Tuesday, 26 November 2013


View across fields to Bailey at Camping Alentejo 
Another Dutch-owned campsite for our second base in Portugal. Perhaps I should have downloaded a Dutch language course from Audible instead of the Portuguese one! Camping Alentejo is 3km from the pretty village of Evoramonte and our nearest town is Estremoz. The site is small, with good-sized pitches, is surrounded by cork oak fields and, although it is right by the N18, the traffic noise hasn't bothered us. The reception/shower block is an eye-catching building - architect designed apparently - and best of all, the door closes properly so there's no horrendous draughts to contend with while showering! We've had clear skies most nights and the stars are incredibly beautiful plus, the first night here, we heard owls hooting. I was delighted to see book exchange shelves in reception so have undertaken a spot of BookCrossing here - you can see my latest releases in the widget down the right-hand side of the blog. And, while I remember, please check out the blog of fellow BookCrosser Jacob who is in Wisconsin. I enjoyed his post On Judging A Book By Its Cover which is just so true!

Interesting windows, Estremoz 
We've visited several towns while we've been here, all of which begin with E. I'm not sure whether alliteration is a popular local pastime? Elvas was highly recommended to us from Camping Beira-Marvao but we were underwhelmed. It's a nice enough medieval town but I couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Perhaps I'm getting blase? Estremoz on the other hand was much more my style. Fun architecture included this restaurant with its variety of windows and, because of the amazing marble quarries just out of town, the whole town seems to gleam white. 

Walking has been a feature of our stay here. The campsite provided a 'map' of a two-hour walk that we've undertaken twice, once in each direction. And Dave also created a walk of our own setting out along the tracks from the deserted Evoramonte railway station. No tiles at this one! There's a couple of photos on Facebook together with pics from a fourth walk - up (and up and up) to the castle and old town of Evoramonte. Part of the castle surround is an open-air theatre space with granite block seating. The actors would need to be pretty amazing to distract audiences from the draw of the view. The gift shop was surprisingly decent and, amongst other local handicrafts, has fab shoulder bags and jewellery made of cork. I passed on buying, hoping there'd be more variety in touristy Evora. There was but at hefty prices so the birthday presents I hoped to find are yet to materialise.

Temple of Diana, Evora 
Visiting Evora was the main reason for our stopping in this part of Portugal because we both wanted to see the Roman architecture. The Temple of Diana is in a square in the middle of Evora. No real fuss or build-up. We turned a corner and it's just there! The columns are huge, towering above the stone base which in itself rises several feet above street level. Unfortunately we couldn't find the Roman baths. If you go to Evora, don't waste your 50c on the map from the Tourist Office - it's useless because not all the streets are named so start diverting down side roads and you'll soon get lost. Interestingly lost, but lost all the same. Fortunately Dave's phone has a GPS map thingy which found us. Instead, put your 50c towards the most delicious Pastel de Nata from the Pastelerie Violeta (on Rua José Elias García near the theatre). We got a bag of assorted savoury and sweet pastries for lunch which we ate sat on a bench in the sun. Perfect!

The cathedral is refreshingly plain with only a couple of spots where over-the-top gilt is in evidence (and yes, I do mean gilt, not guilt!) The ticket we bought also included entry into the attached sacred art museum which has artefacts mostly of the 17th and 18th centuries and here gilt is much in abundance. I liked the stunning golden embroidery on the vestments but some of the statuettes are bizarre to say the least. One, of a baby Jesus asleep on a cross that was resting on a skull, was decidedly creepy! Other areas of Evora that we liked included the tranquil public park space with elegant pairs of peacocks wandering around. There is an ornate bandstand and a beautiful partly-ruined Moorish building that I'm not quite sure what it was, plus a tall ivy covered tower that was evocative of fairy-tales like Rapunzel.

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