This area of central Algarve, between Quinta do Lago, Almancil and Quarteira, is often referred to as the Golden Triangle of the Algarve. The area is not only triangle-shaped, but also home to Portugal’s most affluent tourist area, complete with luxury resorts, fine dining restaurants, designer shopping and sporting facilities.
My villa at the Vilar Do Golf resort is nestled in lovely Quinta Do Lago. The area is a popular spot for golfers, sunbathers and extreme water sports aficionados. My 2-bedroom villa was large and comfortable. I felt at home during my stay, so much so that I slept in a different room every night. Ha ha, when you’re a solo traveller and you have a large place to yourself … well the fun has to start somewhere, right?
The staff was nice and professional. They even address me by name each time I walked in, which was surprising. In this day and age, most hotel staff don’t acknowledge you between check-in and check-out, so it was warming to see a staff actually address you by name. It showed me they cared and wanted to ensure I had a wonderful stay; and I did!
A vital tidbit — if staying at Vilar Do Golf, or any of the nearby resorts, budget for a car rental for the duration of your stay. Taxis are expensive, especially if you’re planning to spend the day in Faro (€33, one-way from resort to Faro).
The true highlight of my trip was the visit to the Church of São Lourenço. The famous church is located in the village of the same name on the eastern outskirts of Almancil. It survived the 1755 earthquake intact, one of the very few churches in the Algarve to do so.
The church is considered one of the greatest artistic treasures in the Algarve, as it features examples of Portuguese azulejos – traditional blue and white tiles – covering the walls and ceilings. The church was very beautiful and mesmerizing to see. If you planning to visiting while in town, know the opening hours for visitors; I forgot to double check and had to come back another day.
After visiting the church and a little retail therapy at the Quarteira Market, I spent the next day at the beach. The resort had a free bus service to Quinta do Lago Beach.
I walked up and down the beach, took in a little sun and, well, simply chilled out and daydreamed about winning the multi-million dollar lottery jackpot.
Following my stay in Almancil, I jetted back to London for a night before heading back to the USA. I’m sure many travellers are familiar with London Heathrow or Gatwick airports, but how about London City Airport? For the first time, I arrived in London via the City airport. I have to admit … I love Heathrow!!!
The flight and processing through customs wasn’t an issue. Heck even baggage claim wasn’t bad. The bad part was leaving the airport for the City, but it was also very amusing thanks to my driver. Our attempt to leave the airport was a hassle thanks to a malfunctioning parking payment meter. It took 15 minutes for the repairperson to come and assess the issue, before finally giving up and letting the cars leave free of charge.
Throughout the entire drive from the airport to my hotel, my driver cursed about how much he hated coming to London City Airport because of the traffic, especially on Fridays (which was the day I flew back to London). I sat back, relax and smiled without a care in the world. Why? My ride was pre-paid, so I wasn’t worried about traffic; no extra money coming from my pocket.
We finally reached my hotel for the night, the Moxy London Heathrow Airport. The hotel is newish, having opened April 2018, and describes itself as a “stylish budget hotel with an awesome design.”
I have to say Moxy isn’t my style. The hotel is not bad at all but the nightclub/hostel-type atmosphere doesn’t suit me. Customer service wasn’t bad, though I don’t like checking in for my room at a bar. Also, there was no phone in the room, and that to me is very dangerous and unsafe. I get the hotel attempts to be minimalist and affordable, but what if a guest had an accident in the room? There’s no way to contact reception for assistance.
The room size is what I expected of London, but the shower/bathroom was only slightly bigger than an airplane lavatory. I couldn’t even turn around to sit on the toilet. Ha Ha! Also, there were no basic hotel amenities (i.e. pen/paper, phone, alarm clock, etc.) or even a teakettle. Seriously, no teakettle in the room? This is England, right?
I did have a very good night sleep, despite all the negatives.
Adventure 2018 came to a close with an uneventful flight back home.
Despite some ups and downs, travel headaches and some bad restaurant choices, I had an amazing adventure. I discovered that I don’t like Cromer Crab; threw my hat into the Cream vs. Jam debate; explored A City of Stories; walked on top of the world; and relaxed like a queen in a Golden Triangle.
Now, time to plan for the next adventure — The French Riviera.
Until next time, remember …
HAVE PASSPORT, WILL TRAVEL