On the morning of the 21st, I left the Atlantic for the interior of Alentejo. Leaving Sines and changing buses in Setubal, I arrived in Evora at about 2pm, and had a bit of a problem finding affordable accommodation. My main reason for visiting Evora was to see the Chapel of Bones, a church entirely covered on the inside with the bones of monks. It was worth the trip since this is not something I had seen before.
Evora is one of the touristic highlights of Portugal due mostly to its Roman history. Although I wasn’t as impressed as I should have been perhaps having been spoiled in Spain where these historically, culturally rich cities are a dime a dozen.
After watching the disappointing outcome of the Turkey-Czech Republic match, I wandered into the enormous week-long St John’s festival. Around the old city I noticed how empty the streets were when minutes later I stumbled upon games, rides, food, music, exhibitions and a whole lot of people. So I grabbed a fartura and beer and cruised through all the activity. Past midnight, children and grandparents were still out having a good time.
The next morning I caught the train to Tomar, which had an inconvenient stop-over in Lisbon.
I arrived in Tomar on the summer solstice and just after sunset my couch surfing host drove to an observatory on the top of a mountain near Constância to observe the clear night sky.
I had come to Tomar to check out the Convento de Cristo (Christ’s Convent), the onetime headquarters of the Knights Templar that sits impressively on a hill overlooking the city. Equally remarkable is the viaduct, built a few kilometers outside of town as part of an aqueduct to supply the Convento de Cristo with water. It’s not touristy at all and anyone can cross the top.
Stephen Bugno, June 2008