Our last day of planned cycling in a country usually goes slightly awry, either because we can't find accomodation where we were hoping to (France, Netherlands, Germany, Spain) or because we got horribly lost (Belgium) or just because we have to cross 2 miles of London. This time it was raining and we had a hill to get over, but other than having to get off and push because a cobbled street was too slippery for our tyres nothing too strange happened and we made it back to Valpacos in reasonable time.
Comming in to town we headed straight for the cafe we had stopped at last time, we were both wet and it was raining too hard to eat lunch outside and we knew we could get some sandwiches there. The trike attracted some attention as ever and when we sat down one of the locals tried a bit French with us. Upon learning that we were English he tapped his friend on the shoulder who turned round and said hello with a definite cockney accent - he was Portuguese but had moved to London more than 35 years ago.
We got chatting and when I told him that we were looking for somewhere to rent over the winter he asked the barman and before we knew it we were being shown around an apartment just a few doors down. It was large, with two bedrooms a kitchen and a dinning room, but the bathroom was horrible and we hoped that we could do better for 200 euros a month. So we all went back to the cafe and then things got really weird. Tony (at least I think that is his name) was going to drive us to see somewhere else, but then we ended up just walking around the corner and talking to a few people, and then walked back to a house on the square and knocking on someone's door. There we met Maria who had already been told we were looking for somewhere to stay and she said this was her father's house and they had a spare room and they didn't want any rent but if we could help out with the bills we could stay with them for a few months.
The families here seem to be very large (or at least people know a lot more of their family) and I think Maria is related to the owner of the cafe who Tony was talking to so maybe that is how it happened, but it was all rather strange and rapid none the less. So now we have somewhere to stay that is obviously within our budget, and fully furnished too. We are learning Portuguese from Maria (who has recently returned after spending 6 years in Ireland, and I thought the cockney-portuguese accent was strange) and living very close to the centre of town and being introduced to more and more people daily.
Hopefully we should be getting broadband installed over the next few days and then we should be all set for the winter in this strange and wonderful place.