NOVEMBER 30, 2021: This morning was our last activity related to Wandering Jew. We had a private Jewish tour of Faro with Ernesto. He is a resident of Faro, maybe has some Jewish roots (he has not investigated his family tree yet, but believes there might be), and has a strong scholarly interest in the history of the Jews. Yesterday we had a two-hour general tour of Faro, but knowing we were from Israel, the guide added many points related to the Jewish history. We thought that today would be just more of the same. However, Ernesto knew a lot more, especially about the rejuvenated Jewish community that lived in Faro in the late 1800’s.
We walked the city streets once again with him, and basically saw what we saw yesterday, but he added several stops outside the old city walls, when he took us to several houses that once belonged to influential Jews and told us their stories. Basically, in the 19th century the Jews returned to Faro and were very successful. The cemetery was established in 1820. They built two synagogues, one for the wealthy and one for the less wealthy. They built luxurious houses (some standing till today) and had their own social club. The community lasted over 100 years, but since most of the Jews were merchants, they eventually moved to the big cities, Lisbon or Porto, to grow their businesses. Today there is no Jewish community in Faro.
Ernesto emphasized how Portugal has always appreciated the Jewish contribution. Mark’s favorite story that he told us, was that after the earthquake in 1755, the Prime Minister, Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, 1st Marquis of Pombal, wanted to invite the Jews to come back to Portugal to help with financing the rebuilding effort. He outlawed religious discrimination and burnt the records that indicated which families were New Christians and which where Old Christians. The pope and the king were less enthusiastic about his idea, and only agreed on the condition that the Jews be forced to wear distinctive yellow hats. At his next meeting with the king and the pope, he brought three of these hats, and gave one to each of them and put the third one on himself and said, “Let’s admit that we all have Jewish blood”. His action of moving responsibility for the inquisition from the church to the state, in practice stopped the inquisition, although it was only officially ended many years later.
Ernesto also gave us more information about the Faro Municipal Museum. One of the returning Jewish merchants, bought the convent that stood where the Jewish quarter used to be. Retribution time. He turned it into a successful cork factory, and it was from his family that the municipality purchased the building to create the current Municipal Museum. Today the museum was open, and before leaving Faro, we went in to have a quick look.
Our next destination was Senhora da Rocha, this was the beginning of a 4-kilometer walk along the cliffs, above one of the most beautiful sections of the Portuguese shoreline.
To reach there, we decided to avoid the highway and take the local roads. Local roads previously took us through beautiful back country scenery. Here in the populated Algarve, it was driving through one big urban sprawl. Where one village ended, another began. All sorts of businesses, houses, apartments. A built up metropolitan suburban area.
We reached Senhora da Rocha, parked our car, and began the hike. It was not as easy as we thought it would be – the trail was rocky and sometimes involved climbing up and down. There were no railings, and you were often on the edge of the cliff. Not a hike to do with children. The path was not well marked, and we took some wrong turns along the way. Was it worth it – ABSOLUTELY! The views were stunning. We overlooked many beaches that are only accessible by boat. The cliffs were stunningly beautiful. The sky was blue, the sea was bluer, the sun was shining. The seagulls kept us company. It took us almost four hours to do the 4 kilometers – and we enjoyed every minute of it.
The cliff walk ended at Praia da Marinah, who some would say is the most beautiful beach in the Algarve. From the trail, we climbed down 76 steps to the sand and then walked along the beach. We wanted to see what they call the M Rock – a double arch. It is only accessible in low tide, which was now, and we clambered through the rocks to get a good look.
We returned to the stairs and climbed the 114 steps to the parking lot. We waited a bit (we were in the middle of nowhere), and the Uber ride eventually showed up and drove us back to our car.
From there we drove to our apartment for the night, at the Monte Santo resort. We arrived just as it was getting dark, and then did the new usual, which is light Hanukah candles, then dinner and then computer time. Tomorrow we continue further west.