A podcast for those who do not enjoy reading: A Not-So-Funny Granny
Our Portuguese journey, which started in Lisbon, was totally unplanned.
We had a car booked and after picking it up, we decided to roam around following – not the maps, but the book! yes – I am a navigator that chases book-found places by following the sign posts and, if need be, runs around asking people for directions. Fun at its best! In the worst case scenario, you will lose your way only to find another, perhaps more interesting one.
Portugal is sprinkled with castles. We decided to follow what we see from the main route southwards.
Palmela castle popped above the groud as first when we drove along the A2 from Lisbon. It is a ginormous structure towering over the town, sitting on a very top of a huge mound. We were sure to see many more of similar places however and therefore after roaming around for a while, we decided to head further south in search of the alcazars.
First however we noticed a city of Setubal, which sounded not too bad but in the end we were extremely disappointed. A bit of a post comunist looking place full of weird little stalls selling lovely asian made products of all sorts. The only thing we found interestig was a Nativity display on the square, so after having a quickie coffee, we decided to escape.
Hmmmm…. so far so so, we thought….
Went onto the E1 motorway and towards south to eventually reach the west coast of the country:
It was getting late when we were entering the city of Alcácer do Sal situated on the banks of the river Sado. We needed to find somewhere to sleep and were very lucky. Not sure how we got this particular spot but most likely by the word of mouth. Situated in an oldest part of the city, literally just behind the Church of St. Santiago, a wonderful little house with beautiful azulejor at its highest part of the facade and a tiny lady, who most likely owned it.
And the fun starts here. We parked just outside the house as there is a little square there with a good few spaces.
The lady was in her hmmm… 70-ies, I’d say. A tiny little woman with gray hair and very tanned wrinkled face. She welcomed us and looked at us from heads to toes. Complete and very serious pre-check-in control this has been.
We proceeded upstairs. She opened the first door to our left, showed ME the room and waved me in. I looked at her a bit unsure. Chloe’s dad wanted to kindly get in and at that stage, she literally jumped in front of him and blocked his way with her entire body, which looked so extremely funny as she was so tiny next to him that could literally fit under his armpits.
We burst out with laughter which got her all very seriously upset. All of a sudden she started screaming in Portuguese. We were standing there trying to get something out of it all but not a chance.
Finally the lady calmed down. She took a few deep breaths and showed him different door, a little further down the landing.
We could not hold the laughter but kindly followed the lady having no clue what she was up to. She then opened the door to the second bedroom and waved HIM inside, blocking my way in. This was the moment we understood the seriousness of the situation we found ourselves in – separate bedrooms! No sinning under this lady’s roof! She was charging us for one room though.
We were not sure, whether the contact was to be limited to sleeping only or talking and sitting in one bedroom too, so we got a tiny bit stressed, to be honest. The lady had big lungs and sure knew how to shout what she wanted to communicate.
In the spirit of such terror but pissing ourselves trying not to laugh, we decided to give the lady some peace of mind and quickly closed ourselves in our private quarters.
The woman was a bit of a nutter, sitting in another room with her doors open and crochetig away like crazy. Her eyes would not miss a thing scanning everything in vicinity without missing a second. Reminded me of a tiny meerkat on guard.
We needed to communicate somehow though, so we finally met on the balcony and decided to go out asap.
Alcácer do Sal is a wonderful place in the evening. Its cobblestoned streetlets going in every possible direction, surrounded by pretty old houses with the wall paint coming off. But still, it all gives the town a very unique feel.
We strolled down towards the river in search of somewhere to sit and eat and we decided on a place called A Papinha, which traslates into a Double Chin 🙂
We did not get much out of the menu that would sound like anything we knew and wanted to eat, but we decided to take chances and order blindly.
I ended up with some liver, which was a fabulous thing as I adore chicken livers especially. This one was not chicken but still pretty good. Our second choice was something we decided in the end looked, smelled and tasted like kidneys! But now, after looking though the photos, I have found a receipt from that place and I am convinced that it was a stewed tongue he got himself. 😀
I found it totally nasty. He swollowed the whole thing. Thank God sex and kissing were not on the plate that evening.
A few glasses of beer and wine later and we gathered ourselves to return to our lovely accommodation, take a shower, brush the teeth and sleep through, only to quickly escape in the morning and never see the granny again.
The house was quiet and dark. We climbed up the stairs and decided that there is no night guard on the spot. Grabbed our tooth brushes and the towels and went over to the bathroom. We were not yet even half way into squeezing out the paste onto the brushes when a scream, similar to the one made by a Mandragora, froze us on the spot.
The woman was going nuts. We opened the door to check what the hell was going on and she has been standing there in front of us all flushed in her night robe. Looking a bit like that Mandragora, with her face creased by the additional marks left by the crinkled pillow cases and the hair protruding into every direction like on these photos of mad scientists post-explosion of their posions.
Standing there, frightened like two kindergarten kiddoes caught red handed stealing apples from another kid, we showed her the tooth brushes but she sure would not have it. We had to separate in an instant and do our washing in a single file.
Thank God we already managed to pee…. Gosh, if only she knew! Imagine!
I am convinced that the reason behind granny’s nonsense was the squeaky bed. I can only think of all the previous sleepless nights she must have gone through. No wonder the drastic measures were implemented and so very strictly adhered to 😀
We woke up early. Took a photo with the lady, paid her kindly and she kindly presented us with a doily she probably made while keeping a watch the day before.
I have to say she has an amazing talent and everything inside her house was embroidered and crocheted. I still have this little decoration as it was worth perhaps more than we paid for the 2 rooms. But we parted in peace and everybody smiled.
The town needed to be explored though. First, we went for a stroll down the nearby streets to absorb the atmosphere of the morning.
Finally, we reached the alcazar – from the Arabic word al-Qasr, meaning fortress. Below you see only a part of it. From its walls you get the most stunning views on the river Sado and the entire town of Alcácer do Sal. In Latin, Salatia, means ‘city of salt’.
It was not the Arabs though who built the town. It dates back to more than a thousand years before Christ and it was founded by the Phoenicians.
Under the Romans its name was Salacia. Alcácer was of a major significance to them due to its strategic location by the river, which allowed for an easy access and transportation of goods between the Mediterranean lands occupied by the Empire. The town therefore had an inland port. It was well known for the production of salt as well as the fish paste and other industries related to curing (salt).
In my previously mentioned post about Lisbon, I talk some about the Moors in Europe, here they appeared in the 8th century and stayed for hundreds of years afterwards. Their ifluences, into the architecture especially, are impressive. The city became then a capital of the Al-Kassr province and therefore required strength and so the fortress had to be built for the event of an attack. Right now it houses the Municipal Museum of Archaeology which is one of the finest ones I have seen.
Sooooo, where to next?
When right is wrong, left is left… (Sekkim Himalayan Adventures)
….and then further south for another exciting…. athough a bit smelly this time….. hmmmm…. adventure….
Till next time then!
Ah, PS. There is a morale to this story – always pee (or poo, of course) first thing after you get a hold of the bathroom. Everything else can wait!
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