Portugal Travelog: Evora (Day 9)

July 12, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

We woke in Evora at the delightful Albergaria do Calvario hotel/B&B. I think they have 32 rooms but it feels much smaller. We had a wonderful breakfast (the owners are very into food) and headed out for the day. It was a gorgeous one - very clear and quite warm.




The hotel is located just inside the Roman wall that still encircles much of the city. The main square in Evora is called Praça do Giraldo named after a Christian knight that re-took the city from the Moors in 1165. It's a modest square filled with café tables, taxis and activity at all times of the day.

 

 
Church of Santo Antão

We followed Rick Steves recommended Evora walk through this very modest city visiting the town hall and passing other sites including this church with the grilled windows so the cloistered nuns can observe without being observed.

 
 
 

The Romans were here for a long time (Evora is about 1100 miles from Rome) and they certainly left their mark including this temple below in the Jardim Diana. This is the touristy center of Evora but was pleasantly quiet when we visited. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Nearby the Jardim is a very clean and tidy building that was once the home of the Inquisition. 

 
We toured the Cavadal family chapel which boasts a gridded trap door in the floor through which you could see stacks of bones. Apparently this is not uncommon and even has a hilariously obvious name: ossuary. I call it creepy.
 
 
 

Next we tried to enter the main Cathedral in Evora but we were too late. They close in the middle of the day for a couple of hours. We would have to return another time.

Leaving this main square, we took another look at the Roman ruins and walked back to Praca Giraldo to find some lunch. We settled for eating right on the square and though the place was clearly a casual touristy spot, lunch was again a delight.

 
Meg got a tuna salad which was a salad - complete with hard boiled eggs - with big hunks of tuna and a delicate olive oil dressing. Our canned tuna mixed with mayo will never be the same after this! My lunch was a pork dish with bread made as part of the sauce. This was a bit reminiscent of the first meal in Lisbon at Cervejaria Trindade which was bread and shrimp. All of it was good and of course there was beer as well. How nice is that?
 
 
 
While dining outside we watched as a film crew filmed what appeared to be some kind of Portuguese soap opera. The cast included a band of musicians including the guy below who had important business to attend to on his cell phone. It turns out that the local University includes a film program and all these young folks were students.
 


 
After lunch we walked the short distance to the Church of St. Francis where Meg took this picture showing the town framed by the arches outside the Church. You can see the film crew in the lower part of the picture dutifully following the lead actor around town.
 
 
Before visiting the church we entered the Bone Chapel. This place was built and furnished with the bones of monks through the ages to remind residents that regardless of your wealth and station in life, we are all equal in death. Quite a solid message and a truly weird place. I mean there were a lot of bones here.
 
 
 
 
 
 
After touring the church we started to wind our way back to the hotel. We took a break along the way to make some calls home. While we paused, I saw a black cat walking across a nearby rooftop. He looked completely at ease like this was his normal stomping grounds.
 
 

 

As we passed through Praça Giraldo, we discovered a sort of spontaneous musical event happening including bass, drums and a phalanx of horns. Once again we saw the film crew, this time turning their video cameras on the band.

 

 
 
 
Wearing down we stopped at the historic Café Arcada on the Praça for a cappuccino before continuing back to the hotel.
 

At the hotel we got freshened up a bit after the long hot day and relaxed on the terrace while plotting our attack on dinner. The hotel supplied a wonderfully informative one page summary of their favorite places to eat. It was very descriptive and I suggested we try Adega do Alentejano which was billed as "very casual" with "rustic decor" and "food [that] will exceed your expectations".




This was one of our better choices on the trip and we enjoyed a wonderful meal in a fascinating setting. The place was indeed rustic and as advertised our wine was poured directly from the barrels in the room just off the dining room.

It was very quiet when we arrived with only one other table occupied. No music at all, just the sound of the kitchen and muted conversation. Shortly though Carlos arrived and explained the menu - tacked to the wall above Meg's head - to us. It included a number of classics including their sopa de tomate and a pork and clams dish both of which we ordered.

 

 

 

The sopa de tomate here is not like any tomato soup I've ever even heard of. Carlos went to lengths to explain that it is an entrée not a soup and he was right. It was delicious and the pork and clams - along with some wonderful potatoes - were just outstanding. Better yet was chatting with Carlos - whom our hotel guide had referred to as a hoot

As we slowly enjoyed our dinner, the place grew busier first and then quieter again. By the time we left, Carlos was introducing us to some of the solo diners most of whom were regulars and also his friends.

The whole thing made me very happy indeed!

 


We walked back to the hotel tired, happy and full. The day had been eventful and very enjoyable. Evora was just plain fun. We made plans as we downloaded pictures and prepared for bed to visit the Cathedral the next morning before starting our drive back to Estoi in preparation for - could this be true? - heading home.




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