You are director of Spain’s Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies. You have been the main public face at countless televised press conferences since March, providing almost daily updates on the coronavirus outbreak and its consequences – and imploring people to take care and follow the government’s health and safety protocols.
You have become so famous – the reassuring voice of scientific reason – that adoring fans have created merchandising products in your honour such as T-shirts and coffee mugs.
At the same time, sadly, you have been vilified on social media by discordant voices who disagree with the government’s response to the crisis. Even, reportedly, to the extent of receiving death threats.
You are, in many ways, “Spain’s Anthony Fauci” – director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US. Oh yes, and you were also a victim yourself, having contracted COVID-19 back in March.
In short, it has been a tremendously arduous four months, and it’s time for a summer break with your family. So where do you head? Where would you feel safe?
Dr Fernando Simón travelled to Carrapateira in the Algarve. His intention was to remain inconspicuous, not expecting to be recognised in this laidback, fairly secluded paradise on the Algarve’s western coast. Unfortunately, one Spanish newspaper learnt of his presence, and social media lit up with the story (some coverage critical, but the majority defending his right to a well-deserved holiday).
So what attracted Dr Simón to Carrapateira and the charms of this magical corner of the Algarve?
First of all its location. It is a convenient distance by car from Faro Airport (100 kilometres) but far enough away from the main Algarve resort areas to maintain its hamlet appeal. It is surrounded by the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park, one of the most stunning stretches of protected coastline in Europe.
Its jutting headland of limestone cliffs was traditionally a dangerous area for sailing ships, but these days it creates the sort of conditions and southbound current that draw keen surfing enthusiasts. Including Dr. Simón, who was photographed at a surfboard rental hut before heading out onto the beach.
Hollywood Star Couple in the Algarve
The Spanish doctor is not the only celebrity opting for the Algarve for a post-lockdown summer getaway.
Spanish actors Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem reportedly flew into Faro on a private jet from Madrid to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. According to local media, they stayed at the luxurious Vila Vita Parc resort in Porches with family and friends – thus delighting tourism authorities.
“It’s great news”, said Algarve regional tourism board president João Fernandes. “It corroborates the fact that the Algarve has been recognised as a record-breaker when it comes to European beachside holiday destinations… They have made a good choice.”