Week 6 - Hunkered down!!

Monday 17th November 2014.

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Grotty day today, it rained on and off all day. We went out to the shops at Estramoz but took a detour to the castle at the back of the town - very interesting. You climb a long steep hill (well the car does) and go through a small gate in the town wall which was interesting in that it had a short wooden draw bridge which, in the olden days, would have been raised to act as the gate itself thus cutting off the town. All the kit to raise the drawbridge is still in place and looks as if it is still in working condition. Estramoz is a town in that, despite being on the top of a hill and enclosed within a wall has a very spacious feel. This is what I wrote in our “Second Adventure Before Dementia” blog:-

“ . . . Local again today, well localish anyway. We went to Estramoz the nearest town of any significance to the camp site around 12 km away and is reached through extensive vineyards as this is an important wine region. Another other important local industry . . . . is marble. . . “

 Alentejo’s white gold, 500,000 tonnes quarried each year, representing over 90% of Portugal’s marble production, comes from this region and is exported throughout the world including to Italy, the worlds greater supplier (Portugal is second). The Estramoz marble is white or pink while the quarries at Viana do Alentejo, just 60 km to the south west, yield a green stone.

“ . . . It has made the area prosperous as well as beautiful but the scars of the quarries does little for the approaches to the town. The town itself however is quite spacious and open once through the  small gateways. Parking in the huge town centre car park we walked steadily upwards through the steep streets till we reached the old fortifications, now the Pousada da Rainha Santa Isabel (up market hotel). The medieval upper town is dominated by a 13th century keep rising 27m (89ft) and clad, if not made of, marble. Access to the keep is via the pousada, free and allows superb views in all directions . . . “

Driving from the castle to the main square showed that despite the open feel of the town some of the streets are very narrow indeed..

Tuesday 18th November 2014.

We were up pretty early this morning. Not only did it rain for much of the night but there was a gusty wind that every now and again would get under the sunshade we now use instead of an awning, and would crack it with a bang that felt as if the awning rail was being torn from the van, which is not possible as the rail is an integral part and not a screwed on addition as in the past. Strange thing was when we poked our heads out it was a clear sunny day. Although the awning rail was safe the pegs were not; the centre peg had come out completely and the other two were about to follow so we dropped the sunshade and put it away until the wind drops.

As it was early (before 8.00am) Sue nipped down to the laundry with a load of washing. She went back down when she thought it would be ready but it had 15 minutes to go so she waited; soon after a Brit came in to see if the machine was empty so Sue said “it will be about 15 minutes then all yours”.  He looked in the honesty book (you write down when you want to use the machine and the charge gets added to your bill) and disappeared. A few minutes later his wife came over with the campsite owner, complaining that Sue had not booked the machine prior to using it - get a ❀✲❖☆❦ life!! Only a Brit could be such an arse over nothing, the machine had been empty and no-one had booked it. After doing the washing we toddled off to Merida, Spain although it is further from here than Cáceres, from where we last visited, but there is a 120 kmh road all the way that takes you into the heart of the town. On this visit we were hoping to use the other parts of our multi-ticket. We stayed four hours and used only one part, although we did see three of the many items on our “must see” list.

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The first was the Puente Romano (roman bridge) built in 25 BC which although “refurbished” twice, once in the 5th century and again in the 17th century it retains it roman physiognomy. It is the longest (790 metres) and longest surviving bridge from Roman times. The town end of the bridge flows into the Alcazaba or Arab Citadel which as its largely an empty ruin we thought would hold our attention for a very short period of time but a couple of hours later we were still there. From the Alcazaba it was a short walk to item number 3 - Diana’s Temple - one of the many buildings of the Roman Emerita-Augusta; today, Merida. The only Roman religious building remaining on its original place. It was built at the end of the 1st century B.C. on the Municipal Comitium, so would have been a model of luxury and decoration. Despite its name this temple was probably devoted to worshiping Emperor Augustus, not to Diana, as can be understood from the many sculptorial elements found. They represent persons from the Imperial family: the divine Emperor himself and the Genius of Senate. During the 16th. century, the Palace of Count los Corbes was built within the ruins, using materials from them. So this beautiful monument was spoilt but at the same time preserved. We still have much to see in Merida so another visit is a must. 

Wednesday 19th, Thursday 20th and Friday 21st November 2014.

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When we came here from Cáceres we knew the weather would be somewhat iffy for a while and that Camping Alentajo would be a good place to “hunker down” and wait for the weather to improve. Thats exactly what the last three days have been, waiting for the weather to improve although we have had a couple of trips between the storms, one back to the castle high on the hill above Evoramonte, another to the town of Monsaraz high in the hills on the Portuguese/Spanish border with stunning views in every direction.

Saturday 22nd November 2014.

More hunkering today although we did go shopping as we had decided to have Paella for dinner. It was also the campers happy hour afternoon which lasted around three hours so when we got back to the van we could not be bothered to cook, so had cheese and biscuits which we washed down with a bottle of ruby port.

Sunday 23rd November 2014.

Yet another grotty day weather wise, raining for much of the day. We are going to do the Paella for dinner that we should have had last night, which had we done so would have been cooked on the BBQ, as is our normal method. As it was, the rain was lashing down so we cooked it part on the stove top and part in the oven (the dish will just about fit in) it was delicious. The recipe is HERE on the food page. As we sat with the empty Paella dish in front of us sipping the last of the chilled white port that went with it there was the most almighty crash of thunder and for the next hour or so the rain absolutely lashed down while the thunder came so close after the lightening it seemed they were happening together. Still we were warm, dry and cosy in our home on wheels.

Last updated Sunday 21st June 2015                                                                                © S W Ghost 2015