[ENGLAND – PORTUGAL EXCHANGE 2012 — DAY 13]
Introduction: We were so tired from the past few days/ weeks so we decided to have a quiet day. Thus we stayed in Seixal and I had the opportunity to see Laura’s home town. After walking down the river and into some of the streets we found an old derelict Cork Factory which was fascinating. Luckily a tour group where there at the same time and we learnt more from their tour guide; which Laura translated for me. They also were able to show us where to go as it wasn’t the easiest to locate even inside the grounds. After dinner we came back to this area for the cafe which looked so nice in the dark with live music playing.
A Very Lazy Morning
After the previous day in Lisbon we were absolutely shattered. The other reason of course for this too was although this was only our 3rd day of my visit it was also the 13th day of our kind of exchange and in England we were just as busy as we were here. Consequently on this day we got up very late (about 11am) and breakfast and lunch were almost the same thing. We had already planned the day before hand… or at least the area at we had not quite planned to exactly where. After several episodes of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ which Laura was getting me into, we finally left.
Walking Down to the River
We walked down to the river in Sexial again. I was here on my first visit but this was this time we did see more of it, going a further distance. Also parts I had seen before made a little more sense this time. Including looking across to the other side you can see the remains of the old mills, literally just left and abandoned. In one of the little parks near the river in Sexial there was a model of one which you could see across the river. One of the other things we saw was what seemed to be a beach. Seixal is not a beachy place and apparently this beach is known as the ‘poor man’s beach’ as it is not known for being very clean and most people who come here are unable to travel to the proper beaches a little further afield.
This chimney was just in a street, elements of factories and mills are seen everywhere it seems
The ‘Poor’s Man Beach’
The model in a park; of one of the old mills across the river
The mill which the model is of (view across the river, with Lisbon in the background)
The Streets of Seixal
After walking a stretch of the river we headed back in land a little to explore some of the streets of Seixal. The streets were all very typically tight and windy. It was nice to see another side of Portugal which was a little mundane. We also walked past a nice church, which literally seemed to be squeezed in somehow. Then from here we headed back towards the river and continued down a little further.
A typical little street in Seixal
A little opening between these narrow streets
Me outside the little church
Back at the river again, although a bit further down now
The Cork Factory
After walking a little further down the river we saw a sign about conservation area and seemed to have a museum about the ecology, etc of the area. We didn’t know where to go, the security guard at the gate directed us to a building. Obviously at this point Laura did all the talking I just nodded along. It turned out that this museum was a lot further down the river but there was one of the Cork Factories open to the public just down the road, however it closed within an hour.
We were quite lucky that a large coach trip arrived when we were just got back to the gate. This may sound like a bad idea but Laura spoke to the tour guide. We had no clue where we were going as it was a little further down this track, but the tour guide said we could tag along.
When we arrived in the building she made a speech about the factory which Laura just listened to and then translated for me at the end. I had no idea how big a part cork played to this area of Portugal and seemed to basically be the community in some way. They watched a video which we tagged along for parts before exploring the rest of the museum. The tour guide also showed some of the cork which you were allowed to touch and around the building were lots of photos, so even I could understand the exhibition, even with the severe lack of English signs lol.
As we left and headed out it became obvious how big this place was. We were only allowed in one small part of it which was the museum but the rest stretched out for about a further 150m or so! I wanted to know if these buildings were just shells, so walked up a bit closer. When I looked through the windows I was shocked to see what looked like a ghost town the buildings all had their machines still inside just left untouched!
The outside of the building which was open to the public
One of the photos from the Exhibition which showed what it used to look like when in use
Some of the cork produced we could touch
From outside looking at some more of the factory buildings
What we saw looking through the broken glass of these windows
We walked just a little further up the river, only until the end of the factory buildings before turning left and back towards the house. I felt I had been blind as we were walking up now the other side of the cork factory and could see better how large this area was. I was here only 48 hours ago as we were also walking past the Graffiti Competition wall and I had seen this last time, not noticing the massive factory sitting right behind it.
Just outside, the same side as the entrance to the factory (near the cafe)
Around the corner from the cafe, where you can see the wall with the competition graffiti (you can see too the chimney of the section we went to on the right hand side)
Just to give a scale and perspective, this is edited from Google Maps (bird eye view)
After dinner that evening we headed back down the same way in act almost to the factory entrance again, to the cafe which Laura used to work at. There was live music outside and the river looked so nice all lit up in the dark. We had a cup of coffee. I also seemed to practice a bit of sign language as when Laura went up to flaunt to her old colleagues that she wasn’t working I was left with her Mum and Grandmother and this was the only way we had learnt to communicate.
The musician playing outside the cafe