ChAlli in Lisbon

This Is Why We're Here

December 11, 2023 They Said

This Is Why We're Here

Long weekends to UNESCO World Heritage Sites? Time to keep on travelin'.

They Said:

What do Hanukkah, Roman ruins, a monk’s cell, an old convent, and Immaculate Conception Day all have in common? Absolutely nothing historical or biblical, but all were part of our super fun long weekend away to a town called Évora.

In Portugal, the day of the Immaculate Conception is a public holiday, so we had a long, three-day weekend to take advantage of our location here in Lisbon. Chad found availability in one of the country's historical hotels -- a converted monastery built in the 1400s -- and we hopped an hour-and-a-half train to Évora. What's in Évora other than the entire old city being a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Let's let Rick Steves provide the introduction:

From Romans to Moors to Portuguese kings, the proud little town of Évora — set amid the cork groves of Portugal’s Alentejo region — has a big history. Just 90 minutes east of Lisbon, Évora has impressive sights — Roman ruins, a 12th-century cathedral, and a macabre chapel of bones — coupled with a laid-back local scene and a hearty cuisine that makes me think of Tuscany.

We enjoyed all of this and more as we embraced our surroundings in one of the oldest cities in Portugal. We feasted on the Alentejo cuisine, which was amazing. We tried the local wines. We appreciated and read about the origin of the ancient ruins before us. And we lit the third- and fourth-night menorah candles in a monk's cell in the old convent where we were staying as we gazed out at a foggy drizzle hovering over the cathedral built around 1200. The misty weather was actually perfect and made us feel like we were in Game of Thrones or something.

Speaking of Rick Steves, we brought out a blast from the Challi past and formally initiated Sebastian into his first Rick Steves walking tour. He read the whole thing to us and was an excellent guide as we walked through the city and looked at "some really old Roman shit." We enjoyed our first round of castanhas assadas, or roasted chestnuts, in Praça do Giraldo. This seasonal delicacy is very popular in Portugal, and we enjoyed it as we admired the views in the square. Alli was tortured by Roman artifacts in the Évora City Museum while Sebastian and Chad were mind-blown at the "really, really old" objects on display. Other highlights of the weekend included visiting the Chruch of St. John the Evangelist and its beautiful tile work from the 1700s, and the Chapel of Bones, which is decorated with the exhumed bones of about 5,000 corpses.

It was a weekend of full-on touring, seeing new things, learning about the history of our adopted country, and exemplary of one of the main reasons why we're doing all this in the first place. Long weekends in Europe are easier when you live in Europe.

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