Tuesday, 22 July 2008
Arrrgh! Another one!
Storks on a brick chimney.
Naked bell tower.
Cork Trees, near Albufeira.
Albufeira is a southern Portuguese city, although the principle language seems to be English, the principle inhabitant British and the principal foods bleak, like a London winter. The restaurants reflect a fish and chips mentality and Guinness seems far too available. Not a drink for hot days, in my opinion. Bought a bottle of Torres de Cegonha rose, not quite a dressing for the fish and chips but reflects it’s 1.99 euro ($3) price tag. A smattering of other nationalities add to the mix but it seems a British holiday destination. Is Costa del Sol full? Lots and lots of condominiums.
Smarmy men with clipboards wander around trying to sell timeshare to unsuspecting Brits. “Are you British?” “Nah mate, I’m Australian”. “What are you doing over here when the Pope is in Australia?” “Can you think of a better reason?”
The town is quite Mediterranean in its appearance – whitewashed buildings with terracotta tiles. The terracotta is a paler type than that of the north. An anaemic, beige factor. Adds to the overall heat haze affect of the town. Most of the buildings have strange ornate chimneys. Haven’t figured out if they are from heating, cooking or patio barbeques.
Had a meal at a restaurant on top if the hill last night. Down on the beach below us there was a classical music concert followed by fire works. The fireworks, linked to the music, went on for an hour. We have fallen lucky with all sorts of festivals on this trip. Or are there just lots of festivals? Certainly being at Pamplona for the running of the bulls was an unexpected bonus. The meal was delicious with very fresh fish. But pricy for some fish, a trap if you don’t realize that you are paying by weight. At $90 a kilo, some fish, such as sea bass, becomes very pricey, very quickly. That’s before gutting and deheading. I suspect a few people are having soup for dinner tonight.
The local countryside is fairly harsh – dry and brown – but I guess it is just that time of year. Reminds me of home. Passed lots of cork trees on our way here. Corks for your vin ordinaire, if you didn’t know, come from the bark of these trees. The first time I had seen them in the wild. Fairly twisted and grim trees in their own right, they look more so once relieved of their bark. Think of poodles, after trimming. Other crops seem to be restricted to olives. And some oranges. Plenty of gum trees too, eucalypts, they add to the images of home. Australia’s blessing to the world. Maybe.
The town here boasts an outdoor elevator. Not sure how it copes with sand, salt and water. But cope it does. When we arrived yesterday, it was very cloudy. Not cold, just cloudy. Glum faces from the beach bunnies. For their sake I was pleased to see the sun this morning. Tomorrow will tell if this was a good thing or not. Lots of Brits around town with second degree burns to take home as proof positive of a good holiday.
For me I found it a welcome chance to sit well out of the sun and think. Or indeed, lie and sleep. It was nice not to feel that I had to ‘visit something’, as beyond the beach the town has little to visit and far too many tourist stalls selling belts, bags, dodgey t-shirts that you would only buy if drunk and would certainly only wear when drunk, and genuine Portuguese bric-a-brac made in Thailand by slave labour. I get a certain perverse pleasure sitting in the shade, sipping a beer and watching the passing parade.
Posted by Lee at 23:31