transplanted goose

Postcard from Portugal #5

September 22, 2005 - 9:16 PM

The sun has now set on our last night here in the Algarve. The beach is quieter these days. It's almost as if, one day, there was a signal, and everyone left to return home. There are still a few hardy souls, but once the tide changed, so did the atmosphere. It's much more relaxed now, fewer children.

Tomorrow morning we travel by bus to Lisbon for the last 2 days of our trip. One the one hand, it's sad to see it end, but on the other, I'm really looking forward to coming home and finally, finally settling into my new apartment. But, I couldn't have asked for two more perfect days to end my stay in Olhos d'Agua.

Yesterday we had a relaxing day. Janice took a long walk on the beach, all the way to Vilamoura and back, while I contented myself with reading on the balcony (I finally got around to reading "Girl with a Pearl Earring," courtesy of the little library in the reception area for the apartment buildings), watching the ebb and flow of the incoming tide, and listening to the hypnotic sounds of the surf as it surged onto the beach, then retreated. I did a little laundry while Janice went down to the beach to take advantage of the sun.

In the evening, we drove into Albufeira. We had already decided to eat at a restaurant called the Atrium, where they offer live traditional Portuguese music (both fado and folk) on Wednesday evenings. We were early for the music -- it was barely 7pm, and the music didn't start until 8:30 -- but we decided to eat then anyways. We were the first ones in the restaurant, and they seated us on a small balcony, with the windows open. We enjoyed watching the activity on the street, especially the hostess of the restaurant as she tried to drum up more customers for the restaurant with her patter: "It's a special night; tonight we offer live traditional music. If you are just two, we can open the windows to one of the balconies there, and you can sit in the window. We have fresh fish, and all kinds of meat -- here is the display..."

We each chose the fresh fish, Janice the codfish, Atrium style (dried and salted cod, reconstituted and served in a traditional Algarve style sauce -- tomotoes, onions, and peppers), while I enjoyed the Portuguese style swordfish (grilled, with the Algarve style sauce). We managed to stretch dinner out until after the music started, so got to enjoy the traditional folk music. I have yet to hear some fado music, but there's still Lisbon.

Today was another relaxing day. It started out a little cloudy, a little cooler, but by midday had warmed up to the high 20s (that's in Celsius --for those of you who prefer Fahrenheit, we're talking 80 degrees or more). Low tide was scheduled for 11:10, and I decided to head out for a walk about 10:30 or so, taking advantage of my last day to walk along the beach. Because it took a while for the sun to come out, the rocks were still a little wet and slippery, and were covered with mussels that looked ready for harvest.

The beach is always interesting. I love wading through the small rivers carved into the sand by the waves, watching the water rush headlong back to its source. And today there was a young family. The mother stayed close to her daughter as she waded in the surf, while the father followed his son, who ran out of the surf crying and screaming. The father had found a hermit crab, and the little boy wanted nothing to do with it, until he saw his younger sister's interested reaction; curiosity eventually got the better of him, and he allowed his father to approach him with the wriggling crab. And, of course, there were the fishermen dragging the sand for shellfish.

I had just turned to head back when I ran into Janice, on her way out. The climb back over the rocks was a little easier, but I took my time, searching for those fresh-water springs that bubble up through the sand. I found a great spot to observe them -- there were dozens of little explosions of sand as the water forced it out of the way. They look a little like the geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone, only under water.

After a lazy afternoon spent people watching, packing, and hiking up to the main road to get cash, we headed out for dinner, trying a restaurant we had passed many times, but never stopped at. We're both wishing we'd stopped sooner. We had kebabs again, Janice choosing turkey and me the mixed meat -- I couldn't resist the drama. The food was excellent, and so was the service. When they brought our bill, they served us small glasses of port, for which Portugal is famous. My first experience -- not bad. Of course, that was on top of the litre of sangria we had shared, so we're both feeling quite happy this evening. Maybe I'll sleep tonight...

So, this will be my last email from Portugal, as I doubt I'll find time during our short stay in Lisbon. But I'll send an email when I've got the pictures up on my web site, so you can see some of what I experienced. There was so much I wasn't able to capture in pictures; I hope these postcards have helped fill in some of the blanks.

So, until then...


© 2005, colleen bell about / words