At Queens University we were given a 3 week spring break before exams started. I decided to take four of those days and go to Portugal. Partially because it was one of the cheapest flights, but mostly because I wanted to get out of the cold and rain and get to a beach. Unfortunately it was also raining in Portugal. Fortunately it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken.
We, (me and my Brazilian friend Acacia) flew in early to Faro, which is on the southern coast. We immediately began walking around, taking pictures despite being extremely tired from the early flight. We wandered the city until it was time to check in to the hostel. The hostel was different from anyone that I had, or would, stay at. It was smashed in to a wall in-between two shops, if you weren’t looking for it, it would be easily missed. But the odd thing was is that you didn’t need a key to get in, you just walked right in and went to your room. It was odd to me how trusting they were, but no one seemed to have any problems with it and neither did we. The second strange thing was that the room had 16 people in it, all crammed in to bunk beds. This made for some uncomfortable nights as people snored and came in slightly intoxicated, but it was well worth the experience.
After checking in we walked to get dinner and even though it had been raining earlier that had stopped and the sun was beginning to set. It was a great sight, and we chose to sit on a bench off of the harbor to enjoy it.
Even though we were extremely tired at this point we decided to go to a tiny bar we had passed earlier and try some Port wine. We were the only people in the bar at the time because, as we found out later, people in Portugal don’t usually got out until after midnight. The wine was great and unlike anything I have ever tried. After that we walked the cobblestone streets back to hostel to get some sleep.
The next morning had us exploring more and dodging more rain. We started at a cathedral which was very impressive on the inside. While in there we saw a sign that said “Bone Chapel” with an arrow pointing towards a room in the back. We walked back and paid 2 euros to get in. When we walked in we were greeted to this:
The room was about 12 feet long and 30 feet high, completely covered with human bones. We stayed and looked for a few minutes trying to comprehend what this was and why they would choose to build something like this. A sign explained to for them this was a tribute for those who had died in the graveyard near this cathedral and they weren’t the only one in Portugal to have one. After that we checked out a few more churches and explored more before heading back to hostel for a snore filled night.
The next day we took a bus trip to Lagos, which is about 2 hours away from Faro. Although it started out raining soon the weather got nice and we rushed to the beach to enjoy sun while it was out for about 20 minutes. The natural cliffs lined the beaches and to get to other sections of beach you had to climb through short caverns carved out of the rock.
Soon the weather turned again and we rushed off the beach to avoid getting caught in rain. Before we left we walked by a place that had at one time been a slave market. Although id didn’t look like much a sign explained that for many years slaves were sold there until Portugal finally outlawed it. After that the rain started to really pick up so we headed out.
The next day we planned to go to the beach, but unfortunately we were hit with more rain so we only lasted about an hour. It ended up being just fine though, as we spent the last day relaxing in Faro sitting on the bench in the harbor, people watching.
One thing we hadn’t realized is that we had picked good Friday to be in Faro, which is a very religious city. So once the sun went down a man came around swinging a long pice of metal with two swinging pieces attached so they could clang loudly when he shook it. This drew the people to the front of the cathedral where a service was held. I don’t speak any Portuguese so I wasn’t able to make anything out, but after that they started a small procession through the city. My camera was unable to get any good pictures because it was too dark.
Overall it was the best spring break I’d ever had.