Flies, Friendliness and Adventure
I’m really sorry I haven’t written more from here in Portugal. While we were on the UNC tour, they kept us busy, busy, busy! Also, whenever we were on the boat and it was moving, we had no internet connection. I have a lot of catching up to do. But first, I want to tell you about yesterday (Sunday).
Tavira, where we have been staying since Friday, is 18 miles from the border with Spain. We decided to take the train to a little town closer to the border (still in Portugal), called Vila Real de Santo Antonio.
So, we walked to the train station, waited briefly, got on the train and went there. We hadn’t planned anything specific to do and since the place is so small, it didn’t seem like we needed to figure out how to get to anything. When we arrived, we just followed the other people. I was expecting to get to the main square in town. We weren’t seeing that, but we did make it to the waterfront. We stopped at the first little “snack bar” we saw to get some coffee and the terrific fresh squeezed orange juice they serve here.
There are these extremely annoying little flies here. They don’t bite, thank God, but they land on you and walk on you and you feel their little feet. You know what I mean. Sometimes they fly at your face. While we were sitting there, one of the flies did this to me. I swatted at it instinctively. As is my wont, I had put my sunglasses on top of my head. My swatting hand hit the sunglasses in such a way that they flew off my head and hit the guy sitting behind me right in the back of his head! OMG. Being horrified, I didn’t laugh at the time, but writing it now is making me roll. The man I hit was sitting there conversing with his friend and they were minding their own busy and, WHAP! Out of nowhere something hits him squarely in the head.
I apologized profusely. Once he understood what had happened, he assured me that it was ok, his friend even said, “shit happens”.
We all went back to what we were doing. The one I hit looked to be around 45 years old and the other around 55. I suddenly thought, maybe they lived in Vila Real de Santo Antonio and could give us some advice. So I turned back around, excused myself for interrupting again and asked them if they lived there. They both did. The younger one, who was from the former Yugoslavia, had lived there 2.5 years. I’m not sure about his friend, but he was from Germany. They both spoke English. I asked what we should see while we were there. I meant while in Vila Real, of course.
They started talking back and forth and it was hard to work out quite what they were saying, but I did finally realize they were both saying to leave where we were and go to other places in the Algarve. I managed to say to the younger that we were staying in Tavira and had come to Vila Real to look around. He got his friend to understand that and they started talking back and forth again.
“They could walk over to Cabanas.”
“Why would they go there, there’s nothing there?”
“Then they could go see the lighthouse.”
“Yes, the lighthouse. Here’s how you get to the lighthouse…”
They went on like that for a little while. They finally agreed that we should go see the 2 castles. Castles?? TWO castles! Speaking my language!
Oops, but it’s really too far to walk. That’s ok, the younger one said he could take us over there in his car and we could get a taxi or Uber back. I didn’t think Scott looked too keen about this and so I demurred somewhat. Talk, talk, talk. “And really, I have to go right by there, I can drive you”.
After the fourth offer of a ride, I finally accepted. Scott agreed.
Oh, by the way. One castle is the “new” castle and the other is, you guessed it, the “old” castle. They stand, not really side-by-side, but closer to each other than I’ve ever seen castles before. Convenient!
This photo was taken from the old castle, looking at the new castle.
The 4 of us walked a short distance to the car. Then the young guy saw his fishing gear in the back seat, which he had forgotten about. We agreed that we could easily fit together back there even with the fishing gear. Scott was on the verge of mentioning the front seat, but I hissed at him, “he didn’t offer the front seat. Just come on”.
Good thing. The friend got in the front seat. Imagine that! One friend picking up the other to go somewhere and then taking him back! They didn’t have to both drive and meet somewhere.
All right, off we went! After a short drive and some debate about where to let us off, they got us to the town of Castro Marim and did, indeed, let us off. We opted to go to the “old” castle, The Castle of Castro Marim, first We had to walk up some very shallow steps so it wasn’t difficult. The main “entrance” wasn’t really marked. We walked inside a walled area and a woman came out of a little building. I think we paid her about 2 Euro for the two of us. Sadly, they didn’t have the audio players, though we could see numbers for them throughout.
The “old” castle.
This castle was COOL. It was built in the early 1300s, medieval. And it looked medieval. They hadn’t done all this restoration that, to us, would have changed the character of it. As we walked, poking our heads around corners and climbing parapets to see the town views, we stumbled into the Torture Museum! Again, no signs outside to label or point you to an entrance, but we both remembered the guys saying something about that. Also, well, as we went further in, it was very apparent.
I’ve never seen a museum that was so honest about a topic like this. It was horrifyingly fascinating. Here’s the first thing we saw.
I’ll spare you anything more. These must have been invented by some very sick, twisted people.
We were tired and hungry by the time we finished looking at the old castle. We decided to skip the new one. We walked to a good pickup spot and I fired up the Uber app. Guess what? There were NO drivers available. The app tried for 30 minutes and didn’t find anyone. My phone battery was getting VERY low. There was a small tourist office, but it was closed for siesta. We didn’t know what we were going to do. They don’t have Lyft there.
Finally, Scott knocked on the door of the tourist office and the lady actually came to the door. Long story short, she called us a cab. PSHEW!!
The Moral? You never know when a pesky fly and a friendly person can end up sending you on a cool little adventure!
Ciao for now!