Wednesday, January 11, 2017

white walls and grey skies

Marvão is a picture-perfect little town perched atop the imposing Serra de São Mamede near the border with Spain. Whitewashed houses line winding streets that lead up to an impressive fortress, which was constructed on top of an old Roman watchtower by Ibn Marwan, a Muslim duke of mixed Iberian, Berber and Arab origins. The name Marvão derives from Marwan, and over time I've developed an amusing game with myself to see how many Portuguese words and names have Arabic influences— pretty much anything beginning with 'al' is guaranteed to have once been Arabic.

It was bitterly cold, and no matter which way I wrapped my scarf around my neck, I could feel fingers of icy air creeping in. I was thankful for a little tavern with a fireplace that offered a piping hot cup of coffee. Slowly, the feeling would come back to my fingers and toes...

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