I say ‘week eleven in Spain’ in the title, but really it should be ‘week eleven in Portugal’ as that’s where I was this past weekend! Given that Sevilla is so close to the border (and that I have a lifelong goal of visiting every European country), it would have been rude not to visit Faro in Portugal while here this year. And the bus from Plaza de Armas only took 2 and a bit hours, so not bad at all (if you don’t take into account the walk to the bus stop in my town, the fifty minutes or so on the bus into San Bernardo, and then the walk to Plaza de Armas, but hey I like exercise, so s’all good).
Got to the bus station here around 2:45pm Portuguese time (same as the UK, i.e. an hour back from Spain) and was immediately asked by a very well-spoken homeless (I presume) man if I spoke English. I suspect he knew the answer was yes as I suspiciously saw him another FOUR times on Friday. Each time the same, “excuse me, Ma’am, do you speak English at all? Do you have any change I could have, please?”. If I had actually had any change on me, I would’ve given it to him, but I genuinely only had notes. Sorry, pal – I hope you managed to get some change eventually. The poor guy was also out in some busted up sandals and a thin t-shirt in the pouring rain. I hope he’s alright now, wherever he may be.
But anyway, back to Faro. I eventually found my way, sans-map-and-phone-data, to my hostel for the weekend, Le Penguin. Opposite the Municipal Market here and not slap bang in the middle of tourist-ville (not that there are many tourists here on a rainy December weekend), so pretty much ideal. I spent Saturday night getting to know some of the other folk in the hostel before eventually venturing out to find some dinner around 9pm as I hadn’t eaten properly since breakfast (oops). Sunday was much the same because the weather was truly awful. And I mean awful. Awful as in I went out for a half hour walk and got so soaked I had to spend the rest of the day hanging out the hostel in my pjs with the heating turned up full in my room in an attempt to dry off my jeans which I had to literally peel off my legs. On the upside, did have some delicious dinner in the hostel so every cloud and all that.
Thankfully by Monday the weather had perked up, so I got to see some of the sights and explore the city a bit. First stop: the old walled city and the Cathedral. €2,5 entry for students
(plus some comments from the security staff about how terrible the photo on my student ID is. I know, guys, I know. But am I willing to pay to get a new picture? What do you think?!). There was a massive Spanish tour group just leaving when I arrived but I managed to half-hear the last of their information spiel. Apparently the Earl of Essex attacked the building in 1596 and caused a massively damaging fire which meant a lot of the church had to be rebuilt in a different style. The more you know.
After the Cathedral, I wandered the old walled city and harbour area a little – felt so nice to stretch the legs after being stuck inside for most of Sunday. Unfortunately, it being Monday meant all the museums are art galleries were shut, but hey ho. I visited the inside of another church to pass twenty or so minutes instead. Don’t think I’ve been in as many churches in my entire life as I have these past few months – and they’re all so different too. After coming out the church I was stopped by a guy with flyers for a restaurant and we had a nice wee chat in English/Spanish. And apparently for ‘such a feminine looking woman’ I have ‘very large feet’, so there you go! Something in his patter must have won me over though as I did end up going to the restaurant for lunch. Had a lovely two course meal for ~€17 – grilled cod with potatoes for main and serradura for dessert (Portuguese sawdust pudding with cream and biscuits).
Post-lunch I headed back to the hostel to chill for a bit and work on my Christmas lessons and put away the souvenirs I’d bought earlier (read: an expensive ornament of a cockerel that I absolutely do not regret purchasing because it’s hilarious) before going to visit the Igreja do Carmo and its Chapel of Bones (for €1). The church itself was beautiful inside again, but the Chapel of Bones was the real highlight. Very very bizarre but I quite liked it (is that really morbid?). My 13 year old self would be so pleased. Didn’t feel all that creepy being in there with all the skulls but then it was during the day and the sun was out, so maybe that had an effect on the dark gloomy atmosphere?!
I then headed back to the hostel to chill for a bit before going out and treating myself to a lovely dinner in the old city in a restaurant called Faz Gostos. One of those times when your bank balance says no but your heart says yes. I had the duck magret followed by the trouxa de ovos and it was worth every penny! It was so good I still felt a bit full when I woke up the next morning to catch the bus back to Sevilla (didn’t stop me making the most of the free hostel breakfast though!).
PS – I’m so sorry for the title of this one. I tried to think of a decent one. Tried being the operative word.