For the last couple of nights, we had the hotel to ourselves. Each afternoon, a man appeared and lit the fire despite the under floor heating and warm weather. Rebecca, a Welsh horticulturist and chef has cooked just for us and, after dinner we whiled away the evenings sharing a beer with her. She has tales to tell from saffron farming in Australia to personal chef for world class yachtsmen in New Zealand and the wealthy in Tonga.
On our final morning, John took a stand (which was really a seat). He’d had enough walking and was going to sit and read for a few hours. Kim hatched a plan to walk up to the next hamlet of Vilarinho with Rebecca, the sun was shining so John was left in charge of a very nice hotel.
The cork oaks really have been a highlight this trip. By the time Kim had walked up the valley, Rebecca knew all there was to know about them too!
On the way, a group of enduro riders passed us, John was suitably miffed to have missed them. All week, he’s been wittering on about how good the trails are for off road motorcycling.
Just before 2, our taxi turned up. Isobel’s son was driving but she’d come along for the ride. When she collects people from the airport, she likes to check they’ve had a good time…….and make sure her son drives safely. He must be at least 30!
We chatted all the way to the airport, mainly about Brexit, the EU and it’s effect on Portugal and of course Donald Trump. It’s been interesting to hear some European views, at least everyone agreed that Trump makes the US look dafter than the UK does.
There is one person we met who we haven’t mentioned and he deserves a name check for when we re- read about our trip. Thursday, at the cafe in Carrapateira, our path crossed with Yanni, a French Canadian from Montreal. He’s in Portugal for three months cycling and wild camping. He’s done the same across the Canadian Rockies and was quite clearly bonkers. No sane person would cycle and wild camp, would they? Especially somewhere with wild bears? He told us all about the website warmshowers.org which is a hospitality site for touring cyclists and we started to think perhaps he wasn’t so daft after all.
Finally, we arrived at Faro Airport and saw some of the gifts made from cork, these include shoes, ties, purses, hats and umbrellas. It becomes incredibly soft and flexible..
We also managed to find some of the elusive bolo de amendoa cake, a traditional cake made from almonds, figs and Alfarroba. We’d tried it in Vila do Bispo but this version took it to a whole new level of sweetness.
We have had the most amazing time, the scenery was stunning and we’ve explored a part of Portugal that remains quite rural despite its proximity to the sea. Attention to detail by Inntravel in terms of both itinerary and accommodation has been perfect and we’d certainly use them again for an activity holiday.
One of the hotels even had special boot cleaning flannels for walkers.
Finally, remember those pots?
They are specifically designed for catching octopus. They are dropped to the sea bed and the octopi seek them out for shelter, mean but effective.