I have always loved writing, and now that I am retired I thought I would be able to find time to write, but it seems that I still manage to fill my days with activities. I have however found that while I travel, I enjoy writing about some of the interesting things we do. I hope you enjoy reading of our adventures as much as I like writing about them.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Train to Tavira
Don't let the children play here . . .
As much as we are enjoying our time
here in Olhāo, we do want
to see a bit more of Portugal. Pete and Linda returned from their
Bridge game in Tavira reporting that it was a nice little town, and
Linda's new contact there had been sending her newsletters about the
town. She noticed a notification in the newsletter about a Medieval
Market being held there on the weekend; this seemed to invite a train
trip to Tavira on Sunday.
Like we found in Spain, the train
system in Portugal is convenient and efficient. The train runs right
by the apartment here and although it is an older, dirtier train than
the lovely modern “Trams” that ran up and down the coast
connecting the seaside towns in Spain, we knew that the trains seemed
to run all the time, and were always on time. The trains are also
very good value and a ticket to Tavira was only a few Euros. I
however, wouldn't mind paying a bit more to have windows I could see
out; the cars a seriously vandalized by tagging that often covers
much of the windows, and the windows not decorated are still dirty
enough to hinder sightseeing.
Tavira is a lovely town a couple of km
inland along a river. There is also much more of a tourist town to
it's nature. I was surprised to hear so much English and see so many
foreigners after spending a week in tourist-free Olhāo.
Money has been spent on Tavira to fix it up, and the central square
is beautiful with new marble walks and lots of benches and statues.
It doesn't take much walking however to leave the new and find the
tumbling down buildings and locked buildings that my collection of
door pictures illustrate. More evidence of the economic troubles so
much of Europe is experiencing.
Walking down to the river from the
train, we discovered Tavira's 'castle'. Some of the guide books
suggest that it is not an original building but rather a rebuilt
castle to show what was once there. Although it was interesting, with
a beautiful garden, it really wasn't much of a castle. What I found
interesting was the complete lack of safety additions. You could
climb to the ramparts, but the stairs were narrow slippery stone with
no railings, and the actual castle walls were completely open on the
back side. I could imagine Portuguese soldiers scrambling up these
stairs to throw boiling oil down on invading Romans. They would have
had to deal with the conditions but this attraction would not be very
Seven Arches Bridge
We wandered down an old cobbled street
with built in stairs in the centre for donkey carts, and through the
old section of town to the river. And along the riverfront where we
found the only market. Hardly a “medieval” market – more a
normal craft market in a row of tents along the river. It did however
have a really outstanding selection of local craftspeople showing
their talents, and Linda and Regis managed to find a thing or two to
help support the local economy.
Lunch in the sun . . . .
We were warned to stay clear of the
riverfront “Snack-Bars” and restaurants where the prices
reflected the view rather than the food quality, and we crossed the
seven arches Bridge and wandered up into another section of the old
town. We found a very nice little town square there with a church at
one end and eating establishments all around the outside. The day was
sunny, but very cool, with a strong cold wind blowing and one cafe
seemed to be getting all the sunshine and therefore all the
customers. Although I felt sorry for the forlorn looking, empty
cafe's in the shade on the other side of the square, we joined the
people sitting outside in the sunshine for a couple of beer, pitcher
of Sangria, some Portuguese cheese-burgers and a Toastie (Portuguese
Beautiful Town Square
Tired from exploring we had time to
kill and walking back to the 3:30 train we sat in another cafe for
yet another beer and some delicious Portuguese Café
com leite (Expresso with milk). Only to find that someone had read
the daily schedule instead of the 'holiday' one and the 2:00 train
came while we were relaxing and we had to wait for a 4:30 train. No
matter, we were in no hurry – working on Portuguese time . . . . .