France to Denmark April-May 2016

Normandy  |  Normandy 2  |  Monte Carlo - Monaco  |  Ibiza  |  Cartagena  |  Malaga  |  Gibraltar  |  Portimao  
  Lisbon  |  Porto  |  Coruna  |  Cherbourg  |  Rouen Day 1  |  Rouen Day 2  |  Cruising the Seine  |  Belgium  

  Amsterdam  |  North Sea Canal  |  Travemunde/Lubeck, Germany   |  Fredericia, Denmark   

PORTIMAO, Portugal

We left Gilbraltar late yesterday afternoon and pulled into Portimao this morning. The port is surrounded by relatively new apartment buildings and our guide later told us that most of the city of Portimao was built in the last fifty years. It looks it.

Fish MarketOur first stop was a local market in the pretty little city of Loule, about 30 miles inland from the port. It was great. The fish market stalls were filled with a variety of fish I have never seen before — but then, the frozen food section is not the best place to go for a comparison. In addition to the market′s fish [Peter says "Ar"] section there were stalls with colorful fresh veggies, artisan cheeses, various kinds of honey, bottles of very spicy piri piri (a Portuguese hot sauce), breads and cakes, liquors and liqueurs, and novel combinations of almonds and figs (Carol′s personal favorite was a fig, actually 2 figs, cut like stars with the seeded insides joined together after peeled half almonds had been arranged all around the arms of the fig "star").

Sidewalks of LouleAs an off–the–beaten–track city, Loule was as picturesque as expected with curved narrow streets. What was interesting were the downtown sidewalks which were all paved with fairly small square–cut stones. In the city center, the sidewalks were made from the stones arranged in black and white mosaic patterns. There were lots of small gathering places outside and in many places groups of men were sitting around in very animated conversation.

Our next stop was an even smaller town, Alte, with a population of a little more than a thousand. It was a town with small winding streets carved into a hillside. We got out and walked the main street and were struck by something that we noted in the previous town: there did not appear to be any young people. In fact, the guide said that the young people had abandoned Alte to look for work in the larger cities. That left the town population largely made up of people who were 60 or older.

But the age of the population seemed to create an atmosphere where people greeted each other on the street. More significantly, having time, they gathered together and gossiped. Most likely, they′d known each other all their lives.

People of Alte  People of Alte  Peopla of Alta  People of Alta

CountrysideThe countryside we saw on this drive is rather similar to what we see when we go 15 miles inland from Solana Beach: hilly, rocky terrain. Around here, however, the rocks were gathered into wide walls and used to terrace fields and hills.

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