Welcome to Portugal

The flight from Oakland to Portugal brought us to Faro, a touristy beach town in southern Portugal. This wasn’t a choice based on visiting the coast, it was the only location for the airline of choice to land in Portugal. The flight over, which included a flight change in London, was uneventful but the arrival in Portugal couldn’t have been more spectacular as a beautiful sunset appeared off our side of the plane.

Although we have been to Portugal before, this was our first time outside the greater Lisbon area. We checked into our hotel, in a little alley with another alley of restaurants and cafes in back. There was a lively night scene typical of Portugal, with kids, teens, young adults, families, and older adults sitting at tables drinking wine and beer, people smoking away from the tables, often also drinking, and the kids running around.


I had bought a camera specifically for this trip a year ago but the trip had to be delayed. It was a change for me, much lighter and simpler than what I usually carried. It was a return to when I first traveled to Europe carrying a simple 35mm camera with a fixed lens. Everything worked out fine despite a few moments when I inadvertently set things wrong and couldn’t figure out exactly how to get the right settings.


First Day in Faro

In the morning, it was steamy and hot, very unexpected, at least by me, unlike both tourists and locals. Almost everyone else had on shorts and many were heading to the beach. We wanted to wander the town and I wanted to find out if there would be anything interesting in a beach town to photograph. It turned out there was plenty. Faro has an historic old town that is well-preserved if somewhat over-touristed. The locals appeared to live, or at least congregate, away from the beach and the old town. There were plenty of streets to wander in the old town. I even found something that brought up questions about what happened the night before.

Faro Shoes

A local tattoo parlor had terrific art on the wall outside with plenty of graffiti on an adjacent wall. Although Portugal has plenty of graffiti, the taggers don’t usually touch art or existing signs, just create new work on empty walls.

The Tattoo Parlor

While much of Portugal (and Spain) identifies as Catholic, there doesn’t seem to be much church attendance on Sundays. However, perhaps as a legacy of days past, there are plenty of signs of the religion everywhere, churches, crosses, even occasional saints.

Window and Cross

Speaking of Religion

The strangest building in Faro, and one of the strangest in Europe, the Capela de Osso, built in the 19th century inside a larger 18th century church, is filled with skulls and bones of over 5000 people. It’s a delightfully macabre demonstration of the bizarre twists religion can take. It’s not that big but it leaves a lasting effect.

Watch this slideshow to see the Capela do Osso: