The six beachside restaurants in Albufeira are lined up looking out over the crystal blue waters of Southern Portugal. The scene is set with a traditional gaff topsail schooner slowly sailing across the bay. 11.30 in the morning and its already 30 degrees (86F for those yet to convert).The seats are filling up as tourists search to quench their thirst, and escape the ever warming sun. The GF and I sit down and order a couple of small beers that arrive cool and inviting, little beads dripping down the glass. Another couple sit in the chairs beside us and before their bums hit the seat the husband orders two ‘cocktails of the day’. These arrive all psychedelic, layers of yellow and orange and splashes of blue, garnished with a mini fruit bowl and tiny umbrellas that shout ‘look at me, I’m on holiday’.
The husband looks slightly embarrassed at the drink in front of him, but gives us a nod, a wink to his wife, and then to the world at large proclaims,
“Well if you can’t enjoy your holidays, what’s the point, eh?”
We both stay silent but nod our heads in agreement and give a smile.
‘Another?” the GF asks pointing at our empty glasses.
On point, the waiter comes over before I can reply and repeats the question. We nod.
Before the waiter gets a chance to leave, the husband grabs his attention with a short “senor”, then quickly downs the remaining 2/3rds of his cocktail and informs,
“We’ll be having some more, thank you very much.”
“Nah, let’s have a bottle of champagne”, announced loud enough to gain the restaurants attention plus a few of the tables next door.
The bubbles arrive with a pop and two flutes are filled just as our small beers hit the table. Fate would have all four full glasses in front of us at the same time, so, all making eye contact, we touch glasses, and give cheers.
“Good to be alive!”, the husband states in an attempt at small talk. We agree with a smile, which he takes as an invitation for conversation.
“Hope this weather holds for the next ten days. Just perfect”.
More agreements from us and general chit chat follows on how good the day is. He’s not lying, the Algarve has really turned it on.
“Like I said, ten days in heaven for us. How long did you say you’re staying?”
“Actually, we are just riding through”, I reply giving a nod to the bikes resting against a post in front of the restaurant.
“Very tempted to stay a night or two,” the GF adds.
“You should be treating your girl,” the husband adds, throwing back the glass of the bubbles, which is quickly refilled by the waiter who really is being awfully attentive.
We don’t reply, and are willing to leave the small talk at that, enjoying ourselves in the heat and serenity that sitting on the side of the ocean brings.
The blissful pause does not last long.
“Must be mighty hard on those bikes”, the conversation is about to resume. “Where have you ridden from?”.
“Lisbon”, the GF answers briefly.
“Blimey, all the way up there! You need to give your lady a break,” this with a stare directed accusingly at me.
“Lisbon was 6 weeks ago”, the GF in my defence.
“What, 6 weeks?? Seems an awful long time. It isn’t THAT far. You could drive from Lisbon in an afternoon. You could’ve seen every square inch of Portugal in that time. You could have done plenty. 6 whole weeks, you could’ve, could’ve done anything!”
The lecture ends.
“To be fair, we needed the first week just to recover from travelling the previous six months through India,” the GF nonchalantly pips in.
“India!” the husband exclaimed.
“Oh do shut up!”, the wife speaking for the first time throws at her husband.