27th March 2017. Vila Vicosa and Elvas, Portugal.

It was a lovely start to the day, the sun was out, I saw birds of prey circling in the sky, the stork decided to land on the beach in front of us and we saw something very rare indeed in this neck of the world….. A DOG WALKER!  The dog was having a wonderful time, I wonder whether he’d missed his walk yesterday because of the rain.  We were sad to leave, we’d intended going up to see the castle at Terena but we ended up leaving late due to a toilet malfunction.  Darren went to change the toilet cassette but it was stuck fast, he pulled it so hard that the saucepan of water I was boiling slopped on to the hob as the van rocked about.  It took him ages to free it so I took the opportunity to do a bit of ‘housework’.

Our first stop, Vila Vicosa was only 15 minutes away but the change in landscape was astounding, there were slag heaps of white rock in the distance and when we got closer we could see it was scraps of marble.  We found the car park and were amazed to see that the gravel was actually small bits of marble.

As we walked into the town everywhere we looked there was marble, it was used for the zebra crossing, paving, curbs and to decorate all the houses even though a lot of them were in a state of disrepair.  It was quite strange and wonderful to see stone that is very expensive in the UK being used for general purposes out here.

As usual we weren’t sure where we were going so we wandered around the town until we caught sight of a castle and even more importantly a restaurant called Restauracao Vilavicosa where we had a gorgeous meal. For desert we had a regional desert, that’s all the information we had when we chose it, when it turned up it was in a pretty paper parcel tied up with a bow.  We think the cake inside was made from almonds but whatever the ingredients were it was very tasty and I’m glad we chose it.

Fortuitously the restaurant had wi-fi so we tracked down the places we wanted to visit and set off to find the Paco Ducal.  The first thing we came to was a beautiful church, we spent a while admiring that then wandered round the corner to the huge plaza where the Paco Ducal is situated.  It was wonderful, unfortunately it was closed because it was Monday but fortunately that meant that most of the time we were wandering around the square on our own.

We stayed there until it started spitting with rain when we made our way to the castle, en route we saw the unexpected sight of a swan and two Muscovy ducks in a tiny pool with a tiny ‘cave’ in a little ‘mountain’ fountain!  By the time we got to the castle it was raining heavily and then as if by magic the rain stopped and the sun came out.

The castle looked in very good repair, we were rather surprised, therefore, to walk up to the castle gate and the first thing we saw through it was a terrace of houses with the end house partially demolished! (read falling down).We enjoyed walking around the lanes inside the castle walls.  There were some extremely fancy mausoleums in the cemetery and the church beside it looked beautiful.  We’ll definitely have to come back and have a proper tour around Portugal.

We were running out of time so we went back to the van and drove to Elvas.

We popped into Intermarche briefly to empty and refill the van then went to the car park that we’d been told was beside a Roman aquaduct.  OH MY GOD!  We had been mightily impressed by the aquaduct at Montpellier but this one knocks it into a ‘cocked hat’.  We couldn’t believe our eyes, although we’d seen the photos seeing it in real life made us feel so small.  It doesn’t seem possible that something like this was built and has remained standing for such a long period of time, what superb engineering skills.

We had a short walk (made shorter when it started raining) and a Brazilian lady stopped to chat and tell us a bit about the aquaduct.  Funnily enough none of us hung around once the rain started.

It was quite a sight watching the sun set over the aquaduct and getting glimpses of pink sky through the arches.

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