Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November 2nd Silves Castelo

When I woke up this morning I was happy to see that there were patches of blue sky, even if there were still grey clouds when you looked different directions. We were not going to stay inside today. We were off on another set of adventures. Ana and Paulo would tell me that we were going one place but we usually end up seeing several things along the way. I never know what the adventure will be.

They told me today that we were off to see a castle or castelo. Along the way we changed directions so that we could see Our Lady of the Rocks Chapel. In this part of Portugal the cliffs are a sheer drop down to the sea with a small beach at the bottom of the cliffs usually accessible only by many stairs. It was very windy and there were pools of water along the paths and the chapel was perched out on the farthest point on the cliff. The chapel itself was closed but I took a picture through the glass door. We walked along the path but turned back when the pools of water flooded the way.

Castelo Silves
On we continued until we reached Silves. We pulled over at a lookout point so I could get a picture of the castle silhouetted on the hill. On the way to the castle we stepped inside the Cathedral which is very close to it. The choir was practicing the hymns they would sing for the Mass and I took one picture with no flash because I didn't want to disturb them. In church the pictures always turn out better without flash. We toured the castle and climbed the walls. Some areas have been renovated and some are still being dug out. They have handrails in some places and none in other. Paulo offered help when we were going down wet staircases with no handholds. In the center of the castle courtyard there is a building underground that is devoted to Iberian Lynx. They have a breeding and release program trying to repopulate the area. It was very interesting. The battlements were very old but there were fantastic views of the surrounding city from the heights.

For lunch we stopped at a restaurant that people had told Ana and Paulo about. There is no menu. They serve Portuguese grilled chicken. Delicious, fabulous grilled chicken. Of course this is Portugal so first comes the cold starter - Olives, cooked spiced carrots, pickled cabbage and some peppers. Then the salad of tomatoes, lettuce, onions and a few minor veggies. The plate of chicken (one whole chicken split open and grilled on an outdoor barbecue type grill and then chopped in pieces) arrived with a large platter of beautifully done french fries. They were crisp on the outside and hot and tender on the inside. When we asked for the bill we were treated to a plate of fresh and dried fruit. We had figs with almonds in them, melon, and orange slices with cinnamon sprinkled on them. I think it was the best restaurant meal I have had in Europe. The bill was about $10.00 each in Canadian money. I love Portugal.

We drove to the town of Loulé and decided to take a walking tour. We found the local market. We had taken too much time over lunch so the stalls were mostly closed up but I took pictures of the building and the halloween decorations. There was a statue of an old woman representing the market sellers. We toured the old town and found historical plaques telling us about the designs of the windows and the arches etc, We stopped in a little cafe and had coffee and Portuguese custard tarts. The food here is wonderful.

Before heading home Paulo drove us to a modern round church on a hill overlooking the town. The church was not open but it is the outside architecture that is so interesting. The previous church was saved and is on the same property.

We headed home just in time as the sky opened up and it started to rain again.

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