Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Train trip from Albufeira for a day in Lagos

5 May 2014
From Albufeira train station, we took the train in the opposite direction from our day to Tavira, with about an hours trip heading for the end of the line in Lagos. This time, sitting on the other side of the station platform, early as usual, it was the typical Portuguese station clock which caught our eye. By default Alan caught the second hand plumb on the zero of the 10. The fare this way was about €8 something full fare and half again for OAPs.

 Another hot day in another train with windows diffuclt to see out of but it didn't mar our pleasure at the almost semi-desert countryside. We passed loads of orange groves with their trees still half laden - the rest of the oranges, those which aren't heading for supermarket shelves and an export market, are on the roadside stalls going for €2 and €2.50 a pack of about  two dozen or fifteen, depending on their size. We found that the bigger oranges weren't as juicy as the smaller ones, and I must say I'm surprised and delighted that they're so sweet and way less acidic than most oranges I've eaten.

It being such a hot day, it was great to get out of the train and a few minutes later be walking past this:


Our first stop, as we reached the tourist and pedestrian area, was for a divine ice cream cone ... mine was mango and Alan chose - can you guess? - coffee. And of course he had a coffee as well! No change there, and none to be expected. Further into the town we trudged, coming across this remarkable green-tiled building in one of the town squares.

The building next to the green-tiled one caught my eye. It's very Moor-ish and just one of the double doors was open with an old net curtain moving slightly with the air. There certainly was no breeze to stir it, adding to a stirring sense of mystery. It immediately conjured up images of exquisitely veiled ladies, with their colourful clothes trimmed in gold, and their long, black plaits intertwined with ribbon, giggling as they relaxed on richly decorated fabric cushions. It's fun to fantasise in foreign lands.

Cooled though still heat-lethargic, the usual stalls of clothing and nicnacs didn't attract as before. They've lost their magnetism for us by now. Even although we had just consumed ice cream and Alan's coffee, himself was on the look-out for a nice place for lunch ... hopefully off the beaten track as usual. As the track was tending to go slightly uphill in Lagos, and so far the town was too full of tourists and a couple of dicey-valued-looking folk of the confidence trickster kind, we didn't feel too inclined to go too far off the track so settled for a monk fish cataplana in a semi-local family-run pavement cafe. It was going to be a long lunch ... it had to be ... the day was hot, the company was excellent and the pleasure of eating out just too much to be rushed. So we started off with the bread, fish paste and cheese. That cheese was just divine. Sadly I had to share it with Alan.


This cataplana was just not quite as flavoursome as the one in Tavira although the sprig of fresh mint as garnish was a great touch indeed. As the copper lid was lifted a mixed aroma of savoury fish dish with fresh mint was heaven to the senses. Perhaps this one had just a little too much tomato in it, making it just a tad too acidic, which may have killed the real flavour.

Satiated and happy we set off for a quiet exploration of Lagos.




 Henry the Navigator, son of the Portuguese king John I,
was an important figure in 15th-century Portuguese politics
and in the early days of the Portuguese Empire and the Age of Discoveries.  
Born: March 4, 1394, Porto 
Died: November 13, 1460, Sagres 


The memorial to Henry the Navigator brought us to the river-front, just before it meets the sea, and we gratefully sank onto a bench in a bit of shade on the promenade, for a bit of people and boat watching. Boy it was hot!

At 4 pm we headed back for our 5 pm train and a swim back at Clube Albufeira. I think we both felt a little disappointed in Lagos. Please don't think it's not a great place ... it is, and is very beautiful ... but I think the type of folk we came across that day perhaps tarnished its shine a little. I think Tavira, for us, is quite hard to beat.

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