Relaxing morning today as we don't have any schedule to keep. After a leisurely breakfast we met up with Bruce, Gina and Colin for a tour of the town at 9:30. Even with such a 'late' start there were many shops not yet open or just opening. Maree had run out of one of her tablets so we took the bottle to the Farmacia and hoped for the best. The pharmacist said that the pills would usually require a script but because she could see tat they had been issued on a script back in Australia she was prepared to give us the tablets. Whew!!!!
Our first visit, after sticking our noses into a few shops, was to the Cathedral where, for the princely sum of 3.5 euro each we got to climb onto the roof terrace for a great view of the town, followed by a preamble around the cloister and finally a walk through the cathedral itself. Not as spectacular as anything in Italy, in fact it was all rather dark and austere. Its saving grace was a bright altar to the Virgin Mary and an unusual 16th century organ with some horizontal pipes which is still in use.
A short walk uphill to the highest point in Evora brought us to the ruins of the temple of Diana dating back to Roman times. It's one of the few remaining bits from Roman times. If ever people do major earthwork in this area they are supposed to report any finds of old architecture. As this usually results in a postponement, if not cancellation, of their project it is probably not surprising that there are few reports of any such finds. The map showed an aqueduct so we decided to go visit it and eventually found it only to find that it was not Roman but built in the 15th century or so. Interestingly, as it is disused, people have built their homes within the arches of the original aqueduct.
Another recommended place to visit is the church of San Francisco which turned out to be much more lavishly decorated than the cathedral. The outside of the church is being restored and looks odd surrounded by fences and scaffolding. Inside this church is the famous Chapel of Bones where the walls are made of thousands of bones and skulls. The chapel was built to remind us that we will all one day be just bones. It is quite eerie but not as bad as it would have been if the desiccated cadavers that normally hang there had been present. Apparently they were off somewhere for restoration, whatever that means. As it happens the church was closed over the extended lunch but we came back to visit after we had our lunch.
Just past the church there was a public park within which was the Palace of King Manuel - Ladies Gallery. This is a venue for temporary exhibitions ther current one was of paintings done by children from 11 to 18 from many different countries including Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Malaysia, Serbia and China among others. Some of the art work was extremely sophisticated and I would be happy to have it hanging on a wall at our place. Photos were not allowed of course. The art is part of an annual cmpetition which has been going for the past 16 years with the aim of fostering understanding between nations and also art. The place had some Moorish influences in its architecture but had also undergone a number of renovations over the past 400 years the most recent in 1943. While we're in the palace Evora was hit by a sudden deluge. In moments water was pouring down the street and we quickly realised the disadvantage of no roof gutters. Even after the rain stops large drops continue to drop from the roof tiles strategically placed to fall straight onto the heads of passin pedestrians.
After the rain we returned to a shop that Maree had seen before to buy a nice ceramic plate. I took the opportunity to buy myself a cork wallet. Bruce, Gina and Colin went off separately while Maree and I did some gift shopping. We arranged to meet at 7:15 to find a place for dinner. On the way back to the hotel however we got caught in another downpour. I tried, unsuccessfully to hide under narrow awnings but was still getting wet when it stopped raining and we made a dash for the hotel dodging the aforementioned drips coming off the roof tiles.
Dinner was on a local restaurant where, surprisingly, none of the staff seemed to speak English. as a result there was much hilarity as he tried to describes evasions dusges and we made guesses as to what he meant. Somehow we managed to placecour orders and we were pleasantly surprised by what turned up. There was, of course, too much especially for Maree. Colin actually managed to change chips on his plate for rice and later was able, with the help of his trusty dictionary also managed to get a dessert and a cup of tea. Which much gesturing we managed a cuppa for Maree and a mint tea for Gina. I tried hard to communicate that I wanted a cup of tea like Maree's but instead I got a cup of mint tea. Oh well!!!
After dinner maree and I spent some time getting out our cycling gear and I discovered that I had left a gilet vest behind. I hope we don't have any cold winds in the next few days. The weather report for tomorrow is better than today so we hope to get our 50 km done without drama.
Photos still to come.