The last day of the year 2020. A memorable year. This time of year always makes us a bit melancholic, another year to say goodbye. We like to sit at the open fire place and share together memories of the last year. This time we wrote these memories down so you can share our experiences of 2020. What a year it was! Except a great New Years Party, our memories start first at March 2020.
We had a Dutch friend over for a quick visit when Covid-19 entered our daily life. Our friend arrived on Thursday and on Sundays it was questionable whether she could still fly back. All air traffic went down, we wondered about this new world. At that time we were almost ready for re-opening for a new holiday season. Everything was in place, all work done to receive the guests. The first guests would arrive at the end of March. But it soon became clear that they could not come, afraid of the Pandemic. In April, when there were no flights at all, cancellations poured into our well-filled agenda. We understood immediately it would take some time to restart tourism. But we felt also disbelief, it could not be true the world felt still!
At Easter Portugal was in total lockdown. Normally in this period of the season, it is a madhouse around here. It is because of the yearly Eastern event (Festa das Tochas Floridas), with a flower parade and many festivities in our town São Brás de Alportel. This year all the streets were deserted, even the benches on the streets were covered with plastic so no one could sit on them. On a balcony in the main street, a young lady with a microphone was singing fados. Local residents clapped long and hard after each song. A car with a loudspeaker on the roof drove around from which the mayor spoke and told us to stay at home: “Fica em casa!” Suddenly, on our daily walk with Keira, we met a lot of dog owners who were walking their dogs. Remarkable, finally the Portuguese dogs also got some exercise outside their doors! Shopping was the only outing. With a mouth mask, waiting in line outside for a long time before you could enter.
May 15, 2020.
The date is engraved in our memory. The hairdressers, cafes and restaurants were allowed to reopen. We immediately booked a table, outside of course, at our favorite restaurant Sabores do Campo. We enjoyed it so much! Flights seemed to restart around June 1. So we got ready for the “new normal”. We went looking for mouth masks, hand gel and disinfectant for our guests and B&B. But everything seemed to be sold out. Ultimately, we were able to stock up at the Macro for extortionate prices. A Clean and Safe course was organized by the Bureau for the Turismo, which instructed us how to deal with customers and the B&B in Covid period. We attended hours of sessions in Portuguese language. A certificate was our reward. In the meantime, we enjoyed our free time.
The beaches were accessible again and we could take nice walks with Keira. Normally a “not done” in May as the bathing season would have been start. We visited beaches where in previous years around this time it would have been loaded with tourists. A wonderfully relaxed time! We really enjoyed our ‘obliged’ holiday. Normally it is difficult for us to leave our B&B during this period, as we receive and take care of the guests.
In July, European flights are back and the first guests were coming in. Due to Covid we decided to run half our capacity, to make it more easy of keeping distance. It was a strange sensation to receive our guests with a mouth mask and not to be able to shake hands. We were happy that our guests really enjoyed the Algarve, the relative freedom of movement in Portugal and our clean and safe guesthouse in Covid time. Our guests brought again a lot of fun to our B&B Casal da Eira.
Most of our 2020 reservations were canceled, but luckily we got last minute bookings in July, August and September. This year we also received more bookings from Portuguese, who went on holiday in their own country. Financially, the year was therefore not completely lost.
We have been busy with a lot of improvement of our B&B in recent months. We are happy with our renewed website www.casaldaeira.com has been released! It got a total new look and feel and ready for 2021. Despite the fact that at the moment the Covid-infections have never been higher, we have confidence in 2021 and the years after. We are looking forward to the next year! We understand people are reluctant to plan their holidays at the moment. But better times are on their way. Ask us for the special cancellation restrictions due to Covid-19!
Hope to meet and welcome you in our B&B in the nearby future. We wish you a happy and healthy 2021.
Love from Bert and Els