Joel, a friend from Aikido, mentioned this possibility after I talked to him about my original plans -- going to Tunisia with Claudia. Sailing? Why not! If I wasn't going to do it then, I was never going to do it. And if I ever got seasick, I would just take some medication... Or so I thought at the time...
I’m away on holidays from 2003-07-01 to 2003-07-29. We’re flying to Portugal and will take a yacht to Morocco, visiting some small towns in northern Morocco.
When we arrived, we took the airport shuttle bus and got out at Saldanha, walked to the main bus station at Arco do Cego and bought tickets for Vila Nova de Milfontes, which is on the way to Zambujeira do Mar, half way down south on the west coast. The trip cost us about €11 per person. There, we arrived towards sundown. We went down the main street looking for a hotel from our book, but got asked by a local whether we were looking for rooms and we were shown a nice hotel on the main street for €30 a night.
We went out to eat in a traditional restaurant and had seafood. It has been a long time since I last had Portuguese seafood. The fish is usually just grilled with some herbs, and served with some lemon, some green salad, some typical half red half green tomatoe slices, and homemade fries. The fries are usually very fat.
We went to bed early.
We decided that we might get a cheaper room by switching, since the town appeared to be empty. So before breakfast we just went out down the street into the next hotel which happened to be one of the hotels listed in the book, Mil Reis, run by a very old couple. We asked to see a room, but it was smaller and cost also â¬30. When we seemed reluctant, the old main lowered the price to â¬25 and we agreed to stay. Only later did Claudia remind me that we could have postponed a decision and gone back to the first hotel, asking for a lower rate. Oh well.
We walked out to the lighthouse, along some footpaths, and finally found a cozy little bay with a small beach all to ourselves, protected by the wind and with decent surf. Long time no see, Portuguese beaches! Hot sun, cool wind, icy water! In winter, the water is 14Â°C, in summer 16Â°C on the west coast, so if you find a protected piece of beach, you will get very hot and sun-burned; as soon as you get up, the wind cools you down and you’ll forget all about sun-screen. By the time you reach the water, however, you will be cool enough to not want to swim in 16Â°C water, so you end up just wetting your feet.
The protection from the wind had a drawback: Little harmless flies crawled all over us, getting on our nerves… But what a feeling, to dig your little toes into the sand, and have the salty breeze blow through your hair…
The second day on the beach! This time we decided: “No flies!” and we moved to the beach closer to town – the one between the town and the lighthouse which all the locals seemed to prefer. We went around 11 o’clock and forgot about the sun… The locals only stay at the beach when they have sun umbrellas. We didn’t, and like real tourists, by the time the locals came back between three and four, we had our sun-burns… Claudia got it worse than I did, but it was a fair reminder of how things work: Even with sun-blocks of protection factor 20, your are not invulnerable…
The beach was nice, and the water calm. It was in the estuary of the river flowing through Vila Nova de Milfontes.
We got on the bus again… from Vila Nova de Milfontes to Zambujeira do Mar (6â¬ per person). When we arrived, we searched the tourist office and asked for a recommendation. She gave us the official brochure and so we went for one of the hotels listed. It was full. The second one had a room with a balcony for â¬35. Very nice! We decided to check for additional prices in town, and found a very nice lady that showed us some rooms above the supermarket, but the price was about the same, and there were no windows, just a Dachluke (a window in the roof). So we went back to the original pensÃ£o and took the room for the night.
As soon as we had our stuff dumped, we went off to search for the beach again. The beach just below the town had some people, but we spied a path rising on the next hill, probably leading to another beach, perhaps with even less people. And so it was! Down some steep steps into a second bay, with less people and better water.
Since Claudia was badly burnt from yesterday’s sunbathing, she had to wait fully dressed (full length white linen skirt, blouse with long sleeves, hair covered) while I explored the rocks until about five o’clock, when we considered it definitely safe to expose ourselves to the sun again.
Strangely, some nudists think that when the beach is not below some town, they are free to walk about as naked as they want. So we enjoyed some naked Germans with sunglasses playing beachball, while we waited for the glaring sun to relent…
While waiting for the bus to SÃ£o TeotÃ³nio, a small old man looking like a half-drunken gipsy came over and explained how there was no bus going to the town, how the only bus was at four or five in the morning, how he had a friend who would drive us, or where to catch a lift, etc. I was friendly, got shown to the main road leading out of town, but tried to prevent the old man from calling any relatives who might want to drive us. I was determined to take the bus. When the bus finally came, I asked the driver and all was as I had been told at the tourist information. Now suddenly the old man claimed that he had been saying this all along, and with a friendly exchange of words he left us.
We took the bus (â¬1.20 each), and waited in the cafÃ© in SÃ£o TeotÃ³nio for the next one, eating Portuguese pasteleria (various pastries) and drinking a bica (espresso) and pedras salgadas water (very salty mineral water). The next bus took us via Lagos to PortimÃ£o (â¬7.50 each); from there, we walked to Praia das Rochas along the river, then through a small field with drie grass and dusty dirt roads along a naval base or something, until we got to the marina. There we waited for an hour until finally the skipper of our ship arrived – Bernd of the Tartaruga.
He is a nice guy, German, lived in PortimÃ£o since around 1997 and every summer he goes sailing for three months, taking guests with him. The rate is 300â¬ per person and week.
Joel arrived a bit later, and we went shopping to buy food and water. We slept on the boat to get used to the soft swaying…
We sailed back close to the coastline and had a look at the fantastic coastline – limestone twenty meters high, small beaches, tunnels and caves… This the kind of beaches I love. Unfortunately, we had no time to stop or put ashore. Next time I come here I have to find a way to get somebody to ferry us to these fantastic beaches and fetch us again when the sun starts to set.
At night, we usually cook on the ship. The ship is rather wide and I can stand upright in the middle of all the (four) rooms.
At night we drink a cup of italian espresso with some Ol' Navy Rum Bernd bought in Gibraltar. Joel loves it and he really wants to stop in Gibraltar on our way back to buy some for himself. (In fact, he will buy three bottles when we get there…)
Our first big trip: We are sailing to the island of Culatra, near Olhião. This takes us along the most beautiful coastline I know: The cliffs of the Algarve.
We take a look at Olhião and in the evening, we will use the dinghy to get to the flat sand beaches of Culatra. And there we will have a little barbecue with other sailors Bernd knows (a German/Dutch couple), their friends (Dutch father and daughter), and people Joel invited (two Swiss families).
We left at 15:00, aiming for Tanger! We sailed for 24h – everybody taking turns at the wheel, 2h each. This is beautiful but boring! The sky is glittering with stars, the milky way shines, reflections on the calm waters – is no wind blowing at night, and a big moon up in the sky and a line of dancing moonlight reflections leading from the ship towards it. The engine humms – or roars, rather – and we make our 6 knots as usual (about 11 km/h). The engine stirrs the water, activating the plancton which gives off a shimmering silver light – is it blue or green or just white but faint, nobody can tell. It seems to dance at the edge of your vision. On the horizont two or three small glimmering lights blinking from time to time – other yachts crossing the bay of Cadiz, occasionally an eerie christmast-tree crosses our way: cruise ships with multiple decks, all illuminated by thousands of lamps. And the minutes seem like hours and the hours seem to advance in minuscule steps…
In the early morning hours, Bernd calls us: Dolphins! Dolpins up ahead! – groggily, we get up and stumble on deck. Dolphins! Two, no three, five – ten, no it must have been around fifty! They race along the ship, jump up, and in the distance, the sun rises like an orange-red ball of glowing coal. The dolphins stay with us for a few minutes, and then they fall behind and disappear.
Ok, so much for that. Sea-sickness had me now. After three times at the ship's rail, we turned back towards Barbate in Spain, were we arrived at 15:00. I heard Joel also got sea-sick, but I was too sea-sick to notice.
The marina there is ugly – big concrete walls, outside the town, the administration at the other end of the pier… But showers! We're experiencing Seegang while taking showers, ie. the floor seems to move as soon as we close our eyes.
In the evening, Claudia, Joel and me decide to go for some tuna in town. Bernd gives us approximate directions for a restaurant that he knew from last time, and off we go. We ask some more people, including some Moroccans, and finally find the right spot. I forgot the name; started with a C, I think. El Campista, Campenista, or something like that.
In Barbate they have lots of tuna fishing. To do this, they span big wire nets from the coast out to the sea, for miles. The tuna schools that swim too close to the coast on their move from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean or back are trapped by the net, follow it, and end up in a big round trap where they are picked out by the fishermen using harpoons or spears (actually I don't know which). 
After about eight hours of sailing, we finally arrive in Tanger. We saw more dolphins, I was sea-sick again… You know the story.
The African coast had been looming ahead in the mist for quite some time, and when it finally appeared, the rocks and hills were higher than expected. There it is – Tanger – the hell-hole from William S. Burrough’s Naked Lunch – a quiet little town between the hills, a big harbor. We come closer and Bernd steers us into the harbor…
To the left, we see dozens, maybe fifty or more old fisher boats, tied to each other. It looks like a car-park with zero space wasted – when the ships leave, they have to leave in exactly the order they are lying there. The ships are both colorful and shabby, painted blue and red with brown and black patches.
Bernd is looking for the yacht harbor – it seems to have gone! Instead, there is a tiny pier with 10 motor boats and no place to moor. A man on the pier waves; I point him out to Bernd. Ok, we’ll just tie our ship to some of the buoys here… A bit later the customs guy comes aboard, examines our papers briskly, and goes. Bern gives him a pack of Malboro on the way out, but really it would have worked without one – the guy was nice, efficient, quick, what else can you ask for?
Bernd doesn’t want to use the Zodiac dinghy in the harbor waters and decides to use the little jollyboat instead. No motor, just an oar, to cross the 10m from the Tartaruga to the pier. Unfortunately, the jollyboat leaks, and we have to use a bucket and an old empty maize can to empty it before crossing over.
We had a maize can available because dinner tonight was canned tuna, canned maize, onions and fried potatoes, all in one.
Enough customs, boats, canned food – we are finally in Morocco!!
We spend the night walking through the old town, the Medina, drinking mint tea at a coffee shop in the middle of the bustling old town itself, where you can see about fifty people now matter where you look, walking about, waiting, kids running through the streets, shouting and waving their arms, mothers watching them, old men watching us, open doors where you hear people having dinner, shops, shopkeeprs inviting us in…
Nobody pulls us along, nobody gets on our nerves, the salesmen are quiet, they try to get our interest, but don’t bother us, respectfully presenting their stuff, interested in talking to us, asking us where we come from, they all speak French, some English, some German, one or two have been in Switzerland – Geneva, for example. It is warm, the lamps shine on the little winding dirt streets, some of them have the ground torn open with works going on – new infrastructure for the old town.
The Moroccans expect it, they like it, and we like it, and it is an excellent way to get to know them, because soon the vendor's friend appears, talks to me while Claudia haggles some more, then two girls appear and start flirting with the vendor while Claudia waits, then another friend appears, starts hitting on Claudia since he doesn't notice me, until I start laughing and exchanging looks with the Moroccan girls, then the vendor notices what is going on and gives his friend a kick, who sees me, and blushes… All while the first friend tells me about his sister owning a travel agency and he'd like to meet us later, at 5pm, at the Café de Paris – to which I reply, "Perhaps, we don't know yet" and says "Inshallah!" and grins, and I also say "Inshallah!" and we go on to the next shop… (Claudia manages to buy four tapes for 50 Dirham.)
Once, as we were sitting at the café accross the Café de Paris, police starts dribbling in, and suddenly nobody is allowed to cross the main road, and a few minutes later police on motorbikes and black limousines start driving by, and then the king himself, standing in his car and waving, the people also standing, waving, and applauding.
At the end of the day, we are still interested in buying tapes – we end up with 6 or 7 tapes that day… We take pictures with the vendor and promise to send him copies, but he tries to avoid writing down his address, and Claudia guesses that he can't write in the first place and the Joel writes down his address, and while haggling a friend brings mint tea and it tastes good and it is getting dark and all the people here are friendly and smiling…
I love it.
We’re going to Asilah – further along the coast, where (so Bernd tells us) the rich Moroccans from further south come for their summer holidays for sun, sand, and water. The old town was originally built by the Portuguese, and the lone tower at the town square really looks like a good ol’ torre.
As we get out of the taxi, we find out how not to deal with Moroccans. Bern, having dark blond hair and a beard, and looking like our dad, is the obvious target for all people wanting to be our guides. He knows this already, and when he’s tired, he lets his guard down and today, when the first Moroccan says, “Hello mister, where are you from?” Bernd answers harshly, “No, we don’t need anything.” Taken aback, the Moroccan gets mad and starts insulting us as racists and tells us to go home again and that they didn’t want any foreigners here anyway, etc. Another Moroccan calms him, and a third comes over and tells us not to take him seriously and that he was sorry for him. After some mumbling we leave.
The point is that talking to these people is like an elegant dance or elaborate fencing with many rules. You try to avoid to buy something, and they try to sell something. The problem is that you have to be polite at all times – no direct denying of things, but being smart (or as we would say, lying) is allowed – Claudia tells me the same thing about Tunesia. They call it being malin, ie. being smart about things. It is a small battle of the wits. Hilarious.
The houses are all white, the alleyes narrow, the sky is blue, and the weather is hot. We walk across town, and notice that many houses have plants growing in pots before their doors – Bernd claims the Portuguese do this as well. I can’t remember whether they do or don’t.
Joel wants to buy antique knives, and one of the vendors went check his stocks. He comes back at five or six, and we wander through Asilah some more. We’re confused by the timezones. Portugal, Spain, and Morocco are all in different timezones. Some of us keep their watches in Portuguese time, others keep changing. We have to wait for the shop owner one hour longer than expected because of the timezone confusion.
While waiting, we sit in a cafÃ© and mobile sweet vendors pass us from time to time. One of them stops at our table, showing us their pastry and telling us how good it is. A battle of wits! I grin, and agree with him that they do look tasty, but that we are not hungry right now. He says that they are very good, made of almonds and honey and pine nuts. I reply that we just ate, so there it really makes no sense to buy some sweets now, but maybe later, when we are hungry again. He grins, and we exchange some Inshallah and he goes.
Later the sweet vendor comes again, and asks me to change Euros to Moroccan Dirhams for him. Obviously people paid him with Euro coins, and he can’t change it back. Bern and Claudia are sceptical, but I agree and pull out my portemonnaie (wallet). â¬1 is about 10 Dirham, and so I put down a bill or two on the table and take the approriate amount of coins to my side of the table. He looks at it, mumbles to himself, counts the coins, mumbles some more, counts again, but finally agrees. It reminds me that analphabetism is as high as 60%, if I remember correctly.
The day passes, we see Moroccans bathing below the city walls, we even see some jumping from the ancient city walls down into the water, Joel buys an old Spanish bayonet, and we take the taxi back home. This time the taxi is full. They have small taxis aka. petit taxi and big ones. The big ones can take you to other cities. They are all old white Mercedes-Benz cars. And they officially carry six passengers, excluding the driver. Yihaa! A Moroccan couple in the front, and the four of us in the back.
Yesterday two other European ships arrived – one French, one Italian. This morning, the French tried to leave but could not get their anchor up. They heaved. They cursed. The circled. They called for help. A diver arrived. Another diver arrived. It took hours before they could leave.
We left later that day and sailed for the Spanish enclave Ceuta. The trip was uneventful and we arrived early. The harbor was full, so we had to wait some time before being able to moor. Claudia and Joel went shopping in the meantime, and when the time had come, I was alone in helping Bernd get the boat into place. The Spaniards gave us an awkward lot, with the wind blowing us across towards the neighbouring boat. Bernd did two spiraling pirouettes, spinning the boat in the right direction and sending it slowly into position. Other sailors had noticed the problem and climbed their boats, nervously watching the maneuver, ready to help keep the boats appart. With the help of two or three other people, we managed. It was a fantastic experience.
We ate at the Chinese restaurant overlooking the marina.
The next day we went to Tetouan  by taxi, looked at the old town, and then we continued by bus to Chefchaouen.
But first, we had to get out of Ceuta. We took the ordinary bus to the border and got out. To the left, the sea. To the right, dusty hills with control posts, two or three policemen watching – and, most astonishingly, dozens of hooded people, old women, young men, carrying bags or empty handed, hurrying, not looking left nor right. Bernd explains how the police will chase them away once in a while, but in general these smugglers are tolerated; the police is bribed.
Between the hills and the sea lies the customs. Dozens, no hundreds of people crowding. There are portals where people are forced into line by a long tunnel-like cage. People looking like foreigners like us are waved in a different direction and we mostly walk where the cars drive. The cages left and right, with people coming and going, must mostly just waiting for the line to advance, some of them waiting even when the line does advance – trapped in the no-man's land between Spain and Morocco… It stretches for 100m, 200m. The line seems endless. Watching the lines, we walked… Somewhere in the no-man's land we had to show our passports, fill out some paper, but it was a breeze. Bernd said that previously, he'd spend three quarters of an hour here waiting, elbowing and sweating before getting accross the border. The tourists are missing because of the Casablanca bombing. More power to us, it seems.
Behind the border, there is a big parking lot full of white Mercedes-Benz taxis… The big ones, with 6 passengers each. As we approach one of them, a French backpacker joins us. We pay 20 Dirham each (later we find that the correct price would have been 12 Dirham each). The French guy agrees and sits in front.
The taxi driver is a crazy lunatic. He roars at max speed and overtakes everything. Even when he can't see ahead due to a curve. Or when he can see the oncoming trucks but feels that he will be able to squeeze back in before crashing into one. And even when the line on our side is so packed that some of them is going to have to let us in in order to save us from crashing into buses, cars, or trucks. I hissed. We mumbled. The French guy nervously tried to pull his legs up once or twice. The driver told us not to be affraid.
When we arrived, we paid, and left. The French guy also tried to pay his 20 Dirham, but the driver said that he sat in front, therefore taking up the space of two passenger, and furthermore he had agreed to pay 50 Dirham, and a loud discussion starts, and in the end the driver just steals a 50 Dirham bill out of the French guy's wallet and leaves.
Claudia thinks that the only good reaction in this case would have been even more shouting: Attracting the locals, making it a shame for the driver to be involved in all this. The French guy, being timid, was overwhelmed by the driver's aggressive shouting and too stunned by the audacity of the theft…
We entered Tetouan . Immediately we were immersed in the grime, the shouting, the bustling. We followed Bernd towards the old town, the medina. It starts behind the huge square in front of the royal palace. Most of the square in front of the palace is fenced of. Only a strip as narrow as a street is left for the crowd. And what a crowd it is. Merchants, housewives, kids, people sitting in front of tea rooms. We continue onwards, into the gold souk, to the right, vegetables, tailors selling traditional clothing (djilaba), old berber women selling some garlic, mint, it just goes on and on…
Lunch at a tourist trap, Americans searching for Jesus, but the restaurant can also be used for traditional marriages, a band of berbers, when the Americans leave, Bernd asks to play the violin, Claudia dances… (to be continued)
We arrive in Chefchaouen… (to be continued)
(to be continued)
Climbing the rock in Gibraltar… We decided to get up early. Claudia and me had been to the botanical gardens, and so we knew the way. With Joel following us, we aimed for the cable car, ignored the taxi driver offering a motorized tour and opted for the “walking tour”, as the taxi driver said.
Somehow I was expecting hundreds of monkeys. But no, we saw three monkeys and their babies at the top, a few on the road down towards the caves, and towards the end on a little sideroad.
After taking a good look around – the Spanish mainland, the rock itself, and the shadow of the African coast in the mist – we went to St. Michael’s caves. I’ve seen more impressive caves. Or was I just younger back then?
To get to the caves, we had to walk down quite a bit. After the cave we wanted to see the big cannon – the one that can shoot 30km, ie. all accross the straits. We had to walk up again. The area was off-limits, however, so all we got to see was a lousy ruin and a rusty gate.
Then we wanted to find the monkeys’ den, which was nearly all the way down, and later we wanted to see the famous tunnels. The tunnels allowed the English to shell the Spaniards or the French, who knows. The point is, those tunnels were quite a bit uphill again.
In other words, the heat, the constant up and down, the sun, the thirst, no toilets… ARGH!
We sail for Tarifa…
The sailing is boring, and Claudia and me are starting to feel the Schiffskoller. We started joking about the “wooden prison” and getting more picky. This is what my boss at work warned me about: He sails often around Denmark, and he said that he doesn’t like to take friends along, because the claustrophobic closeness will get you eventually. He told me to try and view it as an interesting social phenomenon. Something to be studied. And I tried, and I guess it worked.
Just a fair warning for all those that never sailed before. Sailing is not just like living with people in the same house, but being practically locked up with these people in the same room during the day, and in the same house during the night. It will take nerve, and it will require discipline. But it whether you enjoy it or not, it will be an experience.
Today we will sail for Santi-Petri… Our motor has problems, so we have to stop in Barbate – again!
Later in the afternoon we decide to force it and to sail for Santi-Petri. This time we’d take the inside way between the coast-line and the big Trafalgar riff to save us two hours or more (remember, the riff extends 10km out into the sea). Here, close to the coast, we always have min. 3m of water below the ship. It is close, but we can do it. After one hour, we passed the riff and are in safe waters again. And the wind picks up again.
After 6h and puking 13×, I have finally decided – once and for all – that sailing is not for me.
It is dark now, and cold. The constant sea-sickness has made me weak and my legs shake uncontrollably as I sit in the darkness by the railing. I’ll kiss any four-wheeled vehicle coming my way. Claudia puts a blankets around my shoulder and another one on my legs. She’s worried and it shoes. I’m close to tears.
At night we talk about our plans. We decide to take off early tomorrow, with me and Claudia trying to sleep through it all. Bernd will sail the ship starting at 7am and we’ll see how it goes. I’ll probably take the bus from Cádiz to Vila Real de Stº António. At the moment I’d like to leave the ship for good, however. Why not spend the rest of the holidays in Spain? Bernd is wise enough to let it rest for the moment.
In order to cheer us up, Bernd even made some absolutely delicious Tiramisú today. Yummy! And here I was thinking about sea-sickness?
Feeling better yesterday evening, Bernd convinced us that it would be best to sail very early for CÃ¡diz – and Claudia and I should just try to sleep it through. It worked.
CÃ¡diz awaits us. And the old town is really beautiful!
We spend some time looking for a nice little hotel for me and Claudia, and then we walk the city. Joel is a bit impatient, but we start eating more icecream and keep strolling through town. Bernd goes to write an email back to his wife and we walk around town some more.
After 17:00 all the Spaniards that had been hiding away appear all over sudden and while the town seemed dead and empty during siesta-time, the streets were crowded and lively towards evening.
Later, when Joel and Bernd return to the ship, we walk through town some more, and when the sun sets, we’re still there. At 23:00 people are still out on the streets, kids playing, families talking, the restaurants are full, the streets are alive.
On the way here we had seen broad beautiful streets with wonderful vilas. After a while we noticed that these buidlings had really fancy architecture and decoration, and on some of them we found the names of countries. This must have been the country pavillions of the Expo…
We crossed a big street on the way to the center which a friendly man at the bus station had pointed out to us, and came to a long and narrow park, the Jardin de Murillo . We walked through it and entered the barrio de Santa Cruz.
(to be continued)
At 16:30 we took the bus from Sevilla to Huelva, and continued a few minutes later in another bus to Vila Real de Stº António, where we met our friends at the marina.
We sailed from Vila Real de Stº António to Tavira. There was a sharp wind from the north and I was at the wheel. As soon as we were out in the open, Bernd raised the sails and switched off the motors, and as the sails filled, we picked up speed. Five knots, then six knots – that’s as fast as the engine would have taken us! The ship leaned to the left, 10°, then more – 20° – then 22°! We were going at seven knots, sometimes as fast as eight…
This is what I love about sailing: Practically no waves, as the wind from the north had no way to build up anything, coming over the land, blowing into the sails and driving the ship along.
We arrived at Tavira after 3½h – half an hour earlier than expected. We set anchor between one of the long sandy islands and the coast and took the dinghy up the river to Tavira. Whenever one of the fisher motor boats or the ferry came, we had to slow down and watch the waves… It was unnerving to see that practically none of them slowed down to minimize the waves, as the should have (or so Bern told us).
One time we slowed down so much and waited for so long, that the dinghy was blown into shallow waters and we were unable to use the motor to get back into deep waters again. I got out and immediately my feet disappeared into black mud. I shoved and joked about the slippery mud, and half a minute later I slipped and fell backwards. My lightning reflexes saved my butt – my right hand, fingers spread wide for increased surface area disappeared into the mud – luckily I was able to stop my fall (and my slow descent into the murky water) when my ellbow reached the water. Slowly I got up again. My feet and my right hand were caked in black/grey mud…
A little washing in the muddy water and off we were towards town, up the river!
We arrived about 20 minutes after leaving the ship and bound our dinghy to some other fisher boats and climbed up the 5m wall towards the city itself. At last, the “white city”!
(to be continued)
We also took the time for some portraits after about 3½ weeks of holidays…
We sailed from Tavira to Faro. The wind grew less in the afternoon and we had to use the motor to get to Faro. We anchored in the winding water arms of the marsh-like coast, let the dinghy down and hopped on board. It took us about a quarter of an hour to get to the small marina – first you follow the arm leading the harbor walls, then you go through a small tunnel under the railroad, before finally reaching the small harbor.
We went ashore, walked through the tourist areas, into the old town, took a look around… I was astonished; I had imagined Faro to be industrial, or crowded, or banlieue – more cheap ten story buildings forming an ugly suburb… But the old town is remained very traditional, and the surrounding quarters also look very nice. I guess the major drawback is that there is no good beach close-by.
Our money troubles continued, by the way: Whenever we inserted our Swiss EC cards into the multibanco machines, we were told about some “connection problem” and asked to take back the card. No money.
We ate dinner at the harbor restaurant, the restaurant of the clube naval of Faro. I paid with my credit card and Bernd gave me his share in cash, so we at least had a few Euros to buy ice-cream with.
Dinner was about €15 per person, which was a bit expensive considering that we all had just one dish, an açorda de gambas – some traditional soup or more accuratly an old bread stew, with shrimps. It looked like dog-food or like the stuff I puked from the ship a few days ago, but it tasted ok… The funny thing was that I never remember eating or even seeing an açorda from my former times in Portugal. I guess my parents never ordered it back then.
On the way back we saw were we had gone wrong yesterday night... After the first post, we turned too far to the right, taking another arm and doing a big half-circle instead of going straight for our boat. Oh well...
It turned out that the 11 o'clock bus was full, so we took the bus at 12:15, idling away our time in that famous café, drinking bica, water, and eating Portuguese pasteleria -- first four different pieces, and later four pieces again, but this time our favorites: a ball of almond pastry filled with the sweet egg-yolk-sugar mix the Portugese call doce de ovos. Yummy! And after all the pastry, we were prepared for the long bus trip.
The bus cost us €14.50 each and took us until 5 or 6 o'clock, I can't remember any more. Anyway, the sun was still up, so we were able to calmly look for a hotel. The book suggested the lower end of Avenida da Liberdade, esp. the area at Rua da Glória or the area around Praça da Figueira.
The bus arrived at Arco do Cego again, just like on the first day (2003-07-01). We walked to Saldanha and took the Metro to Restauradores. The metro costs €0.65 for every trip if you buy single tickets, and that is what we did for most of our stay in Lisbon.
From Restauradores we walked to Rua da Glória. On the way there, we saw a sign for a Résidencia on the 4th floor of a building, and I left Claudia by the entry with the bags as I climbed the stairs. It turned out that they were renovating or something -- only a few kids lived there amidst the paint and the wooden planks. So on we trodded. Five minutes later we decided to try the Residencial Verginia on Rua da Glória, somewhere on the 2nd and 3rd floor of the building. The room was €30 a night and it looked clean. No toilet but a little shower built into the corner and toilets on the same floor -- it was ok, and we decided to stay for the three remaining nights.
Later that night, after some rest, taking a shower, washing our hair -- finally clean again! No more water saving! We went out for dinner. On the way here we had already seen an Indian restaurant called Indian Curry and I had decided that we had seen enough sea-food -- enough grilled fish, arroz marisco, or açorda de gambas -- I wanted naan, dahl, paneer, and mango chutney!!
We ended up in the restaurant Jaipur, also on Rua da Glória. The restaurant was in the cellar of the house, and crammed full with Portuguese and Indian or Pakistani people, and so we fully enjoyed an extended meal. Yummy! And cheap, too, for Swiss standards. We were stuffed, and it cost around €30 for the two of us.
Window-shopping in the Baixa for Claudia, then a walk up to the old castle ruins and down through the Alfama, the old moorish quarters of the city, under a glaring sun and after not enough hours of sleep – it was fun. We even passed the old Clube do Fado where we listened to fado two years ago. To get there, walk from the Baixa up towards the castle along the old railway lines until you get to the Sé, take the road right, walk down along the cathedral for about 400m and look for a green door on your left.
We desperately wanted to get up early to do some exploring and then enjoy a siesta during the hottest part of the day. But then we spent so much time hanging out in the Pasteleria Suiça and the walk up to the castle and down with the extra roundabout was longer than expexted so we only had about one hour of siesta before getting on the train to visit my mom in Carcavelos (on the linha, the train running from Cais do Sodré to Cascais). We ate, talked, looked at the kids (my half-siblings), and then we went to listen to some fado. But not in Lisbon, not in the tourist places. We went to a remote little in in Parede, where the local fadistas meet in a wooden shack behind the restaurant and start singing around midnight until the early hours of the mourning. It turned out that the four of us (me, Claudia, mom, and my stepfather Armin) and four others were the only non-musicians in the house. All the others got up at one point and sang a song or two or three. At the beginning we had about three guitar players, when we left at half past two, there were already six of them…
It was quite impressive.
We met my mom and the kids in Belém and took a look at Jerónimos from the outside, at the cultural center, and then we went to do what we came here to do: Eat Portuguese seafood in one of the restaurants and then to eat some pastéis de natas  at the café and bakery here that specializes in them, calling them (and the café itself) Pastéis de Belém. The café is famous, old, huge, and good. 
Later that night we returned, and once again I didn't feel like eating Portugese seafood... We decided to go and check out the other Indian restaurant on our street (see 2003-07-26), Indian Curry. It wasn't as good as Jaipur, and it was full of tourists, but at the end we were happy, stuffed, and once again it only cost €30. In Switzerland you can go to Pizza Hut for this money. And that's about it.
Came back from my holidays!
Now I just have to get my digital camera working again so that I can copy the 300+ pictures from the cam onto my box…
Saw the old Metropolis (IMDB:0017136) movie -- very cool! The first Science Fiction movie, released in 1927. And already we find many ideas in this movie that have been taken up by later movies:
I had seen the Giorgio Moroder restored version a long time ago -- I must have been around 13 back then, and some of the images impressed me very much. Seeing the worker straining to align the pointers of a watch-like machine with glowing lamps or the crazy Maria leading the crowd through the city -- the images stayed with me and watching the new restored version of the movie was time well spent.
Pictures still locked away in my camera. I wasted hours on this, now. I have two options:
Very sexy man
– Anonymous 2009-02-16 21:30 UTC