Yesterday I arrived to Faro, Portugal on the 11:30am Transavia flight from Paris Orly. My goal was to walk from the airport to the downtown area where my guesthouse was, but according to Google Maps the only way to walk downtown was to walk toward the beach, in the exact opposite direction of downtown, and take a ferry. This seemed like a good idea because I love walking, I love ferries, and more than anything I love walking to/from airports.
The flight arrived on time and suddenly I was thrust into the warm airs of a Mediterranean after just a few hours earlier trudging through the late November gloom of what is supposedly one of the coolest cities in the world but to me just seems like one massive, expensive tourist trap. And then there I was, walking down a white-washed sidewalk, through a grove of trees, and onto the road leading to the beach.
I don’t usually like to take pictures but look at this beauty. Look at the natural, soft sand sidewalk on the left. Look at the burnt-red clay bank on the right. Look at the way the road stretches to the horizon and then takes a teasing, beckoning left. It would be nearly impossible to be confronted with a vista like this and not wonder what lies beyond the bend.
After many more minutes of walking I arrived at the beach where I was confronted with an arresting sight:
The ocean in all its fury juxtaposed with the love of a placid couple!
I walked where Google Maps told me to walk and finally got to the dock where the ferry was supposed to leave. I didn’t see any ferry. I didn’t see anything at all really except wetlands and possibly a crane. I went into a lunch place a few steps from the dock and asked in my best Portuguese, refined after one quarter of “Portuguese for Spanish Speakers” at UW, “Is there a ferry that leaves from here?”
“No,” they said, “It stops in September.”
“Idiot,” they added.
Actually they didn’t say this. They didn’t say this at all. And I was momentarily dejected but then elated since this allowed me to make a lunch stop at a burger joint I’d seen just a few minutes before. The place was called Moonlight Bar & Grill or something to that effect. I ordered a Moonlight Burger. The kid working asked what I wanted to drink and I said sparkling water and he said, “We have two kinds. One is kind of light and the other is strong. Lots of bubbles.” I opted for the strong and when he brought it out he repeated the name and said, “This stuff is good.”
After the burger I walked back to the where the bus picked up and asked two elderly English gentlemen in Portuguese if this was where the bus left for the center. They started waving their hands to stop me and said, “English! English!”
The bus cost 2 euros 25 cents. This is a steal. Getting from airports to city centers is notoriously expensive, but nothing in Portugal is expensive. Almost nothing. Later that night I’d go to a touristy restaurant in the old town and spend way, way, way, way way, too much money on what was basically a few pieces of bread with octopus bits and melted cheese. And possibly some red wine. At dinner I started talking to a French girl who was also traveling alone and suddenly I had a dinner companion! Suddenly I was no longer alone!
After dinner she wanted to “walk down to the port,” I have no idea why, and I said I wanted to sleep so I went back to my guesthouse where I hung out on the terrace looking up at the night sky. And then it started to rain, which drove me inside. But even so it was a fairly successful first day in Faro.