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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Liberalitas Julia, Evora

We started quite early the next day. The bus from Lagos to Evora starts at 7:20 a.m. but we needed some buffer time just to get to the station. Eventually we got up at 4:00 a.m. and had enough time to eat breakfast at our place and got ready slowly.

Since we had no desire to schlepp our luggage accross town to the bus station, I asked my friend to call a taxi. I remember we got the calling card of the taxi when we arrived in Lagos. His attemp to call the cab gone awry since the one who picked up on the other end didn't speak any english. My friend already resigned to walking to the station. Then I decided to call again. It was really painful to talk to the person on the other line. I tried my very best with the few portuguese words I have learned and ask him to come to the address of the hotel. I wasn't even sure if the person on the line actually understood me. We decided to take our luggage out of the apartment and thought we would give him at least 10 minutes to fetch us. So we waited, and fortunately the cab came to fetch us. Then I realized it was Vitali, the same driver who drove us when we arrived.

We arrived at the station and got plenty of time to wait for the departure since we've already bought our ticket online. The ticket can also be bought at the station btw. and it costs 15.20€ per person. Anyhow, we had to travel first to Albufeira and get another bus from there to Evora. Another alternative is going with the train from Lagos to Albufeira, but our travel guide said that the train station and bus station are far away from one another. It seems to be copmplicated for us and we don't know how much time we needed to get from point a to point b. It was of course easier with the bus since it will get you just everywhere you wish to go as long as it is in the plan. Buses in Portugal are quite reliable. So we arrived right at the bus station in Albufeira (Calicos). We had plenty of time for our onward journey so we took our breakfast at a nice cafe at the station. The terminal is quite modern and I personally like the architectural style. I'm impressed as how clean it is. That was probably the most convenient stop during our whole journey. The departure has electronic signs as to where to go and which numbers of the platform and bus.


Our bus left at 9:15 a.m. and we had a brief stopover in Castro Verde, where we originally thought to stay for a couple of nights. The bus station is not looking so great so we were actually happy of not staying there. Otherwise, we considered about staying in Mertola, which supposed to be really nice but the transportation is supposed to be not so reliable.


We arrived in Evora at 12:30 p.m. and decided to take a taxi to our hotel. The hotel is located at the city center right at Praça Giraldo, whereas the bus station was outside the city walls. We were kind of curious about this "design hotel" so we booked a room for 55€ per night at the Evora Inn Chiado Design. The price did not include breakfast but could be ordered for a couple of euros more. It did not matter anyway because we planned to start early the next days when they haven't opened their dining area yet. But first we had to wait to check-in since our room was not ready. It was a bit of a challenge with the language. The chambermaid doesn't really speak english but we asked her if we could store our luggage in the room. We weren't sure if she understood us but eventually it was agreed that we leave our luggages.


We immediately took off after depositing our things and went around town for some sightseeing. We started our walking tour with a lunch at a restaurant "O Cruz" right next to the church, the "Igreja de São Francisco". This gotihic-manueline church was built from 1480-1510  under the King João II and finished under the King Manuel. Immediately a dog kept our company at the restaurant but we thought against feeding it. We heard that those dogs will follow you around.


Then we went to the chapel next to the church, the "Capela dos Ossos" or chapel of bones. It is one of the best known monuments of Evora. The interior of this chapel was decorated with human skulls and bones. Quite spooky.

 
The Capela dos Ossos was built in the 16th century by a Franciscan monk who, in the Counter-Reformation spirit of that era, wanted to prod his fellow brothers into contemplation and transmit the message of life being transitory. This is clearly shown in the famous warning at the entrance Nós ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos (“We, the bones that are here, await yours.").
 Afterwards we went to see the market but it was empty at the time so we moved on to the "Jardim Publico", the public park. There were some ruins, an old building of Palacio de Dom Manuel and some peacocks.


Finally it was time to check-in so we went back to the hotel. The receptionist was quite friendly inspite of the not so good english. The room was quite small but it was okay. We were on the top roof and of course we had to haul our heavy luggages up on the narrow stairs. We were on the rooftop but it was not much use for me since it was still cold when we were there. The location is quite ideal, in the middle of the old historic town and the bus station is not that far from the city center either, but with the luggage in tow, it would be no fun. It is advisable to take a taxi and it should not cost more than 10 euros.

The weather was not the best but it was good enough to walk around town. The town of Evora was enlisted to the UNESCO's World Heritage List due to its well-preserved old town center which still enclosed by medieval walls, large monuments dating from various historical periods, including a roman temple or also known as "Templo de Diana", the imposing Evora Cathedral (Sé de Évora) and S.Brás chapel (built in 1480 and a good example of moresque-gothic with cylindrical buttresses).


We then went to see the remaining part of the aquaduct, the Aqueduto da Água de Prata (Aquaduct of Silver Water, with its huge arches stretching for 8 kilometers). This aquaduct was built in 1531-1537 under the tutelage of King João III to supply the city with water.

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