Monday, July 2, 2012

A (Quiet) Gem in Alentejo

When you live in one of Lisbon's pretty little seaside towns getting away from the crowds of locals and tourists is at times almost impossible, which is what made the little town of Évora roughly an hour away from Lisbon (or 2 hours by bus) in Alentejo such a little gem.

In Évora, keen to get some good quality, tranquil nature walking into our timetable my husband enthusiastically asks our hotel receptionist "where can we go for a hike around here?" the receptionist  looks at us like we're mad and suggests another town 40km away where we can see a charming little town on a hill and have a coffee in one of the several charming cafe's. I didn't get the impression that walking is a national pastime here, actually, a couple of weeks earlier we found locals asking us why on earth we would possibly want to walk from Cabo da Roca to Sintra when we could easily drive there... but the Sintra forest is one of the prettiest forests I've seen in Europe and walking through there is well worth skipping a car for a day. And as it happens walking in Évora is also worth skipping the car and driving to the next town for coffee. Just outside the town you can follow a path along a 9km ancient aqueduct - the Água de Prata Aqueduct or Aqueduct of Silver Water built between 1531 and 1537. The walk takes you through some beautiful countryside with stunning orange, yellow and red hues speckled with green cork trees and the occasional white farm house.

Images by Mats Stafseng Einarsen.

Looking back on Évora

Though you don't have to get into the countryside to enjoy peace and quiet because Évora itself lacked the crowds and had a tranquil quiet vibe all along it's charming narrow streets making it perfect for a quaint little weekend away.

Templo de Diana


Must eat: local food in the countryside always has a tendency to blow my mind and the regional porco preto surely didn't disappoint but an interesting (and tasty!) regional dish that is a must try is the Alentejo gazpacho, chopped tomato, cucumber and green pepper are immersed in iced water and olive oil and then sprinkled with oregano, it comes with a side of bread for dipping. It was like drinking a Greek salad, and it definitely went down easy in the scorching 35c degrees and even easier with a delicious glass of white wine also from the region.

Alentejo style gazpacho

Stay: Albergaria do Calvario a beautifully decorated boutique hotel with friendly staff, excellent service and a delicious breakfast offering the best local produce.


Turismoenportugal said...

Really nice post :-) we love Alentejo.

Mili said...

Hey!! You don't write on your blog anymore! I'm also an expat, living in Amsterdam for the past 3 years (and loving every moment of it-except the winters, of course) and I really enjoy your blog!