Toodle Loo Seville – hello Portugal 6/1 & 2, 2022

We traveled in style yesterday by plush BMW sedan with amicable driver Albertino, golf journalist/Daytrip chauffeur, from Seville to Tavira and then to Faro. Our stop in Faro was to meet fellow Austinite, now Tavira resident, Becky, for an enjoyable but brief sandwiches (I had smoked salmon on a baguette- yum) and confab. There’s a large multinational expat community in the Algarve, Tavira has its fair share, occupying bars and cafes lining nearly every square and intersection.

Sated, wandering back to the car park, we passed a variety of dogs, running, barking, looking adorable, which made me miss my three sweet, scoundrel-mongrels, currently at home with family. Yes, I know they are loved and well cared for, take over most of my queen size bed when I’m home, thus pushing me to the edge or waking me too early for homemade victuals-yes they are spoiled, but I can still miss them, can’t I? Back to the trip.

Onward to Faro we went, chatting with Albertino who gave us the lowdown on the wide acceptance of refugees, tourists, people of color, LGBTQ, religion, etc. Take note America! He also pointed out the vegetation.

Olive and orange groves lining both sides of the highway, swooped up and down the rolling hills casting a verdant landscape, reminding me of my former state of California, especially during the 1950’s when our family first moved to the San Fernando Valley, a good portion of which was still mostly undeveloped and loaded with orange groves and fields of corn. This was before the sprawl of affordable tract homes, shopping centers and crowded freeways. Simpler times, though frankly I don’t think America was actually great then, just in the bloom of postwar relief and people who were looking at their world through rose colored specs.

Now back to Faro where we arrived at 1 ish, said farewell to driver Albertino and now hello to Alberto, host of Faro Guest House, our very temporary digs – we were leaving for Lisbon in the early morning. We chatted. I took a brief 10 wink-nap and shortly after we set out for an explore of the seaside town.

After a 2 mile (thank you Apple Watch) of weaving in and out of narrow cobbled streets, to get SIM cards for our portable Wi-Fi’s, a stop at the train station to see if we could upgrade from second class tix to first (to no avail but oh well), several photo ops, one with drinks at the rooftop bar of Faro Hotel where we had a birds eye view of two big birds (storks) having a serious conversation on a nest atop a flagpole in a traffic circle. The other pic? an obligatory one in front of the Faro sign at the marina. We were, of course, now hungry, and we’re directed by several locals to a super meal at the highly recommended, two brothers restaurant, dining on locally caught, traditional grilled sardines, roasted potatoes, marinated garlicky carrots and olives and yummy bread. A disappointing lemon meringue pie was ordered. It was definitely not as good as mine.

I went early to bed but not the other inhabitants of the guest house who at midnight sounded like either they had too much to drink or were watching Finnish comedian Ismo on YouTube, or both. I stuck in earplugs and finally fell asleep.

It was the hour of early birds -6ish when I awoke, showered, made a cup of instant “why bother” decaf and got dressed to prepare for our 8am train to Lisbon, where I am currently riding and writing. Contrary to the super fast trains on which we traveled in Spain, this Intercitidades stops at every podunk, yet charming town along the way to Lisbon.

Since it had been early but not enough time to grab breakfast along the way figured there’d be a well equipped restaurant car…alas no, the wide variety advertised on the wall of said car was apparently just for show, with the meager offerings of a singular pound cake type muffin, KitKat bars and a bag of chips. Had there been a rush on breakfast items and sandwiches which I missed? I chose the muffin, was glad I had snatched a tasty apple from the guest house and returned to my seat to wolf down the carbs.

A bit later…we arrived around noon in Lisbon, pinged an Uber, and watched the flats as we weaved through streets so narrow I felt like using my core muscles, and disappeared into the hills to our Airbnb flat. Lisbon is not for the faint of heart (or those with a bum leg.) we arrived at the flat, found it not yet open-contacted our host who advised we’d we have to wait til 4. Grumbling at having to schlepp the hills with rolling luggage (unable to leave our bags which would’ve been ideal we discovered The funky pizza parlor across our cobbled street. Being the only choice in the nearby vacinity we ducked in, ordered and made a vain attempt to wait out the next few hours. In the meantime we decided to check out a nearby hotel.

Normally, in a town of limited latitudinal topography, this would be an easy feat, but if you recall I mentioned hills? The trek downhill, down the street to the left, rolling 21” suitcases on questionably level cobblestone walkways, around construction debris, to a hotel located on a hill, up several flights of stairs to view smelly, though admittedly quaint rooms, was a decided no. We grabbed cappuccinos at a nearby cafe, waited, then called an Uber back to our flat, contemplated canceling, but exhaustion and frustration at finding a decent last minute hotel made us give in to the ground floor, well appointed apartment.

It was 5:30pm when we took to the cobblestones heading down to the bus for Belem – our goal? Those custard filled pasteis de nata. But, our tummies were craving healthy-er. It was fourteen stops to Belem. We rode with the locals all crammed in like the canned sardines we discovered at the tourist shops lining the roads. An adorable little 2 year old with her mother attempting to dissuade the tot’s precarious button pushing and nearly bipolar circular outbursts of Laugh, chat, cry, scream, cuddle, smile, laugh…

We got to our destination and let google mislead us a block, saw a road which lead up, chagrined, turned around, thankful to be walking upon a more even plane. Soon we were interviewing a TukTuk driver Isaac with whom we arranged a 3 hour tour for the morning, then proceeded to have dinner, then pasteis, then Uber, then bed.

It’s late now. G’nite. Talk to y’all in a bit.

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