Portugal Getaways


Portugal

Travel series. Joe Lindsay and Vogue Williams take a trip to the Algarve in Portugal to find out why this area is a perennial family favourite for Irish holidaymakers.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

-Hello, and welcome to Getaways.

-The show where we go...

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..where you want us to go.

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SHE SCREAMS

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We're on a mission to check out some of your most popular

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holiday destinations.

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You've been sharing your top travel tips, telling us where to go...

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..and what to do when we get there.

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HE LAUGHS

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This week, we've flown to the Algarve in sunny southern Portugal.

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Known for its stunning coastline and 300 days of sunshine a year.

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Over five million tourists arrive here every year.

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So, we're here to find out what makes it

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one of Europe's top holiday destinations.

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Flights to Faro Airport are plentiful and year-round,

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and take about three hours.

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And all the main resorts are within an hour's drive.

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Vogue, what are you looking forward to here in the Algarve?

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Well, I came here as a child for years,

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so I basically want to be a big child again.

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I want to go to water parks, I want to do golf,

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I want to just do loads of fun stuff.

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-What about you?

-It's very simple, you know, three things - good food,

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beaches and guaranteed sunshine pretty much all year round.

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And I've just noticed, we're kind of in the way of one of the features.

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That's so true!

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Yes, that's right -

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we've been asking you what your top recommendations are,

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and it seems that the Algarve's best assets are indeed its beaches.

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So, most of your holiday will probably revolve around sun, sea and sand.

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And why wouldn't it? After all,

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the Algarve is famous for its miles and miles of golden, sandy beaches,

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its crystal-clear blue water and its rugged cliffs.

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Hard to beat.

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My first stop is Albufeira,

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one of the top coastal resorts recommended by you, the viewers.

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This is Tunnel Beach,

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so-called because you access it from the town through this tunnel.

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And if you think that's clever, then check this out.

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This lift takes you down 100ft onto the beach from the town.

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But I'm not going to take that.

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I'm taking the escalator.

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The escalator takes you down onto Fisherman's Beach,

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so-called because of the colourful fishing boats that once

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lined the shore. Nowadays,

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it's the holiday-makers who use the beach purely for pleasure.

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Now, there are gorgeous beaches all along the coastline here,

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so if you want somewhere a bit more secluded,

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then you won't have far to go.

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This is the gorgeous Sao Rafael Beach,

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and we're here to check out the rock formations and caves.

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What better way to do that than a bit of stand-up paddleboarding?

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-OK.

-You're ready to go.

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'After a quick safety briefing, I head out onto the water.'

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-Good to go.

-All right.

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Paddleboarding is a fantastic way to really see and appreciate

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the rock formations.

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And even at high tide, I can get right into these caves.

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It's an amazing experience.

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However, this IS the Atlantic Ocean, and while it's nice and calm today,

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I don't think I'd be just as confident in choppy waters.

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But Albufeira isn't just about the beaches.

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Marty McAllister from Belfast and Martina Doherty from Donegal said

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we should go check out the old town.

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So that's what I'm going to do.

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Albufeira was once a thriving seaport.

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The Romans named it Baltum.

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But later, the Moors changed its name to Al-buhera,

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meaning "castle on the sea".

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And today, Albufeira is considered by many to be the capital of tourism

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in Portugal. This is the hub of the old town, the square,

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and it's surrounded by bars and restaurants and coffee bars.

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Very family-orientated - you come down here at night,

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there's live music happening, you can chill out and have a drink.

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Or just watch the world go by.

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Here's a handy tip - the sightseeing trains.

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They take you past all the sights to see in Albufeira,

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and they run until the end of September.

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And they're especially great if you have kids with you.

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I mean, come on, it's a wee train!

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Boop-boop!

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And of course, there are plenty of restaurants

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here in the old town, too.

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I already know what I'm going to have - the highly recommended local,

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fresh polvo a lagareiro - or octopus, to you and I.

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Obrigado.

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Marie Clynes recommended this place.

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She came here for lunch, said the staff were extremely friendly,

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the food was excellent, and she said the local white wine was a treat.

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Indeed, Marie. Cheers!

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Polvo a lagareiro is beautifully simple.

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The octopus is boiled so it has just the right texture.

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And then it's prepared along with some boiled local potatoes,

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with olive oil, garlic and herbs.

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It's quickly cooked off in the oven,

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and it's finished off with the garlic-infused oil.

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Mmm, lovely!

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-Wow! Obrigado.

-Enjoy your meal.

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Lordy, that is incredible.

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That is just delicious.

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There's a huge range of places to stay in the Algarve.

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Here in Albufeira's old town is the recently-renovated Hotel Baltum.

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It's only a short walk to the beaches,

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and while it doesn't have a pool,

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it has a newly-opened roof terrace with a hot tub.

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A good family option is the Aparthotel Alfagar,

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also in Albufeira.

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It has a large outdoor swimming pool with a kids' area and a restaurant,

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and it's only minutes from the beach.

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You can rent a one or two-bedroom apartment.

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They are big and bright, with an open-plan living area,

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and come with a well-equipped kitchen.

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For a little bit of luxury, you could stay at the Conrad Algarve,

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a five-star hotel situated close to

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some of the Algarve's top golf resorts,

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and only 20 minutes from Faro Airport.

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It has indoor and outdoor pools, restaurants and its own spa.

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Rooms are modern and bright and come with a balcony,

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and the bathrooms have their own built-in TV so you can tune in

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while having a soak.

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But if you feel like really splashing out,

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you can book a suite which comes with its own private pool and sauna.

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Known as the golf capital of Europe,

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thousands of visitors come to the Algarve every year for its top-class

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golf courses. A lot of you - and I mean a lot of you -

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have told us that you come to the Algarve just to golf.

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So I'm here at one of the 37 golf courses to brush up on my very

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minimal golf skills.

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So, how often do you play golf?

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I haven't played golf in years.

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'I've come to the Balaia Golf Course, close to Albufeira,

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'which has a golf academy, so it's perfect for a beginner.

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'And taking me out on the green is resort manager Maria.'

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This gives our alignment to the flag.

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Keep your head down.

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Yes! Lovely - lovely swing!

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-OK.

-OK.

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-Yes.

-Too far...

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-Come on, come on! On the green!

-Wow! Yes!

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Let's go, then.

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So, a lot of people have said that

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they come to the Algarve just to golf.

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Indeed, yes. You will reach the majority of the top courses in

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the Algarve within 15 minutes' drive.

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-Yeah.

-And courses like ours, for instance, they suit the family,

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the leisure, it's a resort course.

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Fantastic for the kids, for the families, for the elderly people.

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-Yeah.

-While the big boys could go into the neighbouring courses,

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like Vilamoura, to play the Masters.

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-Yeah.

-I can tell you, in the winter, more than likely in January,

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you would play in short sleeves, easily.

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-Yeah. That's lovely.

-Yeah, yeah.

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OK, so what do you think of my shot?

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That's very good. That's very good, that's very good.

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Bravo. Yes.

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If you hole that one, now we're going to make a par.

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OK.

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-Yes, very good.

-Yay!

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Your first par in the Algarve. Come on! Let's do it!

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We did good, we did good!

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Check this out. Over 100 hand-carved sand sculptures make up

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the International Sand Sculpture Festival in Pera,

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which runs from March to October every year.

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And this year, the theme is music.

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So, I'm enjoying discovering some musical idols like Bowie,

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Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson.

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-AS MICHAEL JACKSON:

-Check out his glove!

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Around 40,000 tonnes of sand is used to make the sculptures,

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with some of them as high as 12 metres.

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The detail is just great,

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and there are loads of celebrities you'll be able to spot.

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I'm meeting Paulo, one of the sculptors.

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So, Paulo, this isn't so much like a park,

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it's an annual festival of sand sculpture?

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-Yes, yes.

-How long has it been going?

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Since 2003.

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Wow! How long do the sculptures actually last?

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Well, the oldest one here, it's about five years.

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Get away, five years?!

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-Yes.

-Really?! I mean, the scale of them is impressive,

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you've some really, really, like, massive pieces.

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Is this, like, regular sand, or this kind of special kind of sand?

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No, it's a sand that is normally found in England.

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Oh, OK. Paulo, I was wondering,

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would you maybe have a spare pile of sand lying about,

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be prepared to give me a go at it?

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Well, I have just one mount of sand prepared for you.

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-Oh, really?

-Yes.

-OK.

-You should try it.

-Let's go.

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A popular day trip in the Algarve is to the historic town of Loule.

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The focal point is the Moorish-inspired covered market,

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housed in this striking old building.

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And we're heading there for a spot of retail therapy.

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Inside, there's an array of colourful sights and sounds.

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You can get your hands on the local fruit, veg and spices,

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including piri piri peppers, a staple in Portuguese cooking.

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And you can even sample some of the wares before buying.

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Smells delicious, got good nose... Yes.

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That is truly a knockout.

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Have you a bigger glass?!

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THEY LAUGH

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It's open six days a week, but the best time to come

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is for the farmers' market on a Saturday morning.

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THEY SPEAK IN PORTUGUESE

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'The market is also an ideal place for picking up inexpensive souvenirs

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'or trinkets.' Thank you.

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Ooh. These are so, so good over here.

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Obrigada!

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So, what did you buy, Missy? Apart from a massive nectarine.

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Massive nectarine. Got one for you.

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-You did not!

-I did. I got an anklet.

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-That's very pretty.

-Three euro.

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And a bib for my niece.

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-What did you get?

-I didn't get you anything.

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-Thanks.

-Unfortunately. I did get some Good Boy sardines.

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And a nice bottle of local wine.

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-Ah.

-Doesn't our shopping speak volumes about us?

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THEY LAUGH

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'Loule has a strong tradition in pottery.

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'And if you fancy doing something a bit different and want to learn

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'about local crafts and traditions,

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'then you can take part in creative workshops

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'run by artisans and craftsmen.'

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Oh, Joe, this is going to get messy!

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Ooh!

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-Come on, sir.

-Yes!

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Yeah!

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-He's just showing off now.

-Yeah.

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-Come on, sir.

-Very good.

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You've done this before.

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-OK, so that's what we have to attempt.

-No pressure.

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-Yeah, no pressure. Look at that.

-OK.

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Ah!

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OK.

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What are you doing? You don't seem to be doing very well.

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Joe, it looks like a pot.

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I seem to have taken to it quite well.

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-I think, you know.

-How did you get it like that?!

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-That is not...

-Skill.

-That didn't happen. Uh-oh.

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OK, I'll start again.

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I can't get the machine to stop.

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I think it's time to add my pattern. I'm quite happy with the shape.

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I like the fact you're going for the more abstract notion of pottery.

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-I like that.

-It's moving again off the thing.

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SHE LAUGHS

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You see a lot of those in fields in Ireland, you know.

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How did you do that?

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Well, you know, I had a wee bit of time on my hands because, you know,

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you were working away, so we just take note here, you know.

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What does it say? "Getaways".

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Yeah!

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I mean, I'm not bragging.

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Look, look at my hands compared to yours. And it's on my face.

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Doesn't that say a lot? Doesn't it?

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But if you prefer a getaway closer to home,

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then Joe has been on a short break to County Wicklow.

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The seaside town of Bray in

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County Wicklow is only a short trip by car or DART from Dublin.

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The childhood home of James Joyce,

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it became a holiday hot spot for Dubliners once the railway line

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was extended here in the mid-1800s.

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But Bray is more than just ice cream and chips.

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I'm using it as a base to explore beautiful County Wicklow.

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I'm staying in the Martello Hotel, which is right on Bray's esplanade.

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It has a good terrace restaurant, where you can dine alfresco,

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and a busy bar on the ground floor.

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I'm starting with a trip to the Wicklow Mountains National Park.

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And Glendalough is a perfect place to admire the scenery and pick up

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some knowledge on early Christian Ireland.

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There is a visitor centre where you can gen up on the history of

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Glendalough, but I'm getting a guided tour from George McClafferty,

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who showed Michelle Obama around during her visit.

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So, George, tell me a little bit about the history of this site.

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St Kevin was the man who founded the site,

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and that was back in the sixth century,

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and he came here in the middle of the sixth century

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with a small group of monks. During his lifetime,

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it was quite a well-known monastery, but after he died, it started to

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blossom and it got bigger and bigger and it went through a golden age

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between the tenth and 12th centuries,

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and then it gradually went downhill until the Reformation,

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when it was closed down.

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Before I get to my next destination in the Wicklow Mountains,

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I'm stopping off for lunch at one of the pubs in Ireland that claims

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to be the highest one, Johnnie Fox's.

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Inside, the pub is beautifully quirky.

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If this is a theme pub, then the theme is randomness.

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But it creates a fun atmosphere to enjoy the lovely grub.

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When you come to Johnnie Fox's,

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go for the classic combination of a pint of the black stuff

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and the seafood.

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I mean, you don't have to go for all this, right?

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But you couldn't beat it with a big stick.

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Look at that!

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Powerscourt House was the ancestral home

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of the viscounts of Powerscourt,

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who lived here for nearly eight centuries before it was sold

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to the Slazenger family in the 1960s.

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But now Powerscourt Estate attracts tourists from all around the world,

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who come here to eat, shop and enjoy the magnificent gardens.

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In 2014, National Geographic listed Powerscourt

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as number three in the world's top

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gardens, and you can see why.

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It's an immaculately preserved garden,

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with some interesting features for green-fingered enthusiasts.

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The property has a Japanese garden,

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an 18-hole championship golf course and, my favourite, a pet cemetery.

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But inside the big house,

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it's in the basement where it really gets interesting.

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A significant amount of damage was done to the house in 1974 because of

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a large fire, but what it did do was expose this beautiful brickwork that

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you see. Oh, and I have to show you this.

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This is the Venus de' Medici.

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There are only four of these in the world in marble.

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The other three are in the White House,

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Buckingham Palace and the Vatican.

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And this is the fourth. All right, love?

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TYRES SCREECH

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OK, let me explain.

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This is Stunt Drive Ireland, just outside Avoca in County Wicklow,

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where anyone can learn how to drive like a Hollywood stuntman.

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Yes, even me.

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It's the brainchild of professional stunt driver Brendan Condren.

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Brendan, Stunt Drive Ireland

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basically gives everyone the opportunity to

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be a stuntman for a day.

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That's right, yeah. We do,

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basically what we do here is we do experience days for people that want

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to kind of experience precision driving,

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which is the type of driving that we do on film sets.

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-Yeah.

-It's learning all the tricks of the trade, like 180s and

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reverse 180s and high-speed forward slaloms and reverse slaloms.

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And literally anybody can do this?

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Yeah, everybody's welcome.

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You see, right, here's the thing.

0:18:460:18:47

I've never driven in my life.

0:18:470:18:49

I've never been behind the wheel of a car,

0:18:490:18:51

I've no idea how they work. You've got your work cut out for you today.

0:18:510:18:54

-That's no problem.

-I have my faith in you, Brendan.

0:18:540:18:57

'Now, if Brendan's worried, he's not showing it.

0:19:020:19:04

'After all, he's worked on big Hollywood movies

0:19:040:19:06

'like A Good Day To Die Hard with Bruce Willis.'

0:19:060:19:09

Oh!

0:19:120:19:13

JOE LAUGHS

0:19:170:19:19

Well, I got one, anyway.

0:19:190:19:20

JOE LAUGHS

0:19:200:19:22

Whoa!

0:19:250:19:26

And stop.

0:19:290:19:30

BRAKES SCREECH

0:19:300:19:31

Sorry about that!

0:19:310:19:33

'I really hope he wasn't attached to that cone.'

0:19:350:19:37

That was rubbish, wasn't it?

0:19:420:19:44

It's not bad for your first time, at all.

0:19:440:19:47

'I want to get this one right.

0:19:470:19:48

'The classic Hollywood 180 degree handbrake turn.

0:19:480:19:51

'Oh, yeah!'

0:19:540:19:56

Thanks, mate, that was brilliant.

0:19:560:19:58

JOE LAUGHS

0:19:580:19:59

You've so got to do this.

0:20:000:20:02

you owe this to yourself, at least for a day.

0:20:020:20:05

You can be a hero - just for one day.

0:20:050:20:07

We're on a getaway to the Algarve region of Portugal.

0:20:100:20:13

'So far, we've been exploring some of the gorgeous beaches.'

0:20:130:20:17

'I've been brushing up on my golf swing,

0:20:170:20:19

'and I've been out in the water,

0:20:190:20:21

'exploring the famous Algarve rock formations.'

0:20:210:20:24

'We're visiting Lagos along what's known as the Algarve's Gold Coast.'

0:20:330:20:37

'Lagos has a long history as a seaport and shipbuilding centre,

0:20:390:20:42

'and the older part of the town is still circled by the Moorish walls

0:20:420:20:46

'that were built in the 16th century.'

0:20:460:20:48

Lagos was home to one of Portugal's most famed residents,

0:20:490:20:53

Henry the Navigator, the Prince of Portugal.

0:20:530:20:56

He was born in 1394 and was an important figure

0:20:560:20:59

in the early days of the Portuguese Empire.

0:20:590:21:02

Henry is regarded of the founder of Portugal's golden age of discovery,

0:21:020:21:06

where ships would set sail

0:21:060:21:07

to explore new lands in the Mediterranean and Africa.

0:21:070:21:11

Henry wanted to find a sea route to circumnavigate Africa,

0:21:110:21:14

and he used Lagos as the launch pad for many of his voyages.

0:21:140:21:18

But there is a darker side to Portugal's age of exploration.

0:21:190:21:22

Here in Lagos, they don't shy away from it.

0:21:220:21:25

Henry was also known as the founder of the Atlantic slave trade,

0:21:280:21:32

and here at the Museum of Slavery, you can learn about how the first

0:21:320:21:35

slave market on European soil was established here in Lagos.

0:21:350:21:38

Back in the 15th century, this was the slave market,

0:21:400:21:43

and this was where that vicious cycle of trade began,

0:21:430:21:46

from Portugal, to Africa, America and back.

0:21:460:21:49

'Also in the old town is the church of St Anthony,

0:21:560:21:59

'which houses a museum with a collection of historical artefacts.

0:21:590:22:03

'But the main attraction is the spectacular baroque interior.'

0:22:030:22:06

'The centrepiece of the church is the grave of Irishman Hugh Beatty,

0:22:090:22:13

'commander of the Faro Regiment in the 17th century,

0:22:130:22:16

'who helped rebuild the church after

0:22:160:22:17

'it was damaged in an earthquake in 1755.'

0:22:170:22:20

He must've been pretty special to be buried here.

0:22:230:22:25

Yeah, it's an important man, right there.

0:22:250:22:27

A lot of you told us

0:22:340:22:36

that we had to come to a water park here in Portugal.

0:22:360:22:38

This is one of the best ones in the Algarve. it's Slide & Splash.

0:22:380:22:41

Now, I know it's meant to be for kids, but I'm sorry,

0:22:410:22:44

this is my best day out - ever!

0:22:440:22:46

Slide & Splash water park is about 30 minutes from Albufeira

0:22:500:22:53

and it's one of the biggest water parks in Europe.

0:22:530:22:56

Adrenaline junkies will love slides with names like Kamikaze,

0:22:580:23:02

Tornado and Corkscrew.

0:23:020:23:04

But for the less confident, or younger ones,

0:23:040:23:06

there are swimming pools and a children's area.

0:23:060:23:09

There's more than a dozen slides here,

0:23:110:23:13

so plenty to keep the whole family entertained, and when I was here,

0:23:130:23:17

there were no queues, so if you have young children,

0:23:170:23:19

this is sure to tire them out.

0:23:190:23:21

And I bumped into Daniel and Stephen from back home.

0:23:250:23:28

So how are you finding the water park?

0:23:280:23:30

Oh, I love it, yeah, loving it.

0:23:300:23:31

The slides and stuff, it's pretty good.

0:23:310:23:34

So what do you recommend for me to do first?

0:23:340:23:36

-Do the big one.

-It goes without saying, like.

-OK.

0:23:370:23:41

So this is the big one,

0:23:430:23:44

the Big Wave, and I'm slightly terrified but really excited.

0:23:440:23:47

Ahh!

0:23:490:23:51

SHE SCREAMS

0:23:540:23:56

Oh, my God, that was mental! It was so much fun.

0:24:030:24:07

Here we go!

0:24:070:24:08

SHE SCREAMS

0:24:120:24:14

SHE LAUGHS

0:24:190:24:21

I'm back.

0:24:240:24:26

'This place is really popular with holiday makers from back home,

0:24:310:24:35

'like the Gormleys from Sligo.'

0:24:350:24:37

So, guys, what did you think of that one?

0:24:370:24:39

-Good.

-Scary, wasn't it?

-Scary?

0:24:390:24:41

-Were you not scared?

-Very scary. Thought we were going to fall out!

0:24:410:24:45

Was it the best one yet?

0:24:450:24:47

-Yeah.

-Really enjoying it. We're enjoying it, though.

0:24:470:24:49

I know, that's what I was saying, I was so happy to be coming here,

0:24:490:24:52

-because it is for adults as well.

-Yeah, it is.

0:24:520:24:54

'OK, just one more slide before I go home.'

0:24:560:24:58

Vilamoura is an upmarket resort on the Algarve coast.

0:25:090:25:12

The marina is huge and attracts some luxurious yachts,

0:25:120:25:15

and the waterfront is a popular place for a dander.

0:25:150:25:18

This is also the place to get a boat trip to take you out onto

0:25:200:25:23

the Atlantic, for swimming, fishing or sightseeing.

0:25:230:25:26

'I'm taking one of the tours of the rock formations and caves.'

0:25:290:25:32

So, when I think of the Algarve, I think of landscape like this.

0:25:350:25:38

Nichola Crawford from County Antrim said,

0:25:380:25:40

"You should take a boat trip out

0:25:400:25:41

"and check out those golden-stoned arches."

0:25:410:25:44

And you're right, Nichola. it doesn't disappoint.

0:25:440:25:46

Also taking in the boat trip are John and Cindy from County Cork.

0:25:520:25:56

-How are you enjoying Portugal?

-Beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

0:25:560:25:58

It's our first time here, so, yeah, very nice.

0:25:580:26:00

Yeah? What do you think, what have you been doing?

0:26:000:26:02

Have you been doing different things?

0:26:020:26:04

-It's the best thing we've done so far, visit the caves.

-Yeah.

0:26:040:26:07

-The scenery is gorgeous.

-The scenery is fantastic, yes.

0:26:070:26:10

They focus on a lot of watersports here, and boating and...

0:26:100:26:13

canoeing and... It's fantastic.

0:26:130:26:16

-Have you been doing that, have you?

-Not really.

-No.

0:26:160:26:20

-This is the closest we've got.

-This is as close as we get.

0:26:200:26:22

'On our way back, we're lucky enough to catch sight of some dolphins.

0:26:240:26:27

'Watching them swimming and diving

0:26:340:26:36

'unfazed by the boats and holiday-makers

0:26:360:26:38

'was, for me, the highlight of the whole trip.'

0:26:380:26:40

For many of us, Faro is simply the gateway to the Algarve.

0:26:500:26:53

However, it is the capital of the region, and we're taking a day trip

0:26:530:26:56

here to find out more about this historical city.

0:26:560:27:00

You know, when I think of Faro, I automatically think of the airport,

0:27:000:27:03

but if you take some time to come into the old town, you'll find some

0:27:030:27:06

really interesting history and culture.

0:27:060:27:09

'The central area, where most of the places of interest are,

0:27:090:27:12

'is compact, and everything is within walking distance.'

0:27:120:27:15

'The old town is where you'll find narrow, cobbled streets,

0:27:190:27:22

'well-preserved old buildings and the centrepiece is the Se Cathedral,

0:27:220:27:26

'which dates back to the 13th century.'

0:27:260:27:29

'We're visiting the Igreja do Carmo,

0:27:310:27:33

'which has more than just an interesting facade.'

0:27:330:27:35

Now, never let it be said

0:27:390:27:40

we don't seek out a little slice of the unusual on Getaways.

0:27:400:27:43

This is the Capela dos Ossos, or "the chapel of bones".

0:27:430:27:48

And it's constructed with the remains of the monks

0:27:480:27:51

who were buried in the nearby cemetery.

0:27:510:27:53

'It's thought that the bones came from over 1,200 monks

0:27:550:27:58

'who once served the city

0:27:580:28:00

'and whose remains were exhumed in the 19th century.'

0:28:000:28:02

It's not as eerie as you think.

0:28:020:28:04

In fact, it's really quite beautiful.

0:28:040:28:07

So, Vogue, how did you find the Algarve?

0:28:120:28:14

You know, I've been here about ten times as a child,

0:28:140:28:16

never left Quinta do Lago, and this trip, I just saw so much more.

0:28:160:28:20

There's so much to do, it's really diverse and I absolutely loved it.

0:28:200:28:23

I think this place is ideal for everyone from Ireland,

0:28:230:28:25

because the flights are frequent, they're cheap,

0:28:250:28:27

it's short and you can come here all year round

0:28:270:28:29

and it's great for families. Perfect!

0:28:290:28:32

Joe Lindsay and Vogue Williams take a trip to the Algarve in Portugal to find out why this area is a perennial family favourite for Irish holidaymakers. They explore the beaches of Albufeira, take in the famous coastline, discover why the Algarve is great for golfing and go wild at a waterpark. And on this week's short Getaway, Joe visits Wicklow to take in the sights of ancient Glendalough, explore the beautiful Powerscourt Estate, and he gets a rush of adrenaline on a stunt-driving experience.