TDL and I just returned from two weeks in Portugal (and Sevilla, Spain). We fell head-over-heels in love with the country, its food, and the people. I am writing these posts as a travel diary for myself and, hopefully, as a resource for anyone planning a trip. So feel free to add info or ask questions. I am embarrassed to say I didn’t pick up a lot of history during the trip, so don’t look here for that sort of thing. I’m more into the where to explore, sleep, eat, and get a feel for the country aspects. We like to avoid tourist traps when we travel and really only travel in the off-season. First up is Évora; next is Monsaraz, Portugal.
I am currently listening to a Fado station on Pandora (Fado is a type of traditional Portuguese music) and singing “Évooooora, Évooooora” along with the singer. I’m not sure if that’s what she is saying in the song, but it seems reasonable and appropriate. Like Fado, Évora is heartbreakingly beautiful and undeniably Portuguese.
Our flight arrived in Lisboa at 8 am, so TDL drove our little manual Mitsubishi into Évora pretty early. We were bleary-eyed and overwhelmed, but thankfully we took Cheeseslave’s blog’s advice and were staying at Albergaria do Calvario (see my TripAdvisor review for more gushing about how much I adored this place). Michelle, a lovely Australian, ushered us in and gave us tea and cake and a wealth of knowledge about where to eat and explore. What a great thing for a hotel to do! It made our very short time in Évora a memorable experience. We headed off for lunch at one of Michelle’s recommended restaurants, Botequim da Mouraria.
Botequim da Mouraria is a tiny traditional restaurant with only about eight seats around a bar. It was fantastic. The entire time we were there, we were the only non-locals. In fact, everyone seemed to know the owner personally. Once we worked around our language barriers, the owner brought us what I can only describe as cheesy goodness (we didn’t order off the menu, just told him to bring us what he liked, so I am not sure what it is called) and red wine to start. And so began my love affair with Portuguese food and wine. The entree was a dish of broad beans and chucks of Iberian black pork and chorizo (as the name implies, black pork is the meat of big black pigs who run around and eat acorns, therefore tasting like heaven)- it was like a stew. It was wonderful. Once full of wholesome traditional food, we wandered around and took pictures until we almost died of exhaustion (18 hours of travel will do that to you).
After a bit of a nap in our comfortable room, we were at it again.
Starving, we wandered around, trying to kill time until our 8 pm dinner reservation. It was easy to do and well worth it. Taberna Tipica Quarta Feira was another amazing recommendation by Michelle. For 25 euro each, we got a set menu- all the wine we could drink, apps, entree, and dessert, as well as dessert wine. It was nice to just be brought delicious food, rather than have to navigate a menu in Portuguese on our first night. YUM! By far, one of my favorite meals of the trip. The owner was adorable (again, we managed to communicate despite our minimal Portuguese and his minimal English) and there was only one other non-local table.
We went to bed full and happy. That night, I tweeted, “That was such an incredible day that if I had to get back on the plane to the US tomorrow, I would be okay with that. ❤ Portugal.”
In the morning, we were treated to one of the best breakfasts of my life at the hotel. Seriously. Just go there and eat it.
We wanted to see the bone chapel before we headed to Spain, so after breakfast we ventured out into the charming streets of Évora yet again.
We stopped at the local mercado for some snacks for the road (cured Iberian pork and local fruit) and headed to Monsaraz on our way to Spain.