Vila Viçosa – Dukes of Braganza

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I previously mentioned that I rode a night bus to get to Evora and unfortunately for me that was the only means of getting back to Madrid. Since the bus left at 11:30 that left me the entire Sunday to explore; however, I felt as if I had a good feel for Evora and was looking for somewhere else to explore. Serendipitously for me, there were three Brazilians who were looking for the same type of adventure. They wanted to take a day trip to Vila Viçosa, the home of the ducal palace of the Dukes of Braganza. This family held the Portuguese Crown after the separation of the Spanish and Portuguese monarchies (after 1640). We took a bus winding through the country side where I was able to see all of the cork trees growing and my first marble factory. Our first stop in Vila Viçosa was the first ducal palace that also held the museum of Roman artifacts. We had an amazing guide who was extremely passionate about sharing his love for the palace with us – not to mention all of the hunting trophies. The following photos are taken from the grounds of the palace:

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The view from the top of the palace:

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There was a few moments of free time before the tour and so Gefferson (aka the biker) and I explored the small city on the complex, while the other two talked with the tour guide. Here you can see the original wall that enclosed the palace along with the cemetery.

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As you can see from the storm clouds, we did not have the best of weather. I have never been happier to have my 4 euro umbrella since it began to down pour as soon as we left the palace. We sped walked back to town and started to look for a place to eat. The one that was recommended by our tour guide was closed and so instead we found one off the central square. I tried caracoles (snails) which were absolutely delicious, once you get over the fact that they fully resemble snails (antennas and all). The meal was complete with a hearty lamb and potato entree.

From lunch we went to the palace, which was the seat of power. (It is slightly confusing, even to me who saw both buildings, but from what I understand the ducal palace where we started the day was the family’s seat of power, whereas this other 19th century palace was a holding of the monarchy.) We were not allowed to take photos inside of the palace, however, we could snap a few of the gardens outside. I wish that I could have captured the kitchen. It is every cooks dream with  all three walls of gleaming copper cookware. Being larger than my whole apartment, I can only imagine the wonderful concoctions created here. I did sneak a photo of the chapel church, which was directly off of the private quarters of the royal family. Interestingly we were able to walk both along the royal access points and those of the servants, which gave a very complete understanding of how this space was used.

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Our tour did not leave too much time to explore the rest of the city since our bus home left at 4:30. The journey home was almost identical to the one there. Once back in Evora most of us parted ways; however, Gefferson decided to take a later bus to Lisbon and so we played darts in a bar. I almost won, but unfortunately lost at the last minute, note to self that I am not horrible at darts. At 11:30 I went back to the bus station and boarded my bus back to Madrid. We had a group of Chatty Kathys who decided around 3 am to start a conversation about life, but regardless I arrived safely at home and quickly collapsed into my bed!

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