Sunday, March 11, 2012

Eastern Portugal near the Spanish border

What an amazing week-end!!

Started off this morning with breakfast at our hotel. A typical European breakfast, no eggs, no bacon, but there was bread, jams, cold ham, cheese, fresh OJ and coffee and tea. I think there was also cornflakes. So breakfast/lunch over we head out. It is another beautiful morning, some nice pictures along the river with the shadows. There was a man fishing for crab off the bridge that we watched for a bit. He had traps in water that he would just throw a hook on a line over the bridge to grab the trap and bring up the trap. Looked pretty easy but there wasn't too much in the traps.

Beautiful morning - Roman bridge with reflections
Crab fisherman

We then heard some music coming from the square so wandered over there before leaving town. To celebrate international woman’s day there was a walk a fund raiser for breast cancer. We were heading out of town or we would have participated, I picked up a pink key chain and pen to support them.

We finally head out of town with many stops along the way today. We are heading home eventually but first we had further East to the Spanish border, then North, then back West and home.

Our first stop is Cacela Velha, a very tiny town of 50 people up on the top of a hill with absolutely amazing views of the beaches below. A tiny church that we peeked in to, the kids seemed to be getting the sanctuary ready for service. We crossed the road to the cemetery and looked around here as well, there was a sign saying no pictures. This was a very different cemetery, here they do not bury people in the ground, them simply stack them up to five high of coffins. It was quite amazing to see. I tiny town, but everyone must want to come here to be buried! It was kind of like walls of shoe boxes, except they were the size of coffins. This blog is starting to sound like all we do is visit churches and cemeteries....

Population 50!

View from town

Portuguese bird house

Next stop is Monte Gordo, what an amazing spot this is. Thought of Riley and Tyler here. They would have absolutely loved it here. The beach was amazing, and they also had what looked like a fun jumping thing! This beach is also definitely a fisherman’s beach. They pull the boats in and out of the water by tractor. Many fisherman were just hanging around chatting, reminded Andre a lot of his brother and father. Lots of flags, nets, and boats, it was very interesting to see. We walked along the beach for a bit here, it is a very pretty spot but it is really too bad they didn't put into law the height of buildings. We felt very sorry for some that would have been beach front, but now have these huge condos or hotels being built in front of them. Back in the car to head off for more adventure.

Tyler and Riley would have loved this!

Fishing boats and gear on beach

Mending nets

Amazing beach!

A little cold still

Villa Real de Santo Antonio is our next stop. This is a city that is right on the Guadiana, which is the river that runs between Portugal and Spain. I was parallel parking here and this guy ran over to help me, I said to Andre he is going to want to be paid, yep we got out of the car and his hand is out. We had no change so we told him we would give him some if we had any when we came back. This city was pretty much demolished in an earthquake in 1755, which many of the towns around were hit by, and they rebuilt in a square. It is really easy to find your way around compared to many cities, it is all square and straight streets. A very nice square in the middle of town, with of course a Church that we went into. It was mass or we wouldn't have gone in, but we did stay for the kids leading the prayers, then snuck out again. Back to the car and our parking helper is helping another car so we made a quick get away, and waved, he waved back, no hard feelings I don't think.

Beautiful square

For Liam

On the way out of town we saw a sign for a castle so headed to Castro Marim castle. Climbed the castle walls, not nearly as scary as yesterday the climb yesterday as the stairs were blocked in on the left side, not wide open like yesterday. Beautiful views from the top, over the bridge to Spain, the salt flats, and the river as well as town. 

Bridge to Spain

Hello cat in jail

From the castle we were looking for a nature reserve we had read about. Took a couple of tries but we finally found the road. A couple of miles off the main road and we come to a huge information centre. I have no idea when this last would have been open, but it sure looks like it has been a while. One other couple was also walking around, but they told us they hadn't seen much of anything. We did a short walk and didn't see much so decided to move on. On the way out we saw some type of hawk or eagle so stopped the car, also saw some storks and a few water birds (Oyster catcher, egret, plover, snipe and a few other small birds). I guess it was worth the trip after all. Though the flamingos and lots of storks we ready about were certainly not there.

Stork fly by, please do not leave us anything

Next we headed North along the river, a very very windy side road with some nice views of the river. We drove as far as Alcoutin and stopped here for a late lunch. From where we were sitting you could view a castle on top of a hill in Spain. One thing here in Portugal is the waiter brings you a little snack when you sit down and they charge you around 1 euro each. Today we got olives, marinated carrots with garlic and bread.

Pretty wild flowers that were everywhere in the mountains today

for my Special friend

Ruins across the river in Spain

Guadiana river, separating Portugal and Spain

View from restaurant for lunch

After lunch we followed more side roads back home. Along the drive we saw lots of pine trees that had been planted, and some cork trees that the cork had been harvested . The cork tree is an interesting dilemma they are having. So far we have only had wine with real cork used for corks, but home so much is synthetic now. The discussion is if they stop using cork they are having part of their heritage taken away, as well if the cork trees stopped being used they will just be taken down for something else to be put there. Interesting..

Harvested cork tree

Our GPS went dead on us on the way home. I think the lighters are not the same as we have at home. Tomorrow I will be hitting the electronic stores to get a new adapter.

Arrived back in Albufeira at just after 6 and stopped for some groceries. Arrived back at the apartment and could hear a marching band playing in town so dumped all our stuff and headed into town. We found the music was coming from around the church and came across a huge procession. I know it is lent, but I can't figure out what the procession was for, not sure if they celebrate every Sunday leading up to Easter like this? They are carrying Jesus on a cross on platforms on their shoulders, followed by Mary on a platform as well. This platforms were very decorated with flowers. Lots of banners, and all this followed by the band we could hear from our place. The church was packed, we looked inside but then moved on and came back to make some supper as it was 8PM by then.

Procession at Church

A couple of things we have found out over the week-end.
-the roadsigns that look like fire hydrants all over the country are not fire hydrants, but access roads coming up
-Portuguese not only has masculine and feminine for one like french (un and une, le and la) but for two as well
-finally figured out why when we came back to the car the windows were often open. If you click the unlock button and hold it down it opens the windows, mystery solved...
-roundabouts - saw 2 new ones this week-end.  One had a stop sign inside the traffic circle, and another one we had a traffic light in the traffic circle.

1 comment:

  1. Love the pictures, especially the custom birdhouse


We appreciate any comments/questions you would have or any stories about the places we visited.