Friday, 5 November 2010

In Portugal – 5

As the week has gone by here in Figueira da Foz we have been finding little ways of improving breakfast. When we arrived the hotel was full of teenagers bouncing with health: at least a couple of basketball teams here for some kind of convention. Consequently breakfast was a very busy affair with crowds of people and some difficulty in finding a table. But, it has to be said, the coffee they served from one of those automatic machines was truly execrable.

Well, on
Wednesday we went down for breakfast a little on the last minute and found that the big dining area where breakfast had been served was completely empty. Rather concerned, I checked the time. It was still 10 minutes before the end of the breakfast-serving period, so what was going on? Eventually I located another, smaller breakfast room around a corner. The same automatic machines served the same execrable coffee. It was only as we left the room that we noticed another machine, an espresso machine of some kind, one of those that work with sachets that have to be introduced. So on Thursday we investigated and managed to get a decent cup of coffee at last. We then discovered that this new breakfast room also has a toaster, so toast is available as well. By the time we leave we might know how everything works.

Yeterday the fishermen were out on the beach as I strolled along in the autumn sunshine once more. This time I went all the way along to the estuary and came off the beach at the Forte de Santa Catarina. This is much more of a fortress than the one I managed to walk past at Buarcos. Built at the end of the 16th century it formed part of a defensive triangle protecting the estuary and the town.

The gate was open so I went in to have a look round and climbed the steps to the lighthouse. There I met a group of gentlemen who told me, Discuple, vamos fechar – sorry we’re closing. The interior didn’t really have a lot to see, so I went and walked around the outside, which is rather more impressive.

From there I walked up the road that skirts the estuary on the lookout for something of interest. There was the port and a good view of the bridge over the river, rather a fine construction. And then I saw the market. From the front it was nothing special, although the side entrance was more impressive.

But inside it was a riot of colour, a really good old fashioned market hall with fish stalls, vegetable stalls, flower stalls, a butc
hers’ section, one corner that sold masses of football related paraphernalia and all around the edge cafes, shoe shops, clothing stalls and the inevitable souvenir and toy stalls that in my unkinder moments I refer to as tat stalls. Quite magical and well worth a visit.

The bishop’s palace, which I had spotted on the
map, can wait for another day.

End note: my friend Colin asked me not to talk too much about food as he is on a restricted diet at present. So outof respect for h
is delicate condition, instead of describing what we ate, I’ll just show you a photo of yesterday’s lunch. Delicious.

And tomorrow, tales of fishbones and other adventures!!!


  1. Thanks, Anthea. Am off the diet now, except for spicy food. So I had a curry last night . . .

  2. So glad to hear that you are on the mend. Of course curry is not spicy!!!