Tavira, Portugal

Trip Start Mar 11, 2007
Trip End Apr 13, 2007

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Tavira was a well needed respite from the hustle and bustle of moving from town to town and museum to museum.  We liked it as soon as we got off the bus. Itīs small and located just up a river from the ocean. Our bus took us through tourist hell: highrise after highrise near the ocean.  Package tourists from all over northern Europe come to their version of Cancun.  Ick.  Graffitti was on almost every building and traffic was heavy.  Itīs not anywhere near the high season yet.  I canīt imagine what it would be like then.
Our hotel was a short walk across the Roman footbridge and right on the river.  No highrises here unless you count the small castle on the hill.  It wasnīt much of a castle compared to the ones we explored earlier.  I canīt believe Iīm persnickety about castles now. 
We settled in and wandered around the streets and found a nice place with musicians and good food. There were package tourists here too, but not too many and it was a nice ambience.  We later went to another restaurant and had desserts of strawberry cheesecake and a chocolate torte.  You really canīt spit without hitting a pastry shop in Portugal and thatīs something we miss already now that weīre in Spain.
The next day we slept in and bought a picnic lunch and wine and walked past the salt pans on the edge of town, towards the South Atlantic coast.  Portugal exports a lot of sea salt. They pump ocean water into large, shallow ditches and when it evaportates, they shovel it up and sell it. 
Past the saltpans is a small ferry that takes you across the estuary to a long 5 mile stretch of beach thatīs part of a national park.  No highrises here.  Just a couple small restaurants and bungalows.  It was cold that day, about 62 but the sun burns hot here.  If not for the wind, we couldīve gone swimming.  We walked past the buildings down the beach, past the people and found a nice berm to protect us from the wind and had a nice leisurely lunch. We hunted for shells and found several art projects on the beach, including an amazing fish made of shells and bamboo.  Someone took days to make that one.
Another nice dinner later and then we prepared to leave the country the next day for a bus trip to Sevilla, home of Flamenco and bullfighting.
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