A Detour to Monsaraz, Portugal
Do you think Christmas 2019 is far enough behind us for me to start capturing memories from our trip to Portugal? This country is always a hit, and we’re so lucky to have it so close. But, for some reason, this trip was hard. Much harder than Switzerland. Maybe it was leaving the day after Christmas, or the really long stretches in the car. Maybe it was a bit of fatigue with Iberian “stuff.” Or the hour time difference and cool apartments with lots of space and nooks-and-crannies to explore before 7 a.m….making so much noise!
Despite it all, good (and strong) memories were made on this road trip. Our itinerary took us:
· On a detour through Monsaraz, Portugual, for woolen goods and wine,
· For two nights in a previous favorited town, Sintra, for more castle exploration,
· A quick stop in Fatima for lots of prayer,
· And two nights in Porto for plenty of street wandering.
Just to get started, we broke up the drive to Sintra with a swing through Monsaraz, Portugal. My dad is so good at sending along things of interest, and this town popped out at me in a Wall Street Journal clipping, Vacation in Portugal the Less-Obvious Way.
The town is perched high on a hill with views that seem to go on forever across central Portugal, the region known as Alentejo. And it was just so easily accessible. There were several parking lots at the base of the village, and we had no problem getting our van in or out.
Once in the village, we followed the life-sized nativity statues hat were processing through the streets until we reached the star high above the castle where a creche was found.
Throughout the small village were also cute restaurants and shops. Our favorite, and part of the draw, was the Mizette Wool Factory Store where you can buy traditional blankets and rugs produced in a nearby factory. In fact, these wool products have been featured by The New York Times as one of the three remaining wool handicrafts still being produced in Europe today. Everything in the store was beautiful, well crafted, and well-priced.
After making a loop around the town, we headed back down to the parking area that had beautiful stone tables just waiting for us and our brown bag lunches. Mom win, that I managed to have that prepared! As I’ve learned, we can go hundreds of kilometers without many opportunities for food in southern Spain. Anyhow, it was a glorious break. The kids ate their sandwiches and watched grazing goats all of the same time.
Our next stop was to the winery, Herdade do Esporão. This place was massive! Like, it took us several minutes to drive from the entrance gate to the main building. We opted for a simple tasting flight in the small café within the shop. The kids enjoyed coloring and we enjoyed the wine. I will say that the wine was delicious, but a higher price point than what we’ve become accustomed to here in Spain.
And that was that. We got back in the car and drove the rest of the way to Sintra. It was a great start.