In the morning Ana and Paulo worked on the website and made sure everything was working as it should. After that we headed off to the old centre of Tavira. There are supposed to be 37 churches here but we didn't look for them all. I love to saunter through old towns like this and see the heart of the community and get a feel for it.
We crossed the river Gilao that runs through the town to go to the town square. The tide was out and the river which goes to the Atlantic was very low. The town is full of beautiful tile walls and very old buildings. The iron work on balconies is intricate and there are blooming bushes and trees all around. We investigated the Castelo which is now the walls of the old castle surrounding a beautiful garden.
The town square is full of beautiful sculptures and statues. Many of the walls are covered in the blue and white tiles so familiar in Portugal. While we walked back to the car we watched the river bed looking for crabs scuttling in the mud and fish the size of sardines in small schools swimming in the pools. Many of the walls have raised decorations which I tried to capture.
We visited a beautiful Church in Tavira. Igreja da Misericordia has a museum attached to it as well. The interior is all blue and white tile. The altar is very ornate with gold leaf and the organ is magnificent. Part of the museum dealt with the soldiers from the village who were conscripted by Napoleon. No one ever remembers the losing side; they only remember the winner and the losing commander.
Next we drove to the Spanish border and to the river Guadiana and visited Vila Real de Santo Antonio. We stayed on the Portuguese side of the river but walked along the river bank. The first thing you notice is the decorative cobblestones. They have pictures of lobster, fish and anchors in different colour stones. The older buildings including the old customs house are covered in wonderful decorative tiles and pictures made up of tiles. The harbour is full of sailboats, moored along the banks. As we walked up the street we found that the art was a mixture of old statues dedicated to heroes of the past and some very strange statues that were modern. There are orange trees everywhere in Portugal and a few lemon and lime trees as well. We wander up and down the pedestrian streets taking in all the sites. One building that is now a public washroom used to be a public bath so the sign still reads the same. They have tried to beautify the city and in spite of the graffiti it is very nice - even the garbage cans are pretty. We passed some domed buildings that might be part of the moorish influence.
Next we were off to Castelo Marim. From the highway you can see the walls of the two fortresses that guarded the area hundreds of years ago. They are now ruins but still very interesting. We climbed up to the entrance to the Castelo and even outside the gates the view is beautiful. We went inside for free because it was late and it was closing soon. There are reenactments carried out here during the year. We climbed the walls to see out over towards Spain. We could see the town we had visited earlier. It was a spectacular view.
On the way home the sun was in Paulo's eyes so of course we had to detour to watch the sun go down. We visited the little town of Cacela Velha which is right on the ocean but is protected by islands and a spit of land that form a long narrow lagoon. We could see the tide rushing out as we watched the sun go down.
Over the last few days we have seen several black cats. Since the weather has called for rain and we haven't had any I think the black cats are a good sign not a bad one.