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Alentejo has thousands of stork families.

Alentejo has thousands of stork families.

I just spend the past two days walking 55 kilometers in Portugal’s Alentejo region, which is a very underrated part of Portugal, but one of the nicest regions of the country.

“You can’t walk all the way to Grandola”, says the guy who sells me the ferry ticket in Setubal. I’m very used to this reaction, whenever I tell someone that I am talking a walk that is longer than a couple of kilometers. I have decided to walk from the portuguese town Setubal to Grandola, which is a 55 kilometer walk away. I’m taking two days for the walk, so it’s not really that hard, but for people who live their life inside a house and inside a car, this is a crazy thing to do.

 

Walking down the Troia Peninsula.

Walking down the Troia Peninsula.

Walking down the Troia Peninsula.

I take the ferry from Setubal, to the peninsula called Troia, which is really just a long sand bar that separates the Atlantic ocean, from a big fresh water lagoon, created by the river that has it’s mouth by the big industrial town Setubal. It’s really a pretty area though and part of it is a protected nature reserve, where you have some very rare river dolphins.

The Troia Peninsula.

The Troia Peninsula.

There is very little traffic on the road, as I am walking there during mid week. At weekends it’s a different story as many of the inhabitants from Lisbon and Setubal drive down the coast to stay at one of the many beaches you have along the Atlantic ocean. But it’s tuesday and I mostly have the road to myself and I love walking down an empty highway.

 

Storks and wine in Comporta.

Winery in Comporta.

Winery in Comporta.

Alentejo also has rice production.

Alentejo also has rice production.

As I get down to the south of the Troia peninsula, I start seeing rice fields along the road. Many people are not aware that Portugal has quite a large production of rice. It’s not only in Asia that rice grows these days. There is also a rice museum in Comporta, but it is closed as I get there, so instead I head over to the neighbor, which is a winery and I end up buying one of their bottles, after having a look around their estate. Alentejo wine is really good, but often thought to be bad, as the region had some chaos after the carnation revolution in 1974, resulting in a very uneven wine production, but these days Alentejo is producing some of the best wine in the world. Comporta is really a pretty little town, with stork nests on many of the house roofs. I stay overnight a few kilometers south of Comporta in a lovely little guest house run by a cheerful old lady, where I pay 20€ for a basic, but nice room.

 

Walking down the cork oak avenue to Grandola.

Cork oak in Alentejo.

Cork oak in Alentejo.

The next day, the scenery changes and I start walking along fields with cork oaks and often sheep grazing underneath them. Portugal is the largest producer in the world of cork and Alentejo is where most of it is grown. You can only harvest the cork oak for it’s bark every 9 years, so this is not a way to make fast money. When you plant a cork tree, you should expect that you only start profiting from it after around 27 years of growing. But the cork oak is a big part of Portugal’s history and if there is a word that the portuguese like, then it’s “tradition”, so there is no risk that the cork production in Portugal will come to a halt. The cork tree is actually a protected tree in Portugal and you are not allowed to cut it down without permission. The law that protects the cork oak is 500 years old, so this is one of the reasons why the cork trade thrives as much as it does in Portugal.

Coak oaks in Alentejo.

Cork oaks in Alentejo.

Grandola, vila morena.

Two Grandola inhabitants

Two Grandola inhabitants.

Grandola could easily be just another dusty town that no one in Portugal would remember the name of, but Grandola has a very special mention in portuguese history due to an old folk song written about the town, called “Grandola vila morena”. When a group of young left wing captains in the portuguese army decided to rebel against the fascist dictatorship in 1974, the song “Grandola vila morena” was the secret sign for the rebel captains to take action and drive their tanks from the town of Santarem, where they had 5 tanks parked to Lisbon, where they managed to take down the dictatorship without killing a single person. So Grandola did actually not play a direct role in the revolution, but the song became synonymous with the carnation revolution and you will not meet any adult portuguese who does not know the little town of Grandola.

So I am happy to finish my two day walk in this little dusty Alentejo town that unwillingly became synonymous with Portugal’s peaceful revolution and you can hear the song about Grandola on this Link.

Alentejo scenery.

Alentejo scenery.

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5 Comments

  1. absolutely marvelous post, I love Portugal and Greece.

  2. Interesting idea of two days walk. It gets a different perspective of everything. Nice post.

  3. That is in fact a nice piece of the country
    To complement it now you should visit us in the interior of Alentejo, away from the coast and tourism.
    Amongst the vines, the castles and strongholds, the rich history that speaks of battles with the moors and spain. The legends of princesses and heroes of times past.
    And taste locally growned food in lost small villages.

    i would advise a bit moe than 2 days for all this :o)

    • Hi’ Luis. Thanks for popping by. This is just one tour I have done in Alentejo. I have been to the region more than 30 times and also visited the interior of Alentejo several times. I frequently visit places, like castelo de Vide, Marvao, Evora, Estremoz and so on.

  4. I love Greece I so want to be there!

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