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South to Portimao

The next day we drove to Portimao, by a good road down the center of the country, from Setubal, through the Alentejo. We saw only rolling open dry country, some sheep and goats and cattle, and some country houses. The main attraction was the driving hellbent-for-leather (everyone but us and the cement trucks) on two lanes, passing on curves, on hilltops, without shoulders, at 120-150 kmph, or the speed of light, or whatever. We cringed and cowered and drove in the gutter.

We turned off toward Sines to see a Moorish castle which is, again, well shot, I hope. The ride from Sines to Portimao was through country that reminded me if anything of the Loire valley: old and fluffy. And have I mentioned the plants? Oh! I forgot the Botanical Garden at Belem and especially the garden of Macao.

Spinning churchThe camera recorded its own strange, spinning journey.

But then we arrived at Portimao, and our adventures really began. The Algarve (and much else, it turns out) is medieval in a way that France, Italy, and England are not. Portimao, Albufiera, Evora, Sintra, all the little towns of Portugal, they were not bombed. They were not sacked. They have been a little spoiled by development, but they retain their Byzantine character. Byzantine is not what they are like, it is what they are. That is to say, they are mazes.

The car made it worse. When you travel by public transportation, you don't notice so much, because you land in the centro, and you go where you go. When you drive in, you have to put your car somewhere and then you find the hotel and then you have to get back to the car and back to the hotel. It sounds silly, I know. I am not one to get lost! I never, ever got lost in England or Ireland or France, never in the US. But in Portugal, it happened over and over.

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Sintra and Setubal
South to Portimao
Praia de Rocha
Getting Back
Faro and Albufiera
The Blue Arrows
The Walled City
The Temple of Diana
Lost in Evora
Wet in Lisbon
Back in Lisbon
To Madeira and Home