Monday, May 03, 2010

Adventures in the Alentejo

In mid-April, we decided to take advantage of a three-day weekend and go exploring a little further afield from Lisbon. Rusty rented a car, and we headed east to a region of Portugal called the Alentejo. It was nice to have wheels again, and to escape the concrete jungle we live in for a couple of days. Lisbon is a beautiful city, but at least where we live, it seems like we are surrounded by nothing but high-rise apartment buildings. It was nice to get out of the city and see countryside -- fields, villages, spring flowers, and houses on large plots of land.

Some friends told us about a place to stay in the tiny town of Lavre, called Anema. It is a dairy, run by a Christian Dutch couple. They have a small cottage on their property (with a full kitchen so you can do your own cooking), which they rent very cheaply. It was such a lovely and peaceful place, and I hope we can be frequent visitors there! Alex especially liked watching all the animals, and we all enjoyed the fresh milk, yogurt, and cheese that they gave us.

Amena provided a perfect central point for exploring some of the Alentejan towns, many of which have a medieval flair with castles and old city walls. On Saturday, we spent all day in Évora and the surrounding area. Sunday, we visited Estremoz and Évoramonte before heading home to Lisbon. Here are some pictures of our adventuring.

View from our cottage

A game of four-in-a-row

Pack-mule Dad

Tour-guide Mom

Exploring the castle in Montemor-o-Novo (on the way to Évora)

View from the castle wall -- the round structure is a praça de touros (bullring). Bullfighting is a national institution in Portugal, and many of the bulls come from this region.

The Templo Romano (Roman Temple) in Évora

We climbed to the top of the (Cathedral) in Évora for this great view of the city

Near Évora is the Cromeleque dos Almendres, a grouping of nearly 100 megaliths, or "standing stones," kind of like a mini-Stonehenge.

Alex loved climbing on the megaliths! In fact, when we asked him what was his favorite thing we did this weekend, he said, "The place with the big rocks!"

Rusty took this awesome picture of me and Stephen at the Cromeleque. I think we could almost be models for Hotslings!

The ramparts and palace of Estremoz. The squarish gray structure right in the middle is the keep, the Torre das Três Coroas (Tower of the Three Crowns). We climbed all the way to the top of it for a stunning view.

The castle town of Évoramonte

On the castle roof

View of the town from the castle roof


  1. Loved all your pictures. Thanks for allowing us to participate, too! Love you, Mom

  2. Glad you all got to get out of town for the weekend. Both of those pics with you and your boys are beautiful. The hot slings one though is very good. Stephen just screams baby cuteness!
    Love you guys.

  3. Very nice! Enjoyed seeing all the pictures... praying for you guys and will try to call soon!