Back on the train in the morning, this time a long trip that changed at the station in Pinhal Nova and again at Faro. On this trip we learned that these kinds of trains, with first class and second class cars, had assigned seats. I chose second class tickets and it was pretty comfortable. You could walk to the bar car and buy drinks and snacks and sandwiches, although I don’t recommend the sandwiches – my chicken salad was a faint smear and a small lettuce leaf between three slices of bread. Sandy’s ham and cheese was slightly better. One snack that I noticed in concessions throughout Portugal was Pringles, which is my guilty travel pleasure. I only allow myself to have them when I travel! From what I’ve read, first class is not much different. There are fewer seats in first class, so I guess you have a bit more room.
The train traveled through beautiful groves of cork oaks, orange, and olive trees. Acres and acres of them. The photo above is not great because the train window was dirty, but you can see where the bark has been stripped from the tree in front. I found the cork production fascinating and want to learn more about it. We also traveled through mountains on our way to the coast. At Faro, we changed to the regional train to Tavira.
At the train station, I considered whether we could make the walk downhill to our AirBNB, and decided to hail a taxi driver who was letting off her passengers. This was a major communication fail. After telling her the address, showing her the address, and then showing her a map with the address, she refused to take us, throwing up her hands and the only Portuguese I could understand her saying was that I didn’t understand her. And she pointed at the other woman waiting at the taxi stand and said, “I take you.” I never did figure out why she would not take us. But it was okay. We walked down to the river and took lots of breaks, finally sitting at an outdoor cafe and having drinks and some bread and cheese until it was time to call our host.
The three bedroom apartment we stayed in was as big as our small house. It was an old family place, built in the 19th century, with lots of antiques and family mementos. Two floors up, and then another stairway took us to the roof, where the terrace was for our use alone, with amazing views over Tavira. It also was very hot, but once I opened the windows and the door to the roof, the heat was swept up out of the apartment. After that it was comfortable, and the roof terrace caught the breeze off the river below.
We ended up having to climb lots of stairs at every place we stayed, and that was rough on Sandy. By this time, we both had developed more leg muscle strength and it was tolerable. I hardly felt it any more. In the end, I think this was very good for us.
That evening we decided to eat at an Italian place on the small square up the street from our apartment. Sandy had pasta carbonara and I had bruschetta with prosciutto and cheese and fig jam. We had learned to ask the restaurant staff first thing if they took Visa, because a lot of places took only cash or Portuguese bank cards. A man seated nearby gave the waitress a very hard time about the signage about them not taking Visa, although we found it without asking. Dealing with all these tourists must require the patience of Jesus. And man, were we in the middle of high volume tourism!
On the ground floor beneath our apartment, there was a craft beer bar. It played classic rock/yacht rock mostly from the 70s from around 3 pm until midnight, so there was our musical entertainment. At least it was all music that I could sing along to! The sounds also mingled with the violinist busker at the end of the Roman bridge, the accordion player, the singer who made the rounds of the outdoor restaurants with microphone in hand and hat out, and the church bells that sounded on the hour, along with the voices of many tourists and revelers on the streets.
The view from the roof made it all worth it.