I’m watching the sun slowly fade over Alfama from my Lisbon apartment, realizing that in less than two weeks my Portugal sojourn will be over. So here I am, mulling over all the impressions, the places I visited, the places that excited me and those that left me indifferent… In less than three months, I have traversed a sizable chunk of Portugal – from the Douro Valley in the north to the province of Algarve in the very south and even the offshore archipelago of the Azores. Yet I feel that I’ve only scratched the surface.
Portugal may be a small country, compared to its Iberian neighbor of Spain, yet so much remains to be seen. Such as the province of Alentejo that I currently have an obsession with! Known as the country’s breadbasket, it’s where some of the best wines and food are to be sampled. Alentejo’s tiny stretch of the coast is apparently entirely undeveloped (yet!) while the interior is a fertile land of scenic villages, endless vineyards and lone farms. I drove through once, on a moonlit night coming back from the Algarve to Lisbon, and what I could discern in the dark seemed beautiful. I wished then I could see my surroundings bathed in sunlight and have been coming up with ways of actually doing it.
This weekend, I have two friends visiting – Lucia from Bratislava/New York/Buenos Aires and Christine from New York/Switzerland – so it’s reserved for showing off my Lisbon. And then there’s only one weekend left! Instead of just relaxing and preparing for a big research project that awaits me in Croatia, I’m thinking of taking off for a few days in Alentejo. This craving makes me wonder – how can one (in this case, yours truly) be so wanderstruck?