It’s possible that the influx of tourists was unseen when the Algarve was being opened up to the modern world late in the nineteenth Century. So when the railway arrived from the north, its builders knew they needed to serve places like Faro, where the station is centrally sited, but would only have seen Albufeira as a fishing village, so a station was provided and named after that village, but it was some distance inland, in another village called Ferreiras.
So to access the rail system from downtown Albufeira, you need to either call a taxi or use the connecting bus service run by local provider Eva. The connections aren’t always good, and there is good reason for Eva not to be too keen on delivering punters to the railway: much of the market is in travel to and from Lisbon, and Eva runs its own coaches along the route. Moreover, it has two competitors in the coach market, although fares are no lower than by train.
Meanwhile, back in central Albufeira, it’s clear that many of the restaurants I visited back in December 1996 are closed for the low season this time round. One reason that came to mind is that, in addition to the exchange rate woes, many alternative winter destinations have come on the market in the intervening years. But here is a potential silver lining for the Algarve: those new destinations are invariably long haul ones, and the cost of flying may start to rise, and soon.