We took a bus across the border into Portugal. A country neither of had never been to before. This was fortunate as we want to see one new country a year and 2017 was so far devoid of new countries (at least for me). Korea and the US weren’t new and I had been to Canada before. So with a couple days left in 2017 I snuck a new one in.
We got there before lunch and our apartment hotel was nice enough to let us check in early. Portugal doesn’t have an idiotic eating schedule but it can still have a siesta like Spain. So while Spain eats at 2 and has siesta from 2-5 Portugal (at least Faro) had siesta from 12-1:30. We’ve never been so happy to eat at what we consider a normal time. We found this great little restaurant Saudade em Portugues that served a set menu of the day for about 7 Euros.
We started with beer and wine then a choice of soup or bread with olives.
The main course was a choice between tuna steak with fresh sweet potato chips and salad or chicken and garbanzo bean mint stew. Both for us, of course.
Finally there was caramel pudding brulee with espressos.
For 7 ish Euros this was a lot of wonderful food – and local foods, too.
We walked off our three course lunch exploring the city. We saw the famous old city gate/governors house. There were some protected waterbirds who had made nests on it.
We walked a couple miles down the road to the mall. It had this really neat 1 track road for ice skating. So instead of people skating around in a circle they were able to follow a go-kart track-esque journey around the Christmas tree and around the mall’s plaza.
We finished the day with a sunset looking over the Ria Formosa. This is a lagoon area with many islands and inlets. It is part of a natural park with over 30,000 birds in it. We had originally planned on taking a boat our to a deserted island but didn’t because we didn’t feel like it, and hey, it’s our vacation. We can do whatever we want.
The next day we went to the city’s museum. This was in an old monastery turned cork factory turned museum and was the area’s first museum.
Like southern Spain, Faro has been exposed to many of the same changes. Moorish invasion and reconquest as well as Romans who wanted that sweet sweet fish paste. It was all the rage and half of the southern coast was just devoted to making it (Lisbon had it too). Before the spice trade it was the only thing with flavor so everyone wanted it.
There were beautifully preserved roman tiles of Neptune but for some reason we don’t have a picture so use your imagination.
We spent the majority of the day in the museum and just walking around the city.
The next day we decided to see a movie. We have only gone to the movies twice in the past 4 years so it’s a big treat for us. We had already seen the new Star Wars “hehem not in theaters” and had found it terrible. So we spent our money to go see Jumanji (2) Welcome to the Jungle. Jumanji was a huge part of both our childhoods for being both terrifying and completely amazing. We showed it to our kids countless times in Korea as well and it’s a treasure. The sequel was fantastic.
We’ve gone to the theaters in Sweden, Germany, Korea and now Portugal. Everyone does things a little different but I gotta say Portugal has it down.
For starters there is a percentage bar that fills up based on how many seats are full. So you can see in this picture that Jumanji was only 3% full (this turned out to be 4 people including us).
Portugal also doesn’t dub movies – unless they’re kids movies. The people in Portugal were so nice and spoke amazing English. I think in part because all their TV and movies were not dubbed but subtitled. Spain dubs everything into Spanish so they have less exposure to English. We actually wouldn’t have been able to see Jumanji if we had stayed in Spain because no theaters in our area would’ve had it in English.
So we watched it in English with Portuguese titles at the bottom.
Like Sweden, Korea, and Germany (most of the world) you have to pick your seats. In the US you just walk in and sit where you want. Everywhere else you choose seats and they’re assigned to you. This is nice because you can choose to sit away from people or don’t have to worry about getting there 30 minutes to save a seat.
It’s easy to find with lit up letters on the rows and then numbers on the seats. So you might sit at J3 or D24. We got a student discount (heck we have student visas) so we paid 7 Euros for seats.
The snacks were cheap. We shared a normal box with a normal sized drink and what turned out to be a pretty big box of popcorn. We didn’t see the little words at the bottom that said “Topping M&Ms 1 Euro” so we could’ve had them throw M&Ms into our popcorn.
Korea, Germany, and Portugal all have options for sweet or salty popcorn which blows our American brains. I want that salt when I see a movie, not freaking caramel corn. They usually assume you want sweet unless you say otherwise. Korea had an option for half and half but I’ve never seen anyone else do that.
The theater was normal. I know in Germany there were luxury seats (bigger) and love seats (couch like benches to sit together). This theater was completely normal. But about halfway through the movie the lights went on and the movie quit. We thought maybe a power outage but then this came up:
Intervalo – intermission. No more holding your pee or wanting popcorn and missing half the movie. That’s a rip off, honestly. And Portugal knows this. So the lights come on and everyone stretches and walks around and texts. Then about 6-8 minutes later the lights dim and the movie resumes. Yes please. We’ve never seen any other country do that.
Some traditional foods of Portugal include fish (cod), egg tarts, green wine, cherry liquor, steak sandwiches, Portuguese wine. Of course there are loads of other ones but we spent the last day of the new year enjoying as many of these as we could. The egg tarts are the best – we’ve actually had these before. Portugal and Macau used to be one in the same and are now good buddies. When we were in Hong Kong (Macau’s neighbor) we enjoyed many an egg tart and have missed them. So we were pleased to have these again.
It has a flaky crust and a yellow eggy pudding inside. Yes.
Faro had a huge free two-day concert for New Years. It was positively packed and louder than hell. Your two favorite introverts brought a bottle of sparkling wine up to the roof at 11:50 and watched the fireworks there. We were blissfully alone on the roof and had probably the best view in town.