Portugal Day 5

Wednesday November 20th

Today Glyn and I went back to Silves via Algoz (that wasn’t so much as sleepy but dead). We went that way for a change of scenery and to avoid toll roads.

When we’d hired the car we were asked if we were going to use the motorway. This is because on large main roads, there are tolls. There are no toll booths as in the UK, which is good because working in one must be one of the most boring and lonely jobs in the world, ever. Instead, there are devices over the road that look like racks of shower heads which, no matter how fast you drive, connect with a device in your car and make it go ‘beep’ every time you pass under them. This device sadly is connected to my credit card. I don’t know what happens should you attempt to drive on these roads without giving your details first.

Silves has a big red sandstone castle and it’s the first thing you really notice when you drive in from the south. This castle dates back to Moorish times and is of a fair size with a big 13th century cathedral next to it.

It was €2.78 each to get in, which we thought a bizarre figure. The sun was out and it was the warmest day by far as we walked around the ramparts that often were not fenced off and were waiting for us to fall off.

There also was a pirate exhibition that was extra to get in, but pretty interesting although it didn’t have many exhibits. It described all the different types of pirate – many were actually working for their countries, thieving off enemy nations. It’s always interesting to see history from the point of view of other countries. Whereas I’d grown up learning that Sir Francis Drake was a great explorer who brought back to England the potato and tobacco making him a big favourite with Queen Elizabeth I, in Portugal he is seen as a particularly notorious and nasty pirate and slave trader. As it goes, he was all of these things. EMany pirates were the first to find new route but weren’t recognised for their discoveries due to being ne’er do wells.

After the castle we wandered down to the Archaeology Museum. It was full of unidentifiable pebbles, identified as ancient arrow heads and suchlike. Naturally there was loads of broken pottery and it’s pretty dull. It’s ‘star exhibit’ (my guidebook’s words not mine) is a 21th Century Arab well-cistern. Oooooh!

We met a ginger cat after this and then headed down to a cafe/restaurant where Glyn was going to have grilled sardines (a Portuguese national dish) but was talked out of it by the waiter and ended up having fresh bream instead – with it’s head still on. Glyn liked it. I had a crepe with chocolate ice cream. I also got given a free glass of port at the end 🙂

We headed back to the car, noticing the cathedral was open, so we popped in and it was your standard old cathedral fayre. Silves itself is a nice old town with coloured buildings, narrow cobbled streets and lots if filigree ironwork.

We headed back to Albufeira and into the old town. This was a laugh driving around the very narrow cobbled streets – not!! These roads were not built for cars and were all over the place with high walls and sharp turns, and almost impossible to get down without knocking over the frontage of the tiny shops.

Eventually I parked up and found my first Portuguese cat that let me stroke it!! It was rummaging through a skip at the time and I think the poor thing was hungry.

We wandered around for a while and found the main tourist area of the old town, it wasn’t hard as we could hear some guy was busking with an electric guitar along to ‘Hallelujah’ and then an Alanis Morisette song. Glyn then had his much sought after grilled sardines and I had some garlic bread.

The light was going so we went for a walk along the beach. This beach will be packed solid in the height of summer, but tonight there was just us and a few fishermen. We walked across the sand to the lift – yes they have a lift! The town is above the beach on rocky cliffs and apparently the older tourists struggle with the stairs.

Driving back to our apartment we accidentally passed through the strip, it was quiet due to being November but still managed to look a bit tacky- they even have a night club called Hi-Class, you don’t get classier than that!

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Having only one cat, Claire is currently failing at being a mad cat lady, but she does have a mad cat, Bod. When Claire isn’t chasing cats and other animals with her camera, she works as a Graphic Design Manager.

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