Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday in Faro

Faro's Walled City
 When we flew to Portugal, Faro was where we landed, but we were picked up by a taxi arranged by Colin & Suzanne, and he was an efficient driver, but not exactly a tour guide, and his english was not really even good enough to ask simple questions. We therefore zoomed through Faro without seeing much. We were also too tired to really pay attention to much.

Today we went back to Faro on the train to actually have a look at the city.

Faro is the major transport hub on the Algarve. It has a rail hub where Linda and Pete arrive from Lisbon, and the airport in Faro has a constant stream of planes arriving from all over Europe. From the apartment, we see planes all day flying into Faro bringing people to the Algarve to enjoy a Portuguese holiday.

The train only takes about 20 minutes to go from Olhao to Faro, so it is a simple trip. Although the train station is bit out of way, the walk to the centre of Faro is a pleasant one along the waterfront through to the old city centre, and it is easy to find your way to the major attractions in Faro.

Do not however expect to find a Tourist Information Centre if you go on Monday like we did – it is not open. At least we were able to find the place following the signs, but as has been our general experience, we were not able to actually get any information.

Beautiful Pipe Organ filling Cathedral with sound
There is a walled fortress which the old city seems to revolve around, but it is not really an attraction. It seems that the actual city has taken over the fortress. You can see the walls from the outside, but if you enter through one of the gates, you find yourself just in the inner city with restaurants, shops, art galleries and a beautiful cathedral, but no actual fort or castle. This may actually have been a walled city rather than a military fortress, which would make sense. We might have been able to find out if we could have visited the Information centre. . . . . .

The visit to the Cathedral was nice. You could climb the bell tower for a view over the city, and we were told by another tourist couple there that you could have pressed a button to actually ring the bells but I had my doubts since the church bells tell the time in Olhao. I could imagine the poor citizens of Faro being constantly confused about what time it was. “Is it two o'clock, the bells chimed twice? Oh no, it's just those damned tourists ringing the cathedral bells again . . . .” we could visit the main cathedral , the gardens and the museum. The highlight was the actual church, because there was a beautiful old pipe organ, and someone was actually playing it. The museum was a bit disappointing, and I hope that some of our 3 E entry fee might be used to restore the paintings in the museum with holes in them – they could use some work.
The Bell Tower

Following our tour of the cathedral, we wandered down through the old city to find a place to stop for lunch. Here we discovered another advantage to living in Olhao. Food was generally at least 20% higher here than back in Olhao. For example the Cataplana Regis has wanted to try was 45 E compared to 29 E in Olhao. We decided to stick with the “Menu of the Day”.

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