The Family Madrigal was our song of the summer. It could start a dance party as quickly as it could stop a toddler melt down. Sachi would lock eyes with me and give me a little head tilt and I’d know we’d have the Family Madrigal on repeat for at least a half hour. And when it wasn’t possible to play on my phone, I’d be singing a cappella to my girls. In fact, I sang it so often that other family we were traveling with knew the words by summer’s end.
The soundtrack really cemented itself into rotation on our trip to Portugal. It was a serendipitous weekend. My cousins living in Colorado and Sweden would be in the Algarve at the same time that our friends in Abu Dhabi would be traveling with their friends. All accommodations happened to be booked about fifteen minutes drive from one another so I knew there was no way to miss this weekend.
The love kept growing when Uncle P surprised us at the Lisbon airport and joined us for lunch! It made the trip feel a bit like a homecoming as Portugal is one of our favorite and frequent places to visit. The girls fell asleep to ‘Madrigal’ on the drive down to Carvoeiro (which I still can’t properly pronounce) and Corey managed the roundabouts in the Algarve for the first time in a manual car. Success and settled in the first six hours of arriving.
The hotel room was abundant. It was the equivalent of a ranch-style 2 bedroom home, and the girls were running the hallways while we unpacked. The first cousins meet up was at an Italian restaurant with a large lawn in the front. The older cousins swooped up my girls and they were frolicking in the green while the parental units basked in sun and wine and didn’t miss a beat catching up. The definition of vacation for me. Dinner sorted. Kids sorted. Adults relaxing. My favorite part of the evening was when I requested that Sachi not have her own ice cream (because of the sugar before bedtime), but then all of the cousins proceeded to share their ice cream with Sachi, giving her a taste from each ice cream in a round robin way, effectively ensuring that she got more than each cousin individually.
The next morning, we got our fill at the breakfast buffet and joined for the group walk down to the local beach. We waded into the waves and slathered everyone in sun screen. Our travel speaker made its debut, too, playing grooves all morning. My favorite memory of this day was Saya joining the paddle ball game, then realizing it was a bit too tricky for her to compete, so she got right into the spirit of cheering and joking around with older cousins, calling out points from the sidelines. Oh and the malasadas! Those were the best as a mid morning treat.
We made the climb back up to the pool where I had my first wine and orange soda for happy hour. Polly worked on her swim strokes tenaciously and Saya was excited to capture the diving toys in the 2 foot wading pool. Sachi was generally content sitting in the kiddie pool with me. Dinner was a bit more ambitious as we hoped the kids would eat indoors and watch tv at Kelly’s while we booked an al fresco table at the courtyard restaurant. But after we ordered, the cousins brought Sachi out to me creating a trickle effect of kids emerging from their airbnb. We ate in rounds, some of us finishing appetizers and some of us corralling kids.
The next two days we followed the rhythm of a morning beach trip and an afternoon swim in the pool. Anne Marie and Uncle Dick arrived along with Julie Ann who stayed away for the most part because she’d contracted covid. The girls couldn’t get enough attention from their cousins, and Cora and Finley loved helping with the little ones. What a joy to see them together!
We were meant to meet with Taya and Fidel this evening, but their flight was late so we took ourselves to Ferragudo. We were tempted to return to our favorite spot, Fim do Mundo, but opted to try something new. We weren’t disappointed. The clams in butter were perfect with a shared a carafe of wine. We sat back, each with a sleeping sweetheart on us, and enjoyed. We stopped for ice cream, and then had a photo shoot at Tata Sam’s favorite wall in the town. You can see why it’s such a picturesque spot!
Taya and Fidel’s villa was a glorious spot for family vacation. We were also able to see Corey’s old colleague, Louise and her family. I was so happy to meet Haki, and see Saya and Mwangaza pick up where they left off last Christmas. It was a quick visit but a full one. I couldn’t believe this one weekend brought us together so many people. We were warmed by the sun and the hugs, and it was the perfect launch into summer.