Morning came – we could tell by the loud voices in the corridor. And, by the very definite need to pee. Curtains open – we’d traveled through the whole of Spain and were now looking out at Portugal!
I was surprised by the landscape – hilly, mountainous, sparse, brown grass with dotted green trees. It looked…dare I say…a lot like the South African countryside? How surprising. The most surprising difference was in population – we passed endless miles and miles completely uninhabited. Even when we did pass buildings, farms and houses they appeared abandoned, run-down or left behind. It was quite ominous. And the mist that started to appear as we dressed for breakfast seemed just as ominous. It was as if we were hurtling into a horror movie, mist rolling in, uninhabited lands stretching for miles…just us, and the loonies aboard the train.
We breakfasted in the dining car - a simple basket of pastries, a small tub of yoghurt, lots of coffee, and a quick lesson in Portuguese from our waiter – who we kept speaking to in a muddled combination of French and Spanish. It’s mighty confusing leaving one country, falling asleep in another, and waking up in a third.
The mist was beginning to seem more and more apt.
Finally we reached Lisbon, Portugal. After navigating the baggage lockers, we set off to explore the city for a couple of hours before our train transfer. Unfortunately, we’d ended up in the ‘business district’ of Lisbon. The streets were wide, modern and deserted. The buildings were all super chic, and felt very unlike the old, quaint streets we’d spent days wandering around in France and Spain.
It was like sampling the delicacies of Cape Town, to suddenly find one self in the dullness of PE.
Luckily we managed a light healthy lunch at the shopping centre across from the station, and boarded the next train before we had to deal with any more of the industrial dullness that was Lisbon. (I must add – this is a very one-sided view of Lisbon – apparently it is amazing, and well worth the visit – we just found ourselves in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Shame.)
Three or so hours later and we were in Faro (having experienced all manner of interesting fellow passengers aboard this particular train), and embraced the summer sunshine.
And now? Here we are in a small fishing village, not a tourist in sight. In a villa, on a hill, overlooking a beautiful bay, a few boats glittering before us. We’re surrounded by more wonderful family, two girls brighter than the sun, and a few more days of bliss.
If you don’t hear from me for a while you know why.