17.07.2011 30 °C
Wednesday 13 July 2011
Last minute business in Beja then off to Alcobaca, which is about 120 km north of Lisbon close to the coast. It is a major fruit (apples, pears, stone fruit) growing region.
Meetings completed we caught the bus at 11.45am to Alcobaca via Lisbon at a cost of 19€ each, pretty cheap considering a 4 1/2 hour trip. Very efficient service and the buses are very comfortable and are fitted with free WiFi,don't get this on Countrylink! We arrived in Alcobaca at 4.30pm that included a 1/2 hour changeover of drivers in Lisbon.
We arrived in Alcobaca with no accommodation booked, no final confirmation of meetings. We went in search of a map or tourist information, found neither until Sue asked at the council chambers and got a map and the news that the tourist office had already closed for the day.
Over a coffee we decided to follow up a hotel we had heard about, a "rural tourismo" hotel or "farm stay", which we booked over the phone, sight unseen. After a 10 min taxi ride we arrived at the sprawling single story ranch, out amongst the orchards.
It's history dates back some 500 years when it was one of the select farms owned by the famous Alcobaca monastery and then privately owned and the owners supplied the monks with food. The hotel has it's own church, polo fields, soccer fields and equestrian center. Apparently it is used for training by some of the professional soccer teams and polo teams. Even has it's own animal nursery and a creek which runs right under the restaurant. Out the back the cook grows his own vegies. Very peaceful and as the hotel was only partially booked, not many people about. Nice to stay somewhere where you can leave the window open and get some fresh air.
After a relaxing circuit of the farm and a chat to the animals in the nursery, we partook in a pre dinner drink, then dinner in the hotel restaurant, enjoying some local food and wine for less than 18€/ person.