Saturday, January 18, 2014

Evora, Portugal

Last October I went to Southern Spain with a side trip to Lisbon and Evora, Portugal. I took the night train from Madrid and I would advise anyone to book early. You have to go to Charmatin bus station in person and the international side was packed. I bought mine at 10 am that morning and I got one of the last tickets.

Be prepared to have a flashlight shone in your eyes at the border crossing and very rude customs officers demand to see your passport. (contrary to flying into Madrid where they just asked me where I was going and sent me on my way).

You get to the Lisbon bus station at about 7 am and taxis are right outside (FYI you have to pay to use the bathroom in the station so make sure you have some coins). The bus station is right on the water and it is only a 5-8 minute drive into the tourist section. I had a lot of time to kill before I could check into my hotel so I wandered for a few hours. You can take a huge elevator up to the New Town but I chose to walk.

While I liked Lisbon ok, my main focus was Evora which is about 1.5 hours east of Lisbon and an easy day out. I caught the bus and had to cross this bridge! It's one of the longest suspension bridges in the world and was designed by the same people who designed the Golden Gate Bridge. To get to Evora from the bus station simply turn right and walk about 1/2 mile and you will see the town gates. From there, just keep walking straight and eventually you will hit the Old Town.

There were 2 reasons I wanted to go to Evora: The Chapel of Bones and the "Diana" Temple.

The Chapel of Bones was made by a group of monks who felt the townspeople were becoming too materialistic and not concerned enough with their souls so they dug up all the buried corpses and made a Chapel of Bones.

It was really amazing but they have odd hours and everyone got kicked out about 15 minutes after I got there. English is somewhat spoken but not as much as in Spain. To anyone traveling in Spain or Portugal if you want to watch TV at night, bring a laptop so you can get Hulu or whatever. There are no English stations in either country (that I found) unlike all of South America which has the English speaking Warner station.

The Roman ruin (commonly called the Diana temple) is amazing if not a little hard to find. Evora is like a rabbit warren so everything is hard to find! The only advice I can give is to go up since it's on a hill atop the city. It was one of the most amazing things I've seen and still in such good condition. There is a little outdoor snack shop across the street from it where I had a sandwich and some beers. I can't imagine working there and having that as your view everyday!