February 22, 2016
After fun and games on the M25, with Junction 7 (and the realisation that, yikes, that’s Gatwick!) and beyond delayed horrendously, we arrived at what can only be termed Ghastly Gatwick on a Tuesday afternoon to find four truly moronic easyJet customers – not sure what nationality – seeking to escape the £40 luggage charge by trying to sneak two pieces of hand luggage per person on board, bullying the EasyJet team virtue of the male party leader’s sheer girth, and delaying everyone as a result.
Plane rammed full… OMG! Can it get worse? Yes, unfortunately. Departure was, eventually, over 1.5 hours late and everyone was severely frazzled – mothers demanding to sit next to children, crew telling them they couldn’t because they hadn’t pre-booked seats – you name it…
Arrive Faro very much later than planned, find car hire office amidst airport renovation work (a 10-minute walk outside the terminal) and, thank goodness, find some seriously charming Europcar people, from the desk team to the man who handed us our car keys; feel better already. A mere 20 or so minutes later, heading towards Spain (“turn right out of the airport and take the N125”), we find our heart-of-the-countryside hotel, Vila Monte.
Despite it being gone 10.30 pm we are greeted with smiles and a wonderful log fire in reception. The man who takes our luggage solicitously asks “Have you had dinner?” No, we hadn’t, and could see through the glass, visible from reception, that the kitchen was closing (much tidying up going on). However, by 11 pm we were sitting in the restaurant, glass of delightfully chilled Grous wine from the Alentejo in hand, enjoying wonderful Dorada fish with beautifully-roasted vegetables. How did they do that in 20 minutes? There are seemingly magicians in this place – what a turn-around from the truly dire start to the trip.
Our car was parked for us, our luggage awaited us in our room and we duly unpacked a few items for the morning and collapsed in a happy heap to recover from the tribulations of the day.