Tuesday, November 15, 2011

ALTO ALENTEJO, ALGARVE & EVORA

ALGARVE
Albufeira
Hotels
Hotel Vila Joya – Estrada da Galé; 011-351-28-959-1795; vilajoya.com; set on hill overlooking Atlantic Ocean, upscale hotel offers direct access to the beach; refined rooms come with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, iPod docks & minibars; bathrooms feature hand-painted Portuguese tiles; most rooms offer balconies or terraces with ocean views; room service; breakfast & parking free.
Pine Cliffs Residence – Praia da Falesia; 011-351-28-950-0300; luxurycollection.com/pinecliffsresidence; lush gardens at cliff-top location.
Sheraton Algarve – Praia da Falesia; 011-351-28-950-0100; luxurycollection.com/algarve; lovely.

Lagoa
Sights & Sites
Praia de Benagil – CM 1154; 011-351-96-961-7828; travel-in-portugal.com/beaches/praia-de-benagil.htm; must be seen beach & caves.

Olhao
Hotels
Real Marina Hotel & Spa – 18 Avenida 5 de Outubro; 011-351-28-909-1300; real-marina.com; overlooks Ria Formosa.
Sights & Sites
Ria Formosa – 18 Avenida 5 de Outubro (Faro); 011-351-28-980-0400; algarve-portal.com; barrier islands and lagoon; great birdwatching.

Portimao
Hotels
Hotel Bela Vista – Avenida Tomás Cabreira; 011-351-28-246-0280; hotelbelavista.net; old Moorish-style mansion built in 1916 as summer home; minaret-type tower at one end and Virgin statute set in building corner; since 1934, special hotel, ideal for those who respond to past architecture; guest rooms face sea, former master bedrooms most desirable; on ocean, atop palisade, with access to sandy cove where can swim; villa is white with terra cotta tile roof; entry hallway has winding staircase and abundant 19th Century blue-and-white tiles depicting allegorical scenes from Portuguese history.

Sagres
Hotels
Martinhal – 54 Quinta do Martinhal; 011-351-28-224-0200; martinhal.com; overlookas wild beach within Costa Vicentina National Park; recycled materials and low-rise design blend hotel buildings into rugged landscape; local cane and stone, natural timber, and recycled cork, teamed with warm furnishings, lend “homespun contemporary“ feel.
Sights & Sites
Costa Vicentina National Park – 32 Rua Serpa Pinto; 011-351-28-332-2735; aljezur.net; best preserved European coastline, with several species unique fauna and flora; steep cliffs; birds (like rare fish eagles and large white storks (only place in world in which they nest on sea cliffs)); otters; be sure to visit lighthouse at Cabo de São Vicente and very close to Ponta de Sagres, where there Prince Henry Navigator founded his famous nautical school.

Vilamoura
Hotels
Purobeach Vilamoura – Tivoli Marina Vilamoura, Apartado 65 (Marina de Vilamoura); 011-351-51-28-930-3303; purohotel.com; ridiculously hip.



ALTO ALENTEJO (includes Crato, Elvas & Marvao)
Comporta (includes Brejos, Carvalhal, Carrasqueira, Grandola & Muda)
Bars & Nightclubs
Ilha do Arroz – Praia da Comporta (Grandola); 011-351-2-6549-0510; restauranteilhadoarroz.com; beach lounge & restaurant, where specialties include pastéis de bacalhau (salt-cod fishcakes) & amêijoas a bulhão pato (clams in garlicky broth); try blueberry caipirosca.
Sal – Praia do Pego; 011-351-2-6549-0129; restaurantesal.pt; funky lunchtime pitstop.
Beaches
Carvalhal.
Comporta.
Pego.
Hotels
Almond Blossom Rental Villas – Muda & Pego Beach; almondblossom-rentalvillas.com; 3 state-of-art rental houses to rent; Modern Villa (from £7K per week) & Design Villa (from £3.7K per week) connected by winding path; masses of crashing-about space, clipped, green lawns, large pools & light-filled rooms; also, Beach Villa (from £2.6K per week); all slatted wood & smooth stone, curving deck & panoramic rooftop pool; 2-minute walk through lavender & rosemary-scented pine woods to Pego Beach.
Amanduna – Carvalhal; amanresorts.com; will be 40-room/36-villa property.
Cabanas No Rio – Carrasqueira; 011-351-934-418-316; cabanasnorio.com; pair of converted fishermen’s shacks, 1-bedroom & 1-living room; right on water; from $204 per night.
Casas Na Areia – Comporta Beach (on Sado Estuary Natural Reserve); 011-351-9-3441-8316 or 011-351-9-3301-4000; casasnaareia.com or welcomebeyond.com/property/casasnaareia; from about £425 per night; architect Manuel Aires Mateus, shortlisted for Mies van der Rohe Award, redesigned 4 traditional masonry buildings; clever mix of new & old; muslin drapes, deep Gervasoni sofa, anglepoise lights craning over beds & tree stumps as side tables; huge glass doors open onto nature reserve; pool, slim, sleek & narrow, with pale, pale water, is framed by thick-mattressed, charcoal-colored sunbeds; sitting room has sand floor.
Comporta Concierge – near Carrasqueira; 011-351-9-3624-6256 or 011-351-9-6157-8526; facebook.com/pages/Comporta-Concierge/342066392500397?sk=info; 2 white-washed structures: 1-bed Casa do Guisado (about £1K per week) & much larger Casa da Silvandira (about £3.3K per week).
Possanco Resort & Villas – Comporta Beach (within Sado Estuary Natural Reserve); 011-351-9-1754-2402; portugueseliving.com/Comporta-Possanco-Resort-&-Bungalows.html; villa from about £420 per night; thatched cabanas center around sunny deck.
Sublime Country House & Spa – Muda; 011-351-2-6944-9376; sublimecomporta.pt; 14-bedroom guesthouse.
3 Bicas – Muda; 3bicashouse.com; about £7K per week; about as far removed from simple fishermen’s hut as possible, with towering glass walls, sharp edges & Eames furniture.
Restaurants
Comporta Café – Praia da Comporta; 011-351-2-6549-7652; comportacafe.com; wide variety of dishes and beach & sea views.
O Dinis Bar do Pescadores – Praia da Carvalhal; 011-351-9-6797-7193; facebook.com/pages/BAR-DOS-PESCADORES/101645796596527?sk=info; owned by fisherman; best spot for catch-of-day, grilled, with lemon.
Dona Bia – Torre-Comporta; 011-351-2-6549-7557; portugaldreamcoast.com/en/2010/09/dona-bia; seafood.
Gervásio – Brejos; 011-351-2-6549-7111; café with football table that is social hub for anyone under 16.
Ilha do Arroz – Praia da Comporta (Grandola); 011-351-2-6549-0510; restauranteilhadoarroz.com; beach lounge & restaurant, where specialties include pastéis de bacalhau (salt-cod fishcakes) & amêijoas a bulhão pato (clams in garlicky broth).
Museu do Arroz – Largo de São Jão; 011-351-2-6549-7555; restaurantemuseudoarroz.com; sister restaurant to 1 on beach; owned by Isabel & Tó Zé Carvalho, local notables.
Sal – Praia do Pego; 011-351-2-6549-0129; restaurantesal.pt; funky lunchtime pitstop.
Services
Sublime Country House & Spa – Muda; 011-351-2-6944-9376; sublimecomporta.pt; spa.
Shopping
Coté Sud – 3 Largo de São João; 011-351-2-6549-7317; colorful sandals and embroidered tops.
Loja Lavanda – Largo São João; 011-351-2-6509-8364; facebook.com/loja.lavanda; Lenny bikinis & clothing.
Loja do Museu do Arroz – Largo de São Jão; 011-351-9-2715-3677; facebook.com/pages/A-Loja-do-Museu-do-Arroz-Comporta/224009847628956; everything from crockery to caftans to woven straw hats.
Sal – Praia do Pego; 011-351-2-6549-0129; restaurantesal.pt; cool boutique.
Sublime Country House & Spa – Muda; 011-351-2-6944-9376; sublimecomporta.pt.
Shopping
Space@Art – Herdade da Comporta; Vera Iachia’s design showroom.

Crato
Hotels
Pousada Flor da Rosa – Mosteiro da Flor da Rosa; 011-351-245-997-210; pousadas.pt; stylish clientele.

Elvas (includes Portel, Santa Eulalaia, Sao Vicente, Vila Fernando & Vidigueira)
Hotels
Casa da Ermida de Santa Catarina – Herdade da Rocha 7350 (Santa Eulalia); 011-351-917-214-380; casadaermidadesantacatarina.com; spectacular views, with activities like canoeing, fishing, and lake picnics.
Herdade da Malhadinha Nova Country House & Spa – Albernoa-Beja 7800-601; 011-351-284-965-432; malhadinhanova.pt; nicely done with slightly less unusual setting; horseback riding and yoga.
Herdade do Sobroso – Marmelar-Pedrogao 7960 (Vidigueira); 011-351-961-732-958; herdadedosobroso.pt; on beautiful lake; inn with great food, emphasizing wild game hunted on premises.
Hotel Sao Joao de Deus – Largo Sao Joao Deus, 1; 011-351-268-661-194; hotelsaojoaodeus.net; elegantly appointed; small pool.
Restaurants
Refugio da Vila – Largo Dr. Miguel Bombarda 8 (Portel); 011-351-26-661-9010; refugiodavila.com; Michelin-recommended restaurant; can also take cooking classes.
Restaurante Pompilio – Rua da Elvas 96 (Sao Vicente); 011-351-268-611-133; traditional fare like grouse soup, grilled pork, lamb chops; family restaurant with flat-screen television to watch soccer.
Taberna do Adro – Largo Joao Dias de Deus 1 (Vila Fernando); 011-351-268-661-194; superb regional cuisine.
Sights & Sites
Sao Cucufate Roman Villa (Villa Aulica) – off Route N258 (Vidigueira); 011-351-284-441-612; monumentos.pt/Site/APP_PagesUser/SIPA.aspx?id=1044; dates back to 1st Century, although most of what can be seen dates to 4th Century; name “Sao Cucufate” derives from medieval monastery built here later; ruins distinctive and impressive, even rising up to 2nd story; also, cold and hot bath remains.

Marvao
Restaurants
Restaurante Casa do Povo – Rua de Cima; 011-351-245-993-160; serves traditional fare on terrace; try accorda Alenteja (garlicky bread and coriander soup).



EVORA (includes Alandroal, Arraiolos, Canaviais, Estremoz, Evora & Guadalupe)
Alandroal
Restaurants
Restaurante a Maria – Rua Joao de Deus, 12; 011-351-268-431-143; venerated, traditional restaurant.

Arraiolos
Hotels
Pousada de Nossa Senhora da Assuncao – Nossa Senora da Assuncao; 011-351-266-419-340; located on hillside; former monastery with pool.

Canaviais
Hotels
Convento do Espinheiro – Apartado 594; 011-351-266-788-200; luxurycollection.com/convento; 15th Century former convent.

Estremoz
Hotels
Convento de Sao Paulo – 011-351-266-989-160; hotelconventospaulo.com; former hilltop convent with two pools and stunning tilework.
Pousada Rainha Santa Isabel – Lardo de D. Diniz; 011-351-268-332-075; pousadas.pt; in former royal palace; offers canopied beds, marble bathrooms, and high-ceilinged rooms with views.

Restaurants
Zona Verde – Largo Dragoes Olivanca, 86; 011-351-268-324-701; regional fare like braised lamb shank with potatoes.

Evora
Hotels
Convento do Espinheiro – Apartado 594; 011-351-266-788-200; conventodoespinheiro.com; plush, 5-star accommodations in stunning 15th Century former convent with full service spa and 2 pools.
Evora Inn-Chiado Design – Rua da Republica, 11; 011-351-266-744-500; evorainn.com; colorful wallpapers and playfully painted antiques define 6 doubles and suites at updated and newly renovated hostel on main square.
Pousada dos Loios – Largo Conde De Vila Flor; 011-351-282-423-770; lies opposite Roman temple in city center (UNESCO World Heritage Site); former 15th Century monastery; antique furnishings; serene garden cloister.
Restaurants
Dom Joaquim – Rua dos Penedos, 6; 011-351-266-731-105; try Almofada (hearty pork pie).
Tasquinha d’Oliveira – Rua Candido dos Reis, 45-A; 011-351-266-731-105; tiny (14 seats); among city’s most cherished culinary experiences.
Shopping
Lojatelier 73 – Rua Serpa Pinta 73; updated handicrafts.
Mont’Sobro – Rua 5 de Outubro 66; 011-351-266-704-609; montsobro.com; impossibly extensive product array, from floor tiles to fruit bowls – all made out of cork.
O Arco – Rua dos Penedos, 15; 011-351-266-706-135; painstakingly restored aviary now antique gallery.
Sights & Sites
Agua da Prata Aqueduct – just northwest of Evora; there is “eco-trail” alongside it, 5 miles long.
Almendres – 15 kms west of Evora; megalithic site that predates Stonehenge by 2K years.
Arraiolos – nearby village that is Portugal’s carpet and tapestry weaving center.
Capela dos Ossos – Praca 1st de Maio (at Church of San Francisco); 011-351-266-704-521; chapel made entirely of bones.
Cathedral of Evora – Rua da Republica; 011-351-266-704-521; whc.unesco.org/en/list/361%5E; medieval, built between 1186-1204.
Church of St. John “Evangelist” – Largo do Conde de Vila Flor; 011-351-266-704-714; beautiful.
Monsarraz – nearby village.
Museum of Evora – Largo do Conde de Vila Flor; 011-351-266-702-604; museudevora.imc-ip.pt/en-GB.
Praca do Giraldo – square in old city center.
Roman Temple of Evora – Largo do Marques de Marialva; sacred-destinations.com/portugal/evora-roman-temple.
Vila Vicosa – nearby village.

Guadalupe
Sights & Sites
Almendres Cromlech Megalith Complex – 15 miles west of Evora; largest existing structured menhir grouping in Iberian Peninsula and among Europe’s largest; originally consisted of more than 100 monoliths, some of which removed; several building phases during neolithic (5000-4000 BCE); ovals’ axis is along east-west direction; complex’s position latitude about same as moon elongation maximum (38.55º) for 1500 BCE; other latitude at which that happens is that of Stonehenge (51.18º) for 2000 BCE; about dozen monoliths present carved drawings, 4 of which exhibit only small circular holes; monolith number 8, with cut flat top at about breast level and showing several dimples, might have served for finer astronomical observation, specially spring equinox observation, by putting small stones on them.

Reguengos de Monsaraz
Shopping
Fábrica Alentejana de Lanifícios de Mizette Nielsen – 79 Rua Mendes; 011-351-266-557-159; http://mizzete.pt/en; last workshop in Portugal to handloom thick, shepherd blankets.



MONSARAZ
Sights & Sites
Sagres Point – Europe’s most southwesterly point; enjoy ocean view from from Cliffside fortifications.



MONTEMOR-O-NOVO
Hotels
L’And Resort & Vineyard – 4 Estrada Nacional (Herdade das Valadas, Apartado 122); 011-351-266-242-400; l-andvineyards.com; 22-suites, some with sliding roofs (Sky Suites); worth special trip.
Sights & Sites
L’And Resort & Vineyard – 4 Estrada Nacional (Herdade das Valadas, Apartado 122); 011-351-266-242-400; l-andvineyards.com; vineyard; worth trip just for architecture and scenery.



SANTIAGO DO CACEM
Sights & Sites
Mirobriga – Herdade dos Chaos Salgados; 011-351-269-818-460; mirobrigaeoalentejo.blogspot.com; Roman ruins worth special trip.

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