A very nice place in the Alentejo

Apr 8th, 2006, 05:21 PM
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A very nice place in the Alentejo

Just got back from a two week trip to Lisbon -- though it was mostly business, we had time for a quick trip to the Alentejo. Although we had spent many weekends there before, this time we stayed in a place we didn't know -- the small village Terena, two streets on a hilltop next to the castle in a wonderful small inn, Casa de Terena. http://www.casadeterena.com/ It is very well located for trips to Evora, Redondo (the pottery store Pirraca is my favorite Alentejo ceramics store), Vila Vicosa, Borba, Estremoz, Monsaraz, Jurumenha, wineries, a great cheese-maker about 10 km away, etc. The owners are British/South African expats, extremely knowledgeable about the region (they do archaeological tours for guests to dolmens and other prehistoric ruins). I think it makes an excellent centrally located base for touring the eastern Alentejo.
lreynold1 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2006, 05:19 AM
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congratulations Ireynold. You were in the heart of my very favourite region of Portugal. Terena itself is loaded with history because it is the centre of the pre-Chistian cult of god Endovelicus (see wikipedia), the most important deity of Lusitanian mythology. Please tell me that you haven't failed restaurant "A Maria" in Alandroal.
lobo_mau is offline  
Apr 9th, 2006, 08:48 AM
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lreynold1. Don't you just love the hidden gems that are just waiting for us to discover them.

I would love to hear about the rest of your trip. Although you may have been there many times, this is new territory for some of us.

Thanks for posting.
Sher is offline  
Apr 9th, 2006, 10:26 AM
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Lobomau,
We did eat dinner in Alandroal (another castle town, about 11 km north of Terena). We had left the Casa de Terena with two recommended places -- A Maria and Os Ramalhos. We found Os Ramalhos first, so we ate there, and it was very good. Next time we'll find A Maria. I have travelled a fair amount around Portugal (we lived there during 2004-05 and took advantage of the year long drought, which meant continuous winter sun, and low winter prices), and I agree with your opinion. The Alentejo is a also my favorite section of Portugal. (I haven't been to tras-os-montes yet, though, so I will have to keep an open mind!).
Terena is struggling for its survival, there are about 40 inhabitants in the hilltop part of town (mostly elderly), but nearly a thousand down off the highway in modern development. The old town has some houses that have been refurbished for summer homes and there is a very nice tourist office on one of the streets with lots of very helpful literature for touring the area. There has been some dispute, apparently, about how to use an EU grant to refurbish the old church and central municipal building, both of which are now in bad shape. The castle has had some renovations, and the walls are open for strolling -- beautiful views across the countryside.

Sher, yes, those "hidden gems" are always such a treat. On this particular (and very short)trip, we only went to a few of the places we hadn't already visited. We drove first to Redondo to visit the ceremics place I mentioned. I like Pirraca because I know the quality is high (which is not uniformly the case, I've found, in some of the pottery shops that line the streets of Sao Pedro de Corval), and because the selection is so huge. In addition to their showroom downstairs, they have a huge storeroom upstairs, and the owners have let me go searching to find exactly what I was looking for. There are at least two other pottery shops in the town (both back off the main square, in contrast to Pirraca, which is at the main traffic circle where the "highways" meet), and I've also bought some stuff there. From Redondo, we headed north to have a coffee at the Hotel Convento de Sao Paulo, an old convent turned into a fancy hotel. Grounds are beautiful, we were allowed to walk all over the place, and though it was very pretty, I didn't get a "warm and fuzzy" feeling there, so I was glad we weren't staying there. From there, we drove to Alandroal and walked along the castle walls, then drove to Terena. It was near sunset and the view of the town/castle above the reservoir was beautiful.
The next day, after a fabulous breakfast at our inn (lots of locally made sheep and goat cheeses, terrific bread and pastries, homemade jams, lots of fruit) we walked a bit around Terena, then drove to a cheesemaker about 10 km away. Yum. From there we went to Jurumenha, which is nothing but castle ruins, but the site on the Guadiana River is terrific. (At that point the river is the border with Spain, and you can look across to Olivenza, a formerly Portuguese town taken by the Spaniards). We had a picnic, walked around town a bit, and then started our "off the supperhighway" drive down to Estoi where we spent a night to see the Roman ruins the next day.
I do have notes of our many weekend trips to the Alentejo and other parts of Portugal from the 2004-05 year and would be happy to share them if anyone wants to see them. I do love Portugal!
lreynold1 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2006, 03:16 PM
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I would love to read your notes. This will be our second trip to Portugal.
On the first we drove from Lisbon to Braga and spent several days there. Then we went to spend several days on the Green coast and then to Lisbon.
This time we are starting at the Serra da Estrela, going through the upper Alentejo, to Vila Nova de Milfontes and back to Lisbon.
Even at that, I feel we have only just touched on parts.
We try to pick out of the way places to stay that many tourists (I mean American) do not venture into.
So, I would love to see your notes.
[email protected].

With many thanks.
Sherry
Sher is offline  
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