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Old 11-06-2013, 10:42 AM   #92
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Location: Oxford, UK
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When we approached the town of Idanha a Velha, Matt chivalrously went first into the river...


... to gauge the depth of the water for me...


Looks like our route was not the main one into town...


Idanha a Velha (Old Idanha) is a parish in the municipality of Idanha a Nova (New Idanha), where we had been lunching earlier. Idanha a Velha is one of the oldest towns in Portugal, with Roman settlement recorded since 16 AD and, like Penamacor, allegedly the birthplace of Wamba the Great...


The masonry looked rather interesting


... and so we took the time to explore the historic settlement a bit further


The church - built on the ruins of the first Visigothic cathedral on the Iberian Peninsula from the fourth century


What are you looking at?


Well, at the Celtic, Roman, Suebic...


... Visigothic, Arabic and Medieval architecture, if you don't mind...


I personally find that sight-seeing is even better when accompanied by an ice-cream - and I also thought that Matt deserved a treat for depriving himself of the boys' company and ambling along with me all day. So we entered the next bar, I asked for two Magnums and reached for my wallet - oops, that would be the one inside my jacket securely fastened to the back of my bike... Ma-hatt, could I borrow a couple of Euros, please?

Before we continued north, we returned briefly to the Roman bridge...


... for some family album shots


Just after Idanha the route was gated again and we had to detour on tarmac to the next junction with the track


Monsanto within our grasp...


... but we were not quite there yet. The path ahead looked suspiciously like a goat trail - a classification supported by the contour lines on TopoLusitania...

(Photo courtesy of Muddymatt)

... and also by my reliable travel companion, who had once attempted the ascent together with his friend Laurence. Now Loz is extremely handy to have with you on a technical trail when you are only 5 foot and a bit - but as we hadn't, we just admired the giant boulders...


... and rode up to Monsanto on the beaten (paved) track - just like everybody else. The boys had already arrived and sorted the accommodation for bikes and riders


We stayed in the Casa de David, owned by Estela, an old friend of the Three Stooges, who runs a B&B and a successful art gallery in Monsanto.


Our room was delightfully boutique-ish...


... and I was to share it not only with my Possu baby but also with Timpolino...


Well, it's been a few years since I last sampled the pleasures of spending the night with two men, so I didn't really mind...

Have a closer look at this sculpture and see what it is made from


While the others headed straight for the bar, I immersed myself in the charms of the 'most Portuguese village in Portugal'


The town clings to the slopes


The houses embrace the big boulders - literally!


The earliest traces of man found on this hill date from the early Stone Age


A truly magical place


If you want to know more about Monsanto just zoom in...


While dreamily walking around, I suddenly spotted a familiar van - Seamus had obviously made it back to Freixo on the poorly DRZ, picked up his rally bike and driven over to spend another evening with us. Now parking is a bit of an issue in the steep narrow streets of Monsanto, but we found a suitable space by the miradouro and went to join the others in the Taverna Lusitana.


The lads were already in high spirits


I took a few more photos


If you get bored you can stop looking - but I just couldn't get enough of this beautiful place


Estela had recommended the restaurant Petiscos e Granitos...


... where she joined us for dinner...


... and she even brought her mum


83 years, lively and alert, charming and witty; the rock on which the whole family is built - she can make a palace out of scraps, said Estela lovingly - she's the one who held everything together during the family's (and Portugal's...) eventful past. Senhora Estela Sr. still makes ornaments and helps her daughter in the art gallery; a really awe-inspiring lady.

Filled with lasting impressions, visions of history long gone, samples of great local cuisine and a few cups of vinho tinto we went home. It was one of those days that we will remember for a long time...

To be continued
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Pumpy screwed with this post 11-06-2013 at 10:54 AM
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