I woke up briefly during the night to what sounded like hailstones out on the terrace but when we opened the curtains at 8.00 am we discovered our tiled balcony and white patio furniture were coated in a mixture of mud and grit. It must have rained heavily and as our room is on the uppermost floor, debris from the sloping roof had washed down creating quite a mess. I can’t imagine the maid being too happy having to clear all this up! Fortunately the rain had ceased but it was a dull, overcast start to the day.
A leisurely breakfast this morning as trains to Silves are infrequent and being only a 35 minute journey we decided that it wasn’t necessary to set off early for the 9.15 am departure so we opted for the one a couple of hours later. Getting to Silves is quite easy but a little pre planning is required, adult rail tickets cost €5.80 return travelling on any service. We boarded the 11.15 am train which was old with windows thickly coated in grime that looked as if they hadn’t been cleaned in years, so bad, in fact, that we couldn’t see through them to read the station signs. As no announcements are made, it was fortunate that we had picked up a timetable and knew that Silves was the third stop after Portimao, otherwise we could have continued without noticing.
Silves station is actually a 25 minute walk from the old town, so on leaving the station we needed to turn right without crossing the track and at the nearby level crossing proceed along the road into town. It’s mostly downhill and for part of the route there is no pavement. This isn’t a cause for alarm as the road is fairly quiet and we managed to keep close into the verge and out of the way of the oncoming traffic.
Approaching the town, we caught a glimpse of both the castle and cathedral standing side by side, perched on the hillside overlooking the river. Crossing the old, white painted stone bridge over the River Arade, the picturesque small town with its narrow alleyways and cobbled streets still had a prosperous feel to it. The town became important in Moorish times as its river provided boat access to inland areas of the Algarve. Traditional tiled facades on buildings remain today indicating that it was a rich merchants town.
Spotting the municipal market hall, we popped in for a look around where we marvelled at its high pitched roof giving the appearance of a church. Marble slabs displayed eel, bream, salmon and many unidentifiable fish whilst other stalls displayed fresh fruit and vegetables piled high with dried chillis decorating their stalls.
A network of steep cobbled steps and passageways led us to the Silves Cathedral being one of the remaining Gothic monuments in Portugal. Nearby stands the Castello de Silves, the best preserved castle in the Algarve. Climbing the steps onto the city walls we had spectacular views looking down into the labyrinth of winding lanes of this fine old town. From here, we could also see the pretty central square, Praca do Municipio with its palms, bougainvillea and ornately tiled square.
Making our way down the winding lanes we glanced in some of the small shops, many selling local arts and crafts. It was then a steep uphill climb back to the railway station for our return journey to Lagos, but well worthwhile as Silves is a delightful town to wander round and explore.
Just as we arrived back into Lagos it started raining so we returned to our hotel and visited the hotel’s spa for the first time. Here we found an indoor pool, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna where we relaxed for awhile prior to eating dinner in a local Pizzeria.
A relaxing end to another lovely day in the Algarve.
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