Ok – we’ll start right where we left off.
Yes indeed, the G&T’s were cold. Right after this picture was taken, I raised my glass only to find that it was empty.
Were there fish with straws in the pool that had finished off my drink while I wasn’t looking? Was there a hole in the bottom of the glass? I checked carefully – no – no hole. Obviously there was a G&T drinking fish at play here, stealing my drink.
So I paddled over to the edge and asked my serving wench, aka Vinni, to fix me another.
“You already drank that?” She asked.
“Uh no, I think we have a G&T drinking fish with a straw in the pool.” I answered.
She looked at me strangely and then said, “If you believe we have a G&T drinking fish with a straw in the pool, the last thing you need is another drink. You probably need a few hours with a shrink.”
Well there you have it. I don’t complain about my life very often, it being quite comfortable most of the time, but seriously now. I ask for another drink because someone, or thing, has maliciously stolen mine and all of sudden I need to see a shrink?
I asked again and since I added the word please – the serving wench, aka Vinni, made me another. I kept a close eye out for that no good G&T drinking fish and while I was doing that somebody else drank my damn drink – just couldn’t win that evening.
I won’t bore you with the details of what we did while we were at our house or with my golf game………….
Wait a second – my golf game is never boring. Ok – since you all are asking with bated breath. We played Quinta do Lago South, a PGA course where they usually play the Portuguese Open and started out with 5 pars in a row (not shabby for an old man – huh?), then a couple of bogeys and then more pars. Suffice to say that I finished the morning having played to my 8 hcp.
I immediately celebrated by drinking a couple of very large and very cold beers. Had lunch and then went home and slept most of the afternoon.
The rest of the time in the house, we mainly played a little golf, relaxed by the pool went out for dinner, went to the beach and all of a sudden 3 weeks had gone by. But we did go sailing – there is a salt water lake down by the beach where we rented a hobie cat. Speed , speed, speed and in that lake, the wind was coming from all directions as it swirled between the hills, so we got lots of practice trimming sails.
Our house was rented out the last week we were in Portugal so we went on a Pousada visit. Pousadas, for those that don’t know, are hotels, usually state-owned, built in old castles, monasteries and whatnot. We picked two, Estramoz where we have been before about 15 years ago and Beja, a place we have never been. So below are pictures of our trip and som commentary.
We took the small roads to Estramoz and passed through Mertola. Quite a sight as we rounded the bend in the road and the town came into sight.
The castle itself was mainly a stone castle and therefore not very interesting, except the view. The original castle had at one point been a Roman stronghold, then a christian stronghold, then a Muslim Castle (when the Moors conquered the Iberian penninsula) and finally a Christian castle again when the Moors were driven out. The church just outside the castle walls had at one point been a Mosque which was converted to a catholic church when the castle was taken by the christians.
The view from the castle walls was good and Vinni stopped to admire it.
The Portuguese graveyards are different. The “high-rise” apartments you see in the left side of the picture are not apartments – they are burial trays where the caskets are slid into. That way you can have a family plot that only takes up as much ground space as 1 casket – you simply add another “floor” when it is needed.
And just so you know we actually are in Portugal – here are some pics of narrow (very) streets.
Driving on we finally got to Estramoz and our Pousada for the night
Driving towards Estramoz we sighted the Pousada and the town.
Of course entering the town makes you feel a bit like Royalty (which Vinni, of course, is). Perhaps I should mention that here in Portugal, Vinni is known (and called) as Dona Vinni (translates as “Lady Vinni”)
Estramoz was built in the 13th centruy and the original castle and tower are from that time. There has, naturally been a bit of adding on since then. The Pousada and the next door church are named for the Queen and saint Rainha Santa Isabel. She was beatified for being a friend of all things living, including birds and animals. One of the miracles attributed to her says that she dropped her ball of thread from the tower one day when she was embroidering and the birds flew down, picked it up and flew back up the tower and gave it to her.
Our room wasn’t too bad – the view was OK
The Pousada was magificent inside, most of the furniture was from the 17th century, with religious Icons scattered throughout
Here are some pics from around the town
Estramoz, being an old town is filled with steep and narrow streets and steps, like these
This part of Portugal is one of the really good wine-producing parts of Portugal and we visited a couple of vineyards. Dona Maria was a wine we had tasted with our dinner the night before and it is just simply superb. I’ve got the name and address of the Danish distributor and I’ll be ordering a few cases this week.
I think the house is a little big – guess Vinni and I won’t buy it LOL
And some scenes from around the gardens and production
We also visited Quinta Moura, another wonderful wine. This vineyards makes everything by hand. The grapes are pressed by stomping them with their feet and everything else is also done by hand. They make only 100,000 bottles each year and are always sold out.
Portugal must have more castles that any place else in the world. We visited some and one of them was Evoramonte.
Evora is larger city (50,000 people of which about 20,000 are students). The city has been the summer hideaway for Portuguese Kings for centuries, so obvioulsy it has a castle and everything else associated with Kings and Royalty. It was also a Roman retreat and there still are the remnants of a Roman temple celebrating the glory of the Emperor Augustus. Here you go:
Evora has an interesting church. It is called a “Bones” church (Portugal has several). The entire inside of the church is “decorated” with skulls and bones. This symbolizes the shortness and insignificance of life, compared to the greater life that awaits you in the afterlife.
We took a guided tour of the city in a tuk-tuk. This actually is a 4 person car
and finally we got to Beja
I can’t say much about Beja since I had to go back down to the Algarve to solve some issues with our house there. So Vinni had Beja mostly to herself. We stayed in an old convent (Vinni was very disappointed it was not a monastery since she favors monks over nuns)
She took a bunch of pictures which come here:
And here are some scenes from around Beja
Vinni just couldn’t resist this picture of an old man reading his newspaper while his dog pees on his motorized wheelchair.
That concludes this little tour of Portugal. Don’t worry, from now on I won’t bore you with these types of blogs – I’ll write about sailing..