Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Tavira, Portugal to Sevilla, Spain, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween!  
So far I haven't seen any costumes but there have been a few decorations in some stores but certainly no bags of candy and all the hype and paraphernalia like at home.  But, North Americans are over the top on most holidays - buy, spend, buy, spend - that seems to be the name of the game.  Oh well, I enjoy the lack of consumerism when I'm travelling.

I wanted to return my car early and speak to the manager at SIXT car rental about the insurance fraud forced upon me in Porto when I rented my car.  On the drive to the Faro Airport, it started raining quite hard, for the first time in 5 weeks so I'm not complaining.  I returned the car in perfect condition, 1611 km later, and after telling the manger my story, he said that 90% of complaints like mine are reimbursed and he gave me the email to customer service.  So, I've written a lengthy email and have my fingers crossed that I'll be refunded a little over $600 in the next few days.

The bus was a little late but that was okay.  I was visiting with a family from Devon, England.  Once on the bus, I sat in the very back in the middle so had no one in front of me.  I visited with an annoying woman from northern Ontario who was with a man, maybe her husband.  She didn't have a thought she didn't verbalize and her husband/partner just kept saying 'yes", 'yes', 'yes'.  

The trip was 2.5 hours long and once we left Portugal, suddenly there were new terraced fields - nothing was planted yet but it's in the works.  I was surprised but it's an excellent way to use the hills.  There were also storks nesting on most of the towers, sometimes two nests with the storks sticking their long necks up and out of the nests.   

Once in Sevilla, I walked to Bable Hostel, about a mile away.  It's really nice and the people are friendly.  And that's the thing about Seville.  I've been gone 5 weeks and today was the first time I've belt really at home.  Something about Seville just feels really good.  I'm not sure why or what yet but I like it here.

For lupper ( lunch and supper combined), I finally had tapas:  croquettes made from fish, chicken and mushrooms-


Fries with brava sauce-



And chicken curry-


They were all excellent and there are more on the menu I may try another day.  It started pouring while I was in the restaurant but I made it back to the hostel and will just chill for the night.  It's supposed to be sunny tomorrow so here's hoping.  I'm anxious to explore this great city!





Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Tavira, Portugal, October 30, 2018

Well last night was interesting!  My balcony faces the street and about 9 pm, I heard an American woman talking outside, saying that this was where she was staying, obviously to a taxi driver.  I knew another person or people were checking in, so I went down to the front door to open it because there is no staff here at Varanda's Rooms.  When you arrive, you're supposed to call and they rush right over with the key.  Well, they thought I was the owner so the cabbie left and Thesalonika or "T", came in.  She tried to call the number, ignoring the two zeroes at the front of it, so it didn't work.  I tried to call too and it had worked for me in the afternoon, but my phone is no longer in service - I need to buy more minutes.  So, we didn't know what to do.  There was no email address on the booking.com website so.....  It was already weird because my bedroom is on the second floor and I was instructed to use the bathroom in the basement, even though there is one right beside my room.  The cleaner returned yesterday afternoon and rushed in to lock the bathroom door by my room, making sure I wouldn't use it.  I tried my key in the lock and guess what?  It opened the door!  Not only did it open that door, but with T, we opened every door in this house, all 10 of them.  There were only 2 rooms ready for a guest - one called "Bar" which has a wooden bar in it which was pretty weird and another with a double bed which is what she had paid for.  There is also a 3 Euro charge by the owners if you arrive after 8 pm.  What a crock.  Anyway, I went back to my room and T got settled.  I don't know if she was able to contact the host or not but all of a sudden there was a commotion and a man had arrived.  He was very friendly and happy.  It turns out that his wife is the boss and she was on the phone talking to him, very loudly, but unfortunately in Portuguese so I don't know what was said.  He and she were both appalled that my key worked in all the doors and that we had settled T in ourselves, and she was apparently in the wrong room.  He left happily but did not give T a key.  Anyway, we went to bed and it was a quiet night.  This morning, we heard banging and watched as a woman left.  I guess she was in the apartment that we found on the main floor but she must have come home late because neither of us heard her enter.  Then, the cleaner who let me in yesterday arrived and told T she had until noon to get out.  T had planned to spend an extra night but that apparently was not possible.  When T said she wanted to stay another night, the cleaner just stared at her.  T said she understood that someone else was supposed to be coming today and to stay in T's room but besides the "Bar" room, it was the only one ready for guests.  The cleaner then lied, saying that every room in the house was ready for guests!  The house is now closing when I leave tomorrow but I guess it's pretty normal that places - hotels and restaurants close November 1 because it is the winter season.  The cleaner left but did not come back to clean my room or make my bed or pick up the registration paper like she said she was going to.  The house has also been removed from booking.com so we're not sure if it will be possible to leave the shitty review they so deserve.  We were able to easily find T a different place down by the water.  So, tonight I am all alone in this big huge house, at least for now!

Today was my last day in Portugal.  Tavira is a nice looking town, with an inner walled city and Rio Séqua running through it-


Of course, people come here for the beach-


It's a natural breakwater that is about 40 km long.  You can walk from Tavira, on the far right, all the way to Faro, on the left, on a very narrow strip of sand (the yellow on the map) that at this time of year is pretty much deserted-


There are chaise longue ready for next year I guess.  The wind was blowing and it was cold so there were no sunbathers-


They've made a couple of fish out of mainly recycled materials-


This one is made of wool, plastic and string and the blue eye is empty creamers-


The second fish is made of string, wool and used CDs-



There were only 2 restaurants open and I had tuna.  It was the worst tuna I've ever had-


It was about half an inch thick and the garlic on top was burned.  Oh well, the sangria was good :)

I caught the ferry back to town and wandered.  There's lots of tile covered buildings here too-




Tomorrow, I'm leaving early to drop my car off at the Faro Airport before I catch the bus at 10:30 to Sevilla.  Peace out Portugal!

P.S.  Andi loves her Dad!








Monday, October 29, 2018

Faro to Tavira, Portugal, October 29, 2018

I enjoyed more of the view from the hostel then went walking east on the island.  People were out digging in the mud-


Looking for clams-



I continued walking into the dunes-



And then made it to the beach-



There was no one around for miles.

Once back to the hostel, I left for Tavira, got checked in and went to Santa Luzia, a small town for lunch-


Prawns, clams and loads of octopus.  It was delicious!  I walked to the Praia do Barril-


To this sign so....


The view there-


Darn, that didn't turn out too well!

They have an anchor graveyard-


Once back in Tavira, I went to another fado show which I liked a lot more than the first one in Coimbra.  The musicians looked like they loved what they were doing and the woman, oh could she sing.  She was in charge too because she would whisper to the man on the right the next song she planned to sing and then he would introduce it to us.  Amalia Rodrigues, from Lisbon, is on the back wall because she is the poster woman of fado.  She reminds me of Edith Piaf.  The man on the left is playing a 12 string pear shaped guitar which is found only in Portugal and is specifically for fado-


Tomorrow I'm taking the ferry to the Ilha de Tavira.  Looking forward to more sunshine!

P.S.  Andi and Nico are ready for Halloween-





Sunday, October 28, 2018

Lagos to Faro, Portugal, October 28, 2018

I enjoyed my room this morning in the sunshine; reading and drinking coffee.  Check out was at 12 so after, I went down to the Praia do Porto de Mos for one last visit.  It was calm about 8 a.m. but by noon, the wind was howling again, making it quite cold-



The drive to Faro was easy, only 80 kilometers-


I crossed the water-


 and ended up at Wax Hostel for lunch-


and once I checked in-


Pretty nice.  Tomorrow I'm on my way to Tavira for 2 nights.  My visit to Portugal is coming to an end.  

P.S.  Andi is 7 months old.  My little Aunt Jemima-




Saturday, October 27, 2018

Sagres and Cape Saint Vincent, Portugal, October 27, 2018

Lagos is about 47 km from Cape Saint Vincent which is a lighthouse on the western cliffs of Portugal-


My first stop though was at Sagres. There were a few boats in the marina-


The cliffs near the Fort are wonderful. It was so windy, sometimes I felt pushed along.  It had to be blowing 80 to 90 km/hour.  I'didn't want to get too close to the edge-


At the Sagres Fort-


there's a lighthouse amongst the limestone chunks that have been eroded by the wind and sea water-


There were a few fishermen on the edge of the cliffs and one reeled in a fairly big fish.  His friend had a green basket/net that he lowered out of sight to scoop up the fish-


Walking along, I thought I might have spotted Tom and Donna but didn't think that would be possible.  I had decided to send them an email when I got back to my room, asking if they'd been at the Fort when I saw them again heading to the exit!  What a nice surprise!

Old canons are lined up near the upper fort wall-


Leaving the parking lot, I saw an overland truck but no one was around to talk to so I don't know where they're going nor where they've been-


From Sagres, I went further west to Cape Saint Vincent for more great views-



Driving home, I stopped at Vila do Bisbo which was a white village with brown tile roofs up on a hill.  It looked so quaint.  There were a few more just like it along the way.

When I got back to my room, my main ceiling light bulb was burned out so I had to change rooms.  I asked to go upstairs but instead got this view, a brighter and bigger room and a better bed.  All thanks to a lightbulb-


I'm heading back towards Spain tomorrow, thinking I'll go as far as Faro.  I'm going to try and stay on the Isla de Faro, basically right on the water but time will tell.  Looking forward to reading the play by play of the Rider game that starts at midnight!

P..S.  My two favorite girls-


P.S.P.S.  My friend Donna just commented on my posts and sent a link that made me laugh-

Thanks Donna!



Senegambia et environs, The Gambia, December 10, 2018

Happy Birthday to my Mom!  I hope she is having a great day! We didn't have much to do today besides try to get some visas.  Michelle an...