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    • Day 66

      Estremoz - Azulejos und Bonecos

      November 5, 2022 in Portugal ⋅ 🌙 11 °C

      Die Stadt Estremoz - hervorgegangen aus dem Zusammenschluss der zwei Städte Sta Maria und St.André - ist ein pulsierendes und gepflegtes Zentrum, grosszügig, einladend und nicht nur historisch interessant.

      Hier ist einmal mehr sehr augenfällig, dass die europäischen Regionalentwicklungs-Projekte und Unesco-Welt-+ Kulturerbe-Programme repräsentative Schübe in Gang setzten. Portugal wie wir es heute - 30 Jahre nach unserer ersten Reise - erleben, hat besonders hinsichtlich Bauten und Infrastrukturen massiv aufgeholt.

      Zwei grosse prächtige Palastbauten wurden sorgfältig renoviert und 2020 bzw 2021 der Öffentlichkeit zugänglich gemacht. Bei geringem Eintritt (3€) kann im Palacio Tocha heute das Museu Berardo mit seiner erschlagend grossen Sammlung an Azulejos besichtigt werden. Zum Abschluss des Rundgangs wird man in faszinierender Ambiance zur Weinverkostung eingeladen.

      Im ebenso prächtig renovierten Palast der Marqueses de Praia y Monforte kann heute (bei freiem Eintritt gar) eine sehr umfassende und aufschlussreiche Sammlung an Tonfiguren besichtigt werden. Das in Estremoz traditionell gepflegte Kunsthandwerk ist 2015 in die Unesco-Liste des immateriellen Kulturerbes aufgenommen worden.

      Der portugiesische Literatur-Nobelpreisträger José Saramago drückt sein Entzücken über diese Sammlung im Buch "Die portugiesische Reise" so aus: "Geh nach Estremoz, sieh dir die Tonfiguren an und deine Seele ist gerettet. Ein Sprichwort, vom Reisenden (ihm selbst) für die Nachwelt erfunden." (S.480)
      So sei es!
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    • Day 20


      April 1, 2023 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

      Ein 27 Meter hoher Bergfried aus Marmor ist von weitem her schon gut sichtbar und umso näher man kommt, umso eindrücklicher die dannzumalige Meisterleistung im Burgenbau.
      Portugal ist der zweitgrösste Marmorexporteur der Welt. Klar, dass Randsteine im Ort aus Marmor sind. Ausserhalb der Stadt gibt es riesige Berge von Marmor der im Tagebau abgebaut wird.Read more

    • Day 29

      We Finish the Ride and End on a High

      October 16, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

      For me, the final day of any long anticipated adventure, is always a day of mixed emotions.On the one hand there is the sense of relief that everything went according to the plans and I can finally relax a little, on the other hand there is often a feeling of disappointment that it can't go on just a little longer.

      After the trials and tribulations of the previous day, it was wonderful to awake to a mostly clear sky. The local weather bureau had assured us that there was no chance of rain, and they proved to be correct.

      Because the final day's ride was the shortest of the rain, we allowed ourselves the luxury of not getting underway till 10.00 am. We well know that every day's ride begins with a high (and always ends with one too), so it was a not a surprise to find ourselves immediately working our way uphill.Just to add a new level of difficulty, someone had decided to pave all the roads with rough cobblestones. Before we left the hotel, I had likened the final day of our Portugal ride to the final day of the Tour de France, however I had not expected it to be a replica of the rough cobbles of the Champs Elysees.

      We bounced and rattled our way slowly along, while Allan Barlin spent the time cursing every cobble stone that got in his way. This region is famous for the enormous marble quarries that pock mark the landscape, but you cannot understand the true scale of the operation until you see one of these up close. We quickly decided that it looked like a mighty dangerous place to work. If you didn't get flattened by a huge slab of marble,you would almost certainly choke on the marble dust and also go deaf from the noise of the machinery.

      At one point we stopped at a marble showroom where the lady tried valiantly to explain to us how the process of mining and preparing marble is actually done. Unfortunately she only spoke 4 words of English, so it made the explanation a little difficult. When she realised that her four words of English were slightly inadequate, she recruited Mary to help with the translation. Of course Mary only spoke three words of Portuguese, so the dialogue was still a little limited. The Portuguese documentary movie she showed us made even less sense as it didn't even have four words of English. I discovered that I must be allergic to marble dust as the place just made my throat itch from the moment I walked in the door.

      We were all relieved to be free of the cobblestones and to finally enjoy some glorious riding through idyllic rural farmlands. For once the roads were flat(tish) and the progress was almost effortless. Our riders chatted happily as they rode along and nobody was in in particular hurry for the ride to finish. From time to time we stopped to look for those elusive green doors that Jorge told us about.

      After lunch in an ancient private winery, we resumed the journey to Estremoz, which was to be our final destination for the ride. Of course the highest point of the city is the royal castle, and that is where we would be staying for the night. After our amazing stay in the convent, it was hard to imagine that the standard could be raised even further, but I think it was.

      The Castelo de Estremoz is another magnificent building belonging to to the Portuguese Royal Family. The huge castle tower dominates the surroundings and the attached hotel is like a living museum and testimony to regal wealth and power.

      As the arrived at the base of the tower we all congratulated each other on the fine achievement and then posed for the final group photograph. In the centre of the photograph, in pride of place, were two scallop shells inscribed with the names "Paul" and "Jan". They had completed the final day (and every previous day) right along with us. I only wish they could both have shared that moment with us.

      After checking into my palatial room and throwing away my tattered riding gloves and cycling shorts, I decided to climb the narrow staircase right to the top of the tower. It rewarded my effort with sensational 360 degree views of the whole region. I spent quite some considerable time savouring the moment and thinking back over some of the magical moments we had shared together. When I looked down at the statue of Santa Isabel, I noticed that the two scallop shells were still there where we had placed them. It seemed entirely appropriate.

      Tomorrow morning the group will disburse and head their own separate ways, however I am sure that we will all take away a huge number of incredible memories to relive in the years ahead.

      A Final Footnote
      One matter has been an ongoing topic for discussion and confusion throughout the past 10 days. There are two words for Thank You in Portuguese - they are "obrigado" and "obrigada". Although it seemed to be very complicated as to when you should use each variant (on one occasion, one of our team got so confused she actually said abracadabra), the rule is actually quite simple. If you are a male speaker you use the term "obrigado" and if you are female it is "obrigada". It makes no difference whether you are addressing a male or female, it is the gender of the speaker that is relevant. Simples. Why did we make it so damned complicated ?
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    • Day 17

      The best Estremoz has to offer

      May 31, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ 🌙 14 °C

      After a few relaxing and totally enjoyable days with my friend Verner it is time to set off home via a different route.
      We stopped at Silves and walked up to the pretty castle. I got talking to a classical guitarist who was playing outside for coins. We chatted for a good twenty minutes, he is Australian.
      We stopped for lunch at MC Donald's which had about fifty motorcycles outside. It was great.
      Tonight we have ended up in a five star hotel because every other in the area is booked by the motorcyclists who are part of a ride up Portugal, there are thousands of them and we enjoyed having them going past beeping and waving to us in our little car. http://www.les-a-les.com The hotel we found is a thirteenth century castle pousada called Castelo de Estremoz at the top of a cobbled hill. Four poster beds and expensive antiques in every room.
      We walked down the hill into town for a meal and came across a religious ceremony so we joined the procession to the church then went and found a restaurant. It looks a nice town.
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    • Day 10

      Day 10. Our journey to Estremoz.

      August 18, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 37 °C

      At breakfast we were able to pass on our knowledge of Fozcoa to a fellow traveller, newly arrived. She had been kept in the dark about what was on offer here.
      Our bus journey was uneventful but interesting. At our 3rd stop 4 locals plus a nun came on board and an animated, loud, debate amongst them about who sat where, followed.
      After 15 mins calm and quiet returned(thank goodness).
      Throughout the trip the burnt out countryside was all around us. Portugal has had terrible bush fires and 64 people perished.
      Estremoz is to Portugal what Carrara is to Italy. They mine marble. Each will tell you there's is the best.
      The bus terminal seats, floors and walls were made of the stuff. Outside the kerbstones and cobbled streets were marble.
      Opposite the new terminal is the old one with it's protected tiled scenes. A more charming edifice.
      Fortunately our hotel was close by as one does not linger on the searing heat. 38degs. Once inside the air conditioned comfort we stayed until we.ventured out in the cool of the evening.
      Weather forecast is for the hot weather to continue.
      Looks like morning sightseeing and afternoon siestas.
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    • Day 10

      Day 11. Estremoz.

      August 18, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 37 °C

      First off this morning we headed off to the hospital to have Shirl's arm redressed. We approached what looked like a derelict building and entered with some trepidation.
      Inside it was clean, spotless.
      I was greeted by an older woman who clearly wanted nothing to do with us and told us, in Portuguese of course, to go down the hall to room at the end.
      There were several rooms and one with a doctor. I explained our problem. She consulted her computer terminal and, of course we were not on it. She spoke to someone and told me to go back with our passport to the counter. Phew! A younger lady, who spoke a little English, took the passport and Medicare card and proceeded to enter the details, with difficulty and consternation. As usual everyone joined in giving her advice. Eventually a smile and obvious relief and the task was completed. I returned down the hall and the wound was already redressed. The doctor entered details into the system and told us to return to the counter to pay.
      I paid with many thanks to the young lady and we left, very satisfied.
      Shirl told me she nearly had a heart attack as she thought the cost was €70. It was €4-70. ($7).
      The wound is healing nicely and several of the tapes that held the skin together were removed. I think Shirl is praying all will be well so we can walk St Francis Way in Italy. I remain unconvinced.
      The Correos(Post Office) was our next port of call with me wishing I had learnt more Portuguese. All was well and the hound man spoke excellent English. The parcel of Shirl's purchases is on its way.
      A visit to the medieval part of town on the hill was next before it became too hot.
      The visit to the local museum depicted the old way of life provided some relief from the heat.
      Not much to see elsewhere ,but we came across a gallery of marble sculptures. Wonderful pieces. Several we would have bought if it was possible. A long, interesting conversation with proprietor followed.
      Returning to town for lunch and an escape from the afternoon heat.
      Surfacing in the relative cool of the early evening we copied the locals and found a cafe by the square. (In the shade)
      A Super Bock and Ginger Ale were enjoyed whilst observing the locals. A passeggiata around the square finished the day got us.
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    • Day 11

      Day 12. Estremoz.

      August 19, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 37 °C

      We changed our plans today staying in town to visit the weekly market instead of going to EVORA. 42deg predicted there today against a cool 😜😎37 here.
      The market was of two parts. Flea and veggies. Always interesting to see the locals engaging in animated bartering and conversation. Not much of interest and we retired to a bar for cold drink. It was one dominated by men and the owner frowned at Shirl sitting at the bar.
      With nothing left to do but escape the heat we retired to await the cool of the evening.
      We heard that there have been bush fires near EVORA and with this heat and winds they will be difficult to see. Tomorrow we might see, experience the extent of them. Let's hope they are not too severe.
      The evening saw us visit the local church and as we approached a group of young musicians entered the church. Shirl immediately thought"concert". Not to be. It was the music for the mass. Ursula, up there with St Peter must have been having a good old laugh. Us two sitting through a mass.
      We tried the Asado Polvo for dinner. Roasted octopus. Quite tasty. I have included a photo from the men's toilet telling men not to sprinkle on the floor.
      A pleasant evening.
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    • Day 13

      Day 13. Evora

      August 21, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

      Up bright and early on the bus to EVORA. On arrival we took the city tour bus to get a general feel of the city.
      The Chapel of the bones attracted our interest and so we visited. Built with bones from a previous time it is interesting but macabre. Like the one in Paris in it's subterranean passages.
      A Cathedral visit and the nearby Roman temple followed but the heat was too much so we had lunch and headed back to Estremoz.
      EVORA is not the place to visit in the August heat.
      After a siesta ( it is one of the things that prolongs your life) we dined and had a beautiful meal and evening.
      Shirl soaked her feet in the bidet to soften her toenails for trimming.
      Lisbon tomorrow and hopefully the weather will be cooler.
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    • Day 13


      September 19, 2019 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

      Heute morgen Nebel! Der ist aber schnell verschwunden und dann stundenlang keine Menschenseele, herrliche Weite der Landschaft, Eukalyptusbäume. Dann das Burgstädtchen Estremoz. Im Hintergrund die berühmten Marmorsteinbrüche.Read more

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