Friday, April 19, 2013

Lost In Portugal

Although our hosts here in Portugal left us a lovely 'welcome pack' of fruit, wine, bread and other useful items, we wanted to pick up some groceries to be ready for supper and breakfast, so we went for as walk to find a grocery store and wine bodega. Sue and Colin, the owners of the apartment have written a wonderful guide to Olhao and have everything you might need located on a handy tourist map.

Portuguese Street Sign
A map is useful however only if you can find where you are and are able to follow the map to where you want to go. The apartment was easy to locate on the map, and the shopping centre with a nice modern grocery store looked easy to find. Off we went hiking up the road, but quickly found a problem. The map lists all the street names . . . . . the actual streets however do not actually seem to have names. I'm sure someone named them, but no one put street signs up. The older area of town has lovely ceramic tile street name plates on the buildings, but there was no such thing here. We kept going hoping to find a sign to find our way, but nothing appeared. We weren’t actually lost, because we knew how to retrace our steps back home, but the shopping centre was certainly lost.

Finally we asked a 'local' sitting in one of the sidewalk 'snack' bars.

“Sorry”, she said “I'm not from here.” She however did ask her friend who although he could not locate where we were on the map (He probably did not know his street actually had a name . . .), but he was able to point us in the direction of the shopping centre and his directions got us there.

Wonder Where Linda & Pete are?
Linda and Pete (Sister & Brother in law), had much the same experience. They flew into Lisbon, stayed overnight and took the train down to Olhao the next day to arrive the same day as Regis and I. When they arrived at the train station in Olhao, they discovered that the one paper that they could not find was the one containing the actual address of the apartment. They had seen pictures of the apartment but did not know if they could actually recognize it. They knew it was called “Number 24” but had no idea what street it was “number 24” on. After wandering a bit they gave up and Linda left Pete back at the Train station while she went to find an internet cafe to try to find the apartment through the website or her e-mail where Regis had sent her the information earlier.

No luck. . . . . no address, no idea what to do . . . . not quite to the point of panic, Linda decided she would have to get a hotel room, and perhaps contact us via e-mail to find out where we were.

Look Pete made it to Portugal
They luck and good fortune took over and a friendly Russian/latvian couple recognizing Linda's “Lost in Portugal” looks asked if they could help. Using broken English and inadequate Portuguese the situation was investigated slowly. As Linda tried to explain her brother here already and not knowing where the apartment was, they mentioned Colin and Suzanne. Somehow, Linda the Canadian had found someone from Russia who knew our English hosts living in Portugal. How's that for international intrigue? After a couple of phone calls they found Colin & Suzanne's phone number, made contact and were finally, tired and hungry from travelling, able to find us.

Oh, BTW, the apartment is two blocks from the train station, and had Regis and I been relaxing with a glass of wine on the front balcony rather than enjoying the sunset on the back balcony we probably would have noticed Pete sitting forlornly guarding a pile of suitcases outside the train station; we can see it from the balcony.

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