The road south from Manteigas is a beautiful alpine road up a valley that says "cycling heaven". There's a traffic circle at the top, and we went right to the ski area of Torre. Steep mountain road cut into the cliffs, great views. The ski area has one quad, one t-bar, and thin natural snow, plus snowmaking. There's 4 buildings at the top, two are telescope observatory domes and two are related to the hill. I didn't see anyone with tickets on their jackets, but we did try to find a ticket office. Either we're blind or it doesn't work that way. I wanted to rent a snowboard for a run, but all we could find was dozens of shops selling ham and cheese.
We made our way down towards Covilha. Descending the road, we came across a giant abandoned hotel. We crawled around there for an hour, it took some gymnastics to make it up to the third floor. I think the place would have over a hundred rooms. It may have been build in the forties judging by one stone sidewalk number. It's all smashed (tiles) and burned (only wood is the staircase), good fixer upper as it's structurally sound. A team of 4 people with shop vacs would be busy for the first week just getting the mess under control.
We did a lap through Covilha then started making our way south towards Portalegre and Estremoz. We stopped at Castelo de Tejo before Portalegre, it was a sleepy town and the castelo was closed for lunch. We hike around a little, then went down to the river which was marked by the standard hiking trail marks painted on rocks and trees. The river was deep and slow, looked good for swimming. The road down to it was a little slice of cyling paradise. We coninued south, passing through Portalegre.
The road south was wide and not busy, the ranches had shade trees spaced out over green grass. I'd imagine the grass has a hard time staying so green in the heat of summer. We stopped at a moorish caslte perched high on the hill at Evoramonte, it was rounded instead of square, and built of a cement type process rather than rocks with mortar. We also found a solar system to scale model - pluto was at Evoramonte and the rest of (most) of it was in the center of Evora, with a few planets between.
After that we got passed by a yellow Lamborghini that wasn't following the speed limit postings very closely, my 140kph felt like we were standing still. We turned off to the village of Guadaloupe to visit some cromeleques, which are stone henge type rocks in the middle of a cork farm. At one spot there's 1 bigger one, and at the second spot there's 92, but there was a 100 at one point. They're not that big, but there's no rocks nearby. Just as we were leaving a travelling circus bus came in to try to score free camping for the night.
Evora came about an hour beofre sunset, and parked near a giant aquaduct that looked cool in the setting sun. It's more of a town, more busy with more hustle. It's landmarks are preserved and didn't suffer the fate of wars. We walked around for 2 hours through the maze of streets, checked out the churches and the Universidad de Evora. After finding our way through the labyrinth, we stopped at a mini mercado for some snacks and drove toward Beja in the pitch black.
Right out of town we were on a two way road that was narrow and tree lined. Dude in front of me was going about 80, which didn't seem to be a speed I could settle into. Three cars pulled up behind me, so I started looking for a spot to pass. I'll point out that Tori isn't a huge fan of night passes in two way traffic. About 30 seconds after my pass, and commentary on my pass, the three cars that were behind me passed the two front cars. They were each about 6 feet away from each other, and the middle of the three was simultaneously passing the front one as they were all passing us, which made for a 3 car wide drag race on a two lane road essentially. I think Tori's comment was "holy shit". The Audi that took off in the lead had better headlights, so I'm sure 150kph felt just fine for him on a windy night road...
We pulled into Serpa, which I think is "sheep", and made our way along the castle wall before finding a one-way heading in. Our chosen hotel was immediately on the right. Tori found the door and knocked - the full door was large, but the actual people entrance door was about 4" cut into the larger door. Looked a little sketchy from the outside. When the guy anwered the door and let us in, you enter a new world. There's a tunnel like hallway, painted white, with. Couple lights and old knick knacks. It's maybe 20" long, and you exit into a courtyard of orange and lemon trees, with the outside castle wall and it's magestic arches framing one side. Princess Tori was giddy with delight.
We dined at a second floor restaurant in the town square, and watched a little TV for the first time. Pretty entertaining. It's hard to follow everything, but the national news has enough captions and onscreen graphics that you get the issues of concern at least. We were getting enough that it engaged our attention at least. Dinner was great and cheap, with... olives, cheese and bread as the appetizer brought over as soon as you sit down (every sit down dinner we've had features this about half a minute after you enter), the I had a lamb stew and Tori had a fish dish. We had a port baked apple for dessert.
Side note - I learned that tempura, usually associated with a side dish to Japanese sushi, was actually a Portugese "invention" shown to the Japanese in early trading.
Side not two - Similar to the above, vindaloo is of Portugese origin and shown to the Indians.