Chapel of Bones

Chapel of Bones.  Built by Carmelite monks in the 1800s in Faro using the displaced bones from a cemetery on the church's construction site ....smaller and less well known than the  Chapel of Bones in nearby Evora, which greets visitors with a reminder of the transitory nature of life. "We, the bones that are here, await yours." and the following prose:

Where are you going in such a hurry traveler?
Stop … do not proceed;
You have no greater concern,
Than this one: that on which you focus your sight.
Recall how many have passed from this world,
Reflect on your similar end,
There is good reason to reflect
If only all did the same.
Ponder, you so influenced by fate,
Among all the many concerns of the world,
So little do you reflect on death;
If by chance you glance at this place,
Stop … for the sake of your journey,
The more you pause, the further on your journey you will be.

Ponte da Piadade

The Algarve region of Portugal has some some fantastic stretches of coastline, replete with private beaches, rock cliffs and grottos.      

 Some fun on an isolated cove beach.

 Small cave tunnel connecting one beach cove to another.
 This girl turned 12 the day we visited! That marks four different countries for her last four birthdays (US, Germany, Czech Republic and Portugal).
 We came a little unprepared for the nice weather, but four year olds do not understand, "You can't get wet because you don't have a swimsuit."

Where in the world is Faro?

SOME PEOPLE have said low cost carrier RyanAir is the world's most hated airline.   This is the airline,  after all, who threatened to charge customers for the use of airplane bathrooms. 

But it's also an airline that can take you all over Europe for approximately the cost of bus fare,  Later this spring we will fly our entire family round trip to Sicily for around 300 euros (occasionally they offer $0.01 tickets).  And if you follow the rules (and I mean carefully) they are fast, dependable, and on-time.   

And so because of that, sometimes we might just click buy on some really good ticket deals for an upcoming weekend, book 'em, and then around the time the confirmation email arrives in our inbox ask out loud, "Where is that exactly, and what are we actually going to do there?". 

Enter Faro.  By the way, that's in Portugal.    And it turns out there's stuff to do there.  

Arena of Nimes

IT'S TRUE WHAT THEY SAY....that the best Roman ruins are not exactly in Rome - they are in Southern France.  Nimes is a centerpiece of Roman history in the area (see Pont du Gard).   On the way back from Port Barcares we stopped off in the Nimes city center to eat lunch and see the Arena of Nimes. I suppose it doesn't necessarily qualify as a Roman ruin, per se, because (and think about this for a second) the colosseum is still in use as an arena.   Wow!

There was a Christmas market in the square with a Ferris Wheel strategically located directly next to the Arena...for some over-the-top photo ops.

Cool Ewe? Cool You're? Collioure.

The day before we left Port Barcares we took a short trip to a small coastal French town - Collioure.   I have to say, this was one of the biggest small surprises we had on our trip.  Collioure has a distinct Cinque Terra feel (one of our favorite places in Europe) with its own French feel.   

The only mildly difficult thing about Collioure is trying to pronounce it. cool-EWE? cool-URE? cool-OOO? Whatever. 

 Collioure harbor bay with the Chateau Royal de Collioure to the left.

 Collioure has a beautiful cove beach in an isolated bay on it's sea front.

 The buildings, colors, structures and setting is reminiscent of the Italian Cinque Terra.

 Castles and a stone windmill command the hilltops around the town.
 The iconic stone lighthouse.