Wild Berries (B side) - track 1

Trip Start Feb 15, 2007
Trip End Jul 17, 2007

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Days 1-3 - …vora

Now that I am on wheels, I decided to take the opportunity to visit …vora, a walled island in the middle of nowhere (formerly a Roman city) that everyone says I must visit. I wasn't hoping to get a direct ride and still felt skeptical about hitch-hiking after my Finnish experience, but it was rather easy. After about one hour on the road two guys on their way to …vora stopped for me.
On our way there I learned that there was an ongoing biennial puppet fair in the city, which sounded great. It was only half-great, though, I did see a few very good shows, namely a Brazilian duo presenting a series of short sketches and a Czech duo presenting a crazy Snow White in Czech/Spanish/Portuguese, but there was also a lot of crap. Coincidentally or not, the Portuguese guys were most so bad that I felt ashamed just for watching them.
The city itself is nice, some very interesting places to visit, but overall I found it too visually polluted. It seems to be too cluttered, signs and parked cars everywhere, plus the buildings are too close together, it is hard to get a good picture or even a good view. However, there is one place in the city that alone was enough to make …vora worth my visit, and that is the bone chapel - a chapel in the S„o Francisco church that has its walls completely covered by human bones, taken from anonymous Portuguese monks. A rather grim monument, but I love it.

Day 4 - Estremoz

This time I didn't know exactly where to go, just looked at the map, decided to head north, towards Portalegre (for no special reason, I had never heard anything about it) and went to the road. It was a ride in two parts, the first car to stop (after two hours of wait) only took me to a nearby village with nothing of interest. I took a break for lunch and, back to the road, got a ride with a Spanish guy headed for Guadalajara. I considered going with him, but was starting to seem larger and larger as I saw more of it, and I knew I would have to miss a lot of places here, so I got off at a Portuguese town in his way that he told me was beautiful. It was beautiful, but a small town, I could see everything I wanted to see during the afternoon. This time the ride was actually more interesting than the place I went to.

Days 5-6 - Portalegre

I decided to go a little further north before heading to the west again. This time it was really easy to get a ride, I was on the road probably for less than half an hour before a guy stopped for me. A very silent guy, we went almost all the way to Portalegre without talking. The city is still in Alentejo, but at the entrance to a mountain range, so the landscape changed a bit. A very welcome change, I was sick of the empty yellow plains that are all over this region. I had next to zero expectations for this city, never having heard it mentioned as a very touristic place in Portugal, but it was a good surprise. Not all that beautiful, but a nice, calm city to spend a few days. Plus it has an interesting museum of modern tapestry (I don't remember ever seeing modern tapestry before), a supposedly revolutionary technique for weaving the tapestries was invented here, even though I couldn't see any difference between two side by side identical tapestries, one woven by the traditional method and the other by the new one.

Day 7 - Marv„o

Now for the best reason for someone to come to the Portalegre district - the highest village in the country, with 185 inhabitants (according to the map they hand at the tourism office) and totally enclosed by walls. A very beautiful and interesting village, and very few people too, feels a little bit like a ghost town - my favourite place in the country so far. As it is difficult to hitch-hike on mountain range roads, with all the curves and no space on the sides, I decided to go by bus. I had to return on foot, though, as I missed the only return bus of the day. My feet are still hurt, but 20km downhill unburdened was nothing that they couldn't handle.
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rmusse on

S„o Francisco Church
Hi dear,
Any pictures available? Keep up the good work... I love reading your updates ;) All the best of luck in you hitch-hiking adventures :))))

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