Wednesday, 27 June 2012

IATTOUR May 21-May 28 Portugal Part 3


During our last few days in Porto, we tracked down a number of sites--gardens, CODs and the Contemporary Art Museum.  Though we didn't find the museum's indoor art very interesting, the outside sculpture and gardens made up for that.  Who wouldn't want a giant red spade in their front yard?

Still looking for the beanstalk
Although Fado (the soulful, sad music of Portugal) is from Lisbon and Coimbra, Porto's restaurants have embraced it with gusto.  We tracked down two Fado sites within walking distance of our home base--above the rowing club and in a narrow, side-street cafe.  From our front row seats we watched the owner, his daughter and two of their buddies pour their hearts into the songs.  One of them looked remarkably like our friend Jim Mattock!

Jim's older, soulful bro' sings the blues

Well, goodbye to Porto!  With fond farewells to Sonia and Manuela (and to their wine shop), we headed off south through the cultural sites of Coimbra and Evora, then into the Algarve.

Coimbra is a big university town and tourist site (Manuelian=extremely elaborate architecture).  Evora is also a university town, but with a few extras--chapel of bones, roman  ruins and scattered prehistoric burial sites.  Not only that, but everything there is devoted to  Diana--from temples to student housing.  We found many photo ops for Diane!
How is that for a parking job?

A Forum and a Residence--dedicated to Diana/Diane--we couldn't resist!

The fertile grain fields around Evora (Ebora) have supported people for a very long time--well before the Romans.  We stopped for a "Dolmen"--neolithic burial site--very similar to those we had seen in Ireland, but couldn't find a "Standing Stone" ring, similar to Stonehenge.  

Passage burial graves to bikini's this girl does it all!

Then, suddenly, we were in the Algarve--home to beautiful blue waters, giant cactus and gorgeous Bouganvillea bushes.  We were delighted with our choice of apartments--2 bedrooms and 2 baths just off the beach beside a rec centre/pool/restaurant/pub.  What a great place to spend our last two weeks.
Burgau, the village we were renting in, turned out to be a small, quiet village with great seaside trails and a modest tourist centre.  It was about an hour long hike from Burgau to Luz in the east for a cappucino and pastry, a twenty minute drive to Lagos and the grottos and under an hour to Sagres--a site of maritime significance.

A decaying windmill and what it looks like inside.

Compass made of stones

Sagres is a must see for all who love maritime history.  Prince Henry the Navigator (he who sent mariners off into the unknown in the mid 1400s) built a navigational school here.  A number of his works still stand, including part of the fort, the compass, and the rebuilt church.  One of our favourite stops at this site was to see the Jesuit priest (Jerome) who ran the wine shop (representing small secular and monastic vineyards).  He was very knowledgeable about wines and not short of opinions on everything from religion to immigration.  At the end of the day, he could be seen heading off to the supermarket on his motorcycle.  Definitely an entertaining man.

The church, the flag and the symbol of Portuguese exploration.
Pretty interesting to see some of the places that the storks found to next.  Church steeples and electrical towers seemed most attractive.  Most nests had at least one chick in them.
Inside a Grotto

Near the end of Diane's visit, we stopped by the dockside in Lagos to catch a ride out to the grottos.  What a great hour long journey through beautiful blue water and fascinating tunnels, chimneys and grottos.  The tide was perfect, but the water was chilly, so alas, no snorkeling.

At first we thought we might buy some internet time through our landlady, but decided that the very best way to access our email was beside the pool.  The small restaurant/pub saw a lot of business that way

beautiful skirts--one of many great buys!
Looking for Canada
Diane and I thoroughly enjoyed the shopping in the Algarve (Lagos, Faro, Luz,...)--as in other parts of Portugal--and made more than one vendors day!

But, alas, all good things come to an end and Diane had to return home.  What a fabulous visit--so much to remember and laugh about when next we meet in Bella Coola and Tatlayoko.  Thanks to her, we still have computer connection, so will be able to carry on with our story.

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