Monday, January 16, 2023

A Flavour of Faro


The town of Faro

It seldom happens that after an almost crystal clear plan to travel, everything turns upside down and a hard course correction is needed. A trip was planned well in advance to visit Israel after more than twenty years but for reasons beyond control had to be abandoned and a new itinerary was worked out in a jiffy. The new trip would entail travel to the Algarve region of Portugal and parts of Spain. After all the preparatory work was done, on a cold winter morning in Amsterdam we boarded a flight to Faro in Portugal. The Schiphol airport was swarming with people as many holidaymakers were leaving for destinations to celebrate Christmas. It was still dark at 7AM when the EasyJet flight took off!

The hangover of having woken up at an unearthly hour was still there when the aircraft landed in Faro. The bright sunny day was a welcome change from the cold days I had witnessed in the Netherlands. Faro is the capital of the Southern Algarve region of Portugal. It seeps with rich history, beautiful beaches, colourful architecture, delicious food, and architecture. Soon after checking in at the place where we were to stay, we set out to explore the town. The small cobbled streets resembled the parts of Goa, where I had lived for over two years a long time back. The nostalgia and aroma from the nearby cafeteria worked like a magnet. The ‘Demo Urban Bakery’ was crowded with people which was an indication of its popularity. We were informed that we will have to wait for about half an hour to be served, but we decided to wait and enjoy the sun. The choice of Bolo Fatia( a pastry), Pao de Deus( the bread of Gods as translated from Portuguese) and Almond Chocolate Croissant with seaming hot coffee more than made up for the wait. Each of these dishes melted in the mouth with a rush of flavours hitherto not known. The place was literally a paradise for food lovers.

The plaque of Christopher Columbus

After a fill, we decided to explore the old town where a huge imposing gate marks the entrance to the Old Town.  Just before we entered the Old Town, we came across a huge Plaque embedded on a wall at the nearby Tourist Office that tells the story of the life of Christopher Columbus who discovered America. A little-known fact is that the actual name was Christopher Colon which got distorted and he gained popularity around the world with the name Christopher Columbus. I will cover more stories on Christopher Columbus in the blogs that will follow.

The huge gate of the Old Town is known as Cidade Velha. As you look up at the imposing gate, you cannot miss the huge stork nests atop the gate. It is said that a few years ago the largest stork’s nest weighing over 800 kg was brought down in the town. The storks can be found all over the Algarve region and their nests can sometimes be even 9 feet deep and 6 ft wide. The walk up a small climb on the cobbled streets did not last long as we had earlier booked a boat trip to see the shallow lagoons of Rio Formosa that overlook the Faro town. It is one of the most stunning locations which I will describe in the next post.

The main entrance to Old Town- notice the stork nests atop!

PS- All pics are mine

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