March 7

Nobody is interested

An interesting travel piece, “Portugal’s welcome mat seemed to elude David Whitley,” appeared in the Sun Herald on 4 March, 2007.  

Visiting Faro in Portugal, Mr. Whitley found that everything was eerily and strangely quiet. “Shops are closed, and there is not the slightest sign of traffic on the roads. Outside the church of Our Lady of Carmel, a single visitor tries clawing back the oppressive brown doors, presumably wanting to get inside to see the gold panelling and chapel made from the bones of monks. No chance… Faro appears to be asleep.  Eventually, it is time to abandon hope of ever seeing the glistening and ghoulish attractions inside and explore the main city of the Algarve region. ….. Where is everyone? Has a plague run through the town or something? It’s all very well having a lie-in but there are some excitable tourists to entertain here.  Unfortunately, even the tourist information centre doesn’t want to see to that task. It, too, is closed; an empty shell by the main thoroughfare, the Avenida 5 de … "

That was the clue. “If a main road is named after a date, then there’s a fair chance that said date hasn’t just been picked from the calendar at random. A quick glance at the guidebook confirms that it hasn’t been. It’s Republic Day in Faro, a supposed celebration of Portugal’s momentous change of constitution in 1910, and nobody seems to care.


Republic Day, therefore, appears to be an excuse to mooch around the house in slippers and pemaps watch a Sandra Bullock film on DVD.’


Finding this means the bus to the beach is almost empty and few are at the beach.  “The only dilemma now,” he says, “ is where on the miles of shoreline is the prime spot to lay down the towel. Hooray for the republic.” 


As Malcolm Turnbull wrote in his diary months before the referendum, “…we have Buckley’s chance of winning… nobody is interested.."








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