I’m currently sat in the garden writing this post because oh my god, it is hot! Clearly we brought the sun back with us when we arrived in England just before the weekend and today it’s actually hotter here than it was in Albufeira.
Feel free to send wine and cheese as a thank you.
Anyway, so last year my cousin Emily and I went on a girly holiday to Portugal where we stayed in a hotel called Bayside, situated in Salgados, Albufeira. This particular hotel was a 3 star I think, which for us was perfectly fine. We didn’t care much about the facilities as we spent all day every day on the beach soaking up the rays and making frequent visits to the beach bar. It was boiling hot every day– what more could we ask for?
Each day when we set out for our 15 minute walk to the beach, we would pass through an area boasting 5 star hotels and apartments and I promised myself that one day I would return to stay in one of these hotels because, I don’t know, they looked amazing and also isn’t that what you do when you reach your 30’s? Upgrade your holiday’s to 5 Star? LOL.
So when it came to deciding where I wanted to holiday this year, I couldn’t get this place out of my head. I actually don’t like holidaying in the same place twice but technically I wasn’t booking the same hotel so I let this one slide and grabbed my credit card. I also wanted mine and Rich’s first holiday to be THE BEST EVER so basically this was my excuse for pulling out all the stops to make this happen. And man am I happy with my decision.
We arrived at Salgados Palace at around 9pm local time after a pretty smooth flight with Norwegian Airlines. I say pretty smooth– we basically ran for our plane because someone (me) was enjoying one too many glasses of Prosecco and missed the last call for our gate. Don’t ask me how this happened, I don’t really know. All I remember is the pain in my chest after running non stop for 5 minutes straight– Crossfit has nothing on South Terminal, let me tell you.
We also boarded the plane at the wrong end which meant dragging two small suitcases down the tiny plane aisle whilst trying our hardest to apologise at the other passengers who were losing their temper with us because seriously, how small are plane aisles? I thought it was odd that they would board people in this way– clearly it makes sense to board all passengers seated at the back of the plane through the rear exit and all the passengers seated at the front of the plane through the front exit? I voiced this opinion because I did not know at this point we had boarded from the wrong end. I got a very stern “We do” from one of the stewards.
Enough said, show me to my seat so I can drink more prosecco please.
I felt like giving myself a mini high-five as we walked through the revolving doors of our hotel lobby because I’d never been to a place like this before in my life and it was somewhat magical, but then again, when you’re as scared of flying as I am and you realise your plane didn’t in fact fall out the sky, lots of things seem magical. The third prosecco on the plane probably contributed too. Just sayin.
What I noticed first was the art on the walls– it reminded me of an artist I studied at school and I was really drawn to it but this is in fact totally irrelevant to this blog post, I just found it interesting. The second thing was how much space there was in the hotel lobby. Literally wasted space and huge long sofas for anyone who likes sitting in hotel lobbies I guess. Other features of Salgados Palace worth mentioning are the spa, although you have to pay 10 euros PER DAY to use all the facilities including the gym and it doesn’t open till 10am. In my opinion this isn’t good and I didn’t expect this from a 5* hotel. The sunset bar was awesome and overlooked all 3 of the pools and the entire golf course and obviously you could watch the sun literally set. 3 pools– need I say more about this? Also, free towels, which is going to make anyones day if you ask me.
And even though flying literally drains me, I was extremely excited to call this hotel my home for the next week.
Our bedroom was amazing! Modern, spacious, WALK IN DOUBLE SHOWER, a balcony overlooking a million palm trees and a cool water feature, a mini bar, a flat screen TV (wasted on me but Rich was pleased) and the biggest bed I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Once again, I mentally high-fived my ability to book holidays. I now class myself as a pro-holiday booker, although I don’t really know if this is a thing?
As soon as we dropped our bags off, we headed out to grab food and explore the area, in the dark I may add. The sun sets much earlier in Portugal than it does in England and for some reason this always surprises me. The great thing about staying in the same place twice is that you kinda know the area so it meant we didn’t have to worry about finding food late at night in the dark. I knew it was too late for the beach bar to be open so I asked at the hotel reception whether Mama Mia would still be serving food because I’d just completed 25 days of clean eating and extra Crossfit sessions– I needed all the carbs and wine and Mama Mia is all about the pizza and pasta dishes.
Whilst we are on the subject of eating, I should probably mention that the Salgados Palace is an all-inclusive hotel ONLY but at the time we booked, the hotel was actually offering B&B and I like to explore different restaurants so being all-inclusive doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. However, we were the last batch of people to arrive who were on a bed and breakfast basis and this made it a tad difficult if and when we wanted to get lunch or dinner at the hotel. The staff got confused, there were no prices and it was hard work. But it’s neither here nor there for anyone else looking to book here as you will only get the option of all in.
So there we were, spending our first night at Mama Mia where I basically talked excitedly for around 2 hours about the places I’d been to the year before, the food I ate and the spider fish in the sea. Yep, I am one fun date.
This restaurant is open late and is about 300 metres from the beach front and over looks part of the golf course. I’m gonna be honest here, their pizza isn’t actually my fave and you would think I may have remembered this from the first time I went but no, I made the mistake of ordering pizza this time round too so yeah, maybe just don’t do this. It could be my choice of toppings– maybe ALL the cheese on one pizza isn’t the way forward. They also offer plenty of other tasty Italian dishes and their wine menu is huge! Both times I have visited this place I have loved the romantic atmosphere and if you go at around 8pm, you will for sure be able to watch the sunset over the golf course.
Even after all the cheese, I slept like a log on our first night. This potentially was due to the fact it felt like Rich was actually in another room; our bed was SO big I could hardly feel him next to me, result, and I drifted off to sleep dreaming of the sand between my toes and ice-cold ciders on the beach.
And that dream became our reality for the next 7 days. Literally.
I had grand plans of waking up to watch the sunrise each morning, followed by some form of working out; potentially doing a quick CrossFit WOD before breakfast so that I didn’t come home 3 stone heavier than when we left. But nope, my Crohn’s thought it would be a great time to flare up and ruin my plans. So that kinda sucked.
Instead I woke up feeling like I needed to puke my guts up, closely followed by fatigue and tummy pains. This was actually the worst it’s been in the 3 years since my diagnosis but I’m not going dwell on it in this post, I was just a bit pissed off that I couldn’t workout. And we all know what happens when we can’t workout out don’t we ladies? It all goes tits up and out the window. No more healthy eating because what is the actual point? Second day in and I’d switched my protein filled breakfasts for beige looking foods. I’ll never understand why they feel the need to serve chips and cake for breakfast in hotels abroad but somewhere deep inside, whilst filling my plate to the brim, I was silently thanking the person who had thought up this crazy idea.
Rich however, did manage to do one workout in our bedroom whilst I held my belly in pain and secretly cursed him for being so fit and well and normal. It was fun times all round.
We spent our first full day by the pool where we stuck out like sores thumbs next to all the brown people who had been there longer than us. This is when I saw a different side to Rich. All of a sudden we seemed to switch roles and he was keen to start drinking before midday. Not that I do this at home obviously. LOL. But he isn’t a big drinker and well, I kind of am.
At some point during this first day, I wanted to re-visit a bikini shop which is located on the same road as the Bayside hotel I’d stayed in the year before called Lua Bella Bikinis. This is the place to be if you want the prettiest (and smallest) bikinis in Portugal. I remember being in the shop with my cousin last year and trying on about 25 different brazilian bikini bottoms before I plucked up the courage to just buy the damn things and wear them on the beach. Brazilian bikinis seem to be extremely popular on the beach here and I wanted less white bits so they seemed like the obvious choice. I ended up buying the same style bottoms but in a different colour this time round.
To find Lua Bella Bikinis, we headed left out of the hotel lobby, then turned right outside the hotel mini roundabout and just followed the road past Bayside Hotel. The shop is on the corner. I’m pretty sure wherever you stay in this area, they will know the bikini shop you are talking about so you can probably get directions from the reception.
Salgados beach is well worth a visit if you stay here, although most people who go all-inclusive generally spend their days sat by the pool waiting for the next feeding session and taking full advantage of the ‘free’ bar. I on the other hand, like to mix things up a bit and I love the beach just as much as sitting by the pool. You can do a lot more people watching at the beach by the way so there’s always that. This particular beach takes about 10 minutes to walk to and is super easy to find. You will bypass Mama Mia on your way so if you don’t, you are walking in the wrong direction.
The beach has a lovely restaurant and beach bar called Os Salgados so if you just want snacks, you can order from the bar but if you want to try some of the seafood, then the restaurant is amazing. It doesn’t look like much when you walk onto the beach and I’m struggling to find a good link as they don’t seem to have a Facebook page or a website but I promise you, it’s a lovely place to eat! We spent an entire day from 10am to 10pm at the beach during our week stay and we showered and changed in the toilets and then booked a table at the restaurant where we ordered huge tiger prawns and chilled white wine. Seriously so good.
We then ordered more wine and ran around on the beach barefoot like kids whilst taking silly selfies and snapchats which didn’t send because o2 has THE worst signal ever abroad apparently. Visit my Instagram feed for all the exciting picture updates.
On one of the pool days, Rich went off to catch up on Wimbledon in the giant lobby with its huge flat screen TV leaving me to read my book and tan myself senseless. And that’s when I had the pleasure of seeing first hand what kids club entertainment is really like. 3 tanned girls and 2 equally as tanned guys appeared wearing bright orange and yellow clothing, equipped with a boom box (is that what you call them?) that would soon be blaring out Zumba music. I know, I’m really not selling this to you am I? It was actually quite fun to watch and seeing as I used to teach Zumba, I could feel my feet itching to get up and dance. More importantly, the kids loved it, which is good seeing as this gave all the parents there a chance to sneak off for yet another drink or bury their heads into their books knowing that their children were being well looked after.
If however you do not have kids, I will warn you now that they play the SAME music each day, which is great for learning Zumba routines but not so great if you’re trying to lose yourself in your book.
If you find yourself getting bored with your surroundings and you need a little change of scenery, you can always head into Albufeira old town where there is a lot going on. Tourist shops, hair braiding, clowns, too many restaurants to choose from, Shisha Pipes (not for kids LOL) and a weird cat colony down by the beach– amongst other things. It is very busy here in peak season and this time around we ended up ringing a cab to get home as the taxi rank was a 40 minute wait and when you have a tummy like mine, that wait is never going to be a fun one. But this is the place to be for both families and the people who are childless and want to party till the early hours of the morning. We are neither of these groups of people by the way. Bang smack in the middle actually– just wine and dine me then I’m done. Taxi!
Okay so there’s one more restaurant I need to tell you about and if you do end up staying in Salgados, you just have to go here! It’s a must.
The lovely people at Bayside Hotel last year recommended a restaurant with its own private little beach but it was a bit of a walk and there was a chance we could get lost. Naturally we accepted the challenge to find this restaurant and off we went with rumbling bellies in the blazing heat. We did get lost the first time, I won’t lie. Twice actually but once we were there it was well worth the trip.
Which is why I asked the hotel reception to call ahead and book a table for Rich and I on our last night because I am a hopeless romantic at heart and if this restaurant doesn’t set the mood between you and your partner, I don’t know what will.
Again, this is a ‘beach bar’ type restaurant and I guess if it wasn’t located on a beach, it wouldn’t look and feel quite as nice but still, the food is lovely and you can watch the sunset whilst enjoying a nice bottle of wine. #bliss
Is it bad that I had the exact same meal here this year as I did the year before? I couldn’t help it, I remembered how good their fillet steak was and I just had to have it again. We ate quite a lot of fish throughout the week and I needed meat with salty fries followed by a really good chocolate orange mousse.
And this is how we ended our holiday!
Things I’ve learned whilst on holiday: we need to know more about red wine– I feel a wine tasting evening coming on, don’t order the cheesiest pizza ever again– I love cheese but it seems even I have my limits, walking miles in the heat is not the one– especially on the rare occasion you opt to wear a bra.
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