After a very long day, we decided to do a more relaxing one with very few planned activities. Beach it is. We went to Portimao, the ‘Hotel California’ of Portugal. Once you get in, you can never leave. Very easy to find your way into town and to the beaches and such but getting out is an adventure. We never did find the way to the highway through Portimao but after we wound up back downtown several times, we eventually made it to one of the nearby towns along the coast and made it to the highway and home.
In spite of all that, Portimao was really nice. Huge hotels and shops lining a street along a cliff with beaches down below.
Relaxing on the beach.
These two dogs kept touring the beach. Every now and then someone would try to shoo them off because this was one of those rare, ‘No Dogs’ beaches but they just ignored everyone and kept doing their laps.
And finally, a couple treats for the boys.
No, that’s not Sharon….but it was a pretty lucky shot.
I’m sure we did some other stuff besides the beach but I don’t think it was of any particular consequence. It got more interesting when we decided to go out for dinner. We were starting to get a little tired of trying to find a good restaurant because they’re so hard to distinguish between. Everyone’s menu sounds the same. So we were driving around in the old town trying to find somewhere to park so we could look around. The streets were narrow, the pedestrians were thick and the parking was scarce. Somehow we wound up making a transition from a street that cars are allowed on to a street that cars are not allowed on. We’re still not sure how it happened but somehow we were going down a couple streets so narrow and steep that they had staircases along the side for pedestrians. There was no where to turn around and we wound up going through the tunnel under the wall that I described earlier. Fortunately at that point I managed to turn around because while I’m a pretty good driver, there’s no way I would have been able to make my way back up there in reverse. In the end I had to ride the emergency brake and rev the crap out of the engine just to be able to get up and out of there. It’s not just that it’s steep. It’s steep and narrow with 90 degree turns and cars parked in awkward places. Burning clutches don’t smell very good but at least we made it out.
We finally found a parking spot up the hill and started looking for a restaurant. Believe it or not we were somewhat tempted by a curry shop. There are so many British that we figured the curry would be excellent and this places menu had about 75 curried seafood recipes. We nearly stopped at a little hole in the wall with a very traditional looking menu and customers but we wanted to check a few more places and that’s where we made our mistake. A lot of restaurants have people outside who will call you over and describe their fare. We got sucked in by a smooth talking salesman and a very fancy looking restaurant and wound up paying way too much for a very bad meal. Overcooked, underflavoured and not particularly fresh. There’s no excuse for that when you live right next to the ocean. And don’t even get me started on the service. It takes a lot to keep us from leaving a tip but we had no problem that time.
So the lesson is that if a place looks polished and has a lot of tourists eating there, run away. The problem with resort town restaurants is that most of them don’t care about repeat customers since no-one ever would come back anyway. You’re better off to find someplace that locals go to because they have to be good or they go out of business.
Tune in next time when we go to the market and decide to make some changes to our itinerary.