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Thursday, 19 November 2009

A Direct Journey

In more relaxed mode today, and a trip to Faro for a walk around the old town, along with a stroll around the marina. The journey pointed up one of those areas where languages do not easily translate between one another, and the difference in traffic volumes between weekdays and weekends. And there were interesting sights along the way.

Eva put on a so-called Directa bus between Albufeira and Faro on weekdays (altogether, the weekend service offers only a third of the weekday service level). I’d used it before, and wondered what was “direct” about it when compared with its seven days a week “normal” cousin. My assumption was wide of the mark: the use of the term Directa means “limited stop”. This would have been useful information for the bloke who should have got off this morning’s bus in Almancil and found himself carried on to the outskirts of Faro.

Faro’s old town, which is worth the detour, is also no less crawling with traffic than the rest of the city. After all, many of the buildings are residential property, and if you arrange so much of life around the motor vehicle, residents will buy cars and want access, wherever they live. And where many of the expats live can be glimpsed from the windows of that bus as it picks its way around the coastal towns and villages on its way into Faro.

The glimpse is possible as you pass by the golf courses, country clubs and upmarket resort complexes that are Vilamoura. Here, there is also a marina filled with the most upmarket of yachts: the equivalent in Faro has only small motor boats on view, as the bridge carrying the railway over the entrance is welded shut. Those golf courses look unnaturally green, due to regular watering, and their regulars, if they do not live in the resort, have their satisfyingly expensive homes in Vale do Lobo or Quinta do Lago.

They shop at the Apolonia supermarket near Almancil, as there are English speaking greeters, plenty of free parking spaces, and lots of reassuringly familiar brands. The locals frequent the little Minipre├žo in the town centre, where no English is spoken, there is no car parking outside, and if it’s on the shelves, it’s usually Dia own brand.

Those folks on the golf course may look down their noses at the punters on Albufeira’s “strip”, but the idea is much the same: both want the parts of countries like Portugal that appeal to them, while keeping out the locals.

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