15 Jun Short riding day, enjoying the Portugese Stonehenge and local festivals
Day 92 – 93 (9/10 June 2013) – The plan for the day is to ride all the way to Avis, where another municipal campground awaits us.
On the way out of Evora, we ride past the Roman aqueduct and an old monastery. About 8 miles out of town, we spot a sign pointing to a prehistoric site out in the countryside. We quickly decided to take the short detour over a dirt road to check it out.
After a few ups and downs, we reach the site and are greeted by an ancient stone circle–we have found the Portugese answer to Stonehenge!
We sit and marvel over the huge megaliths for a moment. We wonder who would have placed them there and how were they able to move them. Are they a some sort of calendar, a religious site, or a place to find some other spiritual powers? No matter what they were meant for, they are quite a sight to see.
Actually, there are many of these stone circles scattered throughout Portugal, France, and Great Briton, just to mention a few places.
After eating a quick snack inside the sacred circle, we continue pedaling on…at least for another 12 miles or so, that’s when we find ourselves entering the small town Arraiolos.
As we arrive in the village, we hear drums playing. Curiously, we follow the sound and discover, that there is some sort of festival going on. There are handmade carpets and tapestries hanging from many windows in the little alleyways and a market with products from the local area is buzzing with people. We watch women making threads from fresh shorn wool, we can see how the wool is being died and how women stitch the tapestries with great patience. Even inside the church we can admire a row of carpets made of different materials by the local schoolchildren, kindergarteners, nursing-home residents, and other local facilities.
We have entered the ” Festival of Carpets!”
Actually, Arraiolos is well known for its handmade tapestries and the art of stitching these pieces of art which has been practiced here for over 500 years.
Somehow we really like the atmosphere in this little town and decide that we want to stay the night and join in on the festivities. Since there is no campground, we stay the night in a room right in the center of town. After stowing our bikes and bags away we check out the castle ruins towering over the village before returning to the plaza where we enjoy some people-watching and have fun at a live concert later that night.
What an awesome day!
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