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Day 8 : Lagos - of Skodas and Burgers

 And here we are at the slower part of our trip, our time in Portugal, where we will stay and just chill for a few days. Our itinerary is mainly finding lovely cliffs/beaches to wander along. Was this iternary created by my hiking wife? Yes. Does she do every iota of organizing for our trips? Also yes. Do I then deserve any opinion about this 'hey aren't we just hiking but in a different counry?' trip? No. No I do not.

Hokay, another set of busses, nothing to repr, but this bus station was quite pretty:

We find out way to the Faro airport, to pick up our car, the scene looks something like this:

This seems like something you'd see at the turn of the century when things like the BBB or car safety regulations didn't exist. Who knew there were so many car rental company's I have NEVER heard of. The misspelling of "Shuttle" did not fill me with confidence either. Or the general disarray of the line (not pictured), there were real concerns we'd take the shuttle and be left in a tumbleweed filled junkyard with some fellow who's name is pronounced with sounds that do not usually go together, and a pack of junkyard dogs that haven't tasted human flesh in hours. 

There is some drama involving our shuttle driver. He comes by, he doesn't pick us up, he comes by again, he promises to pick us up next time, he comes by again, and he forgot he promised to pick us up. My wife is getting to the point were we might get 'assertive'. I hold my ground to my passive 'live and let live hang loose we're all on vacation let's not worry about it' style of confrontation, and let me tell you, everything just kind of resolves itself by dumb luck and attrition.

We finally get the shuttle the rental car spot, which is just a series of fancy train boxcars welded together. The confidence is not high. But then when finally get a car, a Skoda no less (I don't know what the reputation of the brand is now, but when I was a kid it was regarded as perhaps a driving lawnmower rated for highway driving if everyone has signed a waiver). The engine sounds like a family of rabid racoons are having a fight to the death with rusty bike chains but somehow that, and the fact that there is a "Oil Change Required Now" light on permanent blink makes me less worried about the whole thing.

There is perhaps a mystery to driving in a foreign country. To me this is the last, or near last stage of adulthood. Sure I don't understand the language or, technically, all the traffic laws and signs. But I know how a clutch works and by God Google maps will see me through. The shifting, the absolute butchering of the language Google maps does as it reads out roads is a further comfort. Before long I'm driving just under the speed limit keeping my 5 -10 second distance from everyone around me jsut like at home. Do I perhaps make people think I'm a pensioner? Maybe. But is it safe? I sure hope so. 

We follow the Google maps to a spot it says we have to go to get a meal. The kids have been putting up with my 'let's eat someplace that has as close to local fare as possible' vibe for long enough. They deserve a proper burger. But of course, it has to be from a Portuguese fast food spot, Burger Ranch it is! It seems to be everywhere, proudly declares itself to be Portuguese, and it's website has strong 'we did this once in 2015 and we will never do anything like this ever again. The lack of prices is a dead give away. 

So, going to Burger Ranch, we again, trust in the Google Map gods. The thing is, Google maps doesn't actually care if it's awkward as all get out, or if the path becomes so narrow that the walls leaning into the street are plastered with other car rental's paint. I felt like I was in a Bond movie, where he commandeers a Mini Cooper and drives haphazardly down cobbled streets, sparks flying as he scrapes wall. Except this is a Skoda, I'm going far, far slower, and the only sparks flying are from my wife's eyes as she shoots me daggers for continuing to follow the instructions to our certain doom. 

We have to keep going because the streets can't KEEP getting narrower, I reason. There has to be a loop because this street is only EVER one way, forever. If this road didn't get wider we'd end up at the end in a pile of car rentals, likely Skodas, all with trapped tourists begging Google maps to guide them, out, the last flickering of their phone screens as their battery dies the last thing they see. 

Clearly, we didn't die in a pile of trapped cars. But we did have to loop around and walk in. Now, in the smaller cities, we realized we had to look where we wanted to go, then search for a parking lot near by. 

After the burger and fries (good, btw), we get some Portuguese egg tarts. Excellent, obviously. And we realize the Portuguese egg tarts we get at home are more Portuguese egg tarts as understood by folks who usually have Chinese egg tarts. One isn't better than the other, but one is certainly more authentic.

Then we go for nice walk alone the sea. It's beautiful but a little too nature minded, not enough historical buildings for my taste. But at the end is a fort! Sadly, tragically, bereft of any plaques whatsoever, but did possess a lovely chapel, whose ornateness only made the lack of plaques even more disconcerting.

We then drove to the nearest  beach side and
wandered amongst the cliffs and beaches, more or less what we are going to be doing for 4 days, might as well get a head start on it, the thinking goes.

And we round out going to a local-ish place with, I'm sure, local delicacies, but clearly setup for tourists. The peri peri chicken was grilled to perfection, a proper juicy chicken breast being quite a tricky thing to do, I've found. I had the pork cheeks. I try not to think, which cheeks, but the thought does come unbidden.

Tomorrow we dive into full on hike/walk mode. About which I have no negative opinions of whatsoever. 


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