Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The end of Europe ….. Sept 2011

12 – 16 September 2011IMG_0027

We stayed at anchor off Isla de Culatra for our entire stay in Portugal, it was such a great anchorage, the weather was lovely, the company good, we just couldn’t justify moving - so we didn’t.  The days slipped by, we decided to visit Faro one day with Andrew and Clare off Eye Candy, so planned  to take the ferry to Olháo then the train or bus to Faro, as there is no direct ferry.  The Olháo ferry came and went, without us on it – they said they would be back in an hour and we must wait here (well that was our interpretation of it anyway!!).  So off we went for a coffee and we duly returned in an hour, however the ferry did not.  But there was another small ferry there so we asked if they were going to Olháo, no they said, wrong ferry – they were going to Faro.  We had a hard time convincing them we wanted to get on and that we really did want to go to Faro!!!!

The ferry trip was quite interesting, it’s a real maze of marshes at low tide and the ferry wove its way up through them, ignoring many channel markers.  We arrived at the small ferry dock located just outside the old town walls and stepped through into a world of rambling bougainvillea clinging to dilapidated buildings on a tiny lane which led us onto the open main square framed by the Town Hall, Bishops Palace and the Cathedral.

As with much of Portugal, Faro has been rebuilt many times over the centuries, following raids by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, the Moors, Spanish and then the English.  Then along came earthquakes in 1722 and 1755, basically its had a hard life, and it shows!!!   The Cathedral dates from 1251 but has been rebuilt many times over the years.  Located in the Cathedral gardens stands the 18th century “Bone Chapel” built out of skulls and bones to ‘remind us of our mortality’.  The view from the top of the Cathedral over the rooftops out over the marshes was excellent.

We adjourned for lunch after exploring the walled town, and confess that we ordered 4 excellent burger and fries at a pleasant little waterfront cafe, we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to go “local” and have grilled whole sardines!!!!,  As the wifi was allmost non existent at the anchorage we had come prepared for a very anti-social lunch complete with 2 laptops, an iPad and iPhone, how on earth did we ever manage without all these toys???  We were on a mission though, we were looking for a weather window to leave Portugal and head south either to Morocco or the Canary Islands so the two skippers mulled away at all the weather information while Clare and I did the emails and business end of things.IMG_0045

The weather window was looking good for a Friday departure so it was time to do our final preparations. The northern hemisphere autumn is upon us and soon the North Atlantic lows will begin tracking toward Europe. It was time for us to leave. Once again Balvenie would sail before the trade winds carrying us southward and eventually westward.  This was the end of a huge chapter in our circumnavigation, we have enjoyed Europe immensely and our 4 summers here have left us with countless magic memories ….. but it’s time to move on.IMG_0054


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