Coming up: my online travel writing class for Catapult in mid-April.

Weekend in Alentejo

As I’m slowly wrapping up my Portugal sojourn, a feeling of melancholy creeps up. Feeling the saudade before I even left… Have I turned Portuguese in just three months?

I spent this past weekend exploring the province of Alentejo. It could be because it was the last in a series of weekend escapes or because it is truly extraordinary but Alentejo turned out to be the highlight of all my recent short trips in Portugal.

We stayed in a rural tourism just 100km east of Lisbon, outside the town of Montemor-O-Novo. The place was absolutely stunning, on every level imaginable. With all the comforts of an upscale rustic home (no TVs, which was so refreshing!), yet with a warmth and intimacy of a friend’s country house, Monte do Chora Cascas is a truly special place. Even though we drove out to explore other parts of Alentejo, such as the beaches and towns of the southwest coast (Porto Covo, Vila Nova de Milfontes, and Zambujeira do Mar); the whitewashed town of Évora; and the “marble town” of Estremoz, we would return to Monte do Chora Cascas as if coming back home.

The two three-course dinners we had there, prepared by a unique and charming Bulgarian lady called Valentina, were so absolutely delicious that I get hungry just thinking of them. I even got attached to the house dogs, which hardly ever happens to me! I can only speak of Monte do Chora Cascas in superlatives.

As for the rest of Alentejo, it struck me as the most beautiful, genuine, unpretentious and definitely the least developed part of Portugal. I hope it remains so.

Blog Comments

Simply beautiful!!!
I agree 100 percent. And I’m sure who ever been in Alentejo, will feel the same :-).

It is amazing how connected one becomes to a new place after just three months! You become accustomed to a routine, a different place of life, and you feel integrated into that country’s culture. I felt the same thing when I studied in Spain a couple years ago. I left Spain feeling like a Spaniard — my Spanish improved, I learned an incredible amount about Spanish culture, and I knew the city I was living in like the back of my hand. I didn’t want to leave and have to get used to “reverse culture shock” back in the states. I hope your adventures in Portugal were amazing (they certainly sound it), and hope you have a great time in Croatia!

You are so right, Jeffrey! I call each of my extended stays in different countries a ‘mini-life’. It’s easy to get accustomed, yes, yet it’s only a teaser.

Just arrived to Croatia and getting ready to hit the road for a research project.

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