Despite our ideal location its surely time to move on so we trundle off to Mertola to stock up
After enjoying our usual coffees and Pasteis de Nata up in the elevated town and lugging the shopping back down to the river we agree that we might as well just stay here tonight
We finally succumb to the purchase of a 5 litre box of Alentejo wine which is duly opened and ground rules established (to be broken later) for its rate of consumption
I guess we paid over the odds at the tiny mini mercado but can you really grumble when the price is €6.50.
Later mental arithmetic revealed (over a glass or three) that the standard equivalent here of a UK glass from this box is 17 pence. OMG!
But since we kid ourselves we are delaying our potential liver related diseases by drinking from the small comedy glasses we use, then the price drops to 11 pence per glass
Before you declare that the wine must be crap (as is so often the case at this price) think again, this stuff is really nice!
Next day we take the awfully maintained road to Mina de São Domingos the former mining village
The listed aire is closed to vans for the weekend as they are hosting a canoeing competition. Other vans were huddled together in their usual fashion at the top of the village so we side tracked them and went for the lakeside view of events
We venture out on the bikes to view the village and that mine
The site of the mine is truly immense and its easy to see this was a massive venture at the turn of the 19th century
Surely a candidate for the filming of Full Metal Jacket 2
Two former directors of a butter manufacturing company
Glad we had enough drinking water with us…
Next day I do a solo ride down the same lunar landscape track towards Pomarão
All is well although very rugged and I manage to reach the tiny hamlet of Bens
Welcome to Bens
This consisted of being chased in and out of town by two groups of dogs thirsty for English blood!
One of the houses, very small, served as the local bar and I got involved in a lengthy chat (in French) with the guy on the right. Such was the awe of this lovely traditional bar that I bought a bottle of Vino Tinto for the good lady and off I set for more drama with those dogs
Thoughts of dear Fred
More sulphated water
A steady walk next day in to the village seems in order and soon we are heading for the mine again
I wonder how much this little bargain is up for?
Yet another tyre in my stomach area...
I see you...
In true monolithic fashion the locals have erected a monument to the guys who toiled at the mine
The €1.00 entry fee to the village museum revealed a history dominated by the English for many years as they organised the mining and took most of the ore it produced
Northwards now towards the Alqueva Dam hopefully and a few nights listening to the bullfrog chorus at the barragem….