Had Rod had his way, we would have forfeited the rest of the trip, including penalties on hotels and loss of expensive airline tickets, by flying home early. Of course, we would have been spared the six hours (my estimate) sitting through The Book of Mormon in London. Tough call.
Lagos should not be called a “sleepy” town, but it is not bustling. Like all of our other visits, including Munich, there were perhaps a dozen street musicians belting out their version of Cohen’s Hallelujah. My guess is that aspiring artists start with Lagos and work their way north after a couple days of practice. Identifying the song was aided by lyrics.
The streets of the old town, mosaic as in all other places in Portugal, are lined with outdoor restaurants with a wider span of quality than cuisine. Some cafés are distinguished from their neighbors by chair design or table color; others are delineated by interlaced trinket and tee shirt shops. It is worth an afternoon’s browsing. Our plan to explore the caves and grottos of the coast were set aside for another day, but knowing how way leads on to way…
Lagos has the feel of being at an awkward teenage stage—lots of spirit and potential, but unpolished. Places like this are defined, not by their fans, but by their critics, who are always louder. Few will praise the innocent beauty as much as complain of the undeveloped beaches and lack of a good disco to get fleeced on expensive, après-soleil cocktails or three star Michelin restaurants. When those improvements uproot the unsophisticated sincerity of the small businesses that are at the core of Lagos’s charm, the old fans will become the new critics and raise their voices in righteous anger over what they failed to champion when it was right in front of their sandals.
Our last night in Portugal was spent at the airport hotel, a short walk from Terminal 1 but a great distance from Gate 49. Here is a good place to insert a minor criticism of the normally friendly Portuguese and their inability to deliver clear directions. They like to point, often omitting turns or distinguishing characteristic of a building, like its being covered in scaffolding. At the airport we spent time in lines we were told to use only to learn that our tickets afforded us a shorter, more convenient option, a required option. We missed our flight.
We enjoyed Portugal, but it proved more difficult to navigate than we expected of a first-world nation. English is widely spoken and has been a requirement of primary education for years. It often felt as though tourists are tolerated, but not enjoyed, certainly not appreciated for our easily bearable transience.
Portugal seems to be on its way up, gradually climbing out to the economic mess visited upon the country by the 2008 recession. When they learn to cook, it will be heaven. (Okay, the shared salad shown above and followed with a vegan lasagna for me and beef for Rod was really first rate.)