After exploring its castle, we spent another day walking Marvão’s hilly and winding cobble-stoned streets. In addition to a variety of restaurants, there were shops with artesanal goodies: olives and chocolates, jellies and pottery, artwork and handbags made of fine, smooth cork from trees that fill the neighboring countryside. The journey south continued to the second century Roman ruins of São Cucufate. Roaming the empty site opened our imagination to those who lived there so many years ago.
Later we arrived in the small town of Beja. After getting settled in our hotel we encountered some difficulties: Visiting hours (and days) for attractions in Portugal vary greatly, and this time we found the castle, museum, and church all closed. After a peek at a former convent, now the Pousada de São Francisco, what was left to do in this sleepy village but shop? On the main drag we scored a great pair of men’s jeans for about twenty dollars. Then it was time for coffee at Smiles Cafè (the name comes from owner Gertrudes Galhana’s husband’s band, Smiles n Cries). The choice between homemade chocolate cake and homemade cheesecake was too tough, so we bought and enjoyed both as we studied the shop’s wall devoted to iconic music legend Bob Marley.
Like the title of one of the Jamaican great’s songs, we needed to “Keep on Moving”. Next time, next stop: Cuba. No, not that one. Cuba, Portugal, home of Christopher Columbus.