After three days of hard work, it was time for a cultural visit. The group was interested to see a range of cities and places while in Portugal, and visited Seville and Cordoba after I left, which took them to an even hotter part of the Iberian peninsula.
We met up with Herlander, who I had met on a previous visit, when we were scoping out a possible project involving vocational learning.
We travelled from Cuba to Beja, the regional capital, and then onwards to pick up the toll motorway south. This took us through vineyards, and past an area where the main employment was a large copper mine. We travelled in convoy in 3 cars. After a slow route through the Alentejo, our speed picked up once we passed through the passagem and onto the toll road, and the landscape changed as we headed south, with hills topped with wind turbines.
We had our first sight of the sea, and then onwards along the coast road, and down into Vilamoura. This is a golfing resort, with a range of holiday villas and timeshares – the sort of place you see on TV programmes such as ‘A Place in the Sun’ and not the sort of area that I would normally find myself in.
We parked, and walked down to the beach. The sea was at a temperature of around 22 degrees C.
We also travelled to the nearby resort of Quarteira, which was less ‘manicured’ than Vilamoura, and where the price of everything was cheaper. This was the sort of beach resort which at this time of year swells with holidaymakers, with lots of English pubs selling full English breakfasts. We sat in a beach front café and had a cold Caneca, then I took a wander around the town, including the market where there was an amazing variety of fresh fish. Lunch was at a fish restaurant with excellent sea bass.
The afternoon was spent at Vilamoura resort, and the marina in particular, which was a little like Portsmouth Gunwharf Quay or similar developments: bars, shopping and entertainment. One difference was the row of super yachts moored outside the Tivoli Hotel, which also included a row of super cars including a Hummer and a few Lamborghinis. There were some people taking pictures of the cars. I found a bar called Parky’s for a beer, and also had some very good Venetian ice cream.
We went to a large mall for our evening meal as the sun set behind the mountains, and we then hit the toll road back North, through the fading light, and made our way back to the hotel and back home for a nightcap and a final beer.