A sunny, dry, and hot climate embraces Portugal. It almost never rains there, except occasionally in May.
Traveling through Portugal during our May Hiking & Wine Adventure, we were fortunate enough to experience all of the best things this beautiful country has to offer – even a big thunderstorm and heavy rains!
This turned out to be surprisingly delightful as we awoke to a brilliantly fresh morning after the storm had cleared and cleaned the city, leaving nothing but shining cobblestone streets, abandoned amphitheaters and a perfect canvas for another unforgettable day.
Our previous day’s plans had been derailed by the storm. As the winds and rains picked up it was decided that taking a boat ride across the reservoir to hike through a small village, then up to our fortified town for the night was going to be a cold, thrashing nightmare.
Luckily for us, we had rented the entirety of a beautifully rustic hotel with a large family-style living room and very comfortable couches. As any good guide would do when the afternoon activity is canceled, we purchased local wine and set out some snacks, brought out the board games, got comfortable and enjoyed the cozy setting, good company, and crashing thunder.
Our evening dinner reservation was bumped up and we were able to walk over during a slight break in the storm. One has to watch their head as they stoop to enter this old tavern. Fresh bread and rosemary delight your nostrils as you adjust your eyes for the dim lighting.
Taking a seat at our large table (yes, we booked the entire restaurant as well) it was the perfect size for our group of 17. Local goat cheese on watercress, fresh cod balcahua, local olives, olive oil, marinated beef cheeks slowly cooked in red wine, seasoned rice with almonds and raisins, as well as many other local delights were prepared by our hosts – two delightful Portuguese women both with gray hair and both very proud of the food they served.
The moon was full and clouds were lifting. Weather permitting, we planned a 7 am pre-breakfast walk to check out some of the finer points of Monsaraz and the breathtaking views of this timeless place.
As if the heavens had been listening, we all awoke to a clear sky and a shining city. High above the plains of Alentejo, this walled village offers a medieval atmosphere and magnificent views. To the east, one can peer into Spain. To the west, one sees the vast reservoir, rolling hills, and cork trees. If you look long enough you can almost see a knight in shining armor galloping across the plains.
Within the walls of Monsaraz, there exists a bullfighting ring that was built in the 16th century and is still in use today. Together we entered the ring, kicked up some dirt, walked through the stone seating, and marveled at our luck, all feeling a sense of timelessness brought on by the undisturbed and freshly rained sensations of Portugal.