Week 32 - Moving at last!

Week 32

Sunday 2nd March 2014

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It’s Moncarapachio market and carnival day today we visited both and then went to a BBQ at Rosemary and Franks. The market, which R&F declared “a bit disappointing as a lot of the usual stalls are missing”, was HUGE. Quite the biggest we have encountered in Portugal with dozens of stalls selling everything from bootleg DVD’s to clothes, olives to ice cream. Unfortunately the best moody DVD man wasn’t there so we bought nothing. The market cleared early as the carnival parade was due to start at 2.30 at which time we were in the centre of town 2.30 came and went with no evidence of carnival floats, 3 o’clock disappeared into history. In the parade assembly square my most pungent memory is that of a chap with a mobile BBQ and a quantity of dried octopus. He was heating the octopus on the BBQ and selling chunks. The smell was unbelievable.

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Around 3.15 using a fork lift truck people, children and adults both, were loaded on to the floats and off went the procession. This followed a (sort of) set route through the town and continued round and round until audience and/or float occupiers got tired and left. When we left at around 4.30 there were droves of people still arriving as well as the odd additional float joining the procession. The whole thing was apparently repeated the following Tuesday but we have as yet been unable to find out if the floats were the same or different.

After the carnival came the highlight of the day, a BBQ at Rosemary and Frank’s house. Rosemary does ribs to die for. We have copied down her method etc., etc., and will be trying it out ourselves soon. Frank proved himself to be, as well as a computer boffin, a BBQ boffin. The BBQ they use is like nothing we have seen before, it is a Cobb BBQ and they have two, one for the caravan and one for the house. Using, literally, just a handful (six briquettes) of charcoal for three hours cooking they are very quick and easy to light being ready to cook within 15 minutes and of course the fuel is available throughout the world. Guess what we are going to buy when we get back to Blighty? I don’t think I have ever seen quite as much beautifully cooked food for just four people before.

Monday 3rd March 2014

We have decided it is definitely time to move on so spent today preparing for that big event. Normally we can prepare for and get moving within an hour, having been in the one place for so long it took most of the day. Nothing was in it’s proper travelling place. For good measure we also turned the van through 180 degrees so that it could be hitched easily in the morning (no faffing about and giving the motor homers a good laugh when you cock it up while they are all having breakfast in the sun.

Tuesday 4th March 2014

Well we managed it we moved. Not far, 160km - just over two hours, to Beja Municipal Campsite. Just a short walk from the historical centre of Beja, the site is perfectly placed to explore the town and surrounding area.

Wednesday 5th March 2014

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Spent the whole of the day in the historic centre of Beja, even walking back to the site at lunchtime for a proper cup of tea. Highlights of the day were the castle, the convent and the art exhibition of sculptures by Jorge Vieira, one of the great names in 20th century Portuguese modern art.

Thursday 6th March 2014

A day out in the car today, to Serpa to see the 11th Century aqueduct and the castle, unfortunately like most things Portuguese between 12.30 and 3.00, all was closed for lunch. Never mind on we went to Moura - meaning Moorish girl. Legend has it that Salúquia, daughter of a Moorish governor, on hearing her lover had been killed by Christains threw herself from the castle tower thus giving the town it’s name. There were large expensive houses on the approaches to the town which was pretty and well kept with a lot of people tending the public park area, the whole giving off an aura of gentle respectability, however it also had more empty shops than any other Portuguese town we have visited and many street corners were populated by quite depressed looking people just hanging around. The castle and it’s grounds are well worth a visit the views from which are quite magnificent.

From Moura we went on to São Cucufate a set of roman remains near the village of Villa de Fades. Not the biggest set of remains we have seen but well worth the visit and at just €3 for Sue and €1.50 for me (the only advantage of being an official OAP) very good value.

Friday 7th March 2014

We had intended to stay at least a week in Beja but last night decided we could cope with the site no longer (see my site report here) so today moved, not far, just 110km to the north - 3km from Evoramonte to Camping Alentejo. What a difference. Great views, clean facilities, the only down side is it’s isolated location.

Saturday 8th March 2014

We had been told that Estramoz market held every Saturday in the main town square is a “not to be missed event” so bright and early we drove up the hill and through the town gate into Estramoz old town. We found a parking spot fairly easily and went into the market. It was quite big with a fair number of stalls, but half the stalls were selling second hand “tat” and the other half fruit and vegetables. Neither half was showing prices, almost unheard of in Portuguese markets and the sign floating above us stating “TOURIST” was glowing brightly, our lack of knowledge of local language and local prices almost guaranteeing we would finish up paying over the odds. After a fairly quick look around we left without any purchases and went to the local supermarket where everything is clearly priced. Estramoz  is the largest  of the three so-called “marble towns” – nearby Borba and Vila Viçosa are the others. The area is so rich in marble that it is used extensively in the most commonplace surroundings, something that’s immediately obvious in the marble streets, squares and fountains and on our campsite the pitches are topped with marble chippings.

Last Updated - Sunday 27th April 2014.             © Seve  Ghost 2014