“I love this view because from up here you can see to San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro.” So said Sergio at the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte on our tour of Lisbon.
I see what he means. From the banks of the River Tagus you feel like you’re in a parallel universe where the world got all shook up and scattered about, with the Golden Gate Bridge and Christ the Redeemer landing side-by-side in the Portuguese capital.
From Marvão, Alentejo
It felt like an ancient ceremony of the Mediterranean forest. As the morning mist was clearing, I could feel, rather than hear, the cork being torn from the venerable trees by the expert hands of silent men, as if they were collecting a ritual offering.
The bright ochre of their naked trunks completed a theatrical scene that makes the connection between forest, people and raw material so intrinsic to the culture here.
From Costa Vicentina, Alentejo
The storks of the Costa Vicentina are, I'm told, the only storks to nest by the sea. And when I say by the sea, I don't mean they can see it if they twist their necks just so on a clear day. The waves are metres away. On windy days, they get wet.
Us walkers are metres away too, but those chicks look so safe perched on the vertical rocks. Between our excited voices and the crashing waves, I doubt they'll ever be spooked by any noise in their lives.
From Costa Vicentina, Alentejo
It's not that I recognize one turbot from another, but when I see this picture of a grilled turbot my mind wanders off to a lunch with friends in Zambujeira do Mar.
From a walk along the beautiful cliffs of the Costa Vicentina, to a spread of fresh fish and Alentejan white wine within earshot of the waves, it is my image of a perfect day. Or at least the kind of day when you say to yourself, "this is the life... Make sure you live it."
From Sierras Subbéticas, Andalucia
This is the Andalucía I'd come to love. Peaceful olive groves with the nets of harvesters spread out below centuries-old trees. Shadowy hills and pointy peaks rising up in the distance with a white village perched below like an oasis in a desert. Wild mushrooms growing underneath holm oaks. Stone farmhouses decaying like dying oak trees.
I unpacked my picnic, found a shady spot and lingered long in the moment.
From Costa de la Luz, Andalucía
A still, warm autumn evening in the village square and the air is softly filled with voices, the ebb and flow of conversations, greetings and laughter. The children of the village play, disappearing and reappearing noisily as they roam the cobbled streets.
No cars, no phones, only the hum of people, young and old, enjoying each other’s company. That is the sound of Andalucía.
From Sierra de Arcena, Andalucía
Adela cleared away the last evidence of a seven-course tasting menu. She beamed with pride as I heaped praise on the delicacy of the carpaccio, the intensity of the honey-glazed goats cheese, the sweetness of the tomato and fig soup.
Orange wine followed, then coffee. But it wasn't just about the food. What filled the experience with joy was that for four hours we put our phones away and lingered over the food, the wine, the fire and the company.
From Granada, Andalucía
I told owner Antonio that I wanted to give a standing ovation at every break. He smiled and said "me too, we only invite the best dancers. It's a privilege to watch them." Indeed, the guitarist had just won a national contest, the female dancer came second.
To see world class flamenco up close in Granada, come here. Or as Antonio says "you can go up to the caves and have a very different experience, here it is just flamenco, flamenco, flamenco."