April 28 - May 1 Évora

While the pitches were not large, the pleasantly treed campsite and largely unoccupied campground at Évora felt spacious, the washrooms were clean and well maintained, the water was hot, the sun was warm, and a pleasant breeze carried the pastoral fragrance of the surrounding countryside, so we took time to catch up on journals, email, photos, and shopping. Shopping can be a pain. Having become familiar with the products and layout of one grocery chain, a new country or region presents new chains, product lines, and layouts, each having to be explored, the product labels examined and translated. After some exploration of stores and products we settled on the Continente chain, hoping that we could find it throughout Portugal and reduce the time we spent shopping. My dislocated shoulder had improved enough that we could explore some of the back roads on our folding bikes. It was hot, we were out of condition, feeling lethargic, and bicycling was not kind to my injured shoulder, but even so we were glad to get the exercise and looked forward to doing more. The next day we arrived outside the southern gate of Évora’s old city walls. A large market was setting up, but luckily we were early and found free parking beside the wall and near the gate.  Once through the gates we wandered along streets and alleyways, through intimate public squares where heavily pruned trees were just showing the green of new branches and leaves, and past small streetside coffee shops and restaurants, open but empty. From its ragged and untidy nest atop a church bell tower, a stork observed, with studied indifference, our passage.  We eventually emerged to on a large hilltop plaza dominated by the city cathedral. The old city was quite beautiful with its sett-, cobble- and flagstone streets, public squares, and churches, but Évora felt different from other medieval cities and towns we had visited. It felt “authentic”, tourism was not its raison d’etre, there was a air of dereliction and hard times. Paper and plastic littered the main square. Men, single and in small groups, loitered about the large, near empty plaza, sitting in the shade of the arched stone arcades lining the square, on public benches, or just leaning against the wall and gossiping. In the window of an antiques store a photograph of the square crowded with 1st of May celebrants was an interesting contrast to the square nearly empty in the early hours. The acrid smell of burning charcoal drew our attention to a strange contraption. Sitting on a platform at the back of a 3-wheeled motorcycle, a small, cone shaped metal chimney belched smoke from a charcoal fired roaster, paper cones stacked in wire holders hung from the back.  A woman tended the roaster and a panhandler approached her hoping for a handout but after much cajoling on his part and much waving of hands from both parties he, departed empty handed. The cathedral dominated the square. Lined with quiet side chapels beautifully decorated in carved, natural and gilded wood, paintings, and statuary, it was magnificent and the main altar stunning, but sadly the impact and views were obscured and spoiled by large, rather ugly, metal chandeliers hanging directly in front of them. A church warden (terrier-like, uniformed, elderly, female) insisted that I pay for taking pictures inside the cathedral. I had taken none but she refused to believe me and what began as a request became harassment. I understand that it costs to maintain these places, and I do feel a responsibility to support them, but the harassment caused me to reconsider and to leave without making a donation. I now feel a little guilty. The sun, harsh and in the wrong direction, was not conducive to photography, so we set off around the hill and down to the aqueduct along near empty streets. A workman repaired the base of an ancient stone arch spanning the street. A dapper looking gentleman in beige beret, matching jacket, and pants tucked into calf-length boots pushed his mountain bike up a steep sett paved street, his front and back baskets filled with dried foliage, and stopped outside a florist shop. Young women strolled, men gossiped on doorsteps, at a local vegetable stall, and in front of a small taberna. Washing hung from poles projecting into lanes and from racks on sidewalks; young boys played football in a lane.  At the base of the hill, the old Roman aqueduct breached the town walls and inside the walls the massive arches of the aqueduct had been filled in with shops and kiosks. The grittiness of the streets and the people going about their daily business captured my eye and imagination much more than the architecture and in the end these were what defined my vision of the town. It was getting on noon and hot, so we headed back to the van and set off on the long drive to a campsite outside of Lisbon. It was a pleasant, if tiring drive, through rolling pasture, cork orchards, and small towns. Aside from one of our GPS's increasingly frequent screw ups sending us down blind alleys and trying to send us the wrong way on one way streets we passed through Lisbon with little difficulty. We finally arrived at the lovely Orbitur Point campground between Guincho Beach and the village of Areia. Shaded by wind trained pines, backed by large active sand dunes, and close to surfing, it was popular with young people. One group of tenters had set up a tight rope between two trees and were practising, a young family with surfboards and wet suits for all set up near us. Old delivery vans used as campers were parked in many of the pitches. Of coarse there were also those of us too old for surfing let alone the cold Atlantic water, a few of us in new camper vans, more in more luxurious motor homes or caravans, and even a large luxury bus sized travel home barely able to squeeze through the gates. It was a pleasant change from the predominantly seniors crowd we had been encountering.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map Exploring back roads near camp. Meandering along narrow alleys. A stork nests atop a church tower. Loiterers watch a vendor roast chestnuts. Harsh sunlight made photography difficult. A worker does repairs. Laundry hangs in th alleys. Rolling pasture and oak en route to our next camp. A worker does repairs.

April 28 - May 1 Évora

While the pitches were not large, the pleasantly treed campsite and largely unoccupied campground at Évora felt spacious, the washrooms were clean and well maintained, the water was hot, the sun was warm, and a pleasant breeze carried the pastoral fragrance of the surrounding countryside, so we took time to catch up on journals, email, photos, and shopping. Shopping can be a pain. Having become familiar with the products and layout of one grocery chain, a new country or region presents new chains, product lines, and layouts, each having to be explored, the product labels examined and translated. After some exploration of stores and products we settled on the Continente chain, hoping that we could find it throughout Portugal and reduce the time we spent shopping. My dislocated shoulder had improved enough that we could explore some of the back roads on our folding bikes. It was hot, we were out of condition, feeling lethargic, and bicycling was not kind to my injured shoulder, but even so we were glad to get the exercise and looked forward to doing more. The next day we arrived outside the southern gate of Évora’s old city walls. A large market was setting up, but luckily we were early and found free parking beside the wall and near the gate.  Once through the gates we wandered along streets and alleyways, through intimate public squares where heavily pruned trees were just showing the green of new branches and leaves, and past small streetside coffee shops and restaurants, open but empty. From its ragged and untidy nest atop a church bell tower, a stork observed, with studied indifference, our passage.  We eventually emerged to on a large hilltop plaza dominated by the city cathedral. The old city was quite beautiful with its sett-, cobble- and flagstone streets, public squares, and churches, but Évora felt different from other medieval cities and towns we had visited. It felt “authentic”, tourism was not its raison d’etre, there was a air of dereliction and hard times. Paper and plastic littered the main square. Men, single and in small groups, loitered about the large, near empty plaza, sitting in the shade of the arched stone arcades lining the square, on public benches, or just leaning against the wall and gossiping. In the window of an antiques store a photograph of the square crowded with 1st of May celebrants was an interesting contrast to the square nearly empty in the early hours. The acrid smell of burning charcoal drew our attention to a strange contraption. Sitting on a platform at the back of a 3-wheeled motorcycle, a small, cone shaped metal chimney belched smoke from a charcoal fired roaster, paper cones stacked in wire holders hung from the back.  A woman tended the roaster and a panhandler approached her hoping for a handout but after much cajoling on his part and much waving of hands from both parties he, departed empty handed. The cathedral dominated the square. Lined with quiet side chapels beautifully decorated in carved, natural and gilded wood, paintings, and statuary, it was magnificent and the main altar stunning, but sadly the impact and views were obscured and spoiled by large, rather ugly, metal chandeliers hanging directly in front of them. A church warden (terrier-like, uniformed, elderly, female) insisted that I pay for taking pictures inside the cathedral. I had taken none but she refused to believe me and what began as a request became harassment. I understand that it costs to maintain these places, and I do feel a responsibility to support them, but the harassment caused me to reconsider and to leave without making a donation. I now feel a little guilty. The sun, harsh and in the wrong direction, was not conducive to photography, so we set off around the hill and down to the aqueduct along near empty streets. A workman repaired the base of an ancient stone arch spanning the street. A dapper looking gentleman in beige beret, matching jacket, and pants tucked into calf-length boots pushed his mountain bike up a steep sett paved street, his front and back baskets filled with dried foliage, and stopped outside a florist shop. Young women strolled, men gossiped on doorsteps, at a local vegetable stall, and in front of a small taberna. Washing hung from poles projecting into lanes and from racks on sidewalks; young boys played football in a lane.  At the base of the hill, the old Roman aqueduct breached the town walls and inside the walls the massive arches of the aqueduct had been filled in with shops and kiosks. The grittiness of the streets and the people going about their daily business captured my eye and imagination much more than the architecture and in the end these were what defined my vision of the town. It was getting on noon and hot, so we headed back to the van and set off on the long drive to a campsite outside of Lisbon. It was a pleasant, if tiring drive, through rolling pasture, cork orchards, and small towns. Aside from one of our GPS's increasingly frequent screw ups sending us down blind alleys and trying to send us the wrong way on one way streets we passed through Lisbon with little difficulty. We finally arrived at the lovely Orbitur Point campground between Guincho Beach and the village of Areia. Shaded by wind trained pines, backed by large active sand dunes, and close to surfing, it was popular with young people. One group of tenters had set up a tight rope between two trees and were practising, a young family with surfboards and wet suits for all set up near us. Old delivery vans used as campers were parked in many of the pitches. Of coarse there were also those of us too old for surfing let alone the cold Atlantic water, a few of us in new camper vans, more in more luxurious motor homes or caravans, and even a large luxury bus sized travel home barely able to squeeze through the gates. It was a pleasant change from the predominantly seniors crowd we had been encountering.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map Exploring back roads near camp. Meandering along narrow alleys. A stork nests atop a church tower. Loiterers watch a vendor roast chestnuts. Rolling pasture and oak en route to our next camp. A worker does repairs. Laundry hangs in th alleys. Harsh sunlight made photography difficult.