Travel 2009 – Portimao, Days 3 and 4

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Saturday, 12th/Sunday, 13th September 2009 – Portimao, Days 3 and 4

Saturday morning dawned slightly cloudy but it soon cleared and we headed out to the circuit for qualifying. This time we left Bogusia at the hotel, and Natasha/Doris switched off, which meant that instead of taking an hour to reach the track it only took 15 minutes… Just goes to show we should have stuck rigidly to Karun’s instructions and not taken a blind bit of notice of the SatNav. Still, Friday’s drive was much prettier, and we wouldn’t have passed the vineyard that we later ended up drinking the products of later in the week! Anyway, I won’t bore everyone with the racing. Those who want the story, know where to find it, and the rest of you wouldn’t thank me for it! After a full day at the track, we headed back to the hotel for a shower, a change of clothes, and a drink in the bar. We hooked up with Adriana as planned, and eventually made it to the hotel restaurant, where we ate a supposed Greek salad, swordfish steaks and an OK creme caramel.

It wasn’t stunning, but it was OK, and with the bread, olives, carrot salad, a bottle of wine, a bottle of water and a fruit juice, it came to a very modest 14.50 per person, which takes some getting your head round if you’ve spent any time in business hotels almost anywhere else in Europe where it’s pretty good odds the starter alone would have cost that much. We had a lot of fun, Adriana is great company, and poor Carlos came in for some teasing, before we all decided we really needed to get some sleep. We had wisely stayed on the white wine this time, too, so it was quality sleep.

On Sunday there was the inevitable riot in the pool after the race finished, the funniest moment probably being when Glyn came upstairs and told Max Chilton, who was being interviewed, that Daniel Ricciardo was about to chucked in the pool by the Carlin boys. This is where Max proved (probably for the second time) that’s he’s blond to the bone. The first time had been in that morning’s race when the lights didn’t do what he expected. In fairness to Max, he’s had a bit of trouble with the lights all year. It started at Oulton Park, at the first race meeting of the year. Max qualified on pole, sat there as the lights came on, and promptly shot off the line, jumping the start by weeks (you’re not supposed to go till the lights go out). For the rest of the season, every time he was on the front, he pretty much failed to go at all. He’s been asking questions about the lights all year at the drivers’ briefings, but it still doesn’t seem to have sunk in. At Portimao he was on the front row again only this time the officials messed up the lights, going from red to green to off instead of red to off – that messed with Max’s head. However, he still hadn’t switched his brain on when Glyn arrived with the news.

If he’d looked round, he’d have realised Daniel was still there. He might also have been a bit more suspicious when he got halfway down the stairs and couldn’t see anyone. That was because they were all hiding either side of the doors, waiting to grab him as he emerged. I know, because I followed him, camera at the ready and I was suspicious. Anyway, once they’d dunked him, they all lay in wait for Daniel, grabbing him as he too emerged from the press office. He managed to take his boots and socks off as they carried him shoulder high down the stairs and lobbed him into the water.

His boots got thrown in anyway, as did his socks. There followed an attempt to make sure every member of the team ended up getting dunked. It was all quite civilised, with people being allowed to empty their pockets of phones, wallets and anything else that wouldn’t take well to being soaked, and to remove their watches and their shoes. I left the vicinity when they started to look as if I might be next…

And so back to the hotel where we cleaned up and then meandered, via the hotel bar, and taking in the odd sculptures on the waterfront, the theatre, and the nearby gardens, to the Yacht Clube do Portimao. Once there we settled in for dinner, where we ordered a fish cataplana for our main course…

But not before we had demolished goats’ cheese with honey…

And fisherman’s soup…

And of course some white port as an aperitif.

The staff were very friendly and helpful, and the food was very tasty, and we eventually staggered back to the hotel so full of food that all we could do was fall over in a heap.

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