Albufeira for Mary’s Wedding

Carmel’s sister Mary and her husband Brian very sensibly chose a warm climate for their wedding. After a previous holiday in Albufeira in the Algave, Portgual they both decided that there would be a significantly more pleasant and sunny place to get married in than the relevant places in Ireland.

Our hotel was the Hotel Vila Galé Cerro Alagoa in the centre the large-ish Albufeira area, about 10 mins from the old town and 10 mins from the new strip. The hotel wasn’t bad quality at all – but they made you pay for the extras – e.g. 15 mins of internet was a few Euro. The worst was the gym which I felt obliged to use to keep up my fitness for rowing – €7.50 to use an old bike and a running machine in a room without air conditioning. The sweat was dripping off me before I had started.

Here’s a photo of Carmel by the hotel pool one evening.

The resort of Albufeira is overrun by the Brits and the Irish, about 50:50. There were a few Germans who set the precedent of laying towels on the sunbeds before breakfast. This of course meant that we never got to use a sunbed for the duration of the holiday as we were never up early enough to beat the Germans.

It was possible to find some quieter spots away from the sunburnt and overweight tourists, and the views were really nice.

In particular, one good quiet stretch is the cliff walk from Montechoro strip to the old town harbour. The path takes you above some rocky inlets and is quite void of British/Irish accents. In this photo, the path narrows and has collapsed a little as it leads past some fairly vicious rocks down below next to the crashing waves.

The new harbour in Albufeira is quite pretty. Everything looks very new and it is clearly an area being developed, but with the yachts and harbour cafes it was a perfectly pleasant place to have a drink.

The big event was of course the wedding. This took place on Tue 30 June in San Sebastiao church in Boliqueime – about 15 mins from Albufeira. The church kindly agreed to allow the wedding party to import their own Irish priest (a friend of the groom), so the service was in English.

After the wedding service we headed outside and found a local bar that sold bottles of beer for a single euro. This seemed a bargain to the masses who had been used to the 5 euros or more charged in Albufeira. It also seemed to suit the cafe owner who sold more beers in 45 mins than he had possibly sold that year.

The reception was held at xxx along the coast to the west of Albufeira. The hotel was pretty amazing – one of the poshest I have visited. The reception drinks and meal were staged in a tree shaded area above the cliffs overlooking the sea. It was really quite a spectacular setting. I was the informal camera man whose job it was to make sure there were a backup set of photos should something terrible happen to the paid-for photographer. This was good fun until I’d had a few drinks and then turned into a bit of a drag. I can see why wedding photographers generally stay sober.

The wedding was a great day, and the location in the Algarve meant we turned the trip into a short holiday. It was a really good few days and the weather was perfect.

The map below shows our walk on the first day from the hotel up to Montechoro, down the strip and then along the cliffs to the harbour. My phone crashed at that point so no more of the walk was recorded, but we did complete the walk by trekking back to our hotel.

Duration 2:27 hours

Distance 7.8 miles
Path (Google Earth)

Slieve Lamagan and Binnian

Carmel’s university reunion in Belfast gave Barry and I the chance to take on a couple of Mournes. We parked inland from the coast at Carrick Little car park, near Annalong, south of Newcastle.

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The walk took us up past Annalong Wood and on to the cave at Lower Cove Mountain. This cave, although not very long was much harder to work our way through than I expected. In fact, it was only briefly mentioned that a cave was part of the route, so there probably were no expectations on my part.

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The cave is quite vertical starting off with a large opening and then rising to a very small exit, about 2 foot square, at the top of a pile of boulders. The boulders are big and slippery making climbing them very difficult, especially in the dark. The vertical exit out has to be done without rucksacks which need to be passed up carefully.

The exit is to the right of me in the following picture. There wasn’t a whole lot of spare room around me when I exited, so perhaps the cave does not suit the larger walker.

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After leaving the cave we madeAdd an Image our way up over boggy ground to the top of Slieve Lamagan (704m) in drizzle and strong wind. From here we walked down the south west side of Lamagan and then climbed gently up to Lough Binnian lake on the way to the summit of Slieve Binnian (747m).

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The photo above was taken at the Back Castles on the way to Binnian summit. In the distance on the left is Lamagan where we had recently been and just visible in the background with the top in cloud is the highest peak in the Mournes, Slieve Donard.

Slieve Lamagan and Binnian

Duration 5:34 hours
Distance 9.0 miles
Total ascent 1,155 m
Path (Google Earth)