09.08.2012 35 °C
Cool gardens and many fountains surprised us as we wandered from the Castelo De Vide bus stop. The bus had revved up and up past villages perched on hill slopes with centuries of stone walls guarding stock and fruit trees. Despite the arid environment, green was the dominant note. Castelo doVide obviously values public garden space with several shaded areas with old trees, and old men playing backgammon. There was much ceremonial kissing as the elderly met, often with sticks to assist on the cobbled paving. The town has a reputation for its mineral waters and we followed the examples of others, filling our bottles from the fountains. The narrow streets were colourful with flowers in pots alongside doors, in window boxes, spilling over walls. From the castle battlements, we could see the curving streets of the old Jewish quarter and the neater lines of newer homes. There was a quiet buzz of people doing business but a noticeable lack of tourists. We were the only passengers on the bus from Portalegre and locals said business was very slow. A charming little town of white walls and ochre trims.
Marvao, a hilltop castle, is famous for its perch on a peak glaring at the Spaniards only 10 km away. More visitors here but arriving in cars. They missed a great bus trip! Signs warned of deer crossing,tiny stops where one woman waited and no sign of where she lived, animated discussion as we slowed behind two cyclists. The slope just kept going up!! And the day hit 35. Marvao's in good condition for a place occupied by Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Christians.. Apparently, it was so isolated they tried to encourage settlement with special conditions. Not very successful- 159 today. But it has preserved a lovely tiny town. The view from the tower was worth the climb, 360 degrees over Spain and over to the Serras. My dislike of heights has led me to develop some unusual ways of tackling these steps/ladders/ramps or even roof tops! I proudly stood, or clung, to the tower wall before tottering down to the keep ground. The crag juts up in the court, they just built around the rocks.
Dined on cheeses( cheap!), chorizo, fruit and wine from the local supermarket. Some wild looking salamis. David ate "little stickle backs" yesterday- small whole crunchy fish- and I had some "pig's feet in pastry". Mmmm....
The temperature is heading for high thirties. Calor! Time to move onto cooler north.