2022 Portugal

An Extended Musical Weekend

Introduction

What do you do when your favourite band announces not only one but five different convention weekends in 2022; Poland, Sweden, UK, Portugal & Canada. Five different countries and each of them was attractive in its own way. Vladi and I discussed our options and choose for Portugal. Neither of us had been there before and as the country was very appealing to us, we decided to stay a bit longer and make a two-week vacation out of it.

But first I had to make sure we would get tickets, not an easy task as demand was high. I was online the moment sales started and not much later I had 5 tickets in my pocket at the second row. Being excited was an understatement as I was extremely happy with such good seats for Vladi, myself, Silvia, Ben & Jürgen.

Flights were booked not much later and we could start with the planning, something which is always part of the pre fun and builds up excitement for the actual trip.

We decided to fly to Porto and return from Faro so we could travel the country from North to South without backtracking. It was Vladi’s wish to visit Fatima so we included that in our itinerary. The concerts would take place in Lisbon so during the daytime there were opportunities enough to explore the city. After the concerts we decided to travel to Lagos and Faro to enjoy some beach time in the Algarve. All was set for another tremendous journey.

The Journey

My part of the adventure started on the 2nd of June, less then 25 meters from my doorstep… German Railway had introduced a 9 Euro ticket for which you could travel one month on all regional trains and busses and I decided to use this very good offer. I took the bus to Geilenkirchen where I transferred on a train in the direction of Remscheid. Three trains and 30 minutes delay later I arrived. So far so good.

On the 4th of June we headed to Dusseldorf for our flights to Madrid, and then onwards to Porto. Because of the chaos at the German Railway, we decided to leave early, a useless decision as our first train got cancelled. With no less than a 45-minute delay we arrived at Düsseldorf Airport. Still, plenty of time for checking in. Unfortunately, the flight times were changed after booking so we had a 5-hour long layover in Madrid, much longer than originally scheduled. At 8 O’clock we finally landed in Porto, picked up our luggage and headed to our hotel, which was located in the historic city center. After we checked in we went for a bite to eat in a restaurant that the receptionist recommended and then returned to our room for a well deserved sleep.

Porto

Our first impression of Porto had been very positive and now it was time to explore a little bit of it. As we were located in the historical center all attractions were close by. We decided to fo for a stroll without a fixed goal and just see what happened. Porto was rather hilly so we had some steep streets to conquer. We thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere in the narrow streets and every now and then were treated to a wonderful view over the city. Our first stop was the Greja e Torre dos Clerigos, but as there was a queue to get in we continued our stroll. 

One pair of eyes was not enough to absorb the colourful houses, some still decorated with the typical Portuguese blue tiles. I could not stop saying how wonderful it was. When we arrived at another church, we had a brilliant view over the river Rio Douro and the iconic Ponte Luis, one of the landmarks of Porto. We went down the steep stairs that led to the waterfront and walked past the waterfront. There were plenty of terraces at the waterside but we resisted the temptation and went on. There were two ways to cross the bridge, across the lower deck that was exclusively for pedestrians or the top deck where also the metro crossed. 

We took the lower deck but as construction work was going on we could not enjoy the view. At the other side of the river most of Porto’s famous port cellars were to be found but we decided to leave that for the next day. We sat down at a cafe and enjoyed a Sangria whilst absorbing the wonderful skyline of historical Porto.  

Next to the cafe was a large monastery, called Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar and I was eager to see it from the inside. Vladi remained at the square in front of it, enjoying the sun and the breathtaking views. Inside the monetary were some fantastic courtyards, a richly decorated church and some rooms that in former times were the places for the monks to work and sleep. It was simply gorgeous. I rejoined Vladi outside and this time we crossed the bridge at the upper deck which gave us even more excellent views of Porto and the valley where the river flew.

On our way back to the hotel we passed the cathedral and I could not resist to have a glimpse inside. Narrow stairs led to the clock tower from where another breathtaking view over Porto was too be seen. Close to our hotel we relaxed at a terrace in the sun and enjoyed a glass of excellent Portuguese wine and a bit to eat. Then it was time for a nap. 

Whilst sitting at the terrace next to the bridge we witnessed a Ryanair plane passing by from which we knew our friends Charl and Helma were onboard. After they landed, we decided to go out for dinner together and meet at 19:00. We saw them earlier though as they passed by whilst we were enjoying a glass of Portuguese white on a terrace. Finding a place to eat though was a difficult thing as most restaurants were fully occupied and had queues in front of them. We managed to find a great place where the staff was extremely friendly and we enjoyed an excellent meal.

Next day after breakfast we wanted to visit Livraria Lello, which is the most beautiful bookstore in the world. We were not the only ones interested as the queue in front of the shop was enormous. We quickly loaded their website, bought tickets online and went to the priority queue, seconds later we were in. The shop was crowded but the interior was overwhelming. Such a brilliant experience, it was definitely worth the visit. 

Nearby the bookstore was the igreja do Carmo and as it was not only possible to visit the church but also the catacombs and other function rooms I could not resist and went in. The church itself was nice but most interesting were the other rooms, which gave a good impression of how well the clergy lived, a sight that was kept a secret for most of the religious people attending masses.

We slowly strolled back to the riverside and enjoyed the vivid atmosphere in Porto. Today we crossed the bridge to explore the other side, where all the Port cellars were based. There were plenty of them and most offered tours and a tasting. We opted for the oldest port cellar in Porto, the one from Calem. As we had to wait for an hour before the English tour started, we strolled along the riverside until we saw Casa Portuguese which sold traditional Cod cakes, something that immediately brought back childhood memories of Vladi. He had talked about them many times so today it was time to finally taste it, of course accompanied by a glass of Port.

To kill some time, we sat down at a terrace on the waterside until it was time to start the tour. Our guide had a lot of information for us, obviously on the history of Calem but also on the making process of wines and port. It was extremely interesting and finally, somewhere halfway through his story we were allowed to enter the iconic port cellars where more interesting tales were told. Then the moment we all had been waiting for, the actual tasting. We had opted for a premium tasting so got three premium port wines, a white one, a tawny and a late bottled vintage port. What a treat.

After the tasting we headed towards the cable car so we did not have to climb a lot of stairs. A short ride brought us to Jardim do Moro from where we crossed the top deck of Ponte Louis I to the historical center. There we headed back to our hotel for a well-deserved afternoon nap. 

We decided for dinner in a restaurant nearby that we had seen earlier and as 19:00 is way too early for most Portuguese for dinner we were seated straight away. This time both of us opted for some starters and grilled octopus for mains. One serving would have been enough for both of us but as it was so good, we finished our plates.

To burn off some calories we went for a stroll through the historical center and obviously ended up with another port tasting, what a way to finish off our stay in Porto which we absolutely enjoyed. The vivid, sometimes crowded atmosphere, the iconic buildings, churches and of course Ponte Luiz I. In a couple of days, we had completely forgotten on how tiring the journey had been but immersed ourselves in a city that we would not mind to pay a return visit.

Fatima

Next morning, we took the Metro from our hotel to Campo 24 de Agosto for our bus ride to Fatima. The 188-kilometre journey took us two hours and just after midday we checked in at our hotel after which we went to a restaurant across the street for lunch.

Completely satisfied, we headed towards the most holy of places in Fatima, the shrine. We passed through an abundance of souvenir stalls all selling Maria sculptures and other religious artefacts, varying in quality, from kitsch to extremely kitsch. The most bizarre however were wax arms, legs, feet and even organs, which were bought by believers suffering from pain or diseases in those body parts, at the shrine they could be melted and together with some praying, it would help for cure. For sure some additional donations could eventually speed up the process.

Leaving my sarcasm behind the basilica and the large square in front of it were definitely impressive. It wasn’t very busy which was a relief after Porto, but apparently on the thirteenth of each month the place is packed. On the thirteenth of May in 1917 Maria apparently appeared to three children and revisited them the next couple of months, always on the thirteenth. These events have officially been recognised by the church which led to the construction of this important pilgrimage place, which equals the importance of another well known place Lourdes.

At one side of the square one could see the massive Basilique and at the other side a large circular shaped prayer hall. We slowly strolled towards the massive Basilique which had a surprisingly sober interior. The glass in lead windows were beautiful though.

Then we headed towards the open-air revelation chapel where two nuns were leading a mass. One of them sang completely out of tune and we could not stop laughing, it was terribles. When we crossed the now almost empty square, we witnessed a young lady who was completing the complete pilgrimage on her knees while she prostrated herself to the ground many times. We questioned what made her do this and from which illness she must have been suffering. In the center of the square was the monuments Sagrado Coracao de Jesus and a bit further on a humongous cross. Then we entered the circular prayer hall and immediately were impressed by its sheer size. We assumed a few thousand could follow the mass inside, when on full days another 70.000 people would fill up the square.

We had seen enough for the day and went to a terrace to enjoy a glass of wine, followed by an afternoon nap. When we went out for dinner, we discovered most of the restaurants were closed. The whole town made a sleepy impression and it was weird to see most hotels closed or empty. This must be completely different on “important” religious days where the place must be packed and it will be difficult to get a room or a seat in a restaurant. Finally, we managed to find a place where we enjoyed traditional bacalhau, dried and salted cod, and a glass of wine. Another day had come to an end.

Next morning, we allowed ourselves a bit of a sleep in. As we had seen the most important sights already there was no need to rush. After breakfast we went to see the houses where the three children to whom Maria appeared had lived about a century ago. The houses were a bit out of town and gave a good impression on how rural life must have been in Portugal around that time.

Having eaten so much over the last couple of days we decided to skip lunch and relax at our hotel room. Later on in the afternoon we returned to the shrine as we had overseen two sights the day before. Under the square there were more chapels to be found, a large water basin and an interesting museum. It was a good way to finish our stay in Fatima and having indulged on religion the last couple of days I must admit it felt like an overdose.

In the small centre we enjoyed a glass of wine before heading over to a restaurant where we enjoyed a perfect Portuguese Dinner. Bacalhau. Like usual we should have skipped the starter but somehow, we never seem to learn.

Back at our hotel we packed our suitcases and at 21:30 returned to the shrine one final night to attend a mass where all pilgrims carried candles. It was impressive indeed and we enjoyed the atmosphere, still it lasted way too long as the sequence of AVE Maria’s was done in multiple languages. Enough is enough so we decided to leave before the procession. We were ready for our next destination.

Lisbon

Next morning, after breakfast, we took a taxi to the bus terminal for the bus to Lisbon. The journey took about two hours after which we took a taxi to the hotel. During checked in we looked out of the window in the lobby only to be blown away by the amazing view over Lisbon. It was breath-taking, now if only our room would have the same view and not look out over the street. As soon we entered it we knew, a small terrace offered the view we could only have hoped for, is there any need to leave our hotel room with Lisbon at our feet?

Not much later we met our friends Silvia and Ben and with the four of us we went to a terrace for a glass of wine and a bite to eat. We discussed our options in Lisbon and of course the upcoming Marillion gigs. After lunch each of us went our own way and we strolled through the narrow streets and made our way to Castle St. Jorge that we could prominently see from our hotel room. We enjoyed the vivid neighbourhood, the colourful houses and of course the tiles that covered the walls of many of them and are so typical for Portugal.

There was a lot to be discovered at the castle but let’s face it, the most beautiful were the views. We climbed steep stairs, went through narrow tunnels to be amazed time after time by the architecture and the views. We descended down a long number of steps on our way to another place to see, only to discover we ended up at a small platform and needed to ascend the stairs again, not an easy task in this heat.

In one of the squares of the castle a number of peacocks had nested in the trees, an intriguing sight. We decoded we had seen enough of the castle ruins and looked for a restaurant for a glass of water and…. A bottle of wine.

After that we returned to our hotel to see Charl und Helma also had arrived and were already enjoying a drink with Ben and Silvia on a terrace opposite our hotel. We were now all united, time to celebrate.

Together we went to the fan zone, which turned out to be a long Uber drive away. The fan zone was a good place to meet old and new friends and it did not take long before we met the first ones. I introduced Vladi to them and as everybody was excited about the upcoming gigs there was no lack of subjects to talk about.

Not much later I was tapped on my back, and it was Juergen, a long time Marillion fan, together with his wife and daughter. I have shared many Marillion related adventures with Juergen and it was great to finally meet his family who joined him to Lisbon but were not going to the concerts.

When we returned to the hotel the six of us went out for one final drink before each of us went back to their rooms. It had been a fantastic day but now we needed some rest as the next couple of days for sure would be tiring.

Next morning, we all met during breakfast again and then each couple went out to explore Lisbon their own way. We walked to the nearest metro station and then travelled underground to the centre. We started our stroll without fixed goal but Vladi remembered a food market from his previous visit so we changed our plan and went there. The stalls offered many varieties of Portuguese and international specialities. Drinks in all sorts and with different percentage of alcohol but as we had just finished our breakfast, we resisted the temptation and went to a neighbouring vegetable and fish market.

From there we slowly returned to Praia do Comercio where we enjoyed an Italian ice cream and not much later did a DIY wine tasting which was a cool experience (although we would have appreciated a bit more info on the wine). 

Next door was an exhibition of a French artist with some intriguing paintings and bronze sculptures. We walked through one of the busy Lisboa shopping streets and then took the tram 28 which brought us back to the area where the hotel was located. Time for a well-deserved nap!

Late afternoon we gathered with our friends at a terrace opposite the hotel for a pre-gig drink and then ordered an Uber to Aula Magna. Tonight, was the first of three nights that initiated this holiday, The Lisbon Marillion convention 2022. In spite of it not having sold out there was already a large group of people present in front of the venue, time to meet friends again and introduce Vladi to Lucy, Marillion’s manager. Getting a beer was a bit of a problem due to the long queue but we did manage to have a drink in the end.

Then we headed towards our more than excellent seats at the second row and to say we were excited to see our favourite band live again was an understatement. The lights went out punctual, the crowd cheered and the first notes of “This Town” filled the venue. The band was definitely on fire and presented an unusual set list with many songs we don’t hear too often live. But that’s the charm of Marillion conventions, a chance to hear some rare diamonds from their past.

The set ended with “The invisible Man” a fan favourite and then the lights went on, was it over already? We gathered outside for a beer and some after gig chit chat. It was great to see so many smiles on people’s faces, it had been a good night!

After a good night of sleep, we enjoyed the simple breakfast in our hotel and then it was time to explore Lisbon once again. It was warm, very warm so we just decided to take a stroll in the neighbourhood. Our first stop was Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora, a relatively sober but interesting church. Behind it was the Panteao Nacional but before we arrived there was a vivid and interesting flea market. In former times it was known as the thieves’ market as lots of stolen goods and antiques were on sale over here and many of Lisboas unique tiles moved from here abroad. Now things are more regulated and a varied and intriguing collection of things changed ownership over here.

The Pantheon was extremely interesting and in the hall under the impressive dome we saw the graves of Vasco do Gamma, Pedro Alvares Cabral and other famous historical figures. Especially Vladi, who likes history, was excited to see those tombs, even more so as we had not expected to see them. We continued our tour upstairs towards the choir and from here had a great view over the hall. Even further up we arrived at the terrace with some more mind-blowing views over Lisbon. I wasn’t keen walking the circular foot way directly under the dome because of the depth it looked into. Vladi managed to do so but I was glad I completed the way to the exit.

Outside we enjoyed the flea market a bit more and ordered a beer at a kiosk in the picturesque Jardim Botto Machado whilst sitting in the shade under a beautiful wisteria which was in full bloom. The park was a true oasis in hustling bustling Lisbon and we enjoyed catching our breath for a while and zipping a glass of beer.

Then we immersed in the busy Lisbon streets towards the nearest Metro station where we took a ride back to Prado do Comercio where we enjoyed a late lunch. Then we walked a crossed the busy shopping promenade again towards the famous Elevador de Santa Justa, a lift that was built in 1902 to cover the steep height difference in the centre of the city. It looked extremely impressive but as there was a large queue waiting to go upstairs, we opted for the less impressive, but free, elevator just 10 meters away… 

That brought us to the Museo Arqueologico do Carmo, located in a former cathedral. The main ship had collapsed so we could see the blue sky from where we stood, in the back, in the rooms that remained intact a small but interesting museum was located, a place we enjoyed a lot.

Time was flying by quickly so we decided to return to our hotel and prepare for the gig of the evening. As usual tram 28 was crowded, very crowded. Sometimes things are getting very heated in tram 28 so the police needed to get involved, we had to leave the first tram as the back door was forced. The next tram was even more overloaded and a bit further the road was blocked by a tuk tuk creating a traffic jam of trams. Never a dull moment in Lisbon…

We finally made it back to the hotel but because of the delay we hardly had time to relax. An Uber was quickly arranged and like yesterday we had time enough for a beer before we entered the venue and watched the support act, a band that unfortunately did not impress us much!

During tonight’s gig the new album “An hour before it’s dark” was played completely. Yesterday’s gig was a true rock ‘n roll show but today it was extremely emotional. After “Be hard on yourself”, the first track of the album was completed the band got their first standing ovation, something that recurred after each song. Not sure whether I ever witnessed so many standing ovations during a gig before. The band and the audience interacted so intensively and it was clear everyone on and off stage had a fantastic time. What an atmosphere!!!! The performance of the last track on the album “Care” virtually had everyone in tears and I was glad the first encore was the uplifting “Quartz” so we could land on our feet again. What an evening.

Back at the hotel we decided we could not go to bed immediately and went out to a wine bar for a good glass of Portuguese wine and to reflect on the evening. It had been very special indeed.

Next morning, we had a bit of a sleep in so we were late for breakfast. Neither of us felt sorry as it was not anything special anyway. As once again the heat was already overwhelming, we decided to stay in the area.

Our first stop was the Mosteira de Sao Vicente de Fora which was directly next to the church we visited the day before. It was extremely interesting to wander through the corridors of the monastery and visit the many chapels and rooms within. We saw the tombs of the previous kings of Portugal and upstairs was an extremely interesting exhibition of tiled walls from Lafountain. Each wall came with an explanation of the scene and the moral behind it. Vladi was extremely excited as he had read about them before and now finally was able to see them with his own eyes. From the roof we were treated once again with a wonderful view over Lisbon and then it was time to leave.

As we did not had breakfast yet we enjoyed brunch at one of the terraces nearby. By now it was extremely warm and both of us were extremely tired from our experiences of the last days so we headed towards the hotel for a well-deserved nap, we really needed it.

Later in the afternoon we met up with Silvia and Ben again for a drink and a collection of very flavoursome Italian food. Charl en Helma joined us later and when they were ready, we ordered an Uber to go to the venue.

Today was a national holiday though and unlike other days it was not easy to get a ride. It got cancelled a couple of times and finally I received a call from the driver saying he could not reach us as the roads were blocked. We had to walk for another 600 meters through extremely crowded streets to get to our taxi. Finally, we arrived (only a few minutes late) at the venue for an audience with Marillion, a Q&A led by Lucy, their manager, which was hilarious but serious and moving at times.

After the break it was time for the concert. Tonight, the choice of the band was to play “Season’s End”, the first album together with Steve Hogarth and a favourite of mine. The light’s dimmed and we could hear the introducing sounds to “The King of Sunset Town”, the beginning of another great evening. The audience was thanked for their response to the new album yesterday but I do not believe the reactions to this evening were much less! Events like these just proof why Marillion is my favourite band. Not only have they written the story of my life but there is no band that truly touches my heart so deeply and intensely.

Obviously, our Uber ride back home did not go without problems. The roads were blocked again so we offered the driver to drop us off so we could walk the last part through the festive streets. Charl and Helma were tired and returned to their room but Silvia, Ben and the both of us joined the crowds for one final drink and to taste a bit of the atmosphere.

And when Portuguese party they party! It was madness in the streets with people dancing, drinking and just going on a stroll, we even saw a small parade passing by. By the time we returned to our hotel the party was just beginning but we were tired and now were ready for a short night of sleep.

Lagos

When the alarm went off at 7 o’clock I felt I had hardly slept at all and a shower, which should have been refreshing, did not change that at all. We had breakfast, packed our last things and then were ready for our train ride to Lagos. We said goodbye to Silvia and Ben and took an Uber with Charl and Helma to the Oriente Railway station where our four-hour train journey to Lagos started.

On arrival the four of us said goodbye as each couple started our own adventure in Lagos. We checked in at our Guesthouse and went out for a well-deserved lunch. 

Lagos turned out to be a bit more touristic than expected, loaded with restaurants and shops that sold the usual tourist crap. Nether the less it breathed a nice atmosphere and was not suffering from the excesses of the larger Spanish sea resorts.

As we had not slept much that night, we returned to our guesthouse for a. much needed siesta. That took longer than expected and by the time we woke up again it was dinner time.

We headed back to the centre, a 2-minute walk, and selected a nice place to eat. After dinner we took another stroll through the now bustling city centre, enjoyed a sparkling Sangria and then called it a day.

Next morning, we were treated to a wonderful breakfast which was prepared with extreme care. Our host really showed a lot of passion and made sure everything was just perfect.

Then it was time to discover the reason why we chose Lagos. It’s famous beaches which lay secluded between its rocky coastline. We had to descend a large number of steps to descend to Praia dos Estudantes which was connected with tunnels under the rocks to its neighbouring beaches. 

We loved the beach as it was so secluded so we spread out our beach towels and sun umbrella and enjoyed the sun. I made a short walk to watch the neighbouring beaches and take some photos. What a place!!!

After a couple of hours, we needed to leave the sun otherwise we would get sunburned. As we had not brought any drinks, we went to a bar for a refreshment and then returned to the city centre for a “light bite” to eat.

I had a craving for grilled sardines while Vladi opted for perfectly cooked octopus. What was supposed to be a light lunch turned out to become a full meal.

To burn off some of the gained calories we took a stroll past the waterside and looked for a place to book a boat trip the next morning. There was an excess of places that all offered the same trip past the secluded beaches and grottos of Lagos. 

We chose a promoter totally away from where the majority was, they offered small boats which could enter the caves and somehow, we felt like the boat would not be too overcrowded, whether it was the right decision? We would know the next day.

Both Of us were getting tired again so we returned to our guesthouse for yet another nap. Somehow the temperatures made us instantly get used to a siesta, which is so common in Southern Europe.

At the beginning of the evening, we returned to the centre, listened to a wonderful street performer and then had the difficult task to select a fine restaurant out of the many.

We did find the perfect place and started with some sparkling wine. That was followed by a prawn cocktail that we shared and as. For the main course we both opted for Black Angus entrecôte and a full-bodied Portuguese red wine.  It was the perfect choice and both of us felt this was the best food we had enjoyed in Portugal so far. To finish off this wonderful meal we opted for a succulent desert. Another day had come to an end, and how fantastic it had been.

Next morning, we were once again treated to a great and lovingly prepared breakfast. Then we headed back to the waterfront for our boat tour.

It turned out we had chosen the right place as we were treated on a private boat tour, just for the two of us. Our captain, Nelson, told us all the names of the beaches, special rock formation and caves. Once we arrived at a special place, he got our attention with a loud “Listen…”. The coast was in one word spectacular and we enjoyed every single minute of our tour. The fact that we were just with the two of us made it even more special. What an experience!

Back on land we had a coffee on a terrace and then soaked some more of the atmosphere of the city centre. In spite of our previous disappointment, we started to create a liking for it. 

The big question was where to have lunch. Initially we wanted to return to the place we had lunch yesterday but in spite of the fact that the centre was small we simply couldn’t find it.

In spite of that, we ended up in a beautiful garden restaurant where we were given a place in the shade and under a cover…. That turned out to be pure luck as whilst we were seated heavens opened and a strong rain gutted down on the guests. The garden was empty within a very short time but as we sat under a cover anyway, we could not be bothered and enjoyed our tasty lunch.

And what does one do after lunch? Right, a well-deserved siesta! In the evening we met with our friends Charl and Helma for a final dinner in Portugal. The both of them would remain in Lagos for a few more days as we opted to continue to Faro to experience one more place before returning home

Faro

It was an early rise as we had to catch the 7:52 train. Fortunately, the railway station wasn’t far away. The train was already waiting for us at the platform and less than 2 hours later we arrived at our final destination, Faro.

After we had checked in at our hotel we strolled through the cosy centre for breakfast. We were treated to our best cappuccino in Portugal yet, until now we had not enjoyed the coffee culture that much.

The small historic centre was not far away so we decided to have a short look before returning to our hotel for a well-deserved nap.

Once rested enough we continued our exploration of scenic Porto. Faros had been far too touristy for us and we enjoyed Faro much better. The lovely shopping streets, all covered with sunscreens to protect you from the heat. The small harbour filled with small yachts and of course the highlight, the historic centre which was completely walled, one had to enter through gates at strategic locations.

Faro’s cathedral was located within the historic centre. Inside construction work was going on at the ceiling and the centre of the cathedral was filled with scaffolding. Fortunately, we could still admire the niches which were filled with pompous displays of religious scenes. It was completely over the top and outrageous. 

We climbed the stairs towards the first floor towards the choir and to watch the organ. In some of the adjacent rooms we watched a small museum with more religious artefacts after we climbed some narrow stairs towards the tower.

There we had a fantastic view over Faro and we spotted a small rooftop terrace nearby which we made our next stop.

The rooftop terrace was accessible through a narrow spiral staircase and we were welcomed by a friendly waitress who made us a perfect white Sangria. We enjoyed both the drink and the view for a while before we continued our way.

Next stop was a beer bar where we had a beer that had been stored in Port barrels. The result was mind blowing. Such a special treat.

Time was passing by so we headed towards a nice restaurant we had seen earlier besides one of the gates. There we enjoyed an absolutely terrific meal, the perfect closure of another exciting day.

Next day was also the final day of our trip to Portugal. We had heard about a small island, about 7 km away from Faro, called Ilha do Faro (Lighthouse Island). We had already booked the ferry crossing, which took about 40 minutes. 

On arrival we immediately recognised the island atmosphere which was at a much slower pace than in Faro. Small colourful houses, beautiful decorated gardens and of course the lighthouse to which the island thanks its name. 

We had a couple of hours to spend and decided to make it a relaxing day as Vladi had to be ready for work again. The long white beach was beautiful and filled with beachgoers who enjoyed the sun, had a family picnic, or went for a swim (The water was still rather cold though). It was busy but definitely not overcrowded.

After a stroll over the beach, we continued our walk over the long pier from which we had a good view over deserted island, another island with gorgeous beaches.

As we were getting a bit hungry, we looked for a place to eat. First, we passed a restaurant that was packed and far too touristy for our likening so we returned to a place we had seen on arrival and which was far more appealing to us. Here we had a small bite to eat and something to drink whilst we waited for the ferry to bring us back to Faro.

Our departure next morning was far too early for our liking so we chose for an early meal so at least we could get some sleep before we would leave. As the food yesterday in Canthino had been so good we returned for our final meal of the day. A wise decision as it was absolutely fantastic. 

Now there was only one more thing to do, head back to the bar for one more beer stored in port wine barrels, an appropriate way to finish our trip.

Back at the hotel we packed our suitcases, showered and went to sleep. 

The journey home

The alarm went off at three and although the both of us would have rather stopped the alarm and continued to sleep that was no option. Our taxi picked us up at 3:45 and not much later we arrived at the airport for check in. All went smoothly and at 6:00 we took off for the short flight to Lisbon. 

Originally our first flight was planned at 11:15 with a short stop over, unfortunately it was rescheduled to 06:00 which resulted in an almost 6-hour layover in Lisbon. Absolutely dreadful but there was nothing we could do. Lisbon Airport was no exception from most other airports, absolutely boring so time passed by slow, very slow.

Finally, we boarded our two-and-a-half-hour flight to Dusseldorf, picked up our luggage and headed towards the train station for our journey to Remscheid.

Another journey had come to an end and when we look back it had been absolutely brilliant. From Porto to Faro and everything in between, we thoroughly enjoyed the places, the people and the food.  Highlight without doubt were the three Marillion gigs, the initial reason we had chosen Portugal as our destiny. 

Another highlight is that we could share part of the experience with our friends Charl, Helma, Ben, Silva and Juergen. It was absolutely wonderful to meet them over here.

Portugal has been good to us, very good. In those two weeks we experienced a sneak preview of the things the country had to offer and yes, we liked what we saw.

Portugal, obrigado!


Journeys


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