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?
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?
Let’s go ghost busting with Debs! In broad daylight, so you’re all safe!
Janet cheats a bit, but very beautifully. Why not let horses take the strain?
It’s always a privilege to walk alongside Cee (and finally, she has a fridge! 🙂 )
Meet Tina! We’ve decided to find joy together :
Colline savours the last of her freedom before it’s back to school :
Drake dines in the nicest places, and always with coffee :
Prepare to be dazzled! This is purely beautiful :
Or visit the lovely Ardenne in company with Denzil :
I have something to share with Tish, as well as a walk :
From carob beans to daffodils. Now there’s a leap for you! Thanks, Albert :
Rupali has found the perfect place to spend a day, high in the mountains :
And in Shanghai, Janaline shares a little of the earth’s laughter :
Whilst Ulli has found himself a small piece of heaven :
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!