Now that I had one solo adventure in a foreign city under my belt, I was feeling a bit more confident when it came time to do some exploring the next day. I decided to venture down to the Cidade Velha (Old Town) to check out a few things I had read about online, most notably the archaeology museum.
The first stop of the day was the Arco de Vila, the historic arched entrance into the walled area of the city. It is an impressive piece of architecture, made even more interesting by the storks literally dancing on top.
I passed through the arch and made my way up a narrow road to the main square of Cidade Velha. The perimeter is delineated by a row of charming flats that once served as a convent for nuns serving at the Faro Cathedral, which dominated the center of the square.
I figured the cathedral would be pretty similar to Carmo Church and not really worth my time when I had other things to see. But the exterior was intriguing enough that I thought, “Why not peek inside for a little bit?”
BEST. IMPULSE. ADVENTURE. EVER.
I stepped inside and was greeted by a verrrrry handsome young Portuguese guy. He sold me my ticket (€1.50 with a student discount), and then talked to me for a long time about history and nature–the very things that make my little heart go pitter patter. When he found out that I’m currently living in England, he told me that England and Portugal are old friends, and that the Portuguese taught the English how to drink tea and the English taught the Portuguese how to make wine! I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but it sure makes for a great story, eh?
As we talked, he got closer and closer and closer and kept touching my arm, all smiles and charm. He added in a story about how he used to play football for Poland until he injured his knee, and I would have handed him my heart in a basket if he’d asked for it. *Phew!* What a flirt!
He finally let me go and directed me up to the bell tower, where I had the most spectacular view of Faro and the Ria Formosa (the wildlife refuge). Wow! I mean, WOW!
I climbed down from the tower and my friend came out of his little office to ask how I liked the view (very much!) and then pointed me toward the chapel and museum inside. Wow again! It was similar to Carmo Church, but bigger and a bit more ornate. I didn’t get a lot of pictures that turned out well because it was a bit darker inside and I hadn’t brought a tripod, but it was gorgeous. The museum had some beautiful robes and relics, too. There was also a courtyard with a small chapel to St. Michael and another chapel of bones–but this one wasn’t nearly as impressive as the one at Carmo Church.
When I finished exploring and headed for the exit, I called, “Obrigada!” to my flirty friend.
“Madam, wait!” he called after me, and so I walked over to his office to find out what he needed.
“I am going to give you my number,” he said. “And you call me, and I will take you out for some coffee or something.”
Excuse me, whaaaaaaaa?!!!!! Did I just get asked out? By one of the most attractive men I have ever met? Who charmed me with conversation about history and nature and wooed me with his sweet smile and long eyelashes? Is this MY life?
I was so flabbergasted that I couldn’t find the words to explain that I don’t actually drink coffee, but was terribly flattered that he wanted to take me out. He handed me a piece of paper with his phone number and email address and said, “If you want to.”
Oh, I want to. But I’m a single girl in a foreign country all by myself and I just met you. At a church, but still…
“Okay,” I said. “I don’t know if my phone will work here.”
JESS. We have GOT to work on your flirting skills. Even if you already knew you’d never call, at least bat your eyelashes at the boy.
You can stop blushing though. That’s quite enough of that already…
“Okay,” he said. “You have my email address, too. You think about it.”
“I’ll think about it,” I laughed. Yeah, and I won’t stop thinking about it for days, either…
“Because you are very beautiful,” he added, caressing my arm. “I want to be with you.”
I came thiiiiiiiisssss close to laughing out loud at that bit. How can I be such a hopeless romantic when I find comments like that so ridiculously hilarious? I mean, so so so so so so flattering, but also hilarious.
Maybe it’s because things like this never ever happen to me, so when it does, my body doesn’t have a clue how to react. So it’s like, “Hmmmm, that was unexpected. Must be a joke. Jokes are funny because they’re unexpected. Definitely a joke. Initiate laugh reflex.”
But I don’t even care that it was kind of ridiculous–it was perfect and romantic. Maybe now there’s an alternate universe where another me called that number, went out with Ticket Man (but not for coffee, obivously), fell in love, moved to Portugal, got married, and had ten gorgeous babies all named after historical figures and birds.
And maybe there’s another alternate universe where another me called that number and got kidnapped, but whatever, okay? Let me have this moment.
I left the Cathedral with a spring in my step and a silly grin on my face, which stayed there as I wandered through the archaeology museum.
That museum was what I had been most excited about for the day, but now it kind of paled in comparison to the Cathedral. It was nice, but honestly, I was a bit distracted.
Can you blame me?
Turns out, Ticket Man wasn’t the only Portuguese guy who would vie for my heart that week. But those are stories for another post. 😉
*Sigh* I love Portugal.