Once again, I found a an amazing deal through Travelzoo and Portugal Vacatons, airfare from ny to Lisbon, rental car, and 8 nights of hotels for $800. The airfare alone would cost more than that. We had a late flight out of JFK, 11:30, but TAP, Portugal’s airline was comfortable and the staff friendly. We ere met at arrivals by a representative of Visacar and driven to their office. We have a Peugeot 280, small but adequate for our 4 carryon bags. Luckily, we did not check bags, which would have cost us (not included in the ticket) and wouldn’t have fit in the trunk. The car did have GPS, which was helpful. The streets signs are clearly marked and there was little traffic, which made getting out of Lisbon easy.
The drive to Evora took about an hour and twenty minutes through beautiful gold fields dotted with olive green cork trees stripped of their lower bark. The old city center of Evora is a warren of narrow cobbled streets with ancient white buildings decorated with yellow ochre trim. Our hotel, the Olive, is a modern one in the middle of the old city.
After unloading our luggage, we headed off to explore the town center, still surrounded by its medeival walls. We headed for a restaurant recommended by the girl at the front desk, but it was closed because we had missed the lunch hour. Ravenous, we found a cafe open right across from the Church of SAo Francisco and sat outside enjoying the lovely sunny, cool weather and tapas of cheese, chorizo and pancetta along with a bottle of red wine.
Next we explored the church with its distinctive ice cream shaped turrets and many ornate altars. Only part of the original Gothic church and cloisters from 1376 remain, but a new church was built over the old under several kings, reaching the height of its glory in the late 16th century.
The Chapel of Bones, located around the side of the church, has an entrance fee of 5E for Adults and 3.50 for seniors. When the graveyard grew too small in the 16th century, hundreds of bodies were dug up and the bones were used architecturally in the chapel to remind men of their mortality.
I have never seen bones used as artistic decoration before.
Wandering the streets of Evora was a pleasure.
The Prada do Geraldo is the main square of the city. It is lined with 16th century gothic buildings and with tiny cobbles streets leading down the hill on all sides. We got marvelously lost exploring the old city, where no two streets are parallel and one may wind you outside the city walls with no quick way back in.
We made our way back to the hotel exhausted but happy with our discovery of Evora. Love isn’t winding cobbles streets and ancient buildings.