Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cruising Along At Sixty

2011 09 06

Agua Mall, Portimao, Portugal

Meredith moored beside Paloma de la Paz
The Only Two Cabo Ricos in Europe and we are Side by Side

Sitting in the Aqua Mall in Portimao in front of the McDonalds, Big Mac in hand, we have finally found some internet.  Internet is a precious commodity in Portugal; few marinas offer it and those that do most often fail to deliver or deliver such unreliable service it is unusable.  This is one reason I post few pictures - no bandwidth.  Portimao marina has 650 slips and no wifi.  It offers two hard wired connections to serve 650 boats.  The municipal library has no wifi and very limited internet on its own computers.  No one in Portugal seems to use internet.

This is not a travelblog.  The only good travel blog I have come across is written by Poll and Kyra Vanderwouwe and I recommend it without hesitation.  Here is the URL http://www.seayara.net/wordpress/

 Use Google Chrome however as the site is well written in Dutch and Chrome will automatically translate for you. 

With that exception travelblogs give me gas: insipid comments about mediocre destinations desperately dropping names of "friends" met and made along the way.  Intended to prove what I always wonder: that you took your boat somewhere or that you actually found someone who liked you.  Sad and pathetic.  Not to be found here.  We do sad and pathetic our own way.

In our sixteen days in Portimao we spent the first week recovering from the rough passage and repairing and replacing stuff lost or damaged.  Much of the real repair will have to wait for our return to North America - we can order parts from a French manufacturer through a North American supplier and get them faster and cheaper than from France.  (Yup, Europe is totally screwed economically.)

Lisbon Spreads Out Beneath One of Its Fabulous Parks
Portimao was not our choice for port, we  hoped to make Lisbon and spend some time in that capital city.  Perhaps our fortune was greater than we knew for Portimao is a great centre from which we can travel inexpensively almost everywhere in this country, eg. €35 return from Portimao to Lisbon a trip of 300 km each way.

LIsbon's Restauradore Section
Our visit to Lisbon last week by bus showed that city to be a largish city in a smallish country.  Except for the age of its buildings and its interesting Restauradore Area Lisbon is nice but not worth a week or two of exploration.

At that we travelled "off restauradore" in search of an authentic Portuguese restaurant.  None of the patio tables had a single Portuguese face to be found.  The search was very successful and we understood not a single word spoken at any surrounding table that day.  Lovely, tasty and inexpensive.

Lisbon resembled Toronto very much.  Toronto is worth a weekend at most.  I mean its claim to fame is that it is "clean".  Imagine the advertising possibilities "Visit Us.  We're Clean".

Lisbon has old buildings, clean streets and a few galleries and museums (including a fair one floor Museum of Modern Art and a great gallery of French Impressionists) but I mean this is Europe.  In Europe good old stuff is everywhere.  Lisbon is no Bilbao and we are slotting many days for a visit there by bus or train.

Lisbon is  all about parks and it does this in spades.  Its subway is clean, safe and easy to navigate. It would be a great place to live and was a decent city to visit.  Briefly.

Another side trip was made (with our very good friends, oh to hell with it) to Lagos (pronounced Lagosh) reputed to be a fab marina and old fishing village.  The old village streets were filled with thousands (thousands and thousands and thousands) of tourists.  Except for the bricks in the building facades there was no old world charm in evidence here.  Our meal was lacklustre and overpriced and all the cafe tables were filled with foreigners.

Soon, as soon as our dinghy arrives, we leave for Faro hoping to anchor off some islands around Culathra, a nice park reserve.  We will travel up the Guardiana River, border between Spain and Portugal as we understand (from our very good friends....) and finally we go up the river to Seville where we hope to engage in a week or two of fruitful investigation.

Along the way we hope to make many more new friends.  All of whom shall remain nameless.

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