Continued from the Denmark trip ——->
Destination : Faro, Portugal
As we waited at Billund airport in Denmark to take a flight to Faro in Portugal, I was surprised to see passengers queuing up much in advance of the flight announcement,till I came to know that you get a seat on a first-Come-first-Served basis ! Looking at the crowd, I was relieved that we had reserved seats for which one had to pay a premium.
Our flight was delayed on account of inclement weather so passengers were permitted to head to the cafeteria. We decided to grab a quick bite as well and while we were at it, were alarmed to know that our flight was scheduled to depart! A couple of hectic minutes later which involved a frantic sprint back to the gate,panic at the realization that the aero-bridge was closed and so was the one-way door through which we had entered leaving us with a brief door-banging spree, a comic relief on spotting the unobtrusive door which led to the aircraft steps, a mad dash which was abruptly halted by suspicious security staff, we were safely in our reserved seats.
Whew ! For a minute there, Portugal had seemed far away.The flight itself was a tiny affair and I was a bit nonplussed to hear passengers clapping as the plane landed.Never thought it was so close !
Our stay was arranged at a rented apartment and Maria, our landlady, had stayed up way past midnight to welcome us. Maria was a bright cheery middle aged lady and ‘colorful’ was what came to mind as I took in her bright green top with multicolored leggings, a bright pink lipstick and an electric blue nail paint.She chattered away in her broken English which in the blink of an eye used to dissolve into Portuguese. She brightened up considerably when she realized my friend spoke fluent Portuguese.Maria is typical of the average Portuguese, who are extremely friendly and go to great lengths to help. There were people who actually walked a couple of meters with us to help us locate our bus-stop !
With a population just over half a lakh, Faro is a small city situated on the southern most part of Portugal.I always believe that small cities are perhaps the best way to experience a place in its unadulterated form, uncluttered by hordes of tourists and other distractions. The city had a laid-back atmosphere and a small town feel about it attributable to its small side streets and lots of intersections. Most of the smaller streets and pavements are cobbled and when the small city bus went careening down, I had a sense of déjà vu as I remembered a very similar ride through the narrow lanes of Goa.
We visited the Igreja da Carmo, a Baroque church situated near the city center.The surprisingly bland white washed facade of the twin towered church doesn’t prepare one for the rich ornate carvings inside. The altar and most of the carvings are gold plated and are of breathtaking beauty.
But it is the more macabre attraction behind the church which pulls visitors.This is the Capela da Ossos meaning ‘The chapel of bones’. The chapel is made from the bones and skulls of over 1200 carmelite monks and is supposed to serve as a reminder of earthly impermanence.
Destination : Lagos, Portugal
Our next destination was Lagos (Pronounced Laagosh), a two-hour journey by train from Faro. The sun,sand and sea is what comes to mind when I reminisce about my trip to Lagos but what will remain etched in my mind forever are the Grottos. A small maritime town boasting of 2000 years of history, Lagos’s economy is closely linked to the sea and its scenic coastline provides ample opportunities. The numerous boat companies offer various rides but the Grotto tour is a ‘must-see’. Made of limestone, Grottos are impressive rock formations carved by the sea and the wind.A motor boat takes tourists till the grotto from where a smaller boat takes people inside the different formations. As each structure is unique, every formation has been given a name by the locals.
————————————-My experiences in Lisbon, to be continued ——————>>