Evora, a small ancient town in the middle of Portugal's dry, central Alentejo region, was supposed to be a one night pit-stop on our journey from the Algarve to Porto. We stayed for three days, and for three very good reasons. Reason #1: the hotel. Michael and I booked a room at the Albergaria do Calvario (say that five times fast), more affectionately known as the ADC hotel, and it was simply the best we've stayed at yet. Once an olive oil mill, this converted hotel had all the modern amenities one could desire on vacation while still maintaining an historic and old-world charm. The room was large and comfortable and the common spaces so unique we wanted to stay forever. All this would have been excellent on its own, but couple the gorgeous surroundings of the hotel with their unforgettable concierge service and you have world-class accommodations for a hard to beat value. The friendly and helpful staff gave us activity and dinner recommendations that made the whole stay in this region of the country truly memorable, and I can't wait to go back again.
Reason #2: the history. Our first day in Evora we spent wandering through the old town, visiting churches, convents, parks, and Roman ruins. There is more to this small village than first meets the eye, and Michael and I were amazed by the depth and reach of Evora's cultural background. Also we saw peacocks.
Reason #3: the food. I've definitely gained weight on our honeymoon, and the only thing I have to say about that is "c'est la vie." Also, it's been totally worth it. At the suggestion of our concierge, we frequented the tiny ten-table restaurant Taberna Tipica Quarta Fiera, where a round and cheery old man in suspenders named Ze Dias and his son own the best restaurant I've ever been to. And there wasn't even a menu. Michael and I just showed up, sat down, and were immediately served delicious treats from every direction. I realize now I only took pictures of the appetizers and dessert, probably because I was too busy stuffing myself with porca preta (translation for black-pig-roast-so-mouth-wateringly-good-it-falls-apart-in-your-mouth-and-now-I'm-hungry-again-thinking-about-it) to get out the camera.
And there you have it, folks. The three reasons why Evora beat all our expectations. And to think, I haven't even begun to tell you about the wine :)