a lot of port that night!). It was eventually midnight… I was drunk as hell – I have never been like that before!

BBQ night with the neighbours

But all’s well that ends well ^_^

Mini holiday series: Portugal – Faro, day 5

As from the previous we decided to take a tour with Follow Me Tours. We booked a tour to a gypsy market today in Quateira for half a day for €10… It’s really far from where we were! If you do decide to take a tour and you are staying in a far location, make sure you get up early and know where the tour bus is picking you up!!

We got to our pick up area very, very early (about 15-20 minutes) at the nearby petrol/gas station – Galp. There were two on either side of the road, so we didn’t know which one to wait at… Cars drove by, people staring at us (probably thinking what are they doing), more cars, buses and minivans drove by, and then finally our tour bus arrived. Yay!

One side of the Galp Petrol / Gas Station

When we got to the gypsy market, it was like an ordinary market that sold souvenir stuff – but it’s run by gypsies! You are also allowed to bargain, which is what we did for some of the stuff we bought… ^_^

Gypsy Market at Quarteira 

The tour then took us to the bigger Marina! Loads of boats and rich people! We also found some cheap wines and stuff.

Faro Marina
Chocolate Mint Ice Cream – Just what I needed! 
On the tour we met a lovely Canadian couple tour who were staying in Portugal for 9 weeks! The guy was telling me it’s cheaper to stay in North Portugal and how a lot of celebrities actually stay down at this Marina – apparently Madonna and Tom Jones holiday there…

Mini holiday series: Portugal – Faro, day 4

As Miss Pinky and I had nothing much to do during the week, the night before we asked our neighbour John if he could drive us to anywhere where there were shops and where we could spend money! He thankfully said yes, and had said that it wasn’t a problem. So we got up and he took us to the Algarve Shopping Centre.

Outside the Algarve Shopping Centre

There were a lot of shops but it wasn’t touristy enough for us – so we didn’t spend much there… In the end we ended up going into the supermarket and bought some foody stuff and presents. We also booked a tour with the local tourist / holiday store (more of that in the next post).

Inside the Algarve Shopping Centre

Not much to do on day 4, so I ended up studying for the rest of the afternoon.

We also ended up walking around town again looking at the shops to see if they were open… Not much around, but I did find a graveyard!!

The local graveyard in Pêra

Afterwards, since my friend and I were so bored, we both ended up making and eating separate dinners.

Pork chops (really tough!) in soy sauce and ketchup + noodles ^^ 

Chicken with seasoning

I also ended up taking sunset pictures 🙂

Sunset from the apartment’s balcony view 

Sunset from the apartment’s balcony view 

In the next post – we had a little more fun ^^

Mini holiday series: Portugal – Faro, day 3

It was either wait for the bus and go somewhere into town or walk to the beach on Day 3.
We walked to the beach!

The local bus stop stand – the usual bus stops
are in blue with a coach like image on it
It was a very loooong walk! We set off walking at 11am. Miss Pinky and I got lost a few times so that took some extra minutes into our journey (took some wrong turnings and went via the motorway)… After a few moans, we finally got on track we got to the beach by 12.30pm. An hour and a half walk! By the way, Pêra hardly has any pavements, so you should expect to walk on dusty sidewalks that are meant for cyclists.

We had to cross this farmland to get to the beach!
There are pathways, but expect cars to go through too!
Finally got to the beach with Amacao de Pera in the background!!! 
We also found a restaurant, (from memory I think it’s called Restaurante de Coral but I can’t find any info on it online)! So we stopped their to dine and to take take a break! Aaaah so tiring!

Our free starters ^^
Restaurante de Coral – So pretty. I think it’s been there for a while! 
My frango dinner – I think it cost either €8 or €12 
Afterwards we went into the tourist town Armação de Pêra to do some tourist shopping. That took another half an hour via the sandy beach… There is no hope in finding and waiting for public transport to get into town, so if you do decide to come to Faro make sure you rent a car – that’s if you can drive!

Through the streets of Armação de Pêra

Through another street of Armação de Pêra

Loads of gulls flew over us – just had to take a pic! 
Then after that we went back via the beach again because we didn’t know any other route to get back (even after asking one of the locals about buses)! Oof. Sand is so hard to walk in! Eventually my friend Miss Pinky is so clever and found a short cut back to the apartments… my feet hurt and I was officially sunburnt!
That’s what I call a holiday! ^^

Mini holiday series: Portugal – Faro, Day 2

So John our lovely neighbour took us to one of the neighbouring towns Albufeira. We didn’t really want to bother him so much but he is an excellent tour guide after only being in the area for a month!
John took us to the local marina in Albufeira first. It started to get hot and sunny, but people staying around there said it’s their winter season, so there weren’t many tourists around and most of the shops and cafes were only opened during the touristy season.

The Marina in Albufeira 

We did our grocery shopping in Pingo Doce, which is like ASDA. We then went to another supermarket Continente in the Albufeira shopping centre to get more stuff (i.e. alcohol).   

Albufeira Shopping Centre

When we got back we relaxed and met a Scottish couple next door to our right! Lovely couple. All of us started talking about politics, the area, languages and food! Food – My favourite topic! Must do some more sightseeing on day 3!

Miss Pinky and I went for an evening walk… neighbourhood – on the left hand side it looks scary. Neighbourhood on the right hand side looked peaceful. It felt like being in the Peckham and Dulwich border! Hah!

More adventures in the next post!

Mini holiday series: Portugal – Faro, Day 1

For the next few posts I’ll be showing you where I stayed and what I got up to on my holiday…
To get away from London for a week, you have to plan way in advance to get the cheapest deals and flights. So Miss Pinky decided we should go to Faro, Portugal where her brother was working (he came back to London when we went!). So I booked the cheapest flights from easyJet and the cheapest apartments (self-catering) that I could find from via the easyJet website in December.
So on day 1 of the holiday we got to Faro Airport just before 6pm. The airport is a bit chaotic. It seemed to be all over the place. You just didn’t know where to turn to get out! We just followed the people in front of us who seemed to know where they were going.
I didn’t book a transfer online but we managed to get a cheap transfer to our apartments in time for €28 (return transfer) using this company besttransfers4u, and we met a nice old Irish lady Olivia who kept us company. She’s travelled to Portugal for 30 years! She even invited us for dinner but it’s too bad we couldn’t meet up with her – she was staying at a hotel that is very far from where we stayed!

The driver didn’t know how to get to our villa – apparently it’s a private area in Pêra but as soon as the driver found his way to our apartments we said our goodbyes to Olivia and on we went… 

We booked in at reception and we got our key, then got to our apartment door and we couldn’t open it! A nice English gentleman said hello to us (and I thought he worked there – because he wore a hat bearing the villa’s name!). Thankfully Miss Pinky asked about where there are food places around the area… not many unfortunately (I picked the cheapest apartments – but I didn’t realise it was very far from everywhere!). The gentleman named John invited us to his next door for dinner. I was astounded! I couldn’t believe we had met 2 lovely people within moments of each other after arriving! Amazing! That’s what Portugal does to people I guess. 🙂

We had our dinner and John offered to drop us off to the cheapest supermarket the next morning – so grateful!
I didn’t take many pictures on day 1, but here’s my lunch at Gatwick airport…

Steak, chips and an omelette at Armadillo, Gatwick North Terminal