Meindl Walking Shoes

I needed a new pair of walking shoes for going to Spain and Portugal. Ended up buying this pair which are unbelievably comfortable. They are the only walking shoes/boots I’ve ever worn where I haven’t needed liner socks and haven’t had any blisters.

I am now absolutely sold on Meindl and cannot recommend them enough. They are more expensive but definitely worth it

Paula Rego

Snow White and Her Stepmother 1995

Visited the amazing Paula Rego museum in Cascais. The building itself has won awards and provides a very suitable space for her work .

Paula Rego Museum

She uses traditional Portuguese folk and fairy tales as the basis for much of her work and through them explores love and seduction,  power and subjugation, fear and terror. Some of these paintings are truly frightening, the way the stepmother is humiliating Snow White, the fear present in the body of Pinocchio.

The Blue Fairy Whispers to Pinocchio
Angel 1998
Reclining Hippo from Disney’s Fantasia 1995
The Wolf Chats Up Red Riding Hood 2003

The Red Riding Hood series gives quite a different perspective on the tale.

If you go to Lisbon do get the train out to Cascais and visit the ‘Casa dad Histórias Paula Rego ‘ it’s well worth it.

Lisbon Aljube Museum – Resistance and Freedom

Clandestine printing press – drawing by José Dias Coelho which appeared in underground communist newspaper Avante 1961

Salazar came to power in Portugal through a military coup in 1926 and in 1933 established a “New State” – fascist dictatorship.

The PIDE (political police) played a major role in the state, and the building which houses this museum was used to incarcerate  and torture prisoners until the revolution in 1974.

It’s a fantastic multi-media exhibition, going through the whole period, in many ways demonstrating the development of a fascist state.

So many people were murdered or just disappeared during this time and thus museum honours their sacrifice.

There is also a temporary exhibition about José Dias Coelho, an artist and revolutionary who was murdered in 1961. My father knew his family and we went to Portugal in the 60s we used to visit them

Here is a link to a song written to commemorate his life

If you go to Lisbon do visit this museum – it is an education!

Portalegre Tapestry Museum


The last time we went to  Portalegre we visited the Tapestry factory thinking we were at the museum. This time we managed to find the museum … and what a fantastic place. One of the staff who spoke excellent English gave us our own guided tour, describing the origins of the tapestry industry in the town and showing us some of the artists, their paintings  and how the art form has progressed over the past 50 years. The particular techniques they use are protected by law and no one else is allowed to use them. Here are photos of some of the works.

Just some of the colours
One of the designs on graph paper

 

Evora


We left Sanlucar de Barramada and our visit to Anne and Neil’s lovely house and entered Portugal, travelling to Evora, the capital of Alentejo, a place I’d visited many years ago in the 60s and 70s and has remained in my memory ever since.

Evora is a medieval walled town. It was a centre of trade during the time of the Moors and had its hey-day in the 14 to 16 centuries when it was favoured by the House of Avis, as well  as artists and scholars. Then in 1580 Spain seized the throne, the royal court left and the town started to waste away. Its very fine old centre has been left undeveloped.

 

The narrow windy streets have white washed houses with either blue or ochra painted around the windows and doors.

 

 

 

 

Towering in the old town is the Templo Romano which is said to be a temple to Diana. It’s extremely well preserved and was apparently walled up in the Middle Ages to form a small fortress and then used as the town slaughterhouse! It’s pretty impressive. Throughout the whole Alentejo region you can find loads of Roman remains.

 

 

 

 

 

The Termas Romanas is easy to miss as it’s inside the local town hall.  It was only discovered in 1987, includes a nine meter laconicum (steam room), and in 1994 they discovered an open air swimming pool! It’s quite surreal as you go into the town hall and there’s the laconicum and there are windows into people’s offices so you can look across and see them working and of course they have a window into Roman times.

All over Alentejo they have quite recently discovered both Roman and Moorish artefacts when carrying out developments.

Termas Romanas laconicum

The Capela dos Ossos is a very strange place. It’s within the Igreja de São Francisco and is a room lined with the bones and skulls of about 5000 people. It’s said it was the solution to overflowing graveyards decided upon by three 17-century Franciscan monks. It’s fairly creepy.

Capela dos Ossos

The Igreja de São João is a beautiful little church and well worth a visit. It has extraordinary azulejos(wall tiles) from the 18-C. It also has an underworld of an ossuary full of monks bones, and a deep Moorish cistern.

Azulejos in Igreja de São João
Ossuary under the church

We stayed in the campsite on edge of town. It’s one of those quite old tired campsites but it was perfectly ok and an easy 20 minute walk into town. There was also a sports area nearby where we could go for a pleasant morning jog!

Monfragüe National Park – Extremadura

Griffin vulture

We’ve discovered a whole area of Spain we’ve never been to before, and it’s fantastic ! We’re staying in a campsite just by the National Park – walking, cycling and guided tours in a 4×4 to see the birdlife.

Young griffin vulture with parent
Black stork sitting on eggs in her nest on the cliff face
Group of vultures
River Tejo

The griffin vulture  has a wing span of almost 2 metres – they are huge. When you stop at viewpoints you can see dozens of vultures circling overhead.

Gum rock-rose
Wild lavender

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black stork sitting on her eggs

This is definitely a place we’re going to visit again … many times

 

 

 

Orgiva – the Alpujarras

Hurrah, back in Orgiva in the Alpujarras after an absence of several years.

Lovely walks around the beautiful hills and villages. Four walks in six days is pretty good for us! On one walk we decided to try to walk back on the GR-7 path but kept losing the waymarks  finally realised there was far too far to go and we needed to catch the last bus down the mountain  this involved us climbing over a barbed wire fence and sliding down a steep bank to get to the road where we were able to wave down the bus!

 

Also went to a yoga class in Orgiva

And now off to Extremadura where we’ve not been before but has been recommended to us by people we’ve met on the campsite.

Almerimar

This is a strange place that some people on a campsite told us about. It’s a commercial Aire situated at the port of the town Almerimar which was created some decades ago specifically as a tourist town. We met several  people there in their vans who’d been there for months! calling it ‘velcro city’. We just stayed one night but it has a certain attraction. The weather is about 18C in the winter; there are cycle lanes everywhere – for miles along the coast; a nature reserve; loads of restaurants; lots of water sports (if you’re into that),  and a swimming pool 10 minutes away in the main town. It could possibly be a place to spend some time over the winter!!!

Cabo de Gata

Cabo de Gata is Europe’s only desert. It’s a Nature Reserve and people say that this is what the coast of Spain used to be like. Of course it’s a little sanctuary in the corner of the ‘garden’ of Spain, so you have to drive through wall-to-wall ‘plasticos’ before you reach it. But once there, wow it’s beautiful.

We visited a few years ago but it was in late June and it was much too hot, but early May is a good time. Lots of walking routes, temperature low to mid 20s with a lovely breeze. 12 miles the first day, 7 the second and another 12 miles the third.  The campsites there are all fairly large but at this time of the year there are not many people and the facilities are good.

Water wheel
Windmill
The morning’s catch
View from the restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plenty of windmills as it’s a pretty windy place

 

 

 

 

For our last night we stayed on a camperstop – the car park by the beach of a fishing village, intending to buy some fish in the morning. But they were all much too big for us!!!