Thursday, April 14, 2016

Borba, Portugal: Shopping for Slabs

Some things really excite us. Like ancient engineering marvels that move water. So on the day we left rain-soaked Mérida to continue our journey west to Portugal, we were treated to not one, not two, but three superb examples.

The Aqueduct of San Lázaro in Mérida, built around the first century BC to bring water to the Roman city from a reservoir to the northeast.

A small section of the mighty Amoreira Aqueduct in Elvas, Portugal, built in the 15th century.  It was truly massive.
We entered Portugal at the town of Elvas, and the landscape from Mérida to there is rather flat and uninspiring.  Lots of agriculture, goats, and sheep.  The persistent low spinning off the coast of Ireland that did its best to keep the wind in our face, so John and I amused ourselves by counting down every five kilometers to switch lead and draft positions.  It slowed us down enough that our entry in Portugal was late enough in the afternoon that there was little time and energy to get us and the bikes up to the fortress town.  We headed for the campground, only to find it was not yet open for the season, so it was another hotel night.  It was a very nice hotel, and reasonably priced (45 euros) like what we have found so far everywhere.  

The next morning was sunny and bright, but I could not say the same for my dear John.  Add to the list of lessons learned -- don't buy a nice prepared salad and then keep it in a warm pannier for four hours before you eat it.  It will result in enough bacteria growth to put down a strong cyclist. So an extra day at the lovely hotel with the beautiful marble staircase.

The marble staircase was our first clue that we were in a special area.  The next clue was when we rode into the town of Borba, and the sidewalks were paved with marble, the curbs were marble, the park benches were marble, and there were smooth rounded sculptures carved from marble on the street corners.

Sidewalks of mosaic granite and marble, and the classiest curbs I have ever seen.

As we left town we began to see on either side of the road manufacturers of granite and stone products, and stacks of marble blocks just left to themselves.  Most of the marble we saw was white with a pink veining, but also beautiful gray and white marble in the neighboring town of Vila Viçosa.

And a bit further down the road we were separated from the chasm of a quarry by just a slack cable.  Something even more exciting for these two geologist that aqueducts!  Little did we know that there were craters like this all around us, as seen in the photos at this link.

The quarry was humming with activity, and workers down in the pit looked like little toy soldiers.

I think I could find something for our kitchen remodel here.

Leaving Borba, the town of beautiful sidewalks.
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Joe Blommer said...

Maybe you can slip a slab-o-marble into Strong Cyclist John's pannier for the remodel on the home-front. I'm sure he's never notice.

Bonnie said...

Wowie! The aqueducts, the arches, the marble and especially the quarries!!! What wonderful studies for your fine adventure! I love it all so much. And it really fills in the blanks from those humanities and civilization classes way back when, in college. Sorry about the stomach adventure for you, John. Thanks for the great photos and all. Bonnie

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