Day 11: Quartiera and Faro
On the first visit to Faro, to see the Bone Chapel, we'd been denied access by a funeral/remembrance service followed by an accident in the narrow streets. On the second visit, we'd been redirected around the town several times by police until we eventually got to the location, only to find it was shut. Could there be a third time lucky? This morning we'd find out. Hopefully.
We got up bright an early to catch a 7:30 bus headed towards Faro, but got off slightly early – at Quartiera, where we'd been a few days previously. The reason for the stop was for the gypsy market. Unlike Loulé, where all we'd seen was fruit, veg and dried fish, this time around we knew exactly where to find the market, thanks to the lady in the information bureau in Albufeira. Chances are that the people selling at the market are the same bunch that would make their way to Loulé anyway, so it all worked out right in the end.
We got there just after 8 o'clock and the traders were still setting up their stalls. Mostly clothes, bags, belts, a few places selling jewellery – standard market stuff. Manda picked up a few items and then we headed back to the bus station to continue the journey to Faro.
We got to Faro at 10:10 and the next bus leaving from the location back to Albufeira was at 11am. So the plan was to head straight to the church to see the bone chapel, take a few photos and be back at the bus stop within 50 minutes. It was either that or wait another hour and twenty after that. To be fair, we knew the area in Faro well enough now to make our way there and back with no problems, and we also knew that there wasn't a massive amount to see in the centre of Faro other than the bone chapel.
I expected the chapel to be smaller than the one we saw in Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic (near Prague), but not quite as small as it turned out to be. There were no decorations like Kutna Hora's bone church (which had chandeliers, a coat of arms and various other constructions. It was simply a room that had embedded skulls at regular intervals in the walls and the wall rendering itself appeared to be made of femurs. And after all that effort! I rolled off a few photos then we made our way back to the station.
On the way in to Faro, we'd paid for tickets on the bus at Albufeira and again in Quartiera. As we hopped on the bus to make the return journey, the driver didn't want to take our money. For some reason he was indicating that we should go over to the bus station kiosk. Was that to wait for another bus? Or get a ticket? We wandered over, I stood around looking confused and then went back to the driver for clarification – ticket or another bus? He indicated again that we go over to the kiosk, so I did as he said and asked for two tickets to Albufeira, then back once again to the bus where he looked at the tickets and let us on. Mmm, why could we not just pay him? And then, confusingly, once the bus was on its way again everyone who got on the bus paid the driver directly. So, the logic appeared to be that when at the station, you have to buy from the kiosk, not directly from the driver. Was he being a jobs-worth? Or had we been a bit dim?
We were back in Albufeira just after midday, early enough to collect up some swimming gear and a towel and head down to the beach. Yes, on the day that thunderstorms were forecast (I love it when they get the weather forecasts wrong like this!). It seems strange that in all this time in Albufeira, we've not actually spent any time on the beach at all, at least not in the traditional sense of paddling, swimming, sunbathing and trying to get sand out of everything. But as soon as we'd got on the beach we realised that neither of us had any money, which meant no money for a sun lounger (and therefore no shade). I was about to trek all the way to the villa and back when I realised that there might be a good natural shady spot on the beach after all. At one end of Praia da Oura was a rocky feature and it had a little tunnel that led through to a little secluded area. Well, I say secluded but once we'd settled down in the cool shady spot, there was plenty of traffic from other curious bypassers, some with kids who wanted to have a little explore. I went for a dip in the sea, wondering if there was a reason why, up to this point, I'd seen so few people in the water anywhere on the Algarve. Where there strong currents here or was it simply a case of it being too cold? It turned out to be the latter. It actually wasn't too cold, but for some reason the action of the waves and the cold salty sea was enough to make me feel like I'd been rubbed vigorously with a brillo pad. When I got out of the sea, I didn't feel in any hurry to get back in there again! We didn't stay at the beach for too long – just long enough to say "we've done it now" – then made our way back up Cardiac Hill for one last time.
We finished the evening, and the holiday, just as we had started it – on the balcony of the Ancora Steak House, eating piri piri chicken, watching the sun settling over Albufeira. For a change, though, we had something to look forward to tomorrow once we'd touched down on UK soil – we would be seeing little Fraggle again who had had something of a holiday herself (well, a stay at the kennels).