We received an update from Bruce Cutler this morning. We had spent a couple of days with Bruce and his sister just before we left Carvoeiro. They had arrived a week ago and were looking for a nice winter vacation. Bruce can say it best:
Portugal is completely locked down. We went to Lagos yesterday. Everything is shut down. We saw maybe 10 people walking outside. The Promenade was completely vacant. I stood in the middle of the road and took a picture - no cars. Parking was a breeze. Went onto Praia da Rocha. Same issue. The beach was totally empty. It is like living in a ghost country. The Kenny’s are leaving April 1st now as are Jan an Martha. As we can not get any earlier flights with Air Transat I bit the sour apple and cancelled our flight. Was able to book a flight with TAP from Lisbon to London and Air Canada from London to Toronto. We leave at 3:00 am Monday morning.
Our friends Jamie and Marsha from Collingwood, who we visited with in Lisbon 3 weeks ago arrive home from Tenerife tomorrow. They are flying from Tenerife to Dublin and then on to Toronto.
Everybody is scrambling to get home.
Many of the meals that we have eaten in Portugal came with a simple yet welcome starter of marinated carrots. Sometimes they feature garlic, sometimes cumin (least favourite), but usually they are simply flavoured with a bit of chopped parsley. Here is the recipe that I intend to try when we return home.
- parboil 2 sliced carrots until slightly soft, immerse in ice water, drain, dry, and cool.
- combine with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp cider vinegar, 1 tsp finely chopped parsley, 1 finely chopped garlic clove, a pinch of paprika, and a touch of salt.
- cover, refrigerate overnight.
- bring to room temperature and serve.
The photo above would have been used to serve 4 to 6 people with some wonderful Portuguese bread.
This was (and still is) to be our last night in Portugal. We arrived by bus from Portimao yesterday afternoon and were dropped off by Uber at Casa do Bairro a great little hotel that we stayed at when visiting Marcia and Jamie. It has the same charm but there is an air of uncertainty about the whole place as a result of the coronavirus.
Lisbon is officially mandating social-distancing. Restaurants, bars, cafes, and other meeting places are being shut down to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. We had been traveling since before breakfast, through lunch and we were hungry. The plan had been to check-in and walk to the Time Out Market for late lunch/dinner but the market is closed as part of the social-distancing plan. The hotel knew of only one open restaurant and it was part of their sister hotel up the street - Madame Petisca. They called to see if they could get us a reservation (by reservation only because they were only allowing 12 guests at a time from their hotels.)
It was a tapas menu - but a good tapas menu.
We ordered all of the starters and a couple of glasses of house wine. The sheep's milk butter was amazing. We also ordered the cod on a bed of spinach and the organic mixed mushrooms. These two dishes were meal-sized and wonderful. I am certain that the cod was rehydrated dried, salted cod. The mixed mushrooms were in a very tasty thick sauce with some dunking bread. The second glass of wine was in order.
It is now 3:46AM. We slept right after dinner and now we are wide awake. We will have a light breakfast at 8AM and get in the limo to the airport at 8:30 for an 11:30AM flight.
For our last planned excursion away from Carvoeiro I decided that we should visit the Roman Ruins at Estoi (gave up trying to find it after 45 minutes and several sweeps of the countryside) and then drive into Faro to see the 11th century gate into the walled part of the city, Faro Cathederal, the Fado Museum and the convent where the Fado Museum is located.
Carol wanted her salad photographed as one of the nicest presentations of a Caprese salad. I had goats milk cheese with honey and slivered almonds, roast chorizo, and olives. The highlight of the meal for me were the carrot pickles (1/8th inch slices, slightly cooked and served in olive oil with oregano). Then off to the Fado presentation.
We will be returning from Portugal on Monday, March 16 and once we arrive home we will be imposing a precautionary self-quarantine upon ourselves to protect Canadians from any coronavirus that we may have come in contact with while travelling through Portugal and Lisbon and Toronto airports. Although this will be inconvenient, it is the appropriate and prudent action for every traveller at this time and we would not think of avoiding it.
All preparations have been made:
- Glenn has stocked our pantry with the necessities for a 2 week quarantine
- my pharmacy and doctor have worked out how to get our needed prescription refills to us when we return
- barber has been contacted to reschedule my hair cut appointment
When the two weeks are up we will reassess.
I took Carol dancing for the 2nd night in a row. Back to the Jailhouse, a pub owned and operated by a couple of Brits. Mark is also the entertainment rattling off songs from the 1950s though 1990s. On the nights that we have been there about 50% of the audience were Canadians, the rest Brits. Mark is a good guitar player, has a great voice and he engages the people really well. Ali runs the bar, usually by herself, and keeps track of everbody's tab.
Mark and Ali are a lot of fun and make the evening pass very quickly.
We drove to Portimao today with friends Don and Cindy. Through the miracle of telecommunications we were able to find Sue and Paul, other friends from Stonecroft for a lunch on the beautiful beach. About the beach - beautiful. The hole in the cliffs is how you get from one beach to another so long as the tide is out.
We had managed to stay away from the cliffs for a few days and concentrate on some inland touring and walking. But they called and we were weak. We drove over to Lagos, through the town and out to Ponta da Piedade. I knew that there was a staircase down to the water - it would be 185 stairs down and then the real test of getting back. What we did not realize was that there would be a small boat at the bottem that would give us a tour of the cliff faces for 40€. We hopped (somewhat literally) into the bobbing and weaving boat for a very exciting tour. We thought the cliffs good from the top - from the bottom they are spectacular.
I just kept the camera going not knowing where it was pointed at times, hoping to get some good photos. 95 taken, here are a fast 6.
- 2 is our captain coming to get us
- 3 is the dock (upper left is a chicken tourist)
- 5 braver kayakers
I had been trying to knock-off a potato recipe that we had a week ago in Silves. I tried a couple of variations of cumin, green chilli, onion and ground pepper. Not really close.
Yesterday I went to the cook and asked for the recipe. I do not have quantities but the ingredients are garlic, onion, tomato, carrot, fresh cilantro, white wine vinegar, and garam masala. Now I just need to work on the quantities.
Segredosmouros Spicy Potatoes
We just walked up the hill to get the car and go grocery shopping. The car had two flat tires. Looking around I realized that most of the cars parked nearby also had two flat tires. Then I saw the slash in one of my tires. Down the hill we went to the GNR station to report that our tires had been slashed. I kinda thought they would want to know. There were a total of nine cars with slashed tires. Back down the street to the local market for bread, and ham. Carol made lunch while I talked to Avis on the phone. They will take the car today and arrange a taxi to the rental office for us to do a new car. "Near perfect" I suppose.
Update: This did go pretty well. Avis came and got the car (the tow truck driver was rubbing his hands together in anticipation of more business), and there was minimal paperwork. The taxi driver showed up and took us to Faro (this was a surprise but I suppose that that is where they had a spare car.) The lady at the Avis desk made it as simple as could be (just crossed out the license plate number on the original agreement and put us back on the road.) For something that could have included lots of wrangling about insurance, and deductables, and claiming it on my insurance when I got home, and how much gas was in the two cars - it was almost a non-event. Cudos to Avis.