A Taste Of The Authentic Portugal in The Alentejo Region

This morning, we awoke to grey skies and a more than vague promise of showers. Not to be outdone, we threw our waterproofs and a few picnic items into the rucksack, donned our walking boots and headed off into the not-so-blue yonder. Naturally, we were not in possession of a trail map BUT we’d spotted a map on an info board in the village yesterday so our intention was to nip down there, take a photo of said map then choose which trail to follow. However, as we headed out of the soccer pitch on which Sebo was parked, we spotted trail markings and, us being us, gungho and all that, opted to simply follow said markers and see where they took us. Not knowing whether this was a loop trail which would bring us back here eventually or whether it was part of a “trek across Portugal” one-way trail, we decided we’d walk for a couple of hours and, if it seemed not to be a loop. we’d simply turn back on ourselves, rather than risk a lengthy taxi ride back!

On we walked, up hill and down dale, through pasturelands full of grazing sheep and cattle and tree clad hillsides. No real sign of produce being grown, other than the grass for grazing and trees for cork- apparently, this region has poor soil for cultivation and suffers badly from drought through the spring and summer months. For several kilometres, we saw no sign of any form of habitation either, just hillside after hillside of unoccupied land, most of which appears to have hunting rights given over to various hunting associations- they must be rather successful as we were somewhat disappointed to have seen absolutely no deer or wild boar as yet! Eventually, we walked into a wee hamlet and finally got a glimpse of an elderly couple tending their sheep and hens in the small field adjoining their humble abode. We pondered that they’ve probably done this all their lives and what will happen to their house and land when they eventually die? We both agreed that it will probably just be left to go to rack and ruin as other properties had already done in this same tiny hamlet. Sad, really.

We sat down at the side of a small road and ate our lunch whilst perusing the vast expanse of sparsely populated countryside that lay before us. Despite the view being somewhat tempered by the increasingly dark skies above us, we could see how beautifully unspoilt it all was. By this stage, we could feel the drizzle in the air and, since the road on which we were sitting had a road sign for Ameixial, we opted to forget the trail and just meander back along the road – save us getting soaked! Roy’s “vanflu” turned out to be just a simple cold (go figure!) and the last thing he needed was a soaking! Thankfully, the heavy rain held off until after we arrived back to Sebo! Phew!

Answering a knock on our door yesterday morning revealed an enterprising Dutch lady offering a laundry service (fair play!) reminding us that our laundry bag is overflowing but, Dutch lady’s price was rather high so we really need to find a campsite for a couple of days to get it all done. Castro Verde gets a slightly enticing write-up in Lonely Planet and isn’t too far away in the right direction plus it has what appears to be a Municipal Campsite which won’t break the bank. Decision made!