Day 34: Mourao to Evora - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

March 11, 2024

Day 34: Mourao to Evora

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Our Casa Esquivel guesthouse was built a bit like a castle, up on a platform of earth, with a wall all around. It was clean and nice, but a bit spartan. Breakfast was put out buffet style, but it was just for us, and we ate everything that was there!

Casa Esquivel
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From our "castle" we had a perfect view of the Mourao castle, and all the surrounding town.

The castle
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The town
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Looking over the town, we could notice many large chimneys. They are quite a unique design.
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And there too is the reservoir, not so far away.
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We started out on N256 as we see below, and should have reached Evora in 59 km. But as we'll see, we found a way to add 10 km to that. We didn't get lost, we just switched to Scott's track after Reguengoes. It was worth it! See below.

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The route in its early stages crossed quite a bit of reservoir and wet land. This gave us a chance to spot at least some geese, not to mention the now common for us Corn Buntings.

The Mourao castle is still visible.
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Up ahead is the castle at Monsaraz. It's not on our route. It's up a hill!
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Scott AndersonAnd a steep one, too. But totally amazing once you’re up there.
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1 month ago
24160 Graylag Goose
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24161 Domestic White Goose (in the wild)
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Sheep in green grass by the water.
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24162 Egyptian Goose
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There was lots of bird life by the reservoir.
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This is the longest stretch of bridge over the reservoir. The shoulder was good, but the passage still a bit stressful.
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Corn Bunting
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Corn Bunting singing
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The land here is so green and colorful, we could take dozens of shots like this.
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Scott AndersonThese are dehesas, btw. Look it up - its an important part of the landscape nd culture here.
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1 month ago
Here are cattle among large rocks. Scott too had commented on all these rocks lying about.
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The N256 had started out with a decent shoulder, something that compensated for the somewhat active traffic. But well before Reguengos de Monsaraz the shoulder disappeared. We were not pleased with that, but decided to give the shoulder a chance to reappear after the town.

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We are still sticking with the notion of collecting stamps on the Caminho, so we stopped in to the Reguengos church. All we found there was some doll like statues.

The church in Reguengos
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With faith based things we can not demand total logic. But I did notice that both the Virgin and the figures are sporting crucifixes'. It seems unlikely that in their time, this was a thing.
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Karen PoretSteve..Are you referring to the rosary beads the saint statues have draped over their hands?
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1 month ago

FLASH: Dodie has figured this out! The three figures are the three children from Fatima, two girls and a boy (Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco), that saw the Virgin on multiple occasions in 1917. The appearances were on the 13th of each month for six months. At each appearance, the Virgin gave tips for world peace, and prophesies. The final one featured the Miracle of the Sun, where the sun jumped around and even flew closer to the earth. Fatima is on our route! We'll give more coverage of all this from there.

The church properly faced the town square, with City Hall opposite. We could not help noticing that in this square, once again, old men were congregating to hang out. They really were everywhere. No old women, children, or young people!

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Hands in pockets, nothing to do? They should go cycle touring!
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Karen PoretAnd learn how to smile! Maybe they have nothing to smile about in their town..a clue, perhaps? Kind of sad. Yes to cycle touring! It is one reason TO smile :)
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1 month ago
City Hall, opposite the church.
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Since Google Maps claimed that Tourist Information was closed on Monday, we hatched the idea of looking for a stamp at city hall. Dodie hopped up there, and got directed to a man with some link to Tourism. He called the TI, and asked us to go right over, as someone would be there.

The man calls TI for Dodie.
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Ok fellas, we're off to TI, and then out of town!
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Karen PoretThe guy in the middle seems to be saying “whew”..
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1 month ago

We found that Reguengos means "king's land", but we don't know the link to Monsaraz. The main industry of town is wine production, something we could see, as the place is surrounded by grape vines.

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The road out town still lacked a shoulder, and it had enough trucks and such that we looked for the exit. That was a few km jog up to Scott's track, which we had carefully downloaded in the morning before setting off. (For anyone that needs to know, RWGPS offers a download of a gpx "track", which is good, or a gpx "route" , which is not. They mention in the fine print that you don't want a "route". This is the trick that screwed us up the other day.)

Naw, we'll look for a better road.
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Our exit!
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From this point in the day's ride, things got lots more pleasant. Just as Scott had described, the roads were totally quiet, and the scenery beautiful.

Grapes to the horizon...
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Olives to the horizon!
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It's a beautiful place!
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We had been on the lookout for the Hoopoe, a bird with distinctive zebra striping. Dodie finally saw one flying across the road, with it butterfly style. It did not stop for a photo, so here is its image from the guide book:

Eurasian Hoopoe
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Bill ShaneyfeltWhoopee!
No mistaking that one.
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Bill ShaneyfeltGood pun. Yes, Dodie recognized immediately. We only actually got a photo last year.
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1 month ago

A few days later: we were finally able to photograph a Hoopoe live. Here it is:

24163 Eurasian Hoopoe
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Little towns featured cobbled streets, and blue trimmed row housing.
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Blue trimmed church.
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The road became narrow, and empty.
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There was also corn to the horizon. They have a lot of horizons in this land!
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The next four shots are straight ot of the camera. I have not played with the green. Amazing!

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Then in the "middle of nowhere" we came upon a castle, now  a ruin, from the 13th century. It's Valongo Castle.  As we pulled up to read the historical plaque, and couple in a car also pulled in. The lady stayed in the car, talking on the phone, but the man chatted with us for 1/2 hour. They had driven, it seemed, 100 km just to see this castle, as both are antiquities buffs. The man also mentioned that in a couple of months this green landscape would be yellows and reds, and by mid summer it would be a baking 40 degrees plus.He also reiterated the tale of the change to the landscape that was brought by the dam. Before 2000, he said, this was all a dry semi-desert.

Castelo de Valongo
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European Stonechat
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For now, our track continued through green and beautiful lands. Look at the inviting cycling shown below!

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In the last part of the ride, the temperature dropped and the wind rose. It became rather a slog. In fact, for the first time on this trip I feel really beat, trying to write the blog. A total collapse in bed would be a lot more fun!

As we entered Evora, there was one last steep climb, to the hotel - which had been cleverly chosen to be up by the Roman Temple and the Cathedral. At the hotel, they compounded matters by suggesting a trip to the upper terrace for a look at the town. Dodie jumped on the bandwagon by suggesting that I trot up to the temple for a couple of shots, and oh, maybe some postcards. I did all of those, and came back with four nice postcards. Not enough! This earned me another trip up by the temple, so I came back with six more!  For this second outing, I took myself deeper into downtown, and even found yet another church to photograph. Well, no wonder I ended totally beat!

The view of town from the hotel terrace.
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Karen PoretI like the sundial in the courtyard on front right!
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1 month ago
The temple of Diana.
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This is all that's left of it, but it's remarkable.
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This was built in the 1st century!
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I missed the cathedral opening time.
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Karen PoretNo gargoyle drain spout on the left side..why not?
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1 month ago
This street leads to downtown. It features souvenir shops of a type we have not really seen since entering Portugal. The items on offer include all manner of cork products - shoes, purses, etc., the Barcelos chickens, and painted tiles and dishes. It's all great stuff, but we have not seen it out in the countryside, making it feel like something of an invented culture for the tourists. No matter, it's all really nice, I find.
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Cork goods.
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This is the shop where I bought my postcards. I think the old guys are part of the old guy culture we are finding here.
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Back past the cathedral.
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A view of town from the temple.
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The temple area
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Patterns from the ceiling of that final church.
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Our "boutique" hotel. "Boutique" seems to mean small spaces. But we have decided that our room actually is quite big enough.
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Today's ride: 68 km (42 miles)
Total: 1,590 km (987 miles)

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