There is nothing better than a gentle sea breeze blowing through your hair in a romantic Mills and Boon style to make you feel like you are living in paradise. In the UK any attempt to recreate this sort of sunset scene usually involved a trip to Skegness where I would walk for mile to try and get to the sea and would inevitably end up stood in a car park trying to eat a plate of fish and chips as my hair whipped me in the face – decidedly more 50 Shades of Grey really.
While a gentle breeze is a welcome experience on a hot sunny day in the Algarve, it is neither so welcome nor so gentle in the winter months when you would rather it wasn’t so ever present.
The problem in the Algarve is that in the winter months there is simply no escape from the wind because every business operates a strict open door policy. If you are unsure what this is then it is very simple to explain – basically every business from accountant, to restaurant, insists on keeping their doors open throughout the year and with no regard to the weather.
This means that when you settle down to your meal in a local restaurant you actually need to put on an extra coat, rather than take one off in many cases because the wind whistling in through the door and this combined with the lack of central heating or damp proofing means that it is freezing inside.
Take a moment to think about the unfortunate receptionist who has to sit in front of an open door all day while tapping away at her keyboard wearing fingerless gloves, or the bar maid who turns on the deep fat fryer for a source of heat because this is the reality of life in the sun when the sun goes away for a few months each year.
Usually it is actually warmer outside than in during the winter months in the Algarve which made me think that perhaps this was the reason for the open door policy in the country – maybe they are trying to draw the warm air in with a sort of osmosis kind of theory?
However it turns out that no one has actually realised that a sign on a door saying “open” (or perhaps more useful would be “Aberto” the Portuguese for open) is all that is needed to let customers know that you are actually open – you do not need the door flapping in the wind to tell a customer this in other parts of the world that you are open do you?
The Brits abroad though have sussed out this terrible open door policy and you will be able to spot any local resident by simply looking at where they are sat in a bar – they will be the ones huddled in the corner furthest from the hurricane and usually with a dog on their lap for extra heat – and although they look to be the clever ones they still haven’t worked out how to get that door shut yet…