Tuesday, February 15, 2011

THE LAST DAY

the '25th April Bridge', so called after Portugal's return to democracy in 1974
The weather forecast for today was heavy rain, like Lisbon had yesterday, but as can be seen in the foto - not a bit of it. This was taken from the ferry crossing to Almada which is a suburb of Lisbon on the other side of the river estuary. The Atlantic lies only a few kilometres beyond the iconic red coloured suspension bridge. 
D.FERNANDO II E GL├ôRIA - the last Portuguese navy warship under sail
Unfortunately this ship is a carefully reconstructed replica of the one that was built in an Indian Portuguese colony in 1865. (about the same time as the Cutty Sark) The original very badly damaged by fire in the 1960's. Somebody's done a really good job of resurrecting this ship which is now a floating museum; when its not in dry dock in Almada, that is. Here are some more pix of the ship. 
the lower gun deck. total of 50 guns
Who's been a naughty boy then?
the ship's bell
This ship had crew of about 600 which isn't surprising when 4 or 5 men are needed to handle each gun, not to mention those who managed the sails.


To finish off the day I made a return trip to the Moorish castle high above the centre of town.




And finally, for anyone who has been to Lisbon, this picture of the trams will bring back some fond memories. I used the yellow one, number 12, to go up to the castle.


So thats it and hopefully my flights home will go according to plan - unlike the flight out here 5 weeks ago. Seems a lot longer than that. D

Monday, February 14, 2011

RAINING IN LISBON

Estremoz a few days ago. Hotel down behind the pool
There isn't a lot to say about the last couple of days after leaving Estremoz. Portalegre was very small with a castle that had been modified somewhat with a vast modern wood and glass structure. I could't take a picture that would do it justice. On Sunday, when I left there it was like a ghost town and was exactly the same situation when I arrived in Castelo Branco. It was a disaster from the start as I found the hostel closed, forcing me to spend a night in an overpriced seedy hotel in the main street. Couldn't see anything charming about this jumble of concrete, and as far as I saw, not much of the old town left. So without even a moment's thought I decided to head off back to Lisbon ASAP. A 10 am bus bus saw me back here by 12.30 today (Monday). Its a good hostel and a third of the cost of the 'hotel' last night.
But going back to Estremoz, there was the Saturday antiques market, for which the weather couldn't have been better.
Estremoz market
A bench full of good old Alentejo boys at the market
A guard on sentry duty at the barracks looking as butch as he can.
a German who makes a living from antique markets
castle at Portalegre
some extremely steep ones in Portalegre
The rain has been relentless in Lisbon since I arrived 7 hours ago. But after the freezing cold I left behind in Castelo Branco its a welcome relief to actually feel warm. Dreading what awaits me in Pilsen on Wednesday. D

Saturday, February 12, 2011

ESTREMOZ

the bones chapel in Evora
Am at present in Estremoz but having a few probs with the wifi connection in the park!
the view from my hotel window
Came here from Evora yesterday.
Roman aqueduct in Evora
main square in Evora
Estremoz is famous for the marble it exports all over the world. Even the Taj Mahal was built with stone from here.
There are severals holes like this on the edge of Estremoz.
Sorry folks, the connection comes and goes so I'll continue this another time. D



Wednesday, February 9, 2011

EVORA

Mertola from the bridge
Two days ago I left Mertola and now in Evora. Try as I may, I couldn't manage to find a wifi connection in Beja yesterday but now back in civilization with a room next to the reception lounge in the Old Evora Hostel. Lets go back now to Mertola where I stayed at Hotel Rita http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g1068892-d1793149-Reviews-Hospedaria_Rita_Mertola-Mertola_Alentejo.html.
Leaving Mertola was a little difficult as it had given me a perfect day. Here I used a different bus company to get to Beja. From St Antonio it was with http://www.rede-expressos.pt which seemed more luxurious, complete with wifi, but I failed to get a connection during the trip. From Mertola the bus company was http://www.rodalentejo.pt which appears to be the main transport in Alentejo, the name of this part of Portugal. The simple country folk of this area are the butts of lots of Portuguese jokes apparently. 
the plain from Beja
Beja is one of those places I could have missed without any regrets. Had to stay in a characterless youth hostel on the outskirts of the small historical centre. Standing on the edge of a large agricultural plain, which was looking quite green, I wondered what it would look like in the middle of summer. The land turns a pale yellow under the scorching sun, often swelteringly hot at 40 degrees. However, the bus trip was pleasant, stopping off at several tiny villages along the way with a few tantalizing glimpses of sail less windmills, tilting perhaps, straight out of Don Quixote. 



heading to a village
the castle at Beja
view from castle 
As I have said, old Beja is a small place and it took little over an hour to see almost all the places of interest.
inside the castle walls

marble spiral staircase in the castle
the museum at Beja
Beja
Leaving Beja this morning was another of those early starts but made easy due to the close proximity of the bus station and the hostel. Hopefully all my travel plans go as easy as they have so far. Lots to see in Evora and one of the first sights was this ruin of a Roman temple. 

I have booked in here (http://oldevorahostel.blogspot.com/) for two nights so more tomorrow. D