Praça do Girald

Discover travel destinations of travelers writing a travel journal on FindPenguins.

8 travelers at this place

  • Day24

    Our Wheels Start Spinning

    October 11, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    Our first impressions of Arraiolos were rather confused. In some respects it was a bit like being transported back to the 1950s and a time when shops were only open when the owners felt like working, when people still had time to sit and talk in the centre of town and where the only two colours of paint available were blue and white.

    By 9.00 am most of us were ready to start riding. After all, that is what we had come so far to do. The only trouble was the weather was looking threatening. From time to time a light drizzle started to fall. When I spotted a tiny patch of blue overhead, I boldly announced that "the rain was finished for the day" and that we would not be needing the wet weather gear most of us had donned. It turned out to be a little bit premature.

    There was another small problem. Our guide Jorge was yet to arrive, and he was the only one who knew where we were meant to be riding. Soon after 9.30 am he arrived and proceeded to explain that he would be driving the van to each important road junction and then showing us the way. It sounded simple, but I was not overly confident that it would work.

    Actually there was yet another small problem - the road immediately climbed up at a steep angle. Since most of us had not ridden a bike for several weeks, we were soon left stretched out over a large distance. I guess that was why the tail enders took a wrong turn and managed to get lost within the first 5 minutes. It was a worrying start.

    The lost sheep were eventually located and we worked hard to perfect the system. At one point we stopped outside a very old church. If I heard Jorge correctly, he explained that it had been built in 300 BC. That posed all sorts of problems in my head, but I guess I should not get bogged down with details.

    The road continued to climb and climb, making me wonder we were ever told that this region is very flat. After our very first day in the saddle, we all know now that it is simply not true.

    Our first stop for the day was at a large cheese farm. It was quite interesting watching the cheese being made, but by far the most interesting part was when the guide explained that the large Russian female cheesemaker was a fearful woman who continually worried that someone was going to steal her husband. I must admit that I would not have wanted to have been on the receiving end of a beating by Nina. The other fascinating attraction at the farm was a beautiful (and very large) three legged dog that seemed happy to follow after us. I can't remember what name was, but I think it might have been Hoppalong.

    I was curious why every building had been painted blue and white and asked whether that was the only colours available on the Portuguese colour chart. The reply was that it was to "keep away the flies". I think she was serious.

    It was while we were at the cheese factory that the weather took a turn for the worse. With steady rain now falling, Jorge explained that our planned picnic lunch would no longer be possible. We were told that we would be able to have it in the big hall instead. It certainly was an impressive space. The fireplace was the biggest I have ever seen and the mantlepiece was large enough to accommodate two huge stiffed boars. It was that sort of place.

    None of us were sure what happened next, but somehow it seemed to take an eternity for the picnic lunch to be ready and we didn't get back underway until about 2.30 pm in the afternoon. At the least the rain had stopped by that time and the sun eve started to make a reappearance.

    Of course the only way out of the cheese farm was up the same steep hill we had arrived by. When you combine a steep slope with bone shattering corrugations it makes for a serious hard work.

    Jorge had equipped Douglas and Brian with GPS units to help them find the way through some tiny off road tracks. That move was guaranteed to inject mass confusion into the peloton. The path deteriorated into a sandy cow track (complete with real cows) that had everyone quickly trying to perfect their mountain biking skills. In spite of the difficult riding, only Rhonda managed to actually fall off, although many others came very close.

    We finally arrived at the Winery which was to be stop number two. While most of the group went into the premises for a lengthy session of wine tasting, the rest of us sat outside and chatted. The winery was also famous for its huge collection of antique and beautifully restored carriages. Apparently the entire collection is worth many millions of Euros. It certainly was fascinating, but I was really starting to worry about the time. Sunset was rapidly approaching.

    We finally headed away from the winery and started climbing more huge hills. You could only imagine my horror when I saw that we had actually ridden right back into Arraiolos. After hours of riding we were right back where we had started from. It was now about 5 pm and I knew that there were only two hours of daylight remaining.

    Normally when you hear that you will be riding on a "rail trail" you imagine that it will be a lovely smooth surface to ride on, with almost no hills. This one was more like a sand pit, with numerous patches of treacherous deep sand. On several occasions my bike almost came to a complete halt, but somehow we all managed to keep moving ahead.

    We finally arrived at our destination Evora with only a few minutes of daylight remaining. The most impressive sight that greeted us was the towering city wall that seemed to continue for ever. It was with a huge relief that we eventually reached our home for the next two nights - the huge M'Ar De Ar Muralhas hotel. It has a four star rating, but inside it had a distinct "lived in" feeling that suggested that its grandest days were behind it. Nevertheless, the room was large, clean and very comfortable. It was a pity that the towel rail fell straight off the wall as soon as I touched it, but somehow I wasn't surprised.

    The restaurant that we enjoyed our evening meal was packed. I also noticed that it had a Michelin rating. When we saw the level of service experienced the quality of the food we could see why it was the most popular place in town.
    Read more

  • Day25

    A Hot Day in the Portuguese Dust

    October 12, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

    The notes clearly described the today’s ride in the following way – “Easy over flat terrain, some dirt roads”. I am not sure who actually wrote that description, but I can assure you that it was written by a motorist, not a cyclist. Either that or the Portuguese definition of “flat” is completely different to that used in the rest of the civilised world.

    After the (almost violent) confrontations at the breakfast buffet and the problems presented by the complete lack of cutlery and good manners, we were really all looking forward to an easy flat ride. It seemed like it would be a great way to relax and enjoy some time in the Portuguese countryside. It certainly began pleasantly enough, although the going soon started to get harder when the first of about 200 hills started to appear. The close proximity of speeding cars also added to the difficulty factor. Jorge assured us that we would soon be away from the traffic, and he was partly truthful.

    The only problem was that, as soon as we left the highway, we found ourselves bouncing along a heavily corrugated dirt road. Not only was it real boneshaker material, but in many places it was covered with a thick and treacherous layer of fine dust. This would have been a very likely place to stage a fall, but our riders are a skillful lot, in spite of their advancing years. Due to some freak of nature, we all stayed upright and managed to make it to the first check point.

    We all left the bikes and struggled our way up what appeared to be a creek bed to reach an ancient Neolithic burial place. It certainly was breathtaking to see the huge granite slabs and try to imagine how they managed to move them into position. Looking around at the parched countryside all around I had to remind myself that we were actually in Europe. It looked more like a typical Australian bush landscape in the middle of summer.

    Unlike yesterday, the sky was mostly clear and it did not take long for the heat to start building up again. I wondered if we would have secretly preferred the rain, rather than the hot sun.

    We then bounced our way over more kilometres of dusty dirt roads, simultaneously shaking every part of our bodies that could move and inhaling lungfuls of dry dust at the same time. When Jorge then explained that we were about to begin a steep climb on an even worse road I am sure that some spirits sank. Nevertheless we started well, quickly seeking our lowest gears and our inner reserves. For the next half hour we bounced and ground our way slowly up the mountain till we reached the biggest stone dolmen in Europe. It was a massive cylindrical block of stone that had been erected pointing to the skies.

    As hard as it was to complete the first part of the climb, our work was only half done. We then had to continue up an even steeper climb to reach a huge cromeleque. In case you don’t know what that is, neither did we. It turned out to be a large collection of massive rocks that had been carefully placed in patterns at the top of a hill. Although not as tall as Stone Henge, there were far more rocks, so I guess that makes up for it.

    By this time we were growing hungry and Jorge found a shady spot for us to enjoy lunch. He even provided us with picnic chairs to sit our tired bodies on. The we faced the challenge of riding back down the heavily corrugated dirt road we had ridden up earlier. Although easier on the legs, it certainly required concentration and vigilance to avoid having a serious crash.

    At the bottom we counted heads to make sure that we had not suffered any casualties on the way down and then started the ride back to Evora. Although we had been told it was downhill all the way – it wasn’t. There were several more hills to climb (of course there were), until we finally joined the main highway back into Evora. Finally we could let our hair down (or we could have if we had any) and made up for lost time. It was a good feeling to be making good progress at last and we were very glad when we rolled back to the front of our hotel at 4.30 pm.

    It had been a solid day’s ride, but I think that everyone was rightly pleased with their efforts.
    Read more

  • Day10

    Ein Tag in Évora

    January 10, 2020 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 9 °C

    Heute war es a....kalt, wenn auch sonnig. Die Wetter App zeigte tapfer 12 Grad an, aber es war kaum über 0. Mit kalten Temperaturen kenne ich mich aus - ich komme aus Almanha!😨
    So stromere ich durch das schöne Évora mit seinen Häusern im Mudejarstil, vielen Spuren der diversen Kulturen, die die Zeit hier gesehen hat, und beschäftige mich mit der Vergänglichkeit des Seins. Ja ja, genau das! Mein Besuch in der berühmten Knochenkapelle der Franziskanerkirche hat es in sich: "Wir Knochen hier warten nur auf deine." Steht da als Willkommensgruß über der Tür. Und drinnen: finde ich neue Inspirationen für die Wandgestaltung meines Zuhauses: schaut euch die Fotos an. Die Wände sind komplett mit den menschlichen Überresten verkleidet, Knochen und Schädel. Hier sollte man die Kriegstreiber dieser Welt mal 1 Monat lang einsperren.
    1 Monat allein, dann 1 Monat alle zusammen.
    Als Menü dws Tages probiere ich dann die Migas Aljentanas, Fleischstückchen mit einer eingeweichten Brotmasse. Total Lowcarb, kann ich euch sagen. Geschmacklich nicht so mein Fall. Aber der Aljentanische Hauswein ist sehr süffig.
    Read more

  • Day25

    Carnage at the Breakfast Buffet

    October 12, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    When I realised that we would be staying at what was probably the largest hotel in Evora, I could not help but feel a little excited. Apart from the large bedroom, my thoughts raced ahead to what delights might await us at the morning breakfast buffet. We might even be able to feast on scrambled eggs and other delicacies. These are the sort of things that you NEVER have for breakfast at home, but become staple fare when you are travelling.

    Although breakfast had not been scheduled till 7.30 am, by 7.00 I had already been up for over an hour and was ready to tuck in. It was only when I left my room and noticed the huge line of suitcases that filled the corridor as gar as the eye could see. Each one bore the label of some accursed bus touring company. It was not only evident that there was a whole infestation of these bus tourists, but it was also obvious that they didn't feel obliged to eve take their own bags to the foyer. I wondered if the passengers would also be carried out as well.

    With feelings of foreboding I made my way to the breakfast room. It was not a pretty sight. The entire room was jam packed with a loud mob of bus travellers who were all trying to scoff as much food as possible in the least amount of time. They were descending en mass like a swarm of locusts on any scrap of food that appeared on the buffet. I could almost see fist fights breaking out over the last croissant.

    Since there was not a single seat available, I had no choice but to return to my room, hoping that the swarming mass would soon move on to repeat the same obnoxious performance at some other hotel. I could not help but feel sorry for them - they would have to endure this same spectacle every single day, while we only had to witness it once.

    By 7.30 pm most of the swarm had departed, along with all of the cutlery and most of the food. They had disappeared almost as fast as they had appeared. If that is modern tourism, I would never want any part of it.

    As the other Ghostriders arrived to survey the carnage, we could only look with amazement. The staff were also obviously still in a state of shock. When Allan tried to retrieve a knife and fork to eat his breakfast (surely not an unreasonable thing to do), he was met with a torrent of abuse from the young female attendant. Apparently we were meant to eat the tiny amount of remaining scrambled eggs with our hands.

    I managed to grab a few leftovers and was glad to be out of the place. In the meantime the busloads of travellers had been herded into their live stock transports and were already on their way to the next roadhouse and toilet stop. And to think that some people actually PAY to do those sort of tours !!!!
    Read more

  • Day70

    Travel Day - Carvoeiro to Evora

    March 10, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ 🌧 14 °C

    Because of logistics, once again we had to rely on a private transfer from our Carvoeiro resort to the bus station in Albufeira, 35 km east. For €13 each we would travel 200 km on a smooth, high floor bus in front row seats. It was an enjoyable ride with interesting scenery, in contrast to the Algarve which had a lot of scrub land between towns and not much to look at. We saw lots of trees....olive, almond and cork....as well as vineyards and farmyards with sheep not cattle. Although there was partial sun at the coast, as soon as we turned north we were heading directly into black clouds and scattered showers. Three hours later we arrived in Evora. It was less than a km to our hotel so we lugged our suitcases down the cobble stoned street with difficulty. I have already lost the rubber on one of the wheels making it that much more difficult to pull. Cobble stones and wheeled luggage aren’t compatible!

    I had been making all our meals for the last two weeks in an attempt to compensate in a small way for the huge Air Portugal bill. I made a reservation at the highly rated, moderately priced restaurant in our hotel and was looking forward to a nice meal. I had forgotten that meat dominates Portuguese dining. So I ordered a vegetarian lasagna that surprisingly came with no noodles and no cheese, which made me wonder how they could call it lasagna. It was topped with curried almonds. I couldn’t eat it and was so disappointed. At least John enjoyed his regional pork dish.
    Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Praça do Girald, Praca do Girald