Our last bit of time in Lisbon and then on to Évora and Marvão on May 27th:
Before I go on to the next section, I realized I didn’t mention the following shop and recommendation near the Praça da Figueira: http://www.manteigariasilva.pt/index.php]
They have extraordinary cheese, particularly the Queijo de Serpa and the Serra de Estrella, and the Queijo Ovelha Curado, another sheep cheese, and Azeitão. And their ham is unbelievable! Ask for the Pata negra D.O.P certified and ham of the Porco Preto, free range acorn-eating pigs!
If you want to take public transportation up to the Castelo São Jorge, take the yellow van at the Praça da Figueira to avoid the tram crowds. It was recommended by our guide Paulo Scheffer from Lisbon Explorers.
My husband and our friends took the metro to Avis in town near Marquès de Pombal metro stop to pick up our car for the next week outside of Lisbon. Susanna, the ap’t owner came by to say good-bye and we wound up talking a lot about the education system in Portugal and the advantages of living in the city or in a smaller seaside town. I wound up leaving some important documents in the apartment, something I realized before we got onto the highway towards Evora, and Susanna found them and met us back at the Cais do Sodré station. She’s a wonderful, generous person, as is her husband Sergio, and you couldn’t ask for better “landlords”. We took the A2 to the A6 to Évora, a very charming, beautiful town with white buildings and lots of mustard yellow trim. BTW, the town is pronounced “Ay vo rah, with the emphasis on the first syllable.
Before getting to Évora, we made a detour to see the “stonehenge” of the region, Almendres Cromlech, about 15 km from Évora. We found gorgeous pink, yellow, and white wild flowers and stands and stands of cork trees which were reddish where the bark had been stripped. It was well worth the detour!
Once in Évora walked to two recommended restaurants, Olveira, teeny and full, and then found Tipica Quarta-Feira, but it was closed, alas. Hungry and a little frustrated, we followed our noses and walked inside Botequim da Mouraria at Rua da Mouraria 16A. What a find! I realize now that it has been well written up in TA, but we hadn’t known that when we walked in. What a great scene! The stools at the bar where people eat were all occupied, The owners, the wonderful Domingos and Florabelle (sp?) don’t speak much English, but he speaks enough to communicate the basics. The place was filled with locals and a Portuguese businessman from Porto. Four of them indicated they were leaving soon, all sitting at different parts of the bar, and once they left (minutes later) another man got up and moved to the other end, offering us his place so we four could sit together. We thanked him with a beer, which he seemed to enjoy. We ordered the black pork ham which he carved in front of us and filled our plates- amazing generosity! We also ordered roasted mushrooms and grilled squid, all perfectly prepared. We had been tempted by melon with figs on the menu, and a decaf with milk after our meal, but they were out of melon, figs and milk! Not a tragedy by any means! Domingos is a joyous man, warm and generous. We walked around town, visiting the beautiful temple of Diana and the nearby church, and left around 4:30. Our destination was the Quinta do Marvão, in a beautiful setting just outside the village of Marvão. The owners, Irene and George gave us great directions when we were unsure as to how to get there. We stayed in the eco cottage with 2 bedrooms and 2 baths with a living room and little kitchenette with a stunning view of the valley. The beds were comfortable and the concept of ecological construction is impressive. The owners are lovely and Jorge was very eager to explain the construction and insulation process using bales of hay. The breakfast which was brought to us the night before and was nothing special: a plate of sliced ham, uninteresting cheese, not great croissants/bread and the capsule coffee maker wasn’t working very well. A half hour later Jorge did bring a pitcher of delicious fresh orange juice. The bathrooms were tiny and the shower didn’t have much water pressure or room to move around. I would like to underscore how comfortable the beds were! Most people reviewing the Quinta had much more positive comments to make than I am. Please read what they have to say. The price of the eco-cottage was $132.00 for the four of us- extremely reasonable! Had the weather been nicer, I may have had a more positive response. Irene recommended that we go to the Sever Churrasqueira, situated on the Sever River, minutes from the Quinta in Portagem. We had a wonderful meal there and I highly recommend the boar stew and grilled vegetables (appetizer). We ordered a bottle of 2009 Urro local red wine and it was delicious.