Seville and Faro
The Ryan Air flight from Lanzarote to Seville went off without a hitch. The islands are part of Spain, so I didn’t need any documentation or testing for my flight. Other folks in line were boarding a flight to Ireland and the airline had attendants checking their documents while in line making actual check-in no different than normal.
I booked a room at the Hostal Callejon del Agua in the older section of town, the hotel was only a ten-minute walk from the cathedral. The streets are very narrow, built that way so the building provide shade for each other. The driver wasn’t sure he how close he could get me, but he managed to take me right to the front door. The streets are so narrow that sometime cars will rub their tires on both sides of the curb at once. If you’re walking down the street and a car comes, you have to duck into a doorway to let them pass.
A van navigates the narrow streets
The Cathedral it is so large the builders said future generations will think they were made to undertake such a project
The roads don’t follow a set pattern and it is easy to get disoriented until you know you’re way around. There are a lot of squares throughout the area where people sit and have tapas and drinks, the choices are endless. I tried many different places, mainly based on if I was looking for something in particular or noticed something unusual on the menu.
One of the many plazas throughout the city
There was a bar not far from the hotel, Alfalfa Bar, that always had a crowd waiting outside at night. I noticed they served paella all day and it was possible to get a single portion, many restaurants only offer it in portions for two. I was able to get a seat at the bar during the afternoon, there are only about five small high-top tables in the place. They had the hams hanging from the ceiling, as you see in just about any bar or restaurant. I tried some as an appetizer, it was slightly salty and firm in texture, being salt cured it doesn’t need refrigeration; its often kept in a device that holds it upright for slicing. You can tell the better ones by their black hoofs; those are the ones that are raised on acorns and have the best tasting and richest meat.
Hams curing over the bar
I took a ride on the hop on hop off bus, I like to do them my first time to a city; it’s like those island tours people take where they whisk you past all the sites for a quick photo. Many of the streets and plazas are lined with trees’ orange trees no less. It was tempting to try and grab one off a branch as the bus went by, but I thought better of it,, nit knowing if it was allowed. I followed the advice of the woman that sold me the ticket and took the whole trip first, then return to the places that I found interesting on the next bus.
I went back to the Spanish Plaza which was constructed for an international exposition in 1928. It’s a large horseshoe shaped building, surrounding a plaza with a canal in it, you can rent row boats and paddle around. The building is very ornate and there is an abundance of very nice tile work. Along the wall are scenes made in tiles form the different cities and regions of Spain.
Images from the Spanish Plaza
Some of the tile images representing different regions and cities, can you spot the Man from La Mancha
Next to the plaza is a large park, lots of shade and benches, people walking around; great place to cool off in the shade and people watch. There was a small band of street performers playing and dancing to flamenco tunes. They were very good and had a lot of energy, they drew a good crowd and donations to go with it.
Nice thing with the bus pass was it included the night tour of the city. It followed a little different route and went by some beautifully lit up areas. Afterwards it was a leisurely walk back to the hotel stopping off for tapas and a drink. The hotel has a patio area set up on the roof, so I went up there with a bottle of wine and worked on my last trip report and made some calls home.
The last full day was more of the same, checking out the sites and taking some photos. I had lunch at a fancier place than usual, but I do enjoy splurging on one meal each trip. I had some nice roasted Iberco pork with a salad and sangria.
Starbuck's baristas have nothing on the girl at the gelato shop
The walls of the old city
Some interesting buildings, the architecture around the city is amazing
I went to the bus station to get my ticket to Faro and passed by the bullfighting arena on the way. I saw they had a Flamenco in the theater, I had seen adverts for different shows all around town and they say this is the place to see it. I returned later a little before the show started and purchased a ticket. I was surprised when she asked for 38 euros, as most of the flyers were for shows in the mid 20 range. The ticket included a drink, and this was my last chance so I took it; but I would advise checking around for a better price. It was a nice show, little over an hour long; you could tell that the performers did the same show night after night, I think the girl in the park put more heart into it.
I’m not a city guy, but all in all I’d go back to Seville, it would be nice to explore different areas. The pace isn’t hurried, lots of beautiful architecture, public squares are everywhere, and the food choices are endless.
Being in Seville, I had to find a barber shop, now I had just had my haircut before leaving home, so I opted for a straight razor shave.
At he barber of Seville
I took taxi to the bus station to get the morning bus to Faro, Portugal; Dan had said how easy bus and train travel was within the EU, but I was still skeptical. It went off without a hitch, the bus was clean and comfortable, more so than the average airplane. Traveling between countries by land I didn’t need any testing or locator forms to fill out. The only downside was they didn’t drop you off at the bus station, but down the street from it. It was less than a mile to my hotel, but with all the luggage I’ve accumulated I flagged down a taxi.
I booked a room at the Stay Hotel, which seemed to be centrally located. I asked the taxi driver where I could find restaurants and he pointed out where to go. After check-in I went in search of dinner. The first couple places looked a little more high end than I was after, I was hoping to find a mom-and-pop type place. I spotted a small restaurant called The Crazy Chicken, the small tables and chairs were in the parking lot one side of which had a tattoo parlour and the other some unkempt row houses. I wasn’t quite sure so gave it a pass and stopped at the sports bar down the street.
The Crazy Chicken
The bar only sold sandwiches, so I asked where I could get a nice local meal; he said there weren’t any places around and directed me to an area behind the hotel that had a wide assortment of restaurants. I asked what about the Crazy Chicken, will I get food poisoning if I eat there? He assured me it was fine, that it was all homemade traditional Portuguese food and cheap, exactly what I was looking for.
I went back around and took a seat, there is an older woman in the kitchen and a younger one running her tail off serving all the diners. They had a handwritten chalkboard menu, so it was hard to decipher some of the dishes, I know the words for a few of the meats and could figure out a couple but was pretty much lost. Luckily the waitress could speak enough English to explain that the menu changes daily, except for the fried rabbit and pork liver which are local favorites. I chose the rabbit, it was served with potatoes (potatoes were the only vegetable I ever got with my meals in Faro, unless I ordered a side salad); I accompanied it with a large beer and a salad. The food was excellent and served just like you would get it at home, no fancy presentation, no garnish, just a nice plate of food. All the meals are 5 euros so with the salad and large beer my bill was 10. I ended up having 3 meals here in my two days in town and enjoyed them all; yes, I did try the pork liver and enjoyed it.
Bacalhau and potatoes & fried pork liver
There’s not much for sight seeing here, even the hop on hop off bus driver said Faro isn’t really a tourist destination. There are some islands just a little offshore, which are very popular with tourists, but I didn’t have a chance to check them out. I booked two nights as I wanted to see the city and wasn’t sure how difficult it was going to be to get a train ticket. Next time I would just make it an overnight stop or give Lagos a try.
One of the old city gates
Tapas for dinner at a restaurant recommended by a local guy I met at Crazy Chicken
When it came time to leave, I got a taxi to the train station and was soon on my way to try my hand at hiking sections of the Rota Vincentina.