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Published: October 19th 2021
A Unesco Town
While our time in Spain had temporarily come to an end, we were thrilled and excited to be moving on to Portugal. A new country, a river cruise on the Douro River and reuniting with Travel Brendan bvchef
. We haven’t traveled with him in some five years and it was long overdue!
As we live in the days of the world-wide pandemic, we first needed to get tested in order to gain entry into Portugal, which we detailed in our previous blog. We left Toledo, Spain under the cover of darkness and headed for the Madrid airport. During this trip, we will arrive and depart from Madrid a few times, both by air and rail…but not long enough for a visit. That will have to wait for a future trip.
The flight was short and fairly uneventful, save for a delay on the tarmac in Spain for seemingly unknown reasons. The length of the flight was perhaps highlighted by the only service provided by the attendants…..a single chocolate candy with an almond inside. That was it….no water, soda or anything else. It was odd giving us one chocolate covered almond. The 70-minute flight had us
touching down shortly after we lifted off due to a time change.
We found the airport in Lisbon to be modern and quite nice….but then we headed to the rental counter after waiting quite a while for the luggage. Our theory is as long as the bags tumble down and we get them…..it’s a win. The car rental counter was a somewhat exhausting experience with people queueing poorly, line jumping and the check-in kiosk not working properly. After an hour and fifteen minute delay we finally hit the road on our way to Evora, a smallish walled city about an hour and a half from the airport.
The drive was pleasant on well-maintained roads and the topography changed a few times. The highway was filled with stone pine trees, olive trees, cork trees and eucalyptus trees. The large power line towers contained the nests of large predatory birds. We were fascinated to see six or seven very large nests on each power station.
Portugal is the largest cork producer in the world. More about that later.
Evora is a charming walled UNESCO town with a lovely aqueduct as you enter town. We would not hesitate to
recommend for a visit as it provides some history, some nice strolling time around the grand and historic main square and for us….a fine repast at a local restaurant.
We spent our first afternoon in the plaza enjoying a cold beer and watching an outdoor spin class in the plaza. Totally unexpected and also tiring just to watch! Those folks burned more than a few calories as we sipped our beer and munched on bread, cheese and olives.
Our hotel made us a reservation for dinner at Dom Joaquin Restaurant. This is a must do when in Evora. We don’t think they have a Michelin star but have been rated highly by Michelin for the past few years. Our fish was a delight. Fine cuisine, quality wine and great service….ah…a great culinary experience.
The next day, we visited the main church of Evora and took in the views from atop the cathedral tower. In the past, we’ve mentioned MJ’s fear of falling and it roused its ugly head at the top of the viewpoint. She was fine in the first section but as we entered the second part of the roof there were spires about three feet
apart. It would be easy to jump or be pushed off. The open spaces rattled her and the ability to enjoy the views stopped immediately.
While the weather has been dry and sunny for our trip to this point, the temperatures have been well-above average and we were not as prepared clothing-wise as we would have liked to be. This has a tendency to wear us out earlier than we would like. By early afternoon, we decided to stroll back to our hotel, gathering a few modest supplies like a bottle of wine, some cheese and bread with the idea of having a picnic later at the hotel’s courtyard.
The previous day, MJ had bought what looked like a tomato and another piece of fruit that resembled a lumpy pear. We later learned that the tomato-like fruit was actually a persimmon and was quite tasty. The lumpy pear was extremely hard to cut and tasted quite sour. When MJ inquired at the hotel desk, we learned that it was a marmel, which is boiled down, sugar infused and turned into jelly. He got a good laugh out of our ignorance of this fruit but was kind and understanding.
Our friend Brendan let us know that this fruit is perhaps better known to Americans as “quince.” Living and learning….that’s us!
We slipped out of our hotel before sunset for a walk. Sunday evening in the square had a jazz band playing wonderful music. Portugal, just like Spain, embraces music and people enjoy strolling by for a listen. The sunset on this day was spectacular!
The next morning as we left town, we stopped 10 miles out to see the Almendres Megalithic Site. According to the literature, it is the largest megalithic monument in the Iberian peninsula and one of the oldest of humanity’s monuments in Europe. We had to laugh as three miles from the from the stones the road turned to gravel, then turned to dirt and there were plenty of potholes and rocks sticking up along the way. We were traveling 5 miles per hour at this point and worried we should turn back as this would not be an ideal place for a flat tire on a rental car. On we continued to be rewarded by a beautiful and ancient site. It is a small but scenic site. Well worth a short visit.
Monoliths outside of Evora
Well worth the dirt road drive
As we headed to Lisbon we also made a quick stop to see the castle in the Montemor-o-Novo. A work in progress as restoration takes time, but worth a look. This is a cute town…. And all of these towns are on hills with nice vistas.
Where we stayed: Albergaria do Callverio
Restaurant recommendation: Dom Joaquin
But now it was time to head to Lisbon for a long-awaited reunion with Brendan!
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