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Portugal Road trip part 2

Where you last joined me...
Part 2 : In Belem that is a must is 2). Tasting a pastel de nata at the Pasteis de Belem. Helpful hint: unless it is necessary do not stand in the take out line, but head right back into the restaurant and sit down and enjoy the pastel with a coffee. (a serious note: we also had a pastries from another bakery which has a location in Time Out Market.. This bakery opens before all the other restaurants in the Time out market.) and I like that pastel best. And the 3). thing to do is spend some time by the water walking from the monument of the Discoveries to the Belem Tower, even if you don't go up either. A very interesting 4th thing to do if you are into coaches and things ornate is to have a quick visit to the Coaches Museum. Probably the most ornate coaches I have ever seen!
So the road calls and our time in Lisbon has been too short, but we must keep on schedule!
A note for anyone thinking of a road trip of over a few weeks that includes dropping off a car in a different town or country, we found that leasing a Peugeot was the way to go! So now behind the wheel of a brand new Peugeot we head toward the Algarve!

The stomach calls for substance and so we make a stop in Sines... with only our faithful (and hated) navigation system, named Elizabeth, for her proper British accent, it brings us to the middle of town and a small fortress, however, low and behold right there next to the fortress ruins is a very busy restaurant. Bravely, we go in (mostly because I'm in need of facilities), to enjoy some of the best grilled fish ever! Friendly service and loads of local families also enjoying the great food on a rainy Sunday. The owner drifts from group to group smiling and loving his restaurant. This place also had a specialty beer that everyone seemed very proud of serving.
As we continue to make our way down the coast on the highway, instead of the coastal road that slowly goes thru every town, I think that this is a great place to return on a not so wet day.
We finally make it to our evening stay in the small Algarve town (one RS recommended) called Salema. I really can't say enough about Salema... well, there isn't much to say, but it is a SMALL town. We had a terrific view of the sea, a beautiful clean room (with only 3 stairs to the room, not 3 flights of stairs) and a chance to share watching the match between Porto and Benfica (one of 2 Lisbon teams). Having had the primer on football while on our food tour (our guide was a member of the Benfica assoc, whatever that means). We were naturally Benfica supporters. Unfortunately, they lost, but not before we met a fantastic Brit, who lives some months in Salema and also met a food and travel writer from a Lisbon paper who was writing about a huge new resort just outside of Salema. Thankfully, the writer gave us a recommendation for lunch the next day.
We stayed 2 nights in this sleepy little town and enjoyed it all. The beach was deserted the next day and we wandered around before heading to Lagos for a looksee... Unfortunately, Mondays are the closed day, so after our trusted and despised nav system took us driving thru the narrow one way lanes of the old Lagos old town, and after our phone GPS took us to an area we did not wish to visit, we finally found a car park (free!) and walked thru the old town and to the beach... Leaving Lagos was easier than arriving. So were on a hunt for the recommended lunch stop in the small town, Vila do Bispo (and I mean small) we arrived to this mom and pop restaurant where we we're not sure what we ordered, but we sat there in the silence; no music or hardly anyone speaking. Finally, the food arrives, the only sounds are of cutlery hitting china and the mother/owner comes out to see if we like... well, we liked and she finally cracked a smile! .... next the Sagres point, best shrimps ever, beach walk and taking stock of the catch of the day before heading north to Alentejo!

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Bon Dia Tammy! Great trip report! Enjoyed "reliving" the places you visited. Fond memories. Thank you so much for sharing. Glad you enjoyed Portugal. ;)

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Part 3: Visiting Cape Sagres and the fort on a bright sunny day in the spring is a delight! It is quite a walk around the point, but all on level ground. The fun was spying the spring blooms and finding a blow hole amid the blooms. The thrill was watching the brave local men fishing from the cliffs with their fishing poles (almost 250 feet). Back in Salema, we walked into the small restaurant of a young man we had met at the football watching party the day before. He welcomed us like we were family! Restaurante O Lourenco served us the best garlic shrimp ever! Full of great seafood we slept peacefully and was ready for an early morning walk on the beautiful Salema beach. Salema is still a working fishing village (a bet small) and luckily we were early enough to see a boat return and the sorting of the catch of the day. Octopus, squid, and various fish will make someone's dinner that night.
Since it was another beautiful sunny day we chose to take the coastal road before cutting inland to the Alentejo. Our Michelin guide showed outside the town of Carrapateira was a lookout point. We were not disappointed! A great beach and surfing area with beautiful cliffs, would have been a great place for a picnic, but we had miles to go.. destination tonight Evora.
To the two of us (both from midwest farms) the Alentejo was like being home. Rolling hills of pasture dotted by beautiful trees, (think little house on the prairie) mixed with tilled fields. Spring brought forth fields of brightly yellow colored fields. Roads were good and traffic light. We passed the occasional farms with cattle or sheep.
Lunch in the very agricultural town of Beja. Having arrived a bit late, the special was gone, so the proprietor brought us the very popular local dish of clams and pork accompanied by the ever popular white rice and fried potatoes. (we saw this in Lisbon and would not be able escape the carb overload for the next week).
The drive from Beja to Evora on the "motorway" was swift, as was most of our travels on motorways. Be warned it is not cheap. And I will not complain about the toll road costs in the USA again.
Evora is a lovely city with enough history for any history buff. Megalithic enclosures, Dolmens, Roman temples, Cathedrals, aqueducts, a chapel of bones. Don't worry there is a great street where all the souvenirs one could want is available, including just about anything you can think that could be made of cork (bikini incl.)
Our bed for the night was to be at the Monastery Pousada. A very cool experience to sleep in a "cell", have breakfast in the cloister and wander around the beautiful and grand building. (I am not going to go into the feeling that we were not alone in our "cell")
Our next day was to include a tour of a Cork Farm and tour of Dolmens. We fortunately realized that we needed to drive to Redondo (only 50 km from Spain) for our tour. If we thought we were in the agricultural area before, we really were in the middle of it now. Our guide/driver/expert archaeologist was a wonder at driving thru the Cork farm, ahem offroad! Cork trees are only harvested every 9 years and then only by expert strippers, yes that is what they are called. The average age of a stripper is 55 now. The farms are very regulated as to removal of any trees. To supplement the income, the owners charge pig farmers to allow the "black" pig, famous in Portugal, to allow the pigs to eat the acorns that the cork trees drop (cork trees are in the Oak family). After admiring the sheer size of the cork farm we were touring, we were on the move to see the various dolmens discovered in the area. We found 3. A very small and extremely old. Then a very large posed on a hill over looking the entire area and finally the epitome of Dolmens, or possibly the model for all Dolmen posters. Next, last day in Evora and the drive to Obidos.