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From Lisbon to Praia da Mira


Caves of Mira de Aire The trip leads us today to the north of Portugal, but we have no idea where we will end up. Not far from Fatima we take the tour through the caves of Mira the Aire. Only a part of this limestone cave can be visited and the tour takes about 45 minutes, really worthwhile. We are not allowed to take pictures, so we scanned this postcard.
Near Fatima (no apparition today) we drive through a hilly region with lots of vineyards towards Tomar, where a large templar's castle stands.
Templars castle at Tomar The castle was build in 1160 by grandmaster Gualdim Pais. After the order of the Templar Knights had been officially abolished by the pope in 1312, the Portuguese king let the order subsist under another name, the Order of Christ, with Tomar as it's centre. The entrance fee is quite high, so we don't enter the church itself, but one can walk freely about most of the castle terrain and the gardens. When we try to look behind a door we are firmly chased away by very unfriendly personnel.
After Tomar we first drive somewhat inland, then head east towards the coast. Via Pombal (named after the Marquês de Pombal who rebuild Lisbon after the earthquake of 1755) we return to the sea at Figueira da Foz. This coast line is quite different from the coast in the Algarve. There is also much more industry. In fact, we are a bit disappointed after all the beautiful sceneries we have seen the last three weeks.
We don't want to go all the way to Porto, a real industrial area, so we end up in Praia da Mira, near the town Mira. The sandy camping is close to the beach. Teije thinks he knows a nice spot to put the tent but the car gets stuck in the sand when he tries to reach the place. After half an hour of pulling and putting stones and planks under the wheels, we ask some watching Portuguese for help and within 5 minutes the car came loose.
We have had a nice day, but somehow we have the feeling we are not quite happy here. We can't exactly say why... Maybe it is the people who seem less friendly here (at the castle, at the campsite and in the shops), maybe it is because we are heading north, in the direction of home...
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