Archive | December 2014

Ten days of gifts – number 8

Yes, it’s getting closer – and all I can tell you at the moment is that there’s baking going on at Wisepacking Towers as mince pies and cheese scones are coming out of the oven…

Now you may have realised by now that I’m a great fan of the Kindle. It’s light, it’s compact and the battery life is pretty good for most eventualities.

There are times though when the Kindle isn’t quite the answer to everything (that’s still 42!).

I still prefer paper guide books to electronic ones as they’re easier to access, don’t rely on batteries being charged on the device being used at the time, relevant sections can be photocopied for use on our travels or older versions can be cannibalised to serve the same purpose.

There’s also the still popular concept of coffee table books. Doesn’t matter if they’re paperback or hardback, the glossy photographs and the text alongside the pictures can still inspire in a way that viewing on an electronic screen can’t in my opinion.

But hey, here’s a quick round-up of what’s out there. Some titles have been around for a while now and that’s a good thing as it’s a testament as to how good the book was in the first place!

Some books are easy reads, whilst others require a little bit more attention once they’re opened. It’s thirty years since I first read Robert Pirsig’s Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance and it’s still quite challenging.

The Travel Book – A Journey Around Every Country In The World (Lonely Planet) is one of those glossy books that make you want to grab a bag and get out there. Once seen, it’s likely that you may need something with a little more detail about any country that’s highlighted in the book.

Which is where the world of the guide book kicks in. Preferred reading here usually comes from either Lonely Planet or Rough Guides, although DK and Berlitz works are also on the bookshelf at the opposite end of the room to this computer.

As High Street bookshops sometimes offer their travel stock on a 3 for 2 promotion, it’s not uncommon for me to buy both a Lonely Planet and a Rough Guide to a particular country, especially if the country is being visited just two days after booking the flights!

Bookshop offers have also tended to include phrase books in the past too, so getting some lingo learned at the last minute can also come in useful even if it only to order a beer, coffee or to ask for a pack of Rennies in Lagos!

Wandering around a bookshop can also bring up some timeless works too. Harry Enfield’s bicycling dad Edward Enfield’s Greece On My Wheels and Downhill All The Way are on both my bookshelves and on my Kindle. The paperbacks were on offer when I bought them and when the Kindle versions were on offer over the summer, I succumbed once more. And did the same with Just A Little Run Around The World by Rosie Swale Pope

The recent re-runs of Michael Palin travel programmes Around The World In Eighty Days and New Europe on The Travel Channel reminded me of the mix of paperback and hardback versions of his travel books (and the relevant DVDs too) that are on the bookshelves in my upstairs office.

Yes, the paperbacks keep getting new covers, but the content is still very readable thanks to Palin’s observational powers and his willingness to try things out (I’d still pass on eating a freshly killed and cooked snake though!).

Another Michael that’s moved on from his original career is Michael Portillo. There’s quite a few books (and yes, DVDs) of his British, Irish and Continental Railway Journeys available along with copies of the various Bradshaw’s Handbooks that have been used to inspire Michael’s travels.

A recent visit to the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington near York meant that I spotted one Bradshaw which could provide the inspiration for a spin off from his rail travels. Bradshaw’s International Air Guide from 1931 was the tome in question and it could be a good choice for a brand extension by Mr. P… especially given the number of thumbs up given to his programmes in The Guardian’s online television section.

Oh, and another thing… Given the recent problems with deliveries from online retailers, take a wander into a bookshop.

If it’s an independent shop then so much the better, because a wander around could bring you into contact with a whole set of delights to either buy on the day or file in the memory banks in readiness for the next visit.

After all, there is a very wide choice out there – especially if you’re passing Stanfords in Covent Garden!

The visit to any bookshop may damage your wealth – but in a good way!

Ten days of gifts – number 9

Compact is the word…

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Back in the day, I used to sell the Primus Field Cup Set. It’s a compact eating kit for when you’re on the hill or wandering around town and have the munchies.

There’s two cups, a lid and mini knife, fork and spoon. The cups have respective capacities of 400 ml and 200 ml, the whole package weighs in at 156g and there’s a good choice of colours available too (providing of course that the shop has ordered in more than one or two different colours in the – my former employers did central buying, so we got what we were given such i.e. orange). Everything packs into the largest cup which can then be slipped into a pack or day bag once you’ve wiped or washed away any food residue. The price? £10

http://www.primus.eu/field-cup-set-green or a host of outdoor shops around the UK and beyond.

Ten days of gifts – in at number 10…

Need some protection? Try Aquapac’s Small Stormproof Pouch…

We’ve not had any snow yet, but we have had some heavy rain around Wisepacking Towers over the last week or so, so much so that there’s been a couple of occasions when Caroline’s come in from either a leisure ride or her commute and she’s done a very good impression of a drowned rat called Nigel

Sometimes you know that there’s going to be bad weather and sometimes you don’t.

It’s a by-product of living in the UK I suppose, but when you get soaked on a visit to The Algarve and the temperatures have been in the mid-thirties C, then you can get caught out somewhat. There are also times when the rain in Spain doesn’t stay on the plain!

Help is at hand though and it’s the first of wisepacking’s suggestions of useful items that you can give as gifts over the festive period or if someone’s an awkward sod who has a birthday on the 3rd of January (like me!).

Aquapac’s Small Stormproof Pouch (£15) is one for the traveller that might get caught out in a rain shower or who gets soaked on a stormy Monday. It can hold pocket items like digital compact cameras, phones, cash and cards when out on a trail or on a fishing trip and it’s 100% waterproof too.

It’s just part of Aquapac’s range, a collection that is always getting added to as they conjure up new products to cover potential eventualities when you’re out and about. The sharp eyed amongst you may have seen one of their radio pouches being used by James May last night as he made his way from Ilfracombe to Lundy Island by boat in pursuit of a toy glider – the whole programme is probably on BBC’s iPlayer if you want to see more.

But I digress. Aquapac’s stuff is good, it works and items such as the Small Stormproof Pouch are pretty light too – 17g for the pouch and 5g for the lanyard.

More details and buying opportunities on http://store.aquapac.net – this also has full details of the whole Aquapac range.

Portugal packing…

Although we had the option to take hold luggage along with us to Portugal as we’d booked our flights with TAP Portugal rather than a low cost airline, we opted to travel hand luggage only.

Yes, we got a look of surprise from the lady behind the desk at Manchester Airport when we checked in, but it didn’t take long to realise that we’d made the right decision, especially when we got to Lisbon.

All we did was get the bags out of the locker, shoulder them once out of the plane and then hit the way through Passport Control and Customs. Once through, we found the nearest ATM to get cash before getting the only taxi used on our trip. Now the taxi driver wasn’t too happy about us not putting bags in the boot, but we were happy that we weren’t paying additional charges for putting the bags in the boot.

One thing we did notice – we had the smallest bags of anyone in the queue on the taxi rank – one couple had hand luggage each, hold luggage each and a bag of golf clubs each (and were holding the queue up as the bloke wasn’t doing a very good job of steering the fully laden trolley in the general direction of the line of taxis!).

Farpoint 40 Lagoon Blue

Caroline and I both use Osprey Farpoint 40 packs. These take what we want to take, have a full rucksack harness under a zipped back panel and a couple of grab handles that allow for picking the bag up quickly in order to run for a bus, Metro or train. Caroline’s also has the provision to use a clip-on carrying strap, mine doesn’t – the joys of buying our bags separately from two different suppliers (mine’s the slightly older version!).

There’s also a decent size pocket at the top of the bag which is great for stashing away the obligatory clear plastic toiletries bag and my prescription meds.

Why was I packing toiletries? Because of the guide book comments regarding shops closing at 1pm on a Saturday afternoon – it was only when we got to Lisbon that we found out they didn’t! The toiletries bag also contained a full bottle of Lifeventure Fabric Wash for wash & wear use.

So what was in the main bag? A plastic file containing the paperwork, my Kindle in a Rohan neoprene pouch, a set of Rohan packing cubes containing clothing and travel towels plus a pair of Crocs, the charger for my compact camera, a small LED torch, a Moleskine notebook and a comb.

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Rohan Core Silver t-shirt

Inside the packing cubes were three Rohan t-shirts (one white and one blue Element shirts and one red Core Silver shirt), a couple of Rohan dress shirts (one Envoy, one Worldview) as we were spending some time in a Pousada, one pair of Rohan Grand Tour Chinos, and three pairs each of Rohan Core Silver trunks and Rohan Hot and Temperate socks.

Yes, those last couple of paragraphs sound like an advert for Rohan, but they’re not – Rohan just happened to have the clothing that I wanted to take along with me. None of it was new and a fair amount had been bought in a couple of sales the company had been running in the year or so before we flew off to Portugal. Years as a retailer, instructor and gear tester have taught me to go for the best I can afford at the time and make it last rather than buy cheaper stuff and replace it more often.

The clothing choices matched the climate and had the necessary wash and wear qualities to enable using hand luggage. Another consideration was the ability to mix and match the items, the ability to layer if the weather changed and accommodation dress codes.

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Rohan Trailblazer trousers (top) and Rohan Grand Tour Chinos (bottom)

Which is why I was wearing more Rohan in the shape of another Core Silver shirt, a pair of Trailblazer trousers and a Stronghold shirt on the flight out. The pocketing arrangements on the last two were useful means of carrying my wallet, passport, camera, UK change for the cafe, pens and keys plus mints and a small packet of Wet Wipes.

Everything was easily accessible, especially when it came to placing stuff in the tray at the security check station and putting it back into the clothing once it had all been scanned or inspected. The Trailblazers also have a plastic belt buckle, which meant that there was no need to remove it at airport security on the way out…

My shoes? A pair of now discontinued Rohan by brasher approach shoes with a silver lining – non-waterproof given the temperatures that were likely to be encountered.

Caroline was also using a fair selection of wash and wear travel clothing with Rohan jeans being worn alongside Travel Linen trousers and an oldish pair of capri pants. Tops were a mix of Rohan Essence vest tops and a couple of Royal Robbins sleeved and sleeveless tops that she’s had for a few years now. Footwear? A pair of Merrell sandals and some Ecco Blom Lite Mary Jane shoes.

My wash kit was minimalist  – toothbrush, toothpaste/mouthwash combination, mini shower gel and a part-used roll-on antiperspirant. Larger bottles of toiletries were bought when the little ones ran out – Caroline and I share shower gel and sun creams, so it’s a bottle of each to save money.

Travel towels worked a treat for drying ourselves in hostels and on the beach and to roll washed clothing in before drying. A small first aid kit was packed alongside my post-stroke meds, the all-important copies of my prescriptions and hospital discharge papers that explain everything.

When everything was packed, our bags were around the 7kg mark for me and 6kg for Caroline for the two week trip. We could easily have done it by packing less clothing and doing more washing and wearing, but this was a treat trip after a rough year and we’d added the nights in the Pousada at Sagres as a bit of luxury halfway through. We’d also packed a full guide book – it will be a cannibalised version next time!

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship III

After a couple of nights in Tavira, our moving on day arrived and after a short wait in the railway station, we headed off to Lagos in search of a bus to Sagres as we travelled from one side of The Algarve to the other. This was down to be the treat of the trip as we were booking into a hotel that was several stars above what we’re used to – the Pousada do Infante, part of a sixty strong group of Portuguese hotels that include buildings old and new.

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Pousada do Infante, Sagres

Pousada do Infante dates back to the 1960s, but it is one of the more modern buildings. It’s the only hotel we’ve ever stayed in with its own helipad and it’s the only one either of have stayed in because we were entitled to a discount on the room rate for being over 55!

The reception staff were great, but a bit bemused by our relative lack of luggage and the fact that we didn’t have a car. They were also bemused when we were both soaked through when we asked for our room key the following day. ‘It’s okay’ said Caroline ‘We’re English, we’re used to a bit of rain now and again…’.

Sagres provided the most peaceful part of the two weeks in Portugal. The hotel was quiet, as were the local bars, restaurants and the local attractions. A morning walk to Henry The Navigator’s Fotrazela and onward to the lighthouse at Ponta de Sagres was followed by lunch at beach bar Raposo and that sudden rainstorm.

We’d also made a wonderful faux pas. Our intention had been to head to Cabo de Soa Vincente, but we didn’t make it as we’d mistakenly taken the road down to Fortazela instead. Cabo de Soa Vincente is what was initially thought to be the edge of the known world, but we didn’t make it – our mistake however does give us one very, very good reason to revisit Sagres on one of our next trips to Portugal

Our first evening meal had been an outdoor one at an Italian restaurant, but as we were staying in a Pousada, we ate in on the second night. The meal, wine and coffee went down well and it was a cut above our usual night out at home – as was the bill.

Given that we didn’t have to check out until lunchtime, we headed down to Porto de Balleeira harbour the following morning before picking up our bags, hitting an internet cafe for orange juice, mango juice, espressos and a bit of mail checking before getting the bus to Lagos.

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Lagos Youth Hostel

After two nights in a Pousada, a night in Lagos Youth Hostel was always going to be a bit of a culture shock, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Caroline and I are both old school hostellers – I was on Border and Dales Regional Council in the 1980’s and did some of YHA magazine’s gear reviews in the 1990’s whilst Caroline was an assistant warden at Malham Hostel back in the day.

Yes, the room was basic, but it was better than one or two hotels we’ve been in here in the UK and a darn sight cheaper too. Breakfast portions were on the small side, but as we didn’t have to check out for a while, there was time to get a second breakfast at a cafe down the road. Coffee and a pastry filled the gap that was still there after the first breakfast, but they were also tastier than the evening meal we’d had on the night of our arrival in Lagos.

That early morning in Lagos was pretty quiet. The centre had been teeming with people before we checked into the hostel the previous night. The route to the hostel from the bus station had taken us straight down the main tourist strip and boy, it was busy. We did have a short wander around after our second breakfast to see what we’d missed, but as the visitor numbers increased, it was time to get our bags and get the train back to Lisbon.

We were pleased that we’d booked our tickets in advance at Tavira as Lagos station was busy and only one of the ticket windows was open for business. There was an hour or so to kill before our train and it was interesting to see the size of bags that people were toting around with them.

The younger crowd had the biggest bags on their backs, the thirty-somethings had wheelie bags and the over 50s were those with the smallest bags. The wisdom of the age? You might think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment!

Whilst the train from Lagos to Tunes was a local one, the narrow price gap between first and second class meant that an upgrade to first class for the section between Tunes and Lisbon was a no-brainer. This train did however terminate at a station we weren’t familiar with, so we got the Metro back into the city centre and made sure our Lisbon Viva Viagem travel cards were charged up with enough credit for the Metro ride to Lisbon Airport later on.

As it was late afternoon and it was Friday, we stashed our bags in the left luggage lockers in Rossio station (one locker for two bags – another joy of travelling light…) and headed for coffee, a stroll and then made a final decision about sleeping at the airport in readiness for a 5am check-in time.

I’d done it at Manchester and Leeds/Bradford before and Caroline had also spent at least one night sleeping on the floor of a terminal building so the plan was hatched – forget about getting a room and just go for a good blow-out meal, get the bags and head off to the airport.

So that’s what we did. No fuss, no messing and we just got on with it. Da Vinci near Rossio station was busy, but they just kept on bringing more food, tables and chairs out as almost everyone was wanting to eat outside as it was such a warm night.

The Metro to the airport was quiet, but the terminal was quite busy and it became obvious that we weren’t going to be the only ones looking for benches or comfy chairs for the night. So it was a case of Sleepless in Lisbon as the night wore on until the check in opened around 5am and we could head through to the food court in the departure area.

And yes, that was closed. We did get a couple of coffees from the Harrods coffee shop and then wandered through to the main shopping mall for Caroline to buy a bottle of ginjinha and for me to buy a bottle of Tawny Port.

Our trip was almost over, but the return visit was already being planned. It’s another fortnight with one week in Lisbon to see the parts we didn’t get to on this trip and to make side trips to Cascais and Estoril from Lisbon. After that, the plan is to visit Coimbra for a night or two and then head up to Porto to explore the city and the Douro valley – and do a couple of visits to port wine lodges to find out the story of port and to partake in a glass or two in the interests of our own research into port wine.

Travel wise, it will be local trains to Cascais and Estoril and either train or bus from Lisbon to Coimbra and then onwards to Porto before heading back to Lisbon for the plane home – unless we can fly into Lisbon and out of Porto from the north of England. Time and airline schedules will tell and no, we don’t intend to spend another night in Lisbon airport – once is enough!

Did we enjoy our trip to Portugal? Oh yes! There were places we loved, there were places we didn’t, but there were always places that we found that were stunning, relaxing and interesting. We missed out Belem and a good walk around the Alafama in Lisbon, but we did find some good eating places around the city centre.

We didn’t go for the local seafood specialities as neither of us are into seafood, but we did eat well as even the busiest cafes or food stalls offered good food and drink. And that’s why we’re going back… for more ginjinha and to try the pasteis de nata from the bakery in Belem… We did try other variations on this custard tart theme in Lisbon and elsewhere, but the ones in Belem are highly rated.

As I said earlier – this could be the start of a beautiful friendship

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship II…

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Templo Romano (Temple of Diana) in Evora

And so to Sintra. We’d heard good things about Sintra, an apparently mystical town that’s surrounded by palaces which has attracted many (including Lord Byron) over the years. The attractions are spread out over a wide area in and around the older quarter. As we were staying at Piela‘s in the more modern part near the railway and bus stations, the palaces and other attractions were a good walk or bus ride away.

There is however a circular bus route from the centre that offers a day ticket which allows you to travel between the main palace attractions. With Caroline doing the visiting and me doing some reading, it made sense to get a ticket each, so whilst she was exploring, I was reading and having an espresso nearby and we could talk and eat afterwards rather than meeting up at a specific time or place. In case you hadn’t guessed it, Caroline’s the one for history, older buildings and historical culture whilst I’m more for Horrible Histories, more recent events and museums relating to aircraft, cars, exploration and the like.

As one might expect from a destination that’s a World Heritage Site and Sintra being high on the destinations list of many tourists, the likes of Palaciao Nacional de Sintra, Castelo dos Mouros, Parque da Pena and Palacio Nacional da Pena were very, very busy.

Heading around the sights didn’t take us as long as we thought though and it was agreed that if we paid another visit to Sintra, it would be as a side trip from a longer stay in Lisbon rather than a separate destination for two nights. That’s also been the opinion of others who have joined in on discussions about Sintra on Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Forum over the couple of days before this was posted.

One thing we did learn though is there’s a very good treat available for the princely sum of one euro in Sintra and a few other places besides. It’s a cherry liqueur called ginjinha that can be served in glasses with cherries, in glasses without cherries or without cherries in small chocolate cups. Which version did we go for? That last one on the list of course!

As meals weren’t part of the deal at Piela’s in Sintra, eating out was done at a mix of cafes, former bakeries or tourist restaurants around town. Place of choice for breakfast? Casa da Piriquita – good coffee, good cakes and pastries and a popular venue with both tourists and locals too.

We also discovered a useful treat at the local mini-market – servings of red wine in the kind of cartons you’d normally associate with child size doses of orange or apple juice. No need for a bottle opener – just tear off the corner of the carton and pour… A good move? Oh yes, especially as we’d had a few goes trying to open a bottle of wine the night before using a specially bought cork remover that wasn’t playing ball.

After exhausting Sintra and having a late afternoon train booked for Evora, it was back to Lisbon for a bit of shopping and some lunch.

The shopping was supposed to be for nibbles and drinks for the train, but a camera shop was spotted, a trial run undertaken and a purchase made. A Nikon Coolpix 3100 with case, 4GB memory card plus a charger that would work with a shaver adaptor at home and all for the around £65. One bargain and I was a happy photographic bunny again.

As the train to Evora was from a station that was out of the city centre, the bus ride to it gave us an idea of what suburban Lisbon was like. A bit like parts of Sunderland in fact – I’d lived in that city whilst doing my degree back in the mid-1990’s and some of the flat complexes we passed in the bus were very reminiscent of those back on Wearside.

The snooze on the train was a good idea, as were the snacks as it looked like it was going to be a late evening meal. With Evora being a walled town, the rail and bus stations are away from the centre, so we were glad that we could just shoulder our packs and walk, rather than taking a taxi to our hotel. Taxi or drinks? Drinks or taxi? Easy decision!

Residencial Riviera was just off the main square in Evora and we’d booked our stay just as the prices went down after the main holiday season. The first night was quiet, but as Friday nights are Friday nights, a couple of rowdies came back to their room at about 2am. Revenge was a dish best served cold… or was that loud because for some reason, I really, really had to slam our room door shut twice before breakfast on Saturday morning!

But I digress. Evora is a magical place and one we’d go back to tomorrow. It’s relaxed, it’s friendly and it’s compact. All of the attractions are in easy walking distance of each other and there’s a good mix of bars, cafes and ice cream shops for those times when you just have to sit down, relax and unwind that little bit more. Resting place of choice? Cafe Arcada on the main square, a venue that was popular with both locals and tourists alike.

There’s museums or the remains of a Roman temple (see the lead photo…) to visit and walls to climb or walk around. The main square may be peaceful now, but it has historical associations with the execution of at least one duke and the Inquisition-led public burnings of several unfortunate souls. Which is the last thing we were thinking about whilst having coffee on the square on Friday night or when talking to Brits on a coach tour on a Saturday morning.

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If it’s Friday, it must be Evora…

Caroline also visited Ingreja de Sao Francisco, a church adjacent to the Mercado Municipal (the local market hall). Ingreja de Sao Francisco has a side chapel in Cappella des Ossos (the Chapel of the Bones) which comprises the skulls and bones of around five thousand former monks. Apparently it’s not uncommon to hear the song ‘Dem Bones, Dem Bones’ being sung as people wander around the chapel according to one guide book we read!

Yes, I’d given it a miss in favour of another Kindle session, but I did find a bar that served a nice cold Radler low alcohol beer to sup in the sun which also sold cider, a type of refreshment that Caroline’s quite fond of. The cider wasn’t by Aspall’s or Weston, but it went down well once Caroline exited the Chapel and found me relaxing.

The relaxation of Evora carried on as we had a five hour bus ride to Tavira on that Saturday. The coach wasn’t even half full, so there was plenty of room to spread out and read or snooze.

Legs were stretched and comfort stops made at the bus change-over point in Faro and when we got to Tavira, we were glad of our small bags, unlike a Hawaiian lady we’d met on the bus who was trundling a very large wheelie bag around plus her matching hand luggage too. Over kerbs, pavements and then cobbles when the pavements were taken up by various outdoor dining areas outside restaurants. She’d been on the road for three months and for some reason, she was wishing she’d packed less stuff…

Like Evora, Tavira was a place to savour. Yes, it was a busy Saturday night down by Residencial Mares, but it was also the last night of a local youth festival. With live music. As we didn’t get to Tavira and book into our hotel until late, that evening’s meal venue was rather close to said hotel.

Now Caroline and I do like our curries, but the ones we had that night were supposed to be of medium heat – hey, we usually eat curries in or around the Bradford area!). These ones however, were not Bradford curries, We’ve eaten curries in the home counties here in the UK that were more potent than the Tavira curries we tried – they were more mild than medium!

Sunday was given over to strolling around the town, looking at the tiled buildings across the river, finding a very good (and well recommended) place to eat called Bica for lunch plus a couple of other meals later during our stay and finding an English newspaper to read over coffees and servings of cake or ice cream. Just another relaxing day in paradise? Oh yes…

Tavira, The Algarve A good place to relax and unwind over food, wine or coffee...

Tavira, The Algarve
A good place to relax and unwind over food, wine or coffee..

Sunday night wasn’t as noisy as Saturday had been, but our plans for an early night were interrupted by a local troubadour that we’d seen and unfortunately heard near another bar earlier on. The temptation was for the two of us to do ‘Doo whops’ from our balcony or to do impressions of baying hounds as he sang/murdered a few classics. But we didn’t…

Monday was train and room booking time. We were moving on on Tuesday and we needed tickets to get to Lagos and then tickets for a train on Friday to get us from Lagos back to Lisbon in readiness for our flight home on Saturday morning.

We also booked a night at Lagos Youth Hostel for Thursday night by going into the Tavira Youth Hostel and doing the deed. There was however one problem remaining – we’d drawn a blank on finding somewhere to stay on Friday night in Lisbon so it looked like there was only one option left open to us – sleeping in the airport.

Monday was also the day to take a boat trip to the much-vaunted Ilha de Tavira. We didn’t have that far to go for the boat as the landing was just across the road from our hotel.

That boatload soon dispersed when we got onto Ilha de Tavira. Some headed to restaurants, some headed for the campsite whilst others turned right onto the nearest beach and others (including us) headed for the main beach. Which was red flagged…

So a bit of photography was called for on my part and Caroline headed along the beach on foot before finding me again (I have mobility problems on soft sand or snow thanks to that stroke ten years ago) and the two of us headed back to the beach near the boat landing. As there were no restrictions on swimming here, Caroline took the plunge for a while as I tried to make some plans for the potential of Friday night in Lisbon airport.

With Bica providing the last of our meals in Tavira and some fine wine too, a late night stroll was called for before we headed back to the hotel and partly packed our bags in readiness for the next stage of the trip – and a couple of nights in a very posh hotel in Sagres….

To be continued…