Trip Start May 30, 2012
Trip End Nov 07, 2012

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Flag of Portugal  , Alentejo,
Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Nelson, the hostel owner in Evora, told us about this must see place on the border of Spain and Portugal called Monsaraz. So we took a day trip from Evora to see it. Monsaraz is a place where the pictures will do just as much talking as this blog, so make sure to check them out. It was so unique and picture perfect! Since Nelson recommended Monsaraz to us, and showed us some pictures other guests have taken, we had to go see for ourselves. The bus ride from Evora only took about an hour, and the scenery was great. At times it looked like we were back in Alberta, passing hay bales and grazing cattle. But that moment was very brief because the more East we went, the more desert like it got. Jess said it really reminded her of Del Rio, Texas. Then there were fields and fields of grape vineyards ss far as we could see. When we got off the bus, it was sunny and hot...Very hot. Perfect for vineyards, those wine cellar tour guides in Porto were telling the truth about the climate away from the sea being perfect for grapes. After climbing a big hill (one we could see coming from a long way off), our bus dropped us off outside the walls of the little medieval town of Monsaraz. And I do mean little. The population of Monsaraz is a little over 50 people. You can walk from one end to the other in about 5 minutes. But in this case, good things come in small packages, because the whole place was like a postcard. Pure white houses and schist stone streets all going in the same direction, except four rows of stones going perpendicular to the others for wheel paths. When we got there, we felt like we had the place to ourselves. It was so quiet and peaceful. We were free to roam around anywhere and everything had no cost. The outer walls and towers are made of irregular-shaped schist stones, with granite corners and foundations. There are four "porta" or gates that are stone arches. Each one is amazing and a little different. At one end of the town is a small castle with a bull fighting arena in the middle. They got their priorities straight. If all that wasn't enough, one of the best parts of Monsaraz is the 360 degree view you get of the surrounding area. Back in the 8th century, Muslims took over this place because of its great strategic viewpoint. Over the centuries many of conquistadors have exchanged power of Monsaraz because of its great views. No kidding! On one side of the hill is a rather long lake and on the other side of that lake is Spain. A little peek at the country we will be heading to in a couple days. Our bus back to Evora was only 10 minutes late. Not bad for Portugal. At least it came, and we didn't find out the people decided to have a bus strike without telling anyone again. This time we had a Swedish couple to talk to on the way back. So thankful we got to see Monsaraz!!

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