Entering the final stretch of our time here in Portugal, on a rainy day.

It’s Saturday morning and we have what is arguably the nicest room yet here at Cabecas do Reguengo near the town of Portalegre in central Portugal. Their site is very interesting if you read Portuguese, that’s great.  If not, check out their site anyway and click on “EN”, for English, on the upper right of the home page. One way or the other, it’s a very interesting spot and the story behind it is particularly unique as the owner is a retired ballet dancer.

Really nice room.The bathroom is marvelous and marble.  The picture does not do it justice.This is the view that we woke up to today.  Not bad for a rainy day.   The siting of the building, new this year, is very well thought out.  The hotel is a completely modern design and yet looks right at home among the older homes dotting the nearby landscape. They also have a vineyard on the property and the wine is very nice.  We liked the white as it’s more full bodied than most Portuguese wines, more like a California with a fair amount of oak.  Very nice. It’s obvious that the hand of an artist was behind it all.  What a view to wake up to, infinity pool and all.  Yesterday we drove the 4.5 hours south from northern Portugal where we had spent much of the last two weeks.  This is our final stop prior to returning to Lisbon on Sunday where we will spend the last few days of our trip before we return to the U.S.  I expect that we’ll fine some fun things to do to occupy us until the 12th.

As a special treat, Brenda’s friend Leslie is flying in from England to spend the night with us on Sunday.  I expect that the “girls” will be up to all hours as they have not seen each other for years.   It’s a good thing that we have two rooms as I am sure that they will be up all night talking.  “Brenda? Leslie?, is it bedtime yet? I need sleep…”

Anyway, the ride yesterday took us from the mountainous north of Portugal where vineyards and olive trees dominate the landscape to this area where it’s much more postural with cows, sheep and rolling hills.    After days of terrifying switchbacks and steep drop-offs, it’s nice to again be in a “less dramatic” area.

This video is of the white knuckle run down the road from our inn high up on the mountain in the Doruo valley to the village of Pinhao down near the river.  Trust me that this video doesn’t do justice to the nail biting around hairpin turns, all the way.This town isn’t on the itinerary of most tourists as it’s overshadowed by some of the more dramatic destinations such as Sintra, with huge castles looming over quaint villages. Never the less, it’s lovely here but the attraction for us was the tapestry museum and workshop, one of the best in Europe, a place that Brenda, a tapestry artist herself,  just had to see.  We visited it yesterday and it was indeed fascinating.  I’ll post one shot of a major piece, and it’s huge and quite impressive.   That’s Brenda to the left.  Big piece…The level of detail is really impressive.  However, I’ll leave the details to Brenda who will no doubt write about it in her blog soon. More to come on that.

On our last day in Casal de Loivos, perched on the side of a mountain, we decided to head out for another walk in the vineyards for a picnic.  Years ago, when Brenda and I were in college together, we used to picnic with wine, cheese and bread.  Our outing brought back memories from another lifetime.  Nice memories for sure but I very much enjoy being a “grownup”.

Anyway, we collected the items for lunch the day before in shops in the nearby village so we were ready to go.  What a great time we had in spite of the light drizzle.  Actually, after hiking up the mountain we were plenty warm and happily we found a beautiful olive tree to sit under with our legs dangling over an ancient stone wall on the side of, you guessed it, a vineyard.  Rain?  What rain?  That’s just dew…  It was a perfect moment.

We had a very nice spread of local wine and all.  I even remembered to bring a cork screw.   Good thing or I would have had to whack the bottle against a rock to open it.   Editor:  However, notice the “fine crystal” to the right of the bottle. Oops, I forgot the glasses.  Not to worry, I’ll cut up a water bottle, with a cheese knife. (Don’t try this at home, Professional wineglass maker in residence)  I used the top part of the bottle as it almost looks like a wine glass, if a bit tippy. Brenda took the bottom.  Besides, it held more.  Cheers!  Big smile, even before my first sip.   Perhaps it was the altitude. What a lovely spot to picnic, legs dangling over a stone wall. The olive trees, laden with fruit almost ready to harvest, were such a wonderful silver grey green. And the ancient grape vines, ready for a winter nap.  Haunting.We walked further up the mountain flanked by beautiful stone walls. Along the way we came upon a “mature” women cutting old growth from vines in a vineyard (yes, lots of vineyards there) and putting them on a fire.  We stopped to talk.  There was lots of “talking at each other” us in English and her in Portuguese but not much was accomplished.  I have no idea what she said but she said it in the nicest possible way.  The haze from others burning vines hung over the valley like a fog.  What a day.  Perhaps this shot of late season grapes still on the vine says it best. Beautiful and so peaceful. Here in Portugal, it’s all about the grapes, and wine.  They are very proud of their wine.  Yes, wonderful wines.  And a great country to visit.  We chose well, coming to Portugal.

And where we are staying now for a few days?  Brenda chose particularly well.

Yes, perfect.

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