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Thursday, 18 February 2010

No time for losers

Our first night in Portugal was spent in the campsite bar watching Manchester United beat AC Milano in the European Champions League match. Everywhere we go, when we tell people we live in Manchester, they respond with recognition and say, ‘Yes, Manchester United!’ Until we met Karin; she was on our wave length in so many ways, but, despite being Italian, had little interest in football and when we asked if she knew of Manchester United, she replied that she had heard of it, but what was it.
Our first impressions of Portugal are that although not surprisingly the architecture has similarities to Spain, it is clearly a different country. The Portuguese win hands down on the imaginative use of tiling competition and they do a nice line in decorative chimney pots, more buildings are still awaiting renovation and show signs of deterioration, the language is different; similar enough so we can read it, but we have no idea how to pronounce it, the coffee costs less than one euro a cup in the cafes and we are in the same time zone as the UK.
We are camped in Olhao, with the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa across the road from the campsite. This part of the Algarve coast is small, active fishing towns, with salt marshes, lagoons and off-shore sandy islands.
We took the train for a day out to Tavira; a small town on a river with a ruined castle above the town. Our first meal in Portugal was a curry, very appropriate as apparently the Portuguese colonialists introduced chillis from Mexico to India along with the word vindaloo.

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