595-600 : Exploring Industries of the Alentejo

595 – Thursday 12th 2017: Sao Pedro do Corval Pottery and Evora

It’s got to be said – we pottered our way around the pottery town Sao Pedro do Corval.  K bought some arty-fax and the almond cheesecakes won us over – was ever a maiden so ‘bowl’-ed over?  

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Some of the old furnaces … we saw a lot of modern ones in villager’s gardens, although the shops were mostly along the main road.

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A really pleasant but ordinary town centre, where we found the locals popular cafe/bar.  And sampled the MOST delicious almond cheesecakes.

Evora is pleasant large town to walk around – cathedral and Roman remains, city walls, aqueduct etc.  It is one of Portugal’s most well preserved Medieval towns with lots of Moorish influences.  Preserved as it’s riches slumped and investment (modernisation) ceased … so poverty kept the town intact.  The remains of a young man who seemed to be caught with his pants down climbing in through some gates – there’s no flies on him!  Overnight stay at the Intermarche – a GB van tried to climb up our exhaust pipe – he couldn’t have got closer…

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Unusually not Praca da Replica – most towns seem to have one, a bit like the Piazza Garibaldi in Italy, but Praca do Giraldo … Giraldo, aka Gerald the Fearless, single handedly defeated the Muslims and so got back Evora for the Christians.  He scaled a watch tower on a series of ladder spears driven into the walls and distracted the sentries whilst his Christian compatriots took the town with little fight.

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Gerald the Fearless?  And what is that growing out of your flies?

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The cathedral was built on fortress lines with asymmetrical towers. Vasco da Gama’s ship’s flags were blessed here.

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The Roman Temple (thought to be to Diana) was at one point used as a slaughterhouse.  The dome behind is on the rear of the cathedral.

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Overnight stay … the Frenchman on the right was first, then us on the left … so why did the other Brit park just quite so close to us … most un-British!

596 – Friday 13th January:  Vila Vicosa

Home of the Dukes of Braganza – last Kings of Portugal – one assassinated with his heir in 1908.  Fabulous Ducal Palace – excellent tour inside supposed to be in Portuguese, but in English as the other visitors were Amercian and English speaking Portuguese … so lucky we were.  Pity no internal photos although one of our group didn’t seem to quite appreciate the rules… Sumptuous carpets and rugs from Persia and Portugal – ornate wood carved seats and desks – cosmopolitan furniture. Shades of Versailles, here.  We learned that “tea” means “transport, ‘erbs’ and ‘aromatic’…  Afternoon tea is a custom brought to England by Catherine of Braganza who married Charles II – he was a philanderer, so she had all the ladies to tea so she could see who was absent and therefore his current flame.

The main industry around here is marble excavation and preparation.  A lot of Portuguese marble goes overseas, particularly to Italy.  The pavements and most walls are all made from marble.  The town has a lovely soft glow as a result. 

We left Oscar in Jez for a second time whilst we lunched … wind too cold for outside eating on a local dish of roast pork cuts with clams and sea bass.  Doggy bag taken away to be made into a casserole for tomorrow’s supper.

We intended overnighting in a car park at the castle – young lovers started to arrive – Friday night is party night – we bolted to the Baragem Lucifer – well – Lucefi – nothing evil about it … just us, full moon and starlit night – perfect.

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Another Praca da Republic, looking back to the castle that the Duke of Braganza found to be uncomfortable, so had this built from 1501 …

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… The Palace Square and Ducal Palace:  the Square alone covers 16,000 sq metres.  We saw about 35 rooms, only 20% of the whole.  In the centre is a statute of Joao IV, who had the ground floor of the Palace built.  It was used as a Summer Palace / Hunting Lodge once the Braganzas became the premier royal family.  Some of the furniture went to Lisbon and some to Brazil, when the royal family escaped there during Spanish occupation and liked it so much they stayed a long time, but there is some wonderful carved furniture, carpets (incl. Persian and local from Arraiolas), tapestries and some wonderful porcelain.   The last King and Queens’s bedrooms contained hairbrushes etc, as Dom Carlos and his heir left in the morning for Lisbon in 1908 and never came back – assassinated.

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The other side of the Square.

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The Knot Gate, a symbol of the Braganzas in marble and granite.

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The Pillory … will I get a whipping?  It was described as having some great frog stonework … but even with imagination we could not see them.

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With so much marble being excavated, the downside are the massive holes in the ground and slag heaps of rubbish stone – seen here on the horizon.  When we first saw some waste piles, they looked like a town that had been demolished.

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Don’t jump … you’re not insured!  We walked the castle ramparts, whilst keeping our lemming dog on a tight leash.  

A large perimeter, containing the main church with some more lovely tiles and houses.  We did not fancy the museum containing all the Braganza hunting trophies!


597 – Saturday 14th January:  Sitting Still But Not Being Still

We had a most amazing peaceful night’s sleep.  A slow start to the morning, followed by a run and Pilates on the banks of the barragem (lake).  We ended up not moving the van and staying a second night.  We cleaned Jez, pottered, played some cards and I managed to do a big chunk of knitting.  Sometimes you just need to be still.


598 – Sunday 15th January:  Marble Museum and Arroliles Carpets

We headed back into Vila Vicosa to the marble museum.  Only a small museum and the information was in Portuguese only, but there were some good images of the processes and some statues of carved marble.  There were some amazing huge panels, and I’ve told J I want our bathroom walls and floors re-done with marble … but not in Jez as too heavy.  The drive away was along the factories where the massive blocks of marble are prepared for floors and walls.

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A pastoral scene of cattle but with the marble slag piles.

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For my boudoir walls and floors.

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Massive blocks carved out.

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Boobs awry … in both directions.

We stopped at Arraiolos; home of hand made carpets.  We’d seen some on the floors in the Ducal Palace.  Given the hand working they are right out of our price bracket.  Beautiful designs of birds and flowers.  Many of these towns are centred around a single industry, be it marble, pottery or carpets, and they are pretty much the only form of employment.

We then shot across the River Tagus to about 35 km north of Lisbon.  We are on a way to spend a good few days in Lisbon; our friend Alison is joining us for a week.  We spent the night at another Intermarche … they have embraced motorhomes with dedicated parking and some have food services.  Shame Tesco has has not gone the same route.  I did a big shop ready for our visitor and managed to spend half the spend on booze!!!

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Arraiolos has a castle, but we did not head up that way … seen quite a few.  We had a coffee and cake and wandered the streets.

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My view from the cafe – faded blue and white church behind modern water jets.

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Oscar’s turn at the pillory.

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One retailer told me that the wool comes from further north in Portugal.

599 – Monday 16th January:  And So Onto Lisbon

We drove via the airport to pick up a Ford Fiesta hire car so we can get around with the dog for a week.  We drove the short hop to the campsite.  As I am flying home to see my Munchkin a few days after Alison leaves, so we’ve decided to stay on the campsite a few days longer … they offered a whopping 40% discount for 15 nights … so this is how long we will be here.

I went straight into massive washing load … did not manage to complete it all … my drying lines were full.  Darks will go through another day.  Cold and tired from my endeavours so we tried the campsite restaurant …. not to be repeated.  Cold food re-heated and low quality.  But it filled a hole.

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Oscar KNOWS that I keep dog treats in my hand bag.  I left him for all of 5 minutes and when I came back he was wearing my handbag …. head and a leg through a handle.  No sign of the treats or the plastic bag.  Is this a sheepish look.

600 – Tuesday 17th January:  Lisboa Campsite and Collecting Alison

Another leisurely start. Chat to a French couple travelling with their dog and cat … van comparisons.  Then a chap approached and invited us over to introduce us to his two Welsh Springer Spaniels.  They are a minority breed and Oscar did look very LARGE and SOLID compared to his compatriots.  I took Oscar for a massive walk around the woods behind the site up to a mirador (viewing point).  It was bit of a clamber.  I’m OK going up, but dodgy knees coming down so I found an alternative route … still ended up a short way descending on my bum!

We collected Alison from the airport … her plane landed 25 minutes early, so we just made it in time.  A convivial supper back at Jez.


Oscar’s Diary.

Hello folks – I’m a bit nervous about this – new to me and all that. I know Mr Dimbelby interviewed me last week – and he was OK but, now it’s just me…

Where do I start?  Well at my previous owners – my mate George tipped me the nod that I was going to some new people (George and me didn’t always see nose to nose – we scrapped a bit – I always won though) and so I was prepared. Solihull was my home although I am a Welshie. They showed up on time with a motorhome – I know about these as Elaine has one, fortunately. The lady (Katherine) is a bit of a looker but I wasn’t sure about the skinny bearded one – he does have a nice smile though.  James they call him – fair enough for an Irishman.  Roomy van with an acceptable doggy bed for now – I’ll sort that out later, I thought.

Well, moving on by 4 months – they have improved and are responding well to my training – Katherine reacts to food treats and James is partial to red wine – I have to ration him nicely. I try to do a bit of training with them most days – but i’m also busy with my other bits.  “Whoosh”! Sorry, that was me sneezing – whoops – a piece of my snot just landed in Katherine’s shoe!  If it feels wet when she slips her for in – she will just blame James!  He dribbles everywhere…  

They travel a lot which is OK – but they mention a place called Scotland – up in the Arctic Circle – Eskimos and big bears…. Not sure – if I am in doubt, I will contact my local branch of the WSSU (Welsh Springer Spaniel’s Union).  I know the Secretary well – Mr Hatsu – (Japanese father) – I call him Dai.  

I’ve made some nice friends – Boo and Poppy (their owners come from Arctic Scotland – they do talk with a strange accent.) K and J tell me we’re a place called Portogooseland – the sun shines and it’s quite warm.

Now, they have started a bad habit – leaving me in the van while they gallivant about town. I’ve told Dai and he says that I should re-arrange the furniture and stuff in the van while they’re out and that usually works.  I did it – and got roundly told off!   I’m only trying to help – I even remade their bed – me being all nice – you just cannot please these human all the time… James used a word I don’t know – ‘feck’ – I need to watch him.

I’ll give them a second chance – we’re soon going to a place called “Lipton” (or Lizbon) – I think they make tea there – clever K9, me – I’m ejumicated – I passed the ‘11Plusall4s’ exam recently.

They’re coming now – I need to hide my KPad – and it’s doggydinner time – I do hope they get the portions right, this time. K has no problems getting her food portions in place – something about 2 stomachs – wine and ice cream go there…

If I get some reviews, I’ll keep writing, fellow pets.

Ta Ra and Yakkydoo – (I think that’s Welsh, sort of…)











11 thoughts on “595-600 : Exploring Industries of the Alentejo

  1. Hi Katherine and James, have you seen the ‘saltofportugal’ blog on WordPress? Some great restaurant reviews. Kensey loved Oscars section… something about handbags at dawn, humans still sleeping and so opportunity to sneak a few doggy treats and then blame James for the mess! Robyn😊


      • I’m staying in Algarve for another 6 weeks or so. Niece coming to stay in mid Feb and Kensey needs to be spayed, so have found a fab vet in Monchique. Then quick charge through Spain, then another month in France once the weather has warmed up. Need to be back in U.K. In April for MOT 😞. Perhaps catch up with you in March somewhere?


      • We’re heading N through Portugal and across the top of Spain. We are also crossing home in April … so I’ll watch where you are as it is always lovely to meet fellow bloggers.


  2. A message to Oscar from Poppy and Boo. “Like your style. Keep the training going. Humans pick up a lot of bad habits over the years.”
    And from the humans …
    Hey fellow travellers! We’ve got our leak fixed! Now in Manta Rota. Great Aire. Heading for Spain in a couple of days. X x

    Liked by 1 person

    • So pleased my friends approve, woof from Oscar.
      Heard about Manta Rota… big aire though.
      Thank goodness re leak. Where did you get it fixed? Your van will probably be be fine now – fingers and everything crossed xxx


      • The Manta Rota aire holds a lot of vans, but doesn’t feel cramped as you park nose to tail. If you can get a spot at the far end on the edge i found it really quiet😊


      • We like Manta Rota a lot. It has a good atmosphere and straight onto the beach for the dogs. Only have to find out why the solar panel isn’t working efficiently and all should be well. Living in the thing for a year sure shows up its problems. The sun is shining! Woo hoo! x x


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