Monday, December 31, 2007


The road out of Manteigas wound up the side of Rio Zezere River, to the Zezere glacier and then to Torre, the highest peak in continental Portugal. It felt like we were driving to the sun. At the top was the nations only natural ski resort, equipped with five lifts (though we could see only one), 19 shops selling ham and cheese, and taboggans everywhere. It is the dead of winter, but it was sunny and above zero, with only a light wind. There were only a few people wearing toques. We saw a cyclist that had completed the climb on his road bike. I think we will have to do that ride if we come back here.
Rural Portugal is packed with fixer-uppers. We saw a great one as we carried on south. It was a hotel built in the 40's (as far as we can tell), perched on the side of the Torre mountain. You could tell by the structure that it had been constructed as a luxury hotel, but it had long been abandoned and all that remained was the concrete structure, covered in graffiti and piles of smashed tiles. Erik had a lot of fun exploring and imagining building a cycling camp there.
Realizing that we'd allowed ourselves to get bogged down biking and relaxing and siteseeing this week, we decided to put some extra car miles in today. We stopped at a few castles, including Evoramonte, as well as checking out some neolithic stone monuments. We saw a travelling circus of gypsys in a funky painted bus pulling into the Cromlech. Seemed like a cool place to set up camp.
We arrived in Serpa after dark and found a room inside a house in the walled town. We were surprised to walk through the entrance, through a tunnel-like room, to find a garden filled with orange and lemon trees. Looking up from the garden, you could see the aquaducts that stood on top of the wall that encircled the town. Another cool place to stay.


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