Today was a travel day as we sadly left Lisboa (which we really like) for our next destination – Terena, in Alentejo, very near the Spanish border. Before we left Lisboa, we walked up the hill to Campo de Ourique for the last time and had café and one last pasteis de nata at a belha d’ouro.
We picked up our rental car near Saldanha about noon and exited Lisboa on the Ponte Vasco da Gama, picked up the N4 and followed it east, nearly all the way to Terena.
And, thanks to a tip from Jeremy (our host at Casa de Terena), we stopped in the small town of Rio de Moinhos for the ninth annual Feira do Queijo. We got to taste (and buy) some very nice queijo and also bought some wine.
The weather was spotty, just rating a 2.0 on the Knowmark Weather Scale.
We spent our first full day in this region just orienting ourselves. Mostly we explored to the north and east. We found ourselves in Alandroal for a late lunch at Arco-Íris, a great little restaurant. It is run by Senhor Manel, who was called the “nicest man in Portugal” by our host at Casa de Terena. We would not argue with that assessment! Steve had bife de atum and Susan had costeletas de borrego – everything grilled.
This area is incredible – goats, sheep and the famous porco preto grazing amongst the cork oaks with their keepers nearby.
We took a long, meandering route (pretty standard) to Monsaraz via Reguengos. After a little shopping in Reguengos, we nipped into Spain(!) on our way to Monsaraz. We only went to Spain because it was just really close. So, we crossed the unattended border at the village of São Leonardo (where the road got noticeably worse as we entered Spain) and then turned around and went back to Portugal.
Monsaraz offers some beautiful panoramic views of the countryside, including a large part of the Rio Guadiana basin formed by the Barragem de Alqueva. Having brought some supplies and bought others, we picnicked at the little deserted church directly across from the main complex at Monsaraz. We had the entire area to ourselves and the light rain stopped and the sun emerged just as we started lunch.
A great dinner in Terena tonight at A Lanterna, cooked by Maria, the owner. Stella – our hostess at Casa de Terena – checked (earlier in the day) to make sure that Maria would be making borrego assado tonight. Since she knew that we were coming, she did and we were not disappointed!
The weather rated a solid 2.0 today, despite the early showers.
Our last full day in the Terena area found us just puttering about the region, which is pretty standard for us. Our main task was to find the queijaria in the village of Orvalhos. Stella (our charming hostess at Casa de Terena) gave us excellent directions and we were able to buy some of the wonderful queijo de cabra (goat cheese) that we both love. This is standard (picnic) lunch fare for us, which we had today at the foot of an enormous pile of discarded marble (quarried extensively here).
The weather was a solid 2.0 today, despite heavy thunderstorms in the late afternoon and evening. Unfortunately, we have had some rain every day during our time in eastern Alentejo. But the temperatures have been fairly mild and there has also been quite a lot of sunshine. All in all, a mixed bag.