It’s Hello Evora – Then Goodbye Portugal
It’s Wednesday the 6th of March, and Iggy the Hymer motorhome is contemplating the road after two days staying in the free Aire in Evora. (N 38.56349, W 7.91651)
It is a bit of a thought to start that driving. Both exciting, and sad, as today we will drive through Portugal for the last time and enter back into Spain. Today is day 30 of our Winter/Spring Tour. Although we still have until the end of March, it is time to start heading slowly northwards once more. Albeit in a very “Not Britain – we’re heading East!” kind of way for a couple of weeks yet.
It would be lovely to be in Spain again, but we were really going to miss Portugal. Our previous visits here, down in the Algarve, had not really given us any idea what the country is really like. There is so much history, such beautiful, vibrant scenery. And the people we’d met had an earthy, straightforward way about them that we really liked
We’d arrived here, in Evora, quite late in the day two days ago. Our art of an earlyish start and lunch time arrival seemed to have abandoned us since we’ve been in Portugal. Arriving late and staying two or three days seeming to be our new norm.
And Evora fell right into that pattern. The Aire wasn’t far to walk to the historic city, and we set off straight away to try and get at least a little bit of sight-seeing in before dark.
We had a good bash at it, but the rain that had been threatening in the weather forecast arrived shortly after we did. And despite our best efforts the downpour, thunder & lightning, soon defeated us.
Singing in the rain
We sheltered with some other rain soaked maniacs as a guitarist struck up a barrel load of gospel songs. Lots of laughs and a few miserable faces too. We’ll take the laughter thanks!
Cold, wet and hungry, we persisted just long enough to have a coffee and watch the rain gushing down outside our shelter. It turned out the rain was feeling a lot more persistant than we were however.
There was a brief pause in the downpour and we could feel the air temperature surge, ready for thunder.
“Time to go.” said a soggy Jay.
“Duvet day.” I agreed.
And even Marley was happy to rush back to the van, sizzling lightning hot on our heels as we dived for Iggy. Cosy and warm in our van home we pulled out the snacks and turned on Netflix. We’d do some proper exploring in the morning.
The rain hammered down all night and was still hitting in torrential showers come the morning. The gaps in between were longer than the showers though, so we set off and quickly retraced our steps of yesterday. Buying a new brolly in one rainswept street we carried on upwards in search of the Cathedral and Evora’s Roman Temple.
The cathedral was quite an impressive beastie, and we were going to take turns on having a look inside. I was put off however by the beggar sitting in the doorway. It reminded me strongly of the beggars that line the walls outside the mosques in Muslim countries. But she was making it quite difficult to pass, and I just wasn’t in the mood today.
A strange response perhaps from someone who spent years working with homeless people and addicts. But sometimes nowadays I find that I just need a break from it all. It still feels like work – and today I’m just not wearing that head. Tomorrow, our new umbrella may go the way of our last one. Into the hands of a beggar in the rain. But for today, just for today, I passed on by.
I love these blue spires
On we went up the hill, wandering randomly from one twisty, maze of street to another. Churches and plazas, green spaces and benches, and blue spires that led me a merry dance down endless alleyways trying to snag a close up photograph.
Finally we emerged into a wide, open area, and recognised immediately the familiar shape of a Temple of Diana before us. Totally incongruous among the white, yellow and orange that is a great staple of Portuguese buildings.
It seemed strange, out of place, and it wasn’t until later, looking at the pictures, that it struck me how it was surrounded by churches. And so, not incongruous at all. A temple to an old God, standing with the temples to the new God who’s replaced her. A place of temples. I like that somehow.
Opposite the Temple there was a viewpoint out over Evora to the fields and hills beyond. And we spotted a massive aqueduct, zig-zagging across the fields below. Of course you can’t spot an aqueduct and not go for a look. Well…maybe you can…I think for sure Jay could have. But Marley and me were already following a twisty windy way down the hill. Aqueduct bound! Come on Jay! Catch up!
Down at the bottom was like another town from the one on the hill. Low level, winter dirty, white houses, with yellow trim and orange roofs sprawled in no apparant order between us and the Aqueduct.
Here and there a modest church, looking the same as the houses, but with a spire, poked above the rooftops. The odd piece of graffiti or street art decorated the way. I loved these birds painted so cleverly on the wire running across the house. Turning ugly to beauty. A knack some folk seem to have as easily as others breathe.
Finally we found the aqueduct. Rolling over the City Walls. Houses growing from it’s arches. And then away. Away across the fields and far into the distance.
We were sure there must be a walk along the bottom of this marvellous piece of human ingenuity, and indeed we thought we found a sign pointing for one. But if it was there darned if we could find it. It seemed to be through these arches somewhere, but cars whizzing around and no footpath put us off exploring too far in that direction.
We followed it out along the road instead, as far along as the monastery who’s grounds it seemed to run through. But we found no way through. No nice walk for Marley. And eventually, we gave up and returned to explore Evora some more.
Between the rain, the unsatisfying experience of the Aqueduct, and just a general “not quite cutting it” feeling I wasn’t enjoying Evora anywhere nearly as much as I was trying to. Tempted to give it up as a “not my cup of tea” and go home I decided to push just a little further. Turn just a few more corners. And so, a little disheartened the pair of us, we began to circle the City Walls.
And, slowly, Evora began to charm us a little more with every turn and twist. Nothing here blew me away. I didn’t fall in love with any of it. I wouldn’t tell anyone “Oh you must go!” But bit by bit, as we found more and more little corners scattered everywhere throughout the town, we felt a little happier to be here.
The rains diminished as the day crept on, and the sun even thought to poke it’s head out once in a while. Transforming the grubby streets into places of beauty and character. With a constant supply of quaint, interesting or unusual architecture to keep me on my toes with the camera.
Finally, as our feet were starting to scream “No more!” we found ourselves at the park, and heaved ourselves into cafe terrace seats for a well earned snack and a beer before the last push for home.
The evening was mild and gentle, grey skies but no more rain, and the tables in the cafe slowly filled as locals and tourists alike started to gather for the end of day. We sat with them, sipping our drinks, talking over all the things we had seen that day. All the places we had stayed in Portugal. How much we’d enjoyed it
Feet rested we started back through the park and were immediaely brought to a standstill by the sight of what had been a stunning bandstand. Somehow the crumpled car next to it had managed to crash right through it, and totally destroy it!
Unable to figure out just how the driver had managed it we carried on, and found Evora had saved one last crumb of goody to capture us and make us like her. The park was a gem.
We had already spotted the peafowl while we were sitting in the cafe, but we hadn’t realised just quite how many there were. They were everywhere! On the City Wall walks, in the ruined castle like building, the flower beds, the thickets. Everywhere!
The park, and the peahens, were a lovely end to our day in Evora. And to our 14 days in Portugal. Tonight we would sleep the sleep of the very tired feet. And tomorrow?
Tomorrow was Spain.