Sunday, April 16, 2017

In and out of Marvao

Our approach to Marvao, Portugal from Spain included a 26km section across the border with no public transport. The solution was easy enough -- book a taxi, except our taxi didn't show up. There is a workaround to that too, we could have had the cafe at the Valencia de Alcantara bus station call us a Spanish taxi; but imagining ourselves the real travelers we are, we opted for hitchhiking.

Within a minute, waiting outside the Valencia de Alcantara bus stop, a minivan stopped to pick us up. It was a family of four, two college aged daughters, returning for Easter to the mother's country house between Valencia de Alcantara and the border. They drove past their village to take us all the way to the border; never mind these people drove all the way across the country from Girona (outside Barcelona), and they invited us to lunch at their house! No wonder we do not hitchhike more. The kindness of people overwhelms me. I can hardly bear it.

At the border (see photo below) we waited for twenty minutes, maybe thirty cars went by. I got tired of waiting, so we started walking and hitching. Twenty minutes later, a jeep pulled up to give us a ride. He will pass by Portagem, a village that's on the main road below Marvao. That was good enough for us. However, in the end, without even asking us, he took us all the way to the very top of the hill in Marvao, driving right past our guesthouse. I will have to look very hard for opportunities to emulate such kindness.

Marvao is tiny village but with a beautiful and dramatic setting, as picturesque as can be. I loved walking around on the city and castle walls.  

Getting out of Marvao was not exactly easy either. Our next destination Tomar is 140km away. We spent days at home and many hours on the road trying to figure out an optimal way. In the end, we took two buses to overnight in Castelo Branco, which turned out to be an interesting town in itself, with a beautiful garden, and two trains to reach Tomar, part of the train ride was right along the Tejo river, passing several dams. What could be bettering than traveling?!

The no-longer-used Spain/Portugal border post where we got dropped off.
Spain Portugal Border near Marvao, Portugal

Walking up the city wall to the Marvao Castelo (Castle).
Marvao, Portugal

View of Marvao town from the Castelo.
Marvao, Portugal

Inside the Castelo.
Marvao, Portugal

Marvao, Portugal

Marvao, Portugal

View to the North from the Castelo.
Marvao, Portugal

Walking along the castle walls.
Marvao, Portugal

Marvao, Portugal

Me walking inside the city wall at the opposite end of town from the castle.
Marvao, Portugal

More fun with the panorama feature on Sun-Ling's phone.
Fun with Pano in the Castelo - Marvao, Portugal

Another cistern; built by the Moors when they controlled Marvao; in fact, the town is named after the Moorish leader.
Marvao, Portugal

Just before sunset.
Marvao, Portugal

Marvao, Portugal

Moonrise over the town, and Sunset over the Castelo. Not often one gets to enjoy both simultaneously, plus a 360 view.
Moonrise Sunset - Marvao, Portugal

Moonrise - Marvao, Portugal

Marvao, Portugal

Sunset - Marvao, Portugal

Marvao, Portugal

And the lights come on in town.
Marvao, Portugal

Heading to our guesthouse through quiet streets.
Marvao, Portugal

Marvao architecture.
Marvao, Portugal

Marvao, Portugal

A fine view from the Marvao bus station er stop while we wait for our bus to Portalegre where we will change from Castelo Branco.
Bus Stop View - Marvao, Portugal

And on to the town of Castelo Branco....Here are some shots of the beautiful Palace Garden.
Castelo Branco - Portugal

Castelo Branco - Portugal

Castelo Branco - Portugal

View of the Palace Garden (lower left) and Municipal Garden (upper-ish right) from the Castelo.
Castelo Branco - Portugal

And a wider view of Castelo Branco.
Castelo Branco - Portugal

The stairs to the viewpoint are tree-lined - unusual and cool.
Castelo Branco - Portugal

The Old Town is getting some improvements. It's a neat place to walk around with the granite windows and doorways.
Castelo Branco - Portugal

A former synagogue.
Castelo Branco - Portugal

We were definitely surprised to run into some mid-20th-century modernist buildings in the town center; a cinema and a bank. Clearly the buildings are treasured.
Castelo Branco - Portugal

Castelo Branco - Portugal












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