Day 32 Lisbon to Ourique

We left Lisbon this morning in gorgeous sunshine. Somehow, you always have a good feeling about a place if you leave it at it’s best, and as we crossed the huge suspension bridge over the Rio Tejo, and looked back over Belem, and the Monasteiro de Jeronimas gleaming in the sunlight, and we felt warm glow towards this city.
We headed south, initially to a place called Setubal, or to be precise, an obscure location just east of Setubal on the Rio Sado estuary. I had read in the Lonely Planet of a nature reserve called Moinho da Mourisca, renowned for it’s bird life. Remarkably, as we drove towards the coast, we spied a sign for it, and followed the track for a couple of miles down to the mud flats. Initially, my spirits rose when I also saw a coffee shop sign, and a charming looking white buildings with tables and chairs outside, but sadly the excitement was short-lived, as it was closed weekdays, as were the bird hides. Not deterred, we made a coffee in Oscar, Howard finishing the last of the sugary pastries left from our trip to Aviero. We then had a really pleasant hour wandering around the raised grassy paths between the lagoons, trying to spot some wildlife. I managed to snap a few waders and a grebe, justifying the inclusion of my telephoto lens in our luggage. Howard had been most insistent that any item unused after three months was going to be thrown out, so I was relieved that my very expensive lens has earned it’s reprieve. I just now need to find a use for the tripod!
On our walk we came across a grove of cork trees, which we were soon to discover are all over this area of Portugal. Driving on further south, we saw mile after mile of cork tree plantations, as well as a profusion of nesting storks. On one electricity pylon at the side of the road, we counted twelve storks nests on the various levels of the structure, with occupants in each.
I commented to Howard as we drove south that I was feeling too hot. By now, I had shed my Icebreaker top and fleece, and was wearing only a T-shirt. The temperature in the van read 17 degrees. I was told in no uncertain terms that mid February was too early to have the air conditioning on, and whatever was I going to be like in Sicily a month or two later?
The campsite we were heading for was near to a town called Ourique, and as we approached the outskirts we saw a sign for a mirador or viewpoint. So we wound our way up the steep cobbled lane to investigate. At the top was the most charming terraced garden and viewpoint looking out over the hills. Following the lane down, on the next level was an absolutely gorgeous little square, with a blue and white church at one end. The only sound audible was birdsong, and it was quite a contrast from the bustling city that we had left just that morning.
We eventually found our tiny rural campsite a few miles down the road. The new Dutch owners had only taken over the running of the site two weeks previously, but they had clearly bagged themselves a gem. The terraced site sits looking out over hills in a grove of cork and Holm oak trees, the facilities are spotless and the views splendid. Despite their short time as owners, they are by far the busiest site we have stayed in to date, with most of the pitches taken. They told us later, over our complimentary welcome drink, that three of the motorhomes arrived the first day that they opened, and have been here ever since. I’m sure the warmth and hospitality of the hosts definitely adds to the charm of this place, so I think for the next two nights we will be very happy here.
Tomorrow Howard has hill walking on the agenda. I may have to break into my Caorunn to recover!

2 thoughts on “Day 32 Lisbon to Ourique

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