(Statue of Pedro Nunes in Alcacér do Sal)
After Setúbal we moved to the town of Alcacér do Sal. We were here last year. You might remember it was the place I built up the courage to ask someone to tell me their story?
(Famous guy born here)
The weather was beautiful and we settled down in a parking space on the banks of the Sado river with views of the town. From the van I could see, across the river, the statue in the first picture above and remembered seeing it last time too but I couldn’t remember who it was.
(Bought the book)
When we were in Porto on the morning before our tour I spotted a pretty book shop. There’s lots of lovely book shops but what made this one so interesting was there was a book in English in the window. It was called A Very Short History of Portugal by A.H. De Oliveira Marques. I have wanted to know more about Portuguese history since first going to the town of Beja two years ago. At one of the old churches I met a lovely guide with very little English but loads of passion for the history of his town and country. So of course I bought the book.
(Night time in Alcacér do Sal)
Now I have learned something very interesting from this book. That is to, Read the Title. Read it a few times to be sure this is the book you want. I read the title and was immediately attracted by the fact it was in English. Then it said Short. In fact it said Very Short. Excellent. Unfortunately, it was missing one word. Simple.
(Cute narrow streets)
The history of Portugal is long because a lot happened since man arrived here more than 4000 years ago. The author of the book is a renowned historian, he has degrees from all over the world, he was a professor in Portugal and Germany and America and he died in 2007. He has a lot to say. Making it very short was probably really, really difficult for him and he never promised simple. I thought short meant simple. So I pushed it to the back of the craft cupboard to lessen my guilty for not reading it.
(And loads of steps)
Then I saw the Pedro Nunes statue and he was born in Alcacér do Sal, I wondered… I couldn’t find him in the book, he’d probably in the long version but I googled him and he invented something complicated for navigation. He was also a professor. What I did find in the book was Portugal in the 1500’s started getting into exploration and were really good at it. The king was interested and he provided the money to make it possible. They more than any one else proved through experience that the world was round. By 1640 things were going bad though, wars, fighting with neighbours, king issues. But for a short period of time Portugal was the smartest and richest country in the world.
Anyone interested in a barely used very short history of Portugal? Mairead.
(That’s Alcácer do Sal south east of Setúbal. Free parking by the river, public toilets nearby. There’s also a nice municipal campsite outside the town and a great tapas restaurant up the hill)