Discovering Portugal will be our travel journal through the lands of this place where we were born. You guessed this one, right?
You all know I'm portuguese, so I'm skipping that part (if you don't, just go the the about page, thank you!). For those who have no idea where Portugal is, we are this little rectangle country, located in the southwest corner of Europe, on the Iberian Peninsula, right next to Spain. Though small, this little place has tons of history, for it was born on 1139. Let me leave that Portugal history for another day (there I am again, making promises). Have you ever been here? Well, you must.
I love travel, discover new places, and if there's something we are always planning and dreaming, is the next trip, and the next, and the next... One thing I learned from my father is that there's no point on knowing the world if you don't know the place where you're from. Me and my siblings share all kinds of memories from places and places along this country where my father took us. By his hands we discovered amazing places and I started feeling this itching for descovering more. One things he taught me too is that there's no need for a big budget, we don't need a five star hotel to get to know a place. The boy goes along with me on this one, and it's a blast to have someone with whom to share these little conquers and moments of joy, because this is what every little trip means for us. A new piece of land we've conquered.
Of course I cannot recall every place I've been with my parents, and we both wanted to discover (or rediscover) the places together, through each other's eyes, so we crumpled the map and started from scratch.
Back on the time when we were sweethearts, we compromise on a weekend out every month. This going out thing had only two rules: just the two of us and always head to a place we've never been together. The purpose was for us to have time with each other (I was, and still am... 200 km away to work most of the week, and the weekends were short and full of things to do) and to have goals to conquer together, something we could plan and look forward to.
Proudly we can say we kept that as planned for one and half year, till we decided to get married. You know what happens to the short amount of time you have when you decide to put on a wedding. And that gets even worst if you're planning a whole DIY thing. You get the idea. Then, after the wedding came the new house to put together, new compromises... shopping and more shopping... The fact is, obviously we cannot compromise on a weekend out per month anymore, but we promised each other we would keep on having those moments from time to time whenever possible. And we are doing it.
We are inviting you to embark this journey with us. I just need to warn you: you may get tempted to travel here. Hey, who knows, why not?
Edited to add: In Portugal a castle is a military fortification once used for territory defense - not to be confused with the Scottish type castles. The glamorous buildings where kings and nobility lived are called palaces, there are hundreds of those. We will share a lot of that too.
This first place I bring you it's not a new one in this blog, but I thought it would be a good place to start. Remember the island over a river, with a castle and a roster guarding it? That's the Almourol castle.
The castle is located on an island, in the middle of the Tagus river (rio Tejo), near Vila Nova da Barquinha, Praia do Ribatejo and Constância, all three beautiful picturesque villages that are worth a visit. And you don't wanna miss the river beaches in the area.
The age of the castle it's unknown but "It is certain that in 1129, when Portuguese troops conquered the land, the castle already existed and was called Almorolan" (wikipedia).
For this once I wont say much and just leave you with the pictures, they speak for themselves.
Almourol in details
How to go: The closest city is Entroncamento and from there you can easily get to Almourol. If you have a car, the best way to get there (from anywhere) is to get the highway A23 that travels between Torres Novas and Guarda and crosses the highways A1 and A25. You can also get there by train from Entroncamento.
GPS: 08º23’02,301’’W – 39º27’43,126’’N
Fees: Nothing is charged to get in the castle, but you have to pay the boat travel to get to the island, although there are times when the water low enough that you can easily cross by foot from one side. If you are like me, you wont miss the boat trip. From the bank near the castle you only pay 1,5 € per person. From Vila Nova da Barquinha you can also take a boat, mostly on weekends, for 2,5 €.
Where to stay: In Constância you can find traditional and cozy Boarding Houses. There is also a camping parque there. If you're looking for an Hotel you can go to Entroncamento, Torres Novas or Golegã.
all photos by me