Probably because I ate so much pizza in the 80s and 90s I really don't think of going out for one on any sort of regular basis. I knew before we got to Palmela, however, that we would be going out for pizza, as there is a pizzeria between Palmela and Setubal that my good lady believes to be the best pizza anywhere in the universe, with the thinnest crust physically possible while still managing to remain watertight enough to keep the sauce from bleeding through and onto one's lap.
So, after the obligatory, overpriced drinks in the Pousada bar, we mentioned to Fernanda, the Pousada receptionist who has become a dear friend, that we were off that evening to relish the pizza that was only available at Chico's. "No", said our friend, we didn't want to do that, because there was a new pizzeria that had opened in Palmela, within walking distance, one where the food equalled or bettered that at Chico's.
Directions were provided, all we had to do was go out of the castle, down to the church, then up behind the firemen's quarters, then down a street from which we could get to the street wherein resided the restaurant. It couldn't be easier, particularly as it was just behind our friend's apartment. Possibly easy for her, but as we had never been to her apartment, maybe not quite so easy for us. We set off 'a pé', and after meticulously following the instruction, found ourselves needing to ask directions.
The woman we approached as she was loading her shopping into her car probably didn't mean to exhibit such tangible fear. I suppose that the twilight emergence of two estrangeiros muttering quasi-incoherent Portuguese may have just taken her slightly by surprise. Once she regained her composure, she did seem to understand our need for directions, and after telling us that what we needed to do was go up to the church, then down behind the firemen's quarters, then up a street from which we could get to the street wherein resided the restaurant. Simple. We extended our gratitude and were pleased to notice, as we continued our quest, that the colour was beginning to return to her face.
Fast forward five minutes. Maybe we should have gone around the church, then avoided the firemen's quarters, taken the underpass and bought a SatNav when they were on sale at Lidl. As we were standing at a crossroads, looking in all directions for something that might be masquerading as a pizza place, a car pulled up alongside us. As my knowledge of Portuguese is sufficiently lacking, I would guess that the instruction to "get in the car" lacked a suitably perceived degree of menace.
As well it should have, as this was not the Pousada Police, about to 'disappear' us for failing to leave a sizable gratuity in the bar, no, this was the woman we terrified with our questions about pizza. On her way home now, seemingly aware of our on-going plight and obviously exasperated at our lack of understanding, rather than go through it all again it appeared she had drawn the conclusion that it would be easier if she just drove us to the restaurant.
As all of her shopping was on the front seat, she motioned for us to sit in the back, seemingly fearless of what mayhem a rear-seat passenger might be able to cause to a front-seat driver. What mayhem indeed.
Then, just when she thought that she had done her good deed for the day, and had done so without sustaining any serious injury at the hands of the Back-seat Basher, the stark realisation dawned that while we had finally arrived at our intended venue, we did so on their closing day.
Our request to be let out of the car fell on deaf ears. Speeding away from the dark restaurant, she weaved her way through the narrow streets, out of sight of the church, away from the firemen's quarters, then up, down and over any number of lanes and alleys until she finally delivered us to a pizzeria that was open.
...while enjoying our meal (Not as good as Chico's) we couldn't help but wonder if two foreigners wandering the dusky streets of a British town centre would be afforded the same courtesy as we were by this lone middle-aged Portuguese woman? I would like to think yes - but then, I always have been a dreamer.