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Portugal, September 2016, part 2
This is part 2 of my Portugal report. In part 1 I wrote about Lisbon, Sintra, Obidos and Porto. In this second part, we visited Aveiro and continued to Monsanto, a highlight of this trip. From there we went to the beautiful town of Evora. We ended our trip with a two-day stay in Montenaturista, a naturist resort in the Alentejo, the southern region of Portugal.

We had passed Aveiro already on our way to Porto, but had spent so much time in Obidos, that we decided to visit this "Venice of Portugal" on our way back. It is about one hour from Porto, a colorful small town, with a few canals and boats that have some similarity to the Venetian gondolas. But to call it the Venice of Portugal is a bit overrated. The colorful facades reminded me of Burano. We walked around the canals and the center of the town and also visited the salt pans, a traditional industry of Aveiro.


Nice architecture

The "gondolas"

Venice of Portugal

Town center


Looks like Burano (near Venice)

The salt pans

More salt pans

Glaringly white!

After a nice, very traditional lunch (bacalhao with chick peas) we proceeded to Monsanto. Aric had found this "most Portuguese village of Portugal" on the Internet and had booked a room in one of the few homestays in this medieval village. It was the highlight of our trip.

You have to park outside the town, but it was not a long walk to the Taverna Lusitana, where we were friendly welcomed by the host. Monsanto is located on the slope of a hill and dominated by a medieval castle on top of that hill. As it was near sunset, we immediately climbed up to this castle, to enjoy the view (with a glass of Mattheus rosé). It was already dark when we went back to our guesthouse through the narrow streets of Monsanto.

The guesthouse didn't have a full-fledged restaurant, but they prepared for us a delicious cheese and sausage platter with wine and salad. We had this "supper" outisde, on the terrace of the guesthouse, so romantic and peaceful.

Aveiro lunch

Our guesthouse in Monsanto

Walking up...

... to the castle

Entrance gate

On the castle wall


Enjoying the sunset

View of Monsanto

Walking back

Late supper

Characteristic for Monsanto are the huge granite boulders, which you find all over the place. Some of them are even incorporated in the houses. In our room, the back wall of the bathroom was such a boulder!

After breakfast we walked again up to the castle. The castle of Monsanto was originally built by the Knights Templar in 1165 and has played a role in the war between Christianity and the (Muslim) Moors who had occupied large parts of Spain and Portugal. In 1815 an explosion of the magazine powder keg resulted in the partial destruction of the castle. The present ruins are still impressive. In the village we walked around, looking in amazement how boulders were used to build houses.

Our room

Our bathroom!

Morning view of Monsanto

A boulder as roof

Huge boulders

Another boulder roof

In the castle

View of Monsanto

Top of the castle

Aric on the wall

Walking back

We would have loved to stay a bit longer in Monsanto, but our time was limited..:-(. So we said goodbye to our host, bought a souvenir from a nice old lady and walked back to our car.

Just outside the old town, there was a restaurant with good reviews, where we had our lunch. After the starter and the soup we felt already full, so we were a bit shocked when the huge main dishes arrived. We could not even finish half of it! When we told the friendly waiter that the food was nice, but really too much, he said, but you could have ordered one main dish and shared it! Actually we discovered that this is quite normal in Portugal.

After this copious meal, we drove around a bit. More boulders. And everywhere cork oaks. The landscape will be nice in spring, but now, in autumn, it was a bit boring. From Monsanto we drove to Evora where we arrived in the late afternoon.

Amazing construction

Our room window

Goodbye to our host

Buying a souvenir



My main dish

Aric's main dish

Daredevil Aric

Lesser daredevil

A cork oak

Arrival in Evora

Aric had booked an old-fashioned hotel in the historical center, on walking distance from the many tourist attractions. After a rest we went out for dinner to restaurant Tipico Medieval. Good reviews on Tripadvisor, but one comment said: "First, be warned - the portions are huge!". And that was true..:-) We should have ordered one main dish and shared.

The next morning we started our walk with the famous Capela dos Ossos, the Bone Chapel, part of the church of St Francis. In the 16th century bones and skulls of 5000 monks were used as decoration for this chapel. Above the entrance a warning: We bones that are here, for your bones we wait. Fascinating to see how they used the various skeleton parts in an artistic way.

Our room

Our dinner

Igreja de São Francisco (1475-1550)

Capela dos Ossos (16th century)

Warning above the entrance

Bones everywhere


Skulls and bones

Very artistic

Work of art


Near to the St Francis church are the remains of the Royal Palace of King Manuel. It has been the residence of the kings of Portugal with a history going back to the 14th century. Not much remains, but it is till impressive and a good example of the Manueline (Prtuguese Late Gothic) style.

Evora has many places of interest. We had a look at a few more churches, walked to the main Giraldo square, then walked to the aquaduct, where we found a nice place for lunch (just a sandwich...). The Evora aquaduct was constructed between 1531 and 1537, to supply the town with water.

The oldest monument in Evora must be the Roman Temple, dating back to the first century AD.

View of Evora

Palace of King Manuel (15th century)



Igreja da Graça (1511)

Igreja de Santo Antão (1557)

Praça do Giraldo, main square of Evora

Another nice street


Aquaduct of Evora (1531-1537)

Very high

Getting lower

And lower

Roman temple

Perfect location for wedding pictures
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On the afternoon we visited the cathedral, the largest of the mediaeval cathedrals in Portugal, and one of its best examples of Gothic architecture. In 1166 Évora was definitively reconquered from Arab hands and soon afterwards the Christian rulers of the city began to build a cathedral. In the beginning as a modest building, but soon enlarged , 1280-1340, in early Gothic style. We climbed up the roof and visited the cloisters. Really a monumental building.

That evening we had dinner in another recommended restauramt, 1/4 Paras as 9. A funny name (Quarter to Nine) for a restaurant, apparently because that was the time the present owner bought the shop. Nice Alentejo food, we ordered an Acorda de Mariscos (bread stew with prawns), huge as usual, we made a mistake to order a starter first...:-)

The cathedral (1280-1340)

Main portal (1330)


Tourist in action

Roof of the cathedral

Lantern tower


Roof of the cloisters

Going down

Restaurant Paras as 9

Squid eggs as starter
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Acorda de Mariscos
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It would have been no problem to spend a few more days in Evora, but we had not enough time. So, after breakfast and a morning walk we drove to Montenaturista, a naturist resort in the hills of the Alentejo, run by a Dutch couple. We like to go to naturist beaches when we are on holidays, but this was the first time that we went to a resort and had booked a chalet there, so we were curious. Visitors can camp, or come with their caravan, and there are a few bungalows. There is a restaurant and a swimming pool.

It turned out to be a nice experience, the atmosphere was friendly and relaxed. As it was off-season, not so many people, mostly senior citizens. It was nice to walk around in the resort, enjoy the nature and take a bath in the pool. The chalet had its own kitchen, so we went to the supermarket in the nearby village to buy food for dinner and breakfast.

The next day we made a trip to the coast. Beautiful beaches. Portugal has several official nudist beaches, interesting in a country that is mainly (conservative) Roman-Catholic. We even took a dip in the (cold!) water of the Atlantic Ocean...:-)

Many tourists


Montenaturista resort


Swimming pool

Our chalet


Atlantic ocean

Exposed viewpoint

Official Naturist beach

Nice beach

Praia do Salto

Nature in the resort

Enjoying a drink

Watching the sunset

The next day we drove back to Lisbon, where we dropped the car at the airport and took our flight back to Amsterdam. A nice, rewarding, although tiring trip!

Bridge over the Tagus river before reaching Lisbon

Dan wrote on Dec 7, 2016:
Letting it hang all out huh...

Dan wrote on Dec 7, 2016:
Nice ....

Kwai Loh wrote on Dec 7, 2016:
No problem, as long as it is not in Penang, lol

lightlingmk2 wrote on Dec 8, 2016:
never tried this before.

lightlingmk2 wrote on Dec 8, 2016:
looks good

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