Sines…the beauty within

You sit and watch the sun go down, kiss-kiss and count all your blessings and then realise that you still have to get to your new place for the night. Sigh. Then you enter the GPS co-ordinates into the sat-nav and it calculates that you will reach your destination in about one hour and ten minutes. No, not accepting that. It’s pitch dark and you need to get there pronto, so you “ask” your smartphone. The little so-and-so is not smart at all. It adds another seven kilometres and eleven minutes to your route. So you switch that little smarty-pants off and hit the road. Sat-nav shows that the road is straight and long. Very loooooooong. Alrighty then, let’s go! Hopefully no zzzz-ing behind the wheel. Did I mention the pitch darkness? It was worse! Every kilometre was as exciting as watching paint dry. No town, not even a village or two. Lights? Helloooo! Anyone out there? To the left and to the right, nothing. Nada. Zilch. Wait! There was one little round-about though. Wooo! Weee! Then silence. The only noise to be heard were two rr-rr-rr-rumbling stomachs. We were famished and also worried that we’ll have nothing to eat for the night. You can’t go to bed with a tummy full of oranges. You just can’t. Tried that once. Spent the whole night eliminating citrus waste. We hoped to dine at the hotel restaurant, but we had to be there before eight. We were also tired, but we stifled our yawns and pushed them pedals. Go, go, go! Ten or twenty so kilometres over the speed limit was okay, or…? Just asking for a friend 😇   

To cut a very long story short, we reached our destination with fifteen minutes to spare before dinner. Those minutes were used to get into the basement parking. It was like dipping down from a rollercoaster, with lots of African screaming. The time actually didn’t matter in the end because the staff were very kind and accommodating. The manager thought it was more important to show us the hotel. We loved it! The view over Sines by night (see the above photos) was simply amazing! We checked into our cosy, (okay, a bit tight, but comfy) room, freshened up a bit then hit the restaurant. Fried fish please, and wine. Even though we gobbled it all up, the meal was disappointing. We had high expectations considering that the restaurant was highly praised. Whatever. The wine and lots of cocktails and sparkling water made up for it…and the disco afterwards. Tired??? Noooooo…💃🏻🕺 

Sines really surprised us. It is beautiful, despite its large industrial port, a power plant and the oil refinery. These add a certain charm to the city. The marina and the huge Vasco da Gama beach with its soft golden sand puts the cherry on the top. Eating breakfast with a city panorama at your feet is a wonderful way to start your day. Oh, and eating all those delicious pasteis de natas too. Sugar rush. Our hotel was perched right on top of a hill, so exploring on foot was the better option. The rollercoaster ride was still talking to the knees. Thank goodness for custard pies 🥳 Camera? Check. Water? Check. Natas? Check. Check. Check. It went downhill from there, teehee 🤪

It is very pleasant to stroll along the beach. Now and again a dog would snarl and show you its pearly whites while trying to mark his territory. Then it’ll give up to go and pee on a brick wall. It was Sunday, so it was very quiet…and hot. It was also out of season so we were like the only ones huffing and puffing ooh-ing and aah-ing and taking lots of photos. Lots. The weather was lovely too. Sunny blue skies and a bit of humidity.

Then the uphill battle started 🧗🏻‍♀️🤣. There is an elevator thingy but seeing that it was the day of rest, it was locked up. Seriously though, the up-up-up was not as bad as the one that hates walking up anything expected. Easy peasy, especially after a night of hip-shaking…The views from up there were absolutely rewarding!

Sines has been around since the middles ages. The Visigoths, the Moors, the Romans, they all at one time or other settled in Sines. Vasco da Gama, the famous explorer, said to be the first European to reach India by sea, was born here. Yep, he’s the dude who landed in South Africa many moons ago, and who also named one of the provinces, Natal (Portuguese for birth of Christ). It has since been renamed to Kwazulu-Natal. How fascinating it was to walk on those same cobble stones that ole Vasco might have stepped on centuries ago, maybe not knowing that he would be making the world more spicy. Good spicy and bad spicy. They had the salt, but they needed some pepper, so off to India he went. One of his ships that sunk way back in early 1500 was found and excavated only about six to eight years ago. The Esmeralda! How fitting! 😇 A Vasco monument stands on the grounds of the castle where he was apparently born, looking over towards the vast sea and beyond. Sines is rightly proud of him because his explorations brought a lot of wealth to his country. History. We enjoy. We move on. Life is good. Te amo Portugal ❤️

We peeped into a quaint little church, !OOPS! Sunday mass, do not disturb, enjoyed the sights and sounds of the old town, saw some ruins, then finally sauntered our way back to the hotel. It was time to move on. Sines, you are a wonderful city. Obrigada.

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