Right, where were we? A lot has happened since Roxo (and that was posted in the wrong order) so we are all a bit higgledy-piggledy at the moment. Because of this, the Where Are We? map is likely to be out of date, although will be correct today and until we leave Serpa. By the time we get around to updating it again though, we might be in the middle of Spain – who knows?
We met up with Aussie Dad & Jan about 10 days ago at an aire close to the Spanish border – they will be our travel buddies for the next 3 months. We spent a couple of days at the aire in Luz to allow them to recover from their week-long dash across France and Spain.
Luz is an interesting place. The original village was flooded when the Alqueva dam was built in 2002 – the new village was built on higher ground and the residents moved to brand new houses. There is a museum which tells the story of the relocation, including a moving film with interviews with the residents, many of whom did not want to leave – understandable when some of them had lived in the same house for all of their 70-odd years. However, the resulting reservoir – the largest artificial lake in Europe – provides drinking water for 200,000 people, irrigation for over 100,000 hectares of farming land and has one of the most powerful hydroelectric plants in Portugal, so the relocation was deemed necessary for the greater good.
From Luz we moved to Evora, where we spent a few days on a campsite to catch up with practical things like washing. Each day we walked into the town to soak up some of its history – the remains of the Roman temple on the top of the town, the 9m diameter Roman bath in the town hall, the aqueduct with houses built into the arches and the Chapel of Bones, decorated with the bones of 5,000 monks. We timed our visit to coincide with the monthly market, which turned out to be pretty disappointing – mainly underwear and plastic buckets when we were hoping for food! The weather was not disappointing though – up to 27ºC which was fantastic.
Over the next few days, we made our way east again to Monsaraz, via a few megalithic monuments and the marble town of Estremoz – if you looked at our route on a map, you would realise that we are meandering, rather than taking the most logical path, but hey ho – that is one of the best things about travelling! Monsaraz was fantastic and the aire has to have one of the best views of any in Portugal. There are many lovely walled towns in Portugal, but Monsaraz is piece de resistance. By this time, the weather had cooled down and the wind had picked up, which made being parked in an exposed spot at the top of a hill quite exciting!
Yesterday we visited a few more megalithic monuments and a great museum at a winery, displaying objects that were found when a 5,500 year old burial site was excavated on their land.
Today we are on the municipal campsite in Serpa, another medieval walled town. There has been quite a bit of excitement for the long-term residents this morning – some men are cutting down a tree, so people have positioned their chairs for the best view. I kid you not – life must get pretty boring when you spend so long in one place.
There is a general strike tomorrow so we have the choice of leaving the campsite today or staying for another couple of nights. The sun is shining, there are castles, aqueducts and museums to explore so the choice isn’t too difficult – we’ll be here for a few days.