Marvao, Portugal Week 81 13th - 16th November 2012
Being slow learners we tried the narrow streets again. This time Isma.

Pull in the mirrors again.

But we made it. Without help.

We haven't got the hang of navigating yet. The small truck that we overtook driving up the hill before this passed us going the other way after this.

We could have just followed the main road instead of turning off as gps said!

As we head south we are still on the ridges but slowly the mountains are giving way to plains.
A few donkey carts still in use.
What a giveaway. The place all the wood is headed for.

Possibly a chip or pulp mill. There were two and some other industry in Vila Pelha de Rodao.

The Rio Teja.

To the west it forms part of the border with Spain.

It flows through Lisbon to the sea.

An up market donkey cart carrying people.
Contrasted with the even more up market vacuum cleaner for street cleaning.
We headed for Portalegra to find a supermarket.

There were several, including Lidl, Pricemini and Intermarche.

It was here that the Bancomat failed to cough up any money for the debit card. Oops!

Meanwhile we spotted the steel version of a water moving wheel that we last saw the wooden version of in Western Australia. Neither are in use, this is the centre of a roundabout. 

We were looking for a Menhir (standing stone) for which we had the gps coordinates.

Sadly they were probably wrong. The roads became too narrow and the locals didn't know of the place.

So we camped beside the road in the natural park full of granite.

We are licking our wounds. Not only did we not find our menhir, our debit card not work so we were low on cash, the backup internet plan with travelsim didn't work to check, Ali broke a tooth on the crusty bread, the fridge turned itself to very low.

Another day of cork and olive trees.

The land is noticeably drier as we move south.

Since our plans with coordinates weren't working too well we decided to simply head for somewhere that looked good.

This is Castelo de Vide, but we are headed to Marvao which is on an even bigger hill.

Having conquered narrow streets we tried tree lined avenues.

The trees curve in a bit. About the height of our roof.

The passing places were where the occasional tree had been removed.

Marvao is a walled village with a castle at its high point.
Importantly though it had a Bancomat that confirmed our main debit card didn't work but coughed up some cash for the backup.

And free wifi. We sat in the tourist info office to use it as our computers wouldn't connect through the repeaters and couldn't get the truck close enough to the primary.

Banking sorted until Morocco. 

Portugal (and Spain) was originally settled by the Celts around 700 BC though there is earlier neolithic evidence of human settlement.

They were followed by the Greeks, Romans, Visigoths from the north then the Moors, in the 8th century, through north Africa.

Ibn Marwan was Vizier of Coimbra rebuilt the fortress and gave his name to the town.

Castelo de Vide is overlooked by Marvao.

We also see into Spain and north to the mountains we found our way through.

No castellations on the ramparts which we found a bit odd.

Just a few for canons to point through.

There was a bit of resistance to the Moors and they were finally pushed back to the south by the 12th century.

The Portuguese Empire followed with Henry the Navigator in the 15th century.

Spain occupied Portugal in the 16th century. The power and wealth faded.

Napoleon tried and failed (due to the Anglo-Portuguese alliance).

Then civil war, a brief period of democracy, then a military dictator from 1926 to 1968.

Portugal joined the EU in 1986.

It may be the route we've taken but it seems a better kept place than we saw briefly in 1997.

I guess this high up less protection is needed.

There's a precarious looking sentry box at each corner.

Certainly not the pointed moorish castellations we expected.

Water supply is from the cistern.

Not sure where it gets its water from or whether its still really used, but it has clear water in it.

One of the three churches in the village has been converted to a museum.

Most enjoyable mixture of everything from neolithic and other archeological stuff through to modern times.

Marvao was a significant centre. This contains a set of weights, ornate enough to be standards, presumably used for tax collection.

We do like the bells in the church towers.

We camped in the Aires just below the town walls and heard the clock chiming. But never found the clock.

All these white walls need a bit of maintenance.

Have to keep the town tidy for Muslim and Chestnut festivals.

Just outside the walls (we are camped to the left) is a convent / hospital, with the gendarmerie in front.

The older part of the building is about 16th century - don't be fooled, just inside the entrance are automatic glass doors.

But there is still a bit of "the old ways".

On the way to the fields with a hoe.

We're guessing the population is a few hundred.

Our room with a view.

We have water, power if we needed it but don't, somewhere to empty the loo, a barbeque. Walked to the bakery for breakfast.

Still the off season, we see a few tour buses drive past but no-one else here.

The roof tiles are a bit more complicated than the simple half round tiles we've seen elsewhere.

The joints are "integrated".

Back at Gavarnie we'd spoken briefly to a French couple who shared our campsite in their motorhome.

As we were leaving they gave us a bottle of wine from their village.

Clairet from Chateau de Lisennes in Bordeaux.

And very nice it was too.

It went with our home cooked Pizza - courtesy of the supermarket.

The cast iron frying pan is not quite flat but that's not surprising for something 33 years old that started life being used for cooking over fires.

Its become quite good at providing toast every morning. Though today we have fresh bread from the bakery.

The castle in the morning from our campsite.

All is well with the world.

A good recovery from our minor mishaps.

Just like in China!

A hitch for a horse. One outside almost every house.

We had one Spanish tv channel - not sure what standard Portugal uses but we don't seem to receive it!

The pictures on the weather forecast said it all. Later in the day the clouds arrived.

As Ali said - a sky with character.

The clouds sort of flowed round the top of the hill, and us.

It started raining a few minutes after this. 

Shops in Portugal and Spain don't match our concept of "shop front".

Everyone knows where the bakers is so no need to advertise.

We reckoned the woman who gave us directions sent us the wrong way deliberately so she could get in the queue first - not really, people are friendly and helpful, just that we didn't know we were looking for the Padaria.

After three days here we are regulars.

None of this nasty modern stuff.

Bread the traditional way.

There's a fire under the oven

Evora, Praia do Amado, Praia do Mericao, and Cabo de Sao Vicente, Portugal Week 82 17th - 24th November 2012

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