Portugal, Tavira

Tavira, Friday, May 20

As I drank my coffee on the roof terrace, I could see that it was going to be difficult to pry myself away from this space above the town. I needed downtime badly.

One of the best moments of my trip happened this morning when I stepped out on the terrace. A small murmuration of swallows swooped so close to me that I heard and felt the whoosh of their collective wings beating. Then I watched them for about 15 minutes as they spun and swooped and lifted as a tight group above our neighborhood. There seemed to be no purpose but the joy of it.

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So, we had a low-key day. We wandered around our neighborhood and the riverside. We ate lunch at a great Indian restaurant in our building below. We talked with a young digital nomad from Poland who was seated nearby, and an old woman very aggressively tried to sell me a plastic carton with about eight strawberries in it for five euros. She eventually went down to three euros, but I wasn’t interested in buying and I was mainly amused at how hard she tried to sell them to me. Later that evening we had an unimpressive meal across the river, and I don’t remember anything about it other than I enjoyed the night views over the river.

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Since this will be a short post, here’s something about dining out in Portugal.

Portuguese restaurants will not bring you glasses of water. Water comes in bottles, either with or without “gas” and you pay for them. Draft beer was incredibly cheap, but you usually only had the choices of Super Bock and/or Sagres. They were pretty good, and both breweries had good dark beers and stouts if you could find them.

Bread and olives and sometimes pate or cheese or butter are put on your table, but they are not free. If you don’t want them, just let the waiter know and don’t touch them. We usually accepted the bread because it was so good, and often took the cheese and olives.

Tips are not expected, but we tipped whenever the waiters gave good service and/or were friendly, which was most of the time. Tax is included in the prices, so the price you see on the menu is the price you will pay.

And the waiters will not bring you a check until you ask for it. “A conta” (the check) is one of the Portuguese phrases we used most often. When you sit down, they expect you to linger over your meal and drinks and dessert and coffee. There is no push to get you to free up a table.

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