Before we headed to Porto, we stopped to see one of the Iberian Peninsula’s greatest 16th-Century building projects, the Aqueduto da Água de Prata (the Evora aqueduct).
The aqueduct provided clean drinking water to Evora by connecting the city to the nearest constant flowing river, nine kilometers to the north, carrying it unassisted into the Praça do Giraldo, the main plaza of Evora, just blocks from where we had stayed. Started in 1531, it took six years to construct . . . and it is indeed an impressive sight.
Then we set out for another impressive sight . . . the Almendres Cromlech (Cromeleque dos Almendres) stone circle, the most important megalithic site in Portugal and the largest group on the Iberian Peninsula. It is, in fact, one of the largest in Europe. Set on a hillside among olive and cork trees, it consists of 96 standing stones arranged in a double oval set to reflect the equinoxes and dates from 5000-4000 BC.
You’re free to wander through it and actually touch the stones and sense the magic. It’s wide open, with no fences to separate visitors from the stones. And it’s only a well-worth-it short drive from Evora.
Next, we headed for Porto, instructing our GPS to avoid highways and tolls. As a result, we traveled beautiful country roads dotted with cattle, under bright blue skies with fluffy white clouds.
Scattered among the thousands of olive trees and countless corks, wildflowers blazed.
We were wowed by the fields and fields of yellow lupines . . . they so impressed us that, during the drive, we went online and ordered lupine seeds to plant at home. Other than stopping to pick a wildflower or two for my “car” bouquet, we only paused for gas at a sweet little petrol station that also had food — so our road food was delicious little custard tarts. Yum!
More yum awaited us. We tired out before we reached Porto, so we stopped at a hotel that we weren’t sure was open, but we were exhausted, so we gave it a try.
Quinta dos Tres Pinheiros was not the most elegant of hotels, and there weren’t many people staying there, although it did look like a super place for families in the summer. And they had a restaurant, and, since we were road-weary, we opted for the easy walk from our room to dinner.
We arrived a bit before the dining room opened, so we were one of only two couples seated to start. And then diners started pouring in! By the time we finished a delicious, well-priced traditional Portuguese meal with an excellent but inexpensive local wine, there must have been 100 diners filling the main dining room and the rooms beyond.
Large groups assembled at several locations in the spacious dining room, greeting each other with hugs before sitting down to family-style meals. We were amazed . . . and grateful that these old dogs had once again been very lucky dogs!
The next morning, we set off for Porto . . . the next major stop on our brief tour of Portugal.