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The Hawkins’ authentic week in the Algarve

With suitcases packed, Peter and Marion leave their home in Huddersfield, Yorkshire (UK), say goodbye to their children and grandchild and go on holiday to the Algarve. The Hawkins are used to coming to Praia da Luz during the low season, so they have everything organised. They arranged cheap flights through Ryanair and were pleasantly surprised to discover the Winter Promotion on the Estrela da Luz website as they prepared to book the accommodation. Even if they decided to come in March, as usual, they could take advantage of the promotion, but this year, Marion agreed to come in January to celebrate their 23rd wedding anniversary, in Portugal.

The late arrival on Friday runs smoothly and the decision not to plan anything over the weekend was mutual so they could relax completely.

The schedules and work routine are so rooted that in the morning, Peter and Marion go together to walk along the sandy beach, before having breakfast in Lazuli and longing for the infinite view that the ocean offers.

The Hawkins hurry back before 10:30 a.m. for a Pilates class, with Paula Teixeira. She has already made them a customized plan for the week. Their needs are different: Marion has postural problems and Peter had a knee replacement last year. After class and because the winter sun is appetizing, the couple sits on the terrace of their apartment to read their books whilst drinking coffee and eating marzipan cakes (doce fino), courtesy of the resort.

The afternoon is spent in the resort's facilities (indoor pool, sauna and Jacuzzi) and with spa treatments. Irina, as Estrela Health & Beauty therapist, advises Peter to do an Estrela Facial, with an anti-age mask that is appropriate for his mature skin.

For Marion, she booked a hot stone massage to ease the tension caused by her posture at the desk. (Spa treatments list here: http://estreladaluz.com/media/pdfs/estrela-health-amp-beauty-tarifario.pdf ).

The days pass slowly, but they are lived with intensity! Last year the Hawkins went on a trip to Cape St. Vincent to admire the sunset aboard a 4x4 jeep. They saw some viewpoints (Gaivota viewpoint and Cordoama viewpoint) and heard about some of the local history. In Sagres, Marion and Peter realised the force of the sea hitting the lighthouse. A magical moment shared by a glass of Portuguese wine and a warm bread with chourizo!

This year they want to live the local authenticity again, so Naturatours organised a trip to the Monchique mountain. Early in the morning, they stop at a local bakery to try out a tiborna (warm bread with garlic, salt and olive oil). They visit Bravura Dam, where, in the middle of the forest, the owner of a small cafe will offer homemade cookies. They learn how the famous medronho is made through the visit to a distillery and they ascend towards the highest point - the Fóia. The Algarve gastronomic trip ends only with a long and typical lunch in Monchique and a visit to a local honey producer and liquor distillery.

During the week Marion still has time to volunteer in the care and feeding of cats of the Nandy Charity Shop, work that accommodates every year. Peter prefers to stay in Estrela da Luz to work out in the gym and swim in the indoor pool.

On Thursday, the day before returning home, they book a special dinner at Mar d’Estórias to celebrate their wedding anniversary! On his tours, Peter bought a gold bracelet from the Arrecadação da Luz, and Marion offers a Rituals pack, from the Ritual line of Samurai.

The dinner, which was to start early, ends up being delayed because both have lost track of time exploring all the traditional and local Portuguese products of Mar d’Estórias. The selection of the products here portrays all that is best in Portugal. The meal is spent in meaningful conversation, sharing authentic dishes and Algarvian wine: Algarvian carrots and muxama carpaccio; pork loin, cornmeal porridge, and roast cod with cornmeal crumble. Finally, the sweets! Peter chose Marie cookie cake infused with coffee, served with passion fruit ice cream and for Marion peanut bonbons, chocolate and Madeira’s banana ice cream.

A week that always feels short, but is lived with all the authenticity of the Algarve in low season.

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