Friday, 26 February 2016

Spain 2016 - exploring the Portuguese side of Guadiana and Alcoutim.

Pouring with rain today, cold and windy, so its a day to stay inside with the heaters on and read or play on the tablets. I am a day behind in my blog posts so this allows me to catch up.
While Nicola was here she found a book of driving routes, in the bookshelves. Yesterday we followed one of them up the Portuguese side of the river to Alcoutim. We drove across the wonderful bridge and took the first exit to the North. The road must have been built since the book was written and we had to get off it to get to the villages beside the river.
The landscape quickly changed to bumpy hills covered in Umbrella Pines and these;
Cistus shrubs. They literally covered the hills with white flowers.
Even prettier up close. While stopping to take a close up I also noticed these other flowers.
Smaller so you don't notice like the Cistus and on a stem that looks like Rosemary (but doesn't smell like it)
Also these, on a 3 foot stem with leaves like a lily, along the sides of the roads.
Flat areas by the river were being used for small farms; citrus, olive, vines and vegetable plots.
Just North of Alamo, near Montinho das Laranjeiras was a Roman Villa (Nicky had found out about this one too but we had gone to Italica instead)
The area was fenced off but the gate was open. The building walls have been reconstructed so you can see the layout. It is assumed, based on articles found there, that the few houses were a trading post to exchange local merchandise with those from North Africa and other Mediterranean countries. The Guadiana is certainly navigable here and much further up river too.
Sailboats moored on buoys in the Guadiana, near the Roman Villa site.
We continued to follow the road North, beside the river, through small villages and past lookout areas with RVs parked in them. We tried to drive into one village as the book said there was a cheese shop but we couldn't find a road in wide enough for the car (even with the wing mirrors in).
First stop in Alcoutim was to look at the church. This side faces the river
and across the tile roofs and chimneys to the Spanish village on the other side, Sanlucar de Guadiana, with its fortress on the hill above.
So plain after Seville Cathedral
but still some interesting details; around the door
and at the roof.
From here we could see how to get to the castle through the narrow streets and drove there next.
The castle had a display area with artifacts since the Romans. It was built to defend the border and police smuggling.
There was a short movie about the region and a display of "Timeless Games", stone game boards that had been found in the castle. They were made with lines carved into slate or holes in the stones and small carved games pieces like checkers. There were multiple examples of the 6 Islamic game boards (one was Tic-Tac-Toe), it must have been a boring post most of the time. The best part of the castle though is its views from the walls.
Looking back at the church we were just at.
Two old windmills on the Spanish side.
Modern windmills on the hills.
A huge boat at the town wharf below.
We drove down into town and ate a picnic at the wharf.
Looking across at Sanlucar. We will probably go there for a drive and look across at this wharf.
We had a very quick coffee as Dad was illegally parked on a crosswalk, and then drove back home.

On the way back onto Isla Canela we passed a huge herd of goats.
The shepherd (here on his cell phone) and his 3 dogs were keeping them off the road.

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