As the resident Sunvil blogger I will be describing a wide range of destinations – wherever the company sends its clients in fact. While I have managed to visit many of these places myself, one of the challenges for me will be to write occasionally about a destination that I have yet to visit, and this is the case with today’s post.
I have to confess that I have never even been to Portugal
. Yet having done a little research into the Alentejo
region in order to put this post together, I genuinely want to go and explore this diverse and unspoilt region. In fact, after half an hour reading about the Alentejo and browsing the images of its whitewashed villages and rolling hills I’m ready to change my Easter holiday plans and venture at last into Portugal. So here’s what appeals to me about this rural area part of southern Portugal:
1. The ancient city of Evora. Established over 2000 years ago, it was conquered by the Romans, the Moors and later by Gerald the Fearless. Now awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status, the city boasts a Roman temple, an aqueduct and a Gothic cathedral that is renowned throughout Portugal. I never tire of visiting historic walled cities and Evora seems like one that will not disappoint.
2. Quiet whitewashed villages. Maybe the pictures I’ve seen are all taken around siesta time. Maybe it’s always siesta time in these lovely stone houses perched on hilltops and seperated by narrow cobbled streets. Looking at images of Mosaraz and Maravo for example, it’s easy to imagine that life changes very little in these places. I can picture walking along these lanes ice-cream in hand, having just finished a leisurely lunch
3. Food. Eating well is an essential part of any good holiday and the cuisine of Alentejo has an excellent reputation throughout Portugal. The Alentejo gazpacho sounds like a cooling treat on a summer’s day, while a sample of the region’s cheeses and olive oil are likely to find their way into my case by the time I’m ready to come home. And the region also boasts an Atlantic coastline, with excellent shellfish dishes in abundance here.
4. Vineyards. The region was once a major wheat producer, but now there are rolling vineyards as far as the eye can see. There is even a designated Wine Route crossing the region from north to south, allowing visitors the opportunity to taste the best of the region’s wine. While I can’t claim to be a massive wine drinker (I know, it’s strange) I do recognise that wine country invariably makes for attractive scenery.
5. Solitude. Beautiful sandy beaches? You can have them to yourself. Long straight roads? Barely a car in sight. When countryside looks as good as this you don’t really want to share it with thousands of others. Perhaps the greatest attraction of this region to me is the chance to enjoy a break in an attractive setting and away from the rush of everyday life. Good hiking, places to stop for a lunchtime picnic and a coast to explore far from the crowded Algarve beaches: sounds like my kind of place.
Another reason to go there now? This year a direct flight is being launched from Heathrow to Beja, in the heart of the Alentejo region. Ok, time for me to make plans. I’ll report back on the Alentejo again once I’ve been there!