Friday, October 5, 2012, celebration of the proclamation of the Portuguese First Republic in 1910, long weekend!
After a family lunch, me and JB began our car trip to Castelo de Bode Campsite, Portugal. The journey went well until we had to leave the road we were following (IC3) because of some roadworks. We followed a road that took us to the city of Tomar, where we couldn’t find any signboard indicating the direction we wanted. We were driving by intuition and we found ourselves on a dirt road that crossed a forestall area that had been recently burned.
We completed our journey in less than 3 hours, just in time to do the check in at the Castelo de Bode Campsite, where we spent the following 2 nights.
Perhaps because of the campsites we had seen are big, having several buildings with showers and toilets, we were surprised by the small dimensions of this campsite. We went from one end to the other end of the campsite very quickly. We chose the place to camp and we positioned our tent to open up facing the lagoon.
Afterwards, we went outside the campsite for a small walk and we saw a curious thing. It was already dark and we saw a dog that seemed to be in the air. On the next day, we saw that the small dog was on the top of a post. It climbed the fence with an incredible agility and then it barked at people who were passing by from the top of that post. The funny thing was to see the dog starting to climb the fence when we approached the house and then it suddenly stopped when it noticed we were paying much attention to it. The dog stared at us and after a while decided to go back to the ground, giving up on its climbing.
Back to our first night in Castelo de Bode, after our small walk we went back to the campsite to have dinner. It was my first experience with the camping gas stove. As we were tired and sleepy, we went early to our tent to sleep.
On the next morning, we initiated the geocaching activity. We walked from the campsite to a place near the Hotel “Segredos de Vale Manso”, where a geocache would be hidden. Apparently, we found the place where it should be, but it was empty. So, we just enjoyed the view.
Walking further, we found a path that led us to two of the lagoon islet’s.
Contrary to what we found at the campsite, we found a lot of people camping on those islets. No doubt is was a much more relaxing and beautiful place to camp than the campsite.
The clear water around the islets was so appealing… Oh, how I missed my bathing suit and my beach towel at that moment…
It was time to go the way back. There was another geocache hidden between the place where we were and the campsite. We followed a path thinking that it would take us to that cache, but we ended up in front of some big houses, with no path to continue. So we had to turn back to the main road.
We returned to the campsite and only then we saw the zone where the cache would be hidden, but as it seemed we would need a lot of time to go in there, we just gave up on looking for it.
After lunch we visited the “Barragem de Castelo de Bode” (Castelo de Bode Dam), a concrete arch-gravity dam on the Zêzere River. This dam, inaugurated in 1951, is one of the biggest dams of Portugal. We found the first geocache of the day near the dam.
Afterwards, we went by car to Constância, a lovely town located between Tagus and Zêzere Rivers. Constância was named by the Romans as “Pugna Tagi” (fight of the Tagus). As the time went by, the two terms agglutinated in one – “Punhete”. As “Punhete” is slang for auto hand job, the name was changed in 1836 to “Constância”.
We replenished our food supplies at the local supermarket, which we think it is a bit expensive. There were some items costing almost double the price that we are used to see.
We began the geocache hunting in Constância. The first coordinates took us to the “Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Mártires”, the Mother Church of Constância. This Church, built in 1636, is located in the highest part of the town, which provide a very beautiful view over Constância and over the Tagus River.
The cache we found next to the Church was the second and the last one of the day. Yeah, we looked for several other caches but we had no luck. The odd thing about it is that some of the coordinates were taking us to places that were not making sense, such as private properties or the middle of the street… We found out later, while we were having dinner at the esplanade “Pézinhos no Rio”, that the coordinates we had transferred to the GPS were not correct.
We passed by several places such as the “Jardim da Fonte da Capareira” (Capareira Fountain’s Garden) and the “Fonte Velha” (Old Fountain). The Old Fountain was the first fountain built in Constância. It demanded a great financial effort from the town. For that reason its construction took several years, it was initiated in 1854 and it was concluded only in 1870.
It was Sunday, time to pack up the tent, to leave the campsite and to continue geocaching.
We did a small power trail of 5 km, where we found 6 out of the 7 caches hidden along the trail. The theme chosen for this power trail was “a abelhinha” (the little bee). It provided an enjoyable walk and a spectacular scenery. The bonus cache was a mega bonus, not only because of the container, but specially because of the breathless view that it provided. For more information about this powertrail visit this website.
As we were near the “Centro de Ciência Viva de Constância” (Constância Science Center), we went there to have a look, but only from the outside, since it was closed at that time. The “Centro de Ciência Viva de Constância” makes part of the National Network of Science Centers, which promotes the scientific dissemination. The Constância Science Center is mainly dedicated to Astronomy. For more information visit the official website.
We returned to Constância to have lunch at the restaurant “Trinca Fortes”, a rough looking restaurant where we ate well for little money.
Then, we went to the “Café da Praça” to buy the famous “Queijinhos do céu” (Heaven pastries) of Constância. These delicious pastries are made of marzipan filled with a dough of egg yolk and sugar. I am not a big fan of convent pastries, but these ones… I loved them. What a gastronomic delight!
In the afternoon we went to the “Castelo de Almourol” (Castle of Almourol), stopping first in the village of Praia do Ribatejo to find some geocaches.
We caught a boat at the Castle quay that took us to the Castle of Almourol. It was a very short trip. On the islet, we followed the paths that led to the Castle. These paths are surrounded by giant cactus pears (Opuntia ficus-indica), which, at that time of the year (October), were loaded with fruits.
We climbed the stairs to arrive at the highest point of the Castle tower, which provided a spectacular view of its surroundings.
We were amazed by a couple who was accompanying us during the visit. The couple had 3 kids, one of them just a baby, another had just began to walk and the oldest one was around 5 years old, and the lady was carrying another child in her belly. We were surprised, first because of the numerous children and the small age gap between them, and secondly because they were able to climb the Castle tower with all their kids! On their place, I think I would not have courage and energy to do what they did.
We found the final geocache of this trip on the islet, then we returned to the Castle quay by boat and it was the end of the trip.