Poof! Hey Presto and we’re in another Country. Ola Portugal! It’s good to be back.
Do remember to fill up with fuel before you cross the border or you’ll be kicking yourself. Price comparison; Spain €1.18 per litre. Portugal €1.50. Bit of difference!
The journey down was scenic but slower as the route is quite steep with a million hairpins thrown in for good measure. We travelled through huge cork plantations, it’s like a big, beautiful garden. Cork is of course big business in Portugal. We saw lots of Hunters out with packs of dogs. They were hunting wild boar, common around these parts (and incredibly tasty!!). We’ve spotted a few. I wouldn’t fancy meeting one close up, scary looking critters! Do be careful if you’re out walking that it’s hunting season. You don’t always get any warning. The dogs are quite intimidating and may well be dangerous to a domestic pooch. Keep an eye out for signs with Caza or Cazando (hunting) or Tiro (shooting).
It’s a bright sunny morning and we are arriving in Evora. This is one of Portugal’s most historic and unspoilt cities and has UNESCO World Heritage Status. It offers a free Motorhome Aire with fill and dump facilities. No electric. The pitches are generous and would suit any size unit. It’s a short walk or cycle into town. Turn right out of the Aire and first right again, walk until you see the old town walls. Lidl is left out of the Aire and then right. You can drive or cycle to it.
When you walk through the gateway in the imposing medieval walls of the old town, head up hill via one of the cobbled alleys until you reach the main hub, Praça do Giraldo. Pick up a map or guide from Tourist Info here to make sure you don’t miss anything. Most sites of interest are within a ten minute walk from the square. I need to send postcards to the fam back home today so we need a scenic coffee spot to sit sand write them and a CTT to post them. Note, on entering a post office in Portugal, always take a ticket or you simply won’t get served. As we didn’t drive through a toll registration point on this occasion, I’m also going to buy a toll card which you need to telephone to register. Don’t worry, they speak perfect English. If you give them a mobile number they will text you if your credit is running low. I’m starting with €20. This is only for the electronic toll system mind. The manual one is different, just take a ticket at the booth and pay when you exit the toll road. Do not be tempted to drive through the barrier free V gate! If you have no ticket you will pay for the full length of the motorway. Learn from our expensive faux pas!!
The first attraction we head for is The Se, the City’s cathedral. We can see it’s impressive looking blueish towers from the square. Construction of The Se started as far back as 1165. Wow! The inside is lit by two gothic rose windows. The Baroque chapel was added much later. There is a museum housed in the Cathedral, make sure you see the bejewelled statue of the Virgin with her interesting midriff! A few strides away is the Templo Romano, Temple of Diana. This was built around the second century. Double wow. With its 14 granite Corinthian columns, it’s the most impressive Roman building in the Country. We had coffee and our first Pastel de Natas at the little cafe in the gardens overlooking the temple. Heavenly! The Gothic Igreja dos Loios and ancestral palace of the Duques de Cadaval are directly opposite. Not to be missed.
Heading back down into civilisation, the narrow streets leading outwards from the main square have some pretty good quality shops, a fair bit more upmarket than your average Portuguese town. Yes, you guessed, I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping. Bonus! We decided to push the boat out that evening and have a ‘date night’. We hunted around for a typical restaurant but ended up in a Thai/Chinese place. It was disappointingly average, I certainly wouldn’t rush back. Ho hum. Guess we should have done more homework. Still, I didn’t have to cook and we’ve had a fab day. I love this town!
Next day I was itching to get to see the Igreja de Sao Francisco. This was the main reason for coming here, it’s bizarre ‘ Capela dos Ossos’, Chapel of Bones!! You may recall from my earlier post on Faro that we visited a much smaller version there. This one trumps it by a mile. It’s fascinatingly macabre! During the 15th and 16th centuries, the contents of 42 monastic cemeteries were stripped of their bodily remains in a space saving exercise and the bones harvested and utilised to build this beautiful, ghoulish chapel! It feels like it has ghosts. Spooky or what!
The church itself is amazing too. It’s almost on a par with the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela, on a much smaller scale, obviously. The stained glass windows are incredible. There is a really lovely collection of nativity scenes from around the world on the top floor of the little museum too, don’t miss that.
We could easily spend more time in Evora. It has a lot to offer. However, the last few stops haven’t been much fun for our third musketeer. Poor old Dylan is longing for the beach and I must say, my flip flops are looking a bit sad in the corner. Out come the maps then. Our hearts are saying Alentejo. Such an incredibly beautiful region, the real garden of Portugal, good wine, fairytale towns, stunning beaches and far less people and traffic than on the Algarve. However, it’s now well into November and the temperatures are starting to fall. We’ve left it a bit late to be heading north and so, sensibly we let our heads prevail and decide to keep moving south. The most direct route down to the Algarve comes out around Albufeira. Neither of us feel much like another busy place, it’s time to chill back a bit. Falesia, which lies between the two bustling resorts of Vilamoura and Albufeira, has two very good Aires and a fabulous beach. That will do nicely. It’s a good weather forecast too.
Adious to lovely Evora. Thanks for the free stay. Hope we inspired at least some of you to come and visit this smashing little City whilst on your travels. Our Sat nav is set and we’re rolling, once again, down that road.
Bye for now then my lovelies. See you on the Algarve. Time for sun, sand and sea ❤️