Day 32: Serpa to Moura - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

March 9, 2024

Day 32: Serpa to Moura

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The Beatriz Hotel is clean and bright, and the breakfast quite reasonable.  We enjoyed Kelly Iniguez's comments about it, particularly distinguishing it from the nearby Beatriz apartments. It's most fun to meet up with a fellow Cycleblazer, but next is to follow in their footsteps.

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The Beatriz is right next to a rather dull church, where I shot the following dull shot, before getting the boot for having a camera. Do I sound bitter?

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Serpa, like many Portuguese towns, features white buildings with orange roofs. But you can also find grey castles and their walls. Below is a combo shot.

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This is the Moura gate. Good thing, because we are going to Moura!
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Just outside of town is the cemetery, hospital, and the church shown below. It's an efficient combination. Presumably one would use the facilities in the reverse order.

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This time there was no question about the road to use (at least at first) to get to Moura. And look how close it is. We are going to get there way early.
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The dominant land use here is for orderly rows of olive trees.
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This is land not yet planted, but it surely will be olives.
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At the halfway point was the little town of Pias. From here one could go via Brinches, but we didn't. (Maybe Scott did).
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Pias village. Note the election poster sneaking into the shot. CDU says with them we will live better.
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This is a rare but extensive planting of grapes. They are already beginning to leaf out.
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So quickly, we made it to Moura. Below is a main walking street. We dropped into our hotel, the Santa Comba, to verify that they would not let us in until 3. Kelly has noted that the Portuguese are strict about that 3 o'clock check-in. Dodie asked me whether the check-in girl was nice or not, and I replied not overly nice. But later, admittedly closer to 3, when I sent Dodie and not me in, there were hugs all around.  Dodie has more people skills than me!

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Karen PoretYet, a sign for a DUTCH beer?
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1 month ago
This town has a castle too.
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Sometimes a town displays a unique demographic to the casual visitor. For example, in Toulouse it seemed to be entirely young people. But here it appeared to be all men. I labelled them middle aged men, but Dodie corrected that to old men. I must be too old to tell. The (old) men were all clustered around bars. Bars here serve beer, but also general food. Whatever, the clientele was all men. We surmised that their wives had kicked them out of the house to go play with their friends, so they could get something done at home.

Go play with your friends at the bar!
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Given that we were too early for the hotel, and we sure were not going to play with the men at the bar (smokers!), we just kept pedaling, out of town. It had been raining earlier, and the temperature - that started at 10 Celsius - had stuck below 12 all day. But now it was rising a bit, and there was some sun, so cycling was a lot more fun. Dodie's idea for cycling on was to reach the  Alqueva Dam on the Guadiana River. This is a large dam (96 m high - Aswan is 111 m) that together with 4 other dams has created a huge reservoir, that is the major feature of southeastern Portugal.  The reservoir is the largest artificial lake in Europe. The water works support irrigation, produce electricity, and also provide for water sports and general tourism. The project was completed in the early 2000's, after years of deliberation. Of course, dams also have lots of drawbacks, something we are very familiar with in British Columbia.

We first crossed the Ardila river, on a narrow bridge. We took the lane and did not let any drivers past.
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We were much distracted by embankments covered in colourful flowers. Just amazing.
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Soon we could see parts of the Alqueva reservoir, but Dodie in particular was keen on reaching the dam. Me? If it's high, I'd rather not be on it!

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It's a huge water body, which also has much birding potential.
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Thisis from the kind of map I like - with cartoon illustrations. That Bat Shelter sounds interesting - maybe next time.
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This shows the large reservoir behind the dam.
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The reservoir is big, alright, but this sign sure is bold!
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Up on the dam you can look down at the structure.
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and look down the Guadiana River, now freed to go its way.
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This pulpit-like viewing area, with the appropriate Exit sign, was not somewhere I was about to walk. So I handed the camera to Dodie.
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Dodie used her telescopic vision to spot 24159 Bank Swallow. Don't see it? See the blow up below!
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Can you believe Dodie sees this? It's on the edge, under the red railing.
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And she remembers it from her guide book.
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It is possible to look back and see Moura, about 15 km away. See also that the green forest is not wild, but patterned.
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It's a green, unique landscape here.
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The wind was blowing hard when we got back to Moura. We were glad traffic was light, because keeping a straight line was a challenge.
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I did stop for the shot of the castle, and also a campaign poster from the right wing Chega party. We'll be watching the election results with (mild) interest.

Let's end corruption and cushy government jobs in Portugal, it says.
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We checked in to the Santa Comba (a very modest place) with the hugs and goodwill mentioned earlier. Our bikes went into a locked storage space, sharing with a lot of dangerous looking propane tanks (but the bikes without their batteries - no sparks possible). No sooner were we installed in our room, but a thunder storm struck, with even higher winds and much rain.

When the weather had calmed down slightly, I went across the street to the bar, not quite to join the other old men, but to order some fries. These are the fries that Kelly got sick of in Portugal. I began my order in English, but the man asked if I spoke French. It turned out he had spent eight years in Switzerland and spoke French (but not German or Italian). When I commented on how beautiful the countryside was here, he attributed it to the dam. He said things were dry and barren here before 2000.

Aside from the fries, I got a small pile of chocolate croissants and pastel de nata tarts. At 1 euro each, I thought these very reasonable. Since tomorrow is Sunday, we'll hang on to these to make sure we don't bonk out on the highway.

Only the umbrella reveals how much rain, and wind, were in the road in front of our hotel.
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Today's ride: 60 km (37 miles)
Total: 1,472 km (914 miles)

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Kelly IniguezI was just catching Jacinto up on where you were, and reminded him you were riding our four castle day in reverse. He remembered the lake. I was sure it was a river. You did the research - a reservoir! The largest I. Europe. I was so enchanted with my four castles, I completely missed that bragging point.

Good job getting in before the rain!

We went to a big grocery store in Moira, I’m pretty sure. It had everything and then some. Pickles, for some reason we had a hard time finding pickles or other electrolyte type foods.
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1 month ago