Our first morning in Lisbon was quite pleasant and filled with memories. The car and the mobile phone both assured us that the temperature is 30 degrees. For us it was time to hit the road from the capital to Alentejo, one of the goals of our trip. Alentejo isn’t as popular as Lisbon or Porto or even as the Algarve coast in the South – the destination for tourists. Alentejo is full of sunburnt landscapes, white houses and silence which is so overwhelming during siesta that you actually hear it. It’s also full of wines and local food, unspoiled with crowds of tourists coming to try it.
Alentejo covers 30% of Portugal’s area yet it is only inhabited by 10% of the country’s citizens. Thanks to that, you will not meet ANYBODY for kilometres on your journeys through the land. Especially if you’re travelling during siesta. Alentejanos (citizens of Alentejo) say that they like waking up early in order to chill out between 1 pm and 4 pm after dinner, rest from the heat at home and get the energy for the late afternoon and the evening.
We flew to Portugal with Wizzair. We departed from Warsaw Chopin airport at 9.30 pm and landed at 0.40 am. The flight takes almost 4 hours. It was nice and on time with no unwanted adventures. After a night spent in Lisbon we left East towards the border with Spain. There’s still about 230 km left before we get to Marvão. But it’s a decent drive, partly on highways.
Marvão is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Alentejo and our unquestionable no.1 so far. It’s situated on a hill (it’s the highest point of local Sierra de São Mamede), surrounded with medieval walls. There, a beautiful boardwalk starts. Perfect for a walk among the little white houses and a trip to the castle from 13th century towering over the city. That’s the place for best views.
In the area, you will also find Museu Municipal which we didn’t go to since Maks was interested in climbing the walls and seeing the castle much more.
We find ourselves in tiny Marvão (approx. 3.5 inhabitants) late afternoon between 3 and pm and the city seems absolutely deserted. Quiet, nobody around. I guess I’ve already forgotten how do southern towns look during siesta… I love such places – you can rest from the rush and hustle of the big city in which we’re dipped in our everyday lives. But we’re a bit worried about our lunch – we’re hungry as hell and we know that finding a lunch spot during siesta might be a challenge.
Fortunately there’s Pousada Marvão hidden somewhere in the lazy little alleys and operational. It’s a hotel and a restaurant with a view of the magnificent surroundings. And as it later turned out, with delicious local food!
We go for various local treats. First we get a typical Portuguese set of starters which I once fell in love with in Lisbon: bread, butter or olive oil, olives and delicious cheese (love it!). On the next plate, we get some slices of chorizo which Maks devours almost instantly. I start with gazpacho a la alentejana the same old gazpacho served with a local twist. There’s a few words about its history on the menu. I had no idea about it! Gazpacho was already present on Iberian peninsula in mid 16th century while earlier, Arabs and Romans used to prepare a similar soup, but with no tomatoes and with bread, garlic, olive oil and various types of vinegar instead. Gazpacho is served cold which makes it a perfect meal for summer! In contrast to the one served in Spain, the Portuguese version is not a mixed soup but a light tomato liquid with peppers, onions and garlic. Delicious!
Łukasz orders camarão a alentejana, shrimps with mussels, bread and egg. Sounds weird but tastes great! For starters he takes lamb chops (Alentejo cuisine is a meaty one) with migas de espargos – a bread pulp with slices asparagus – I know it sounds weird again but it’s absolutely delicious! Migas is a popular side in Alentejo and it usually makes up for potatoes or ordinary bread. It can be made in various ways – with asparagus, beans, cabbage, cod, eggs or tomato like in my lunch. An unusual side 0 be sure to try it in Alentejo.
For dessert we also go for local specialties and order doce de vinagre – which turns out be perfect as well!
Marvão is amazing! It’s enough to come and visit the area! For the views and the cuisine 🙂 And hopefully there’s more to see in Alentejo – time to see it for ourselves 🙂
* You’ll get to Portugal with Wizzair – it flies two Lisbon twice a week and the ticket prices start from PLN 369 one way.
* We visited Alentejo thanks to Visit Alentejo which is a part of Fiestas of Europe prject.