Bom Tardes – when last we communicated, I was a bit under the weather. I am happy to report clear skies, smooth sailing and full steam ahead now.
I managed to get in a dive on Friday. The fog rolled in so we were not able to dive the wreck that was planned. This was due to the fishing fleet not being able to see us on the surface so we re-routed to an alternative site. Such is life & diving. The water was cold but pretty clear & I was able to get some nice shots.
While I was under water, Nancy wandered the narrow lanes and hills of this very low-key former fishing village. The fog came in & for a while the surf line & sand were foggy but the esplanade was sunny. She is still talking about the amazing Cafe con Leche she enjoyed at Cafe Caffe – hmmm, I see a theme.
This may be a place to move to if we had a weekend alternative – it became very crowded with daytrippers from Lisbon and weekenders from other parts of the country. We had a nice time there & it is a gorgeous place….complete with an infinity pool!
We left Sesimbra in the rear view mirror, pointed the Punto northeast, and took mainly back roads to Evora, one of Portugal’s most beautifully preserved medieval towns. Our hotel was right inside the 14th century wall. For dinner, we walked up the narrow winding lanes to the main square (Praça do Giraldo).
We had the local Porco Preto for dinner – an amazingly tender & tasty black pork from acorn fed free range oinkers. With a bottle of wine, the cost was 16.50 E – less than $20!
We walked the town the next day; churches,museums & markets in 98 degree heat. One interesting place was the Bone Chapel (Cappella dos Ossos), built by 5 monks who dug up cemeteries to acquire the necessary building materials as a protest and warning about commercialism & materialism in the 16C. Seems their warning did not take.
This is a great town full of everyday life along with a fascinating Iberian history with the Celtics settling the town first and the Romans arriving in 59BC.
Shrimp curry for dinner? Yup. We learned from the chef/owner of the restaurant why the bills have FIN & Nombre on them. The locals are required to identify themselves with their version of their social security # and name whenever they spend money at hotels, restaurants & other businesses. Their spending is compared by the tax department to their income tax info as a way of trying to keep people honest. Imaging the bloody paperwork! What a nightmare. The businesses have to collate the info & send it in. I cannot imagine the govt. resources devoted to this workload. It must be part of the EU enforced bail outs that PT had a few years back. Watch out Greece!
On the road Sunday morning to our next stop – Tomar. On the way, we visited the megaliths the region is noted for. These predate Stonehenge by 2,000 years but the rocks are much smaller – maybe they eroded? They sites were only unearthed in the 1960s.
Driving to Tomar, we took the main motorway which has electronic tolling. About 100m before the apparatus, you see a sign that warns it is coming & the toll amount – anywhere from .05 – 1.50. Then you drive under what looks like scaffolding and your car emits a beep. No slowing, no booths, no cash. Pretty efficient. We will pay these when we turn in the Punto.
The hotel in Tomar has a huge outdoor swimming pool + an indoor one. We had dinner at the Taverna Antique – a place with ‘authentic’ medieval dishes such as Skewerd Gizzards, Pheasant Stew, Fish Eggs Salad and Ham Leg with Chestnuts & Sprouts, to name a few! They also have this:
This town is famous for the home of the Knights Templar. This is where it all started. The entire downtown is festooned with banners and sidewalk inlays featuring the symbols of the organization. Their castle/monastery (12th century) is on the top of the hill opposite our hotel & overlooks the valley. It is now called the Cristo Convento. We hiked up there today and we were able to walk next to all the artwork and along the roofline. These national monuments are much more accessible than in other parts of Europe. You don’t even leave an ID deposit for audio guides. I even had fun storming the castle!
(Even though this is written in the 1st person, we both contribute to these missives.)
Chris & Nancy
It is now too late to unsubscribe & so far we have snapped 1100 + photos!!!