Jo’s Monday walk : Alcácer do Sal

We had two choices for places to stay on our anniversary.  Alcácer do Sal was somewhere we bypassed on the way to Lisbon a few years ago.  What made it remarkable and worthy of a visit was the setting, and accompanying rice fields.  Fairly uncommon in Portugal.

You’ll notice a cloud or two in the sky?  When we awoke it was positively grey and the view we’d enjoyed of the castle at Santiago do Cacém had completely disappeared in swirling mist.  By the time we’d had breakfast, gazing hopefully into the gloom, it was sprinkling the finest rain.  I smiled determinedly through an endless succession of damp cork trees as we headed north.

I sometimes wonder if I was a princess in a former life, because I have this tendency to head for castles.  And so it was, in Alcácer.  We approached on the N120, from Grandola, crossing the Rio Sado on a metal bridge, which opens to allow passage of sailing boats, before the river widens into the estuary.  Directly ahead, overlooking the tumble of streets, the castle.  And the good news- it had stopped raining!

One of us wanted to find the TI and obtain a map, for the best way to ascend.  The other wanted to follow her nose.  Any of a number of narrow streets headed upwards, and I was impatient to get there, before the castle closed for lunch at 12.30.  We dithered, and dawdled, but the TI didn’t appear to be where my 16 years old Rough Guide alleged.  No help for it but to head on up!

A straggle of streets yielded fountains, lovely old azulejo tiles and dwellings old, and not so old.  Portugal’s usual blend of colour and character.  Alcácer comes from the Arabic word for palace, Al-qasr, and in 1191 the Almohad Caliph Ya’qub Al-Mansur gave orders to build his palace.  For many years it was a stage for fights between Christians and Muslims.

Easy to see that it was a strategic position for the defence of the area, evidence of building on this site dates back to Neolithic times.  The current structure is a rare example of a military rammed earth fortress, and what remains looks extremely solid.

But, of course, it was the views down onto the town that delighted me.  Fit for a princess!

Sometimes things go to plan.  Sometimes they don’t.  It had been my intention, by way of celebrating our anniversary, to venture into the former convent, now a luxurious pousada, to quaff a glass of their finest.  But I was thwarted by a sign at the door, announcing that, due to Covid-19, only hotel guests were permitted entry.  In my annoyance I almost certainly missed a trick, because I spurned the Archaeological Crypt, which adjoins the pousada.  I’m not fond of underground excavations, but sometimes they hold vital clues to the past.  Wilful head on, I determined that a quayside café would suffice in the quest for refreshment.

Meandering back down the hill, we chanced upon the perfect little getaway, complete with pool and view.  We’ve never had the bottle and determination needed to tackle a renovation project in Portugal, but there were opportunities aplenty on this hillside.  A small dog looked back at us, cocking his leg beside one, highly likely, possibility.  Down on the quayside, we at once spotted the missing Tourist Information office, right beside the bridge we had crossed into town.  A very willing assistant eagerly pointed out the high spots of Alcácer, including, of course, the Crypt that we really shouldn’t miss.  She did, though, direct us to the fishing village at Carrasqueira.

Meanwhile, we searched for the perfect confection, but it wasn’t till much later in the day that we finally succeeded, back in Santiago do Cacém.

You could say that we searched high and low.  But he was delighted with his chocolate cake.  As was I.  It didn’t last long!

All’s well that ends well, or so they say, and we certainly had an interesting few days in the Alentejo.  Hope you enjoyed them?

walking logo

A bumper collection of walks this week!  Hopefully I haven’t missed anybody, though looking in the Reader this morning there are lots of goodies.


I keep the very best company around here, don’t I, Jude?

Another Hill, Another View

Let’s go ghost busting with Debs!  In broad daylight, so you’re all safe!

Ghostly creep around Greyfriars Cemetery

Janet cheats a bit, but very beautifully.  Why not let horses take the strain?

Monday walk… for the horses

It’s always a privilege to walk alongside Cee (and finally, she has a fridge!  🙂  )

Jo’s Monday Walk and Which Way Challenges – Swan Island Dahlia in Canby, Oregon

Meet Tina!  We’ve decided to find joy together :

Finding joy

Colline savours the last of her freedom before it’s back to school :

Walking Under the Bridge

Drake dines in the nicest places, and always with coffee :

Uphill lunch

History blows in the wind

Prepare to be dazzled!  This is purely beautiful :

Songdo: In the City of Blinding Light

Or visit the lovely Ardenne in company with Denzil :

Walking around the megaliths of Wéris

I have something to share with Tish, as well as a walk :

After the Storm: Big Skies on Wenlock Edge


Carob beans

From carob beans to daffodils.  Now there’s a leap for you!  Thanks, Albert :

Sherwood Homestead (Former) Walk via East-West Road

Rupali has found the perfect place to spend a day, high in the mountains :

Weekend 104: Just in time

And in Shanghai, Janaline shares a little of the earth’s laughter :

Monday Walk among the Blossoms

Whilst Ulli has found himself a small piece of heaven :

Feldberg in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania

That’s me worn out for another week!  Not sure that I’ll be walking with you next Monday, but I’ll keep you posted.  Have a good one, and take care!


  1. Looks a lovely trip Jo- as ever I feel I could be sauntering along with you! I like the princess idea! Glad you found a suitable spot for refreshments in the end 🙂 I’m afraid last week got away from me – a few extra “grandmum duties amongst other things. Have started on this week’s post and hope to share it with you for whenever you’re next walking. No rush though. Hope you’re doing well and take care xx 🙂

    1. I did look in case you’d put one up at the last minute, Rosemay, but there were lots of shares this week already. It’s unpredictable- some weeks just a handful and I think I could post monthly, but then it might just as well be a list! So long as I enjoy doing it I’ll carry on, though I often think the time could be better spent. You have plenty to occupy yourself so just join me when you can. 🙂 🙂

      1. Hi Jo so sorry as really meant to get the post done last week 😦 I have already written up most of this week’s so should be fine. Always love your walks though do realise it must take up a lot of your time. It’s not just the post it’s taking the time to connect and reply to everyone . It’s much appreciated but also would be quite understandable if you cut back your posting schedule just whatever works best for you. I have my weekly German class tonight so off to do some practice! Take care 🙂 🙂

      2. Hi Jo here is the link to the walking trail post – I can’t seem to fathom what is happening with WordPress at present. I click on to keep the classic editor but it still seems to be quite different from before and I’m finding it hard to navigate my way round. Is it just me? Anyway I persevered and managed to publish the post – not quite as well put together as I’d like but at least I got the photos attached! Hope all is well with you and you’re enjoying the weekend xx

      3. Great thanks so much Jo – am just heading off on the school run and then we’re doing a belated Father’s Day dinner for Monsieur at our elder daughter’s so will be back later this evening (our time) to join in the walk today. Father’s Day here in Australia is the 2nd Sunday in September! xx 🙂 🙂

  2. I don’t know about a princess, Jo, but you certainly could have been an ancient explorer. I can see you, in the days when good women didn’t move far from the kitchen, being one of those women who irritated men so much by doing her own thing. And the ‘thing’ this week is as usual, full of interest.

  3. A wonderful Alcacer jaunt today, Jo, thanks so much for taking us along. I loved your spirited walk, ignoring the rain and then how nice that it stopped, finding your princess way to the castle. There are so many Covid detours these days, but we do have to just make do with what we can find, so I was glad you soldiered through that one. Truly lovely photos and happy times, and a joy for us, too. I espec. like that first photo with the magnificent sky and townscape. Happy Anniversary!

  4. If being a princess means we get to see castles and views from them, I’m all for it! Plus there was cake (and wine) this week as well. What’s not to like?

    I’m a bit hurt about the cheating comment as nowhere in the official rules was it specified that people had to do the walking. 😦 But I shall soldier on, taking you this week to a walk my husband and I took just Saturday and yes, on own feet. 🙂 We went to the forest…well, an Arizona forest. Best wait with the wine until we’re done walking, though.


    1. Too late! I already had the wine at dinner time 😏🥂💕 Not my usual practise but a friend was visiting. 🤣 Official rules? Do I have those, Janet? You must be confusing me with someone else 😜💕

  5. RJo – For a princess, you sure seem to find the castles that are in ruins 🙂 And this one looks wonderful. So glad you found a nice place to celebrate – Happy Anniversary – Cheers – Susan

  6. You certainly are regal and youthful enough to be a reincarnated princess. 🙂 Sorry to hear that you couldn’t enter the hotel, but it did appear to end well, after all. 🙂 Wishing you a beautiful end to your summer, Jo.

    1. There was no way we were climbing back up to the castle, Julie, so we’ll just have to put that one down to experience. And I probably saved Michael a small fortune 🤣💕. Not sure that he’d say I’m ‘worth it’. Thanks, darlin! 🤔💕

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