The accommodation in Odeceixa was in a wonderful position overlooking the Atlantic Ocean but it was two and half miles from the village and unless you like spending all day on the beach it was lacking in sightseeing opportunities. Neither of us like spending a full day at the beach.
Getting to the village was relatively straightforward but parking at the beach was at a premium so I was reluctant to give up my spot for a couple of hours just in case it wasn’t there when I returned.
We could have walked I suppose but it wasn’t an attractive walk and it was along a narrow main road. The easiest alternative way to get to the village and back was on a shuttle service on one of those pretend tourist trains which I dislike so much but as it was the only option to taking the car and risking the parking space I had to accept that this was the only sensible thing to do. It was only a short ride and at only €1.50 return fare exceptionally good value.
As the day got progressively hotter the time was approaching the afternoon siesta and we arrived to curiously deserted streets as though someone had declared a national emergency and everyone had left town in a hurry. Across the narrow lanes abandoned laundry remained hanging on overloaded balcony rails, starched and bleached by the sun, occasionally a loose shutter kissed a window frame and a whispering pigeon looked for a shaded spot to spend the afternoon. A bed sheet had lost its peg on a washing line and was dragging lethargically in the dust so I rescued it.
As we walked into the village it was so quiet that I could hear the paint lifting and splitting on the wooden doors, the gentle creaking of rusty shutter hinges, the squeaking complaints of rattan as sleeping residents shifted a little in their balcony chairs momentarily disturbed by the the faint crack of seed pods in the flower planters.
The concept of an drowsy afternoon siesta is not something that I am unfamiliar of course with but I think that I can say that I have never before seen it so rigidly observed; not in Spain, France or even Greece but here in Odeceixa and across the whole of the Alentejo the entire place completely closed down for the afternoon.
Even the local statues were taking a rest.
The empty streets were decorated with lazy bunting as it seems there had been a festival the weekend previously which didn’t really surprise me because we have a habit of turning up in a place when the party is over or will be taking place shortly after we leave. Odeceixa was no exception to this rule.
There was a steep climb to the top of the village which took us through empty streets, a sleeping cat in the middle of the road who was clearly confident that there was no danger, the church (closed) and the cemetery (locked gates) until we reached the top and the village windmill, which is no longer required for its original purpose but is retained now as a sort of heritage museum piece. It was closed of course. There were wonderful sweeping views from the top looking east to the farms and fields and west to the crawling river and the sea beyond.
We returned to the bottom of the village through more empty streets until we reached the main square where the shops were closed but restaurants and bars were still optimistically on the look-out for customers. In a side street we found a little place to our liking and sat for a while with a beer and enjoyed a light lunch.
Two hours in the sleepy village was just about the right amount of time, especially during a siesta and we took the scheduled return ride on the pretend train back to the beach.
We swam for a while and while Kim lay on the sand and dried off in the sun I impatiently walked the entire length of the beach in both directions. Twice. I am not one for long spells on the beach these days. Later we sat on the balcony for a couple of hours then packed our bags ready for departure the morning before dining again in the seafood restaurant. We would be leaving the coast tomorrow so naturally in a fish restaurant adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean we both ate fish again tonight.
Not a lot of walking today, only three and a half miles.