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Um Quarto Para as Nove

We didn’t see the modern city of Lisbon until we were leaving town. We never experienced it – only drove through it. The tall buildings and tree-lined boulevards were a surprise after the cobbled and tiled streets we walked in our days there. I had a pang of regret in not having seen more…but onward!

We were on our way to Évora, a town which fascinated us in our reading about the route to Spain – our ultimate destination. It did not disappoint.

Temple to Diana

Temple to Diana

Évora, like much of the area began with the Romans and has also spent time under Moorish occupation.  The remaining colums of the Roman Temple to Diana and the ingenious aquaduct give testimony to Roman rule while archways in the main Plaça and some tiled walkways are reminiscent of the Moors.IMG_1910

As a

The thought of spending all ones' days in the cloisters was intriguing

The thought of spending all ones’ days in the cloisters was intriguing

medieval town, I can’t say that I know a lot about it. We had 2 1/2 hours there as a break in our travel but that is hardly enough time to get to know a place. It is enough, though, to be captivated.IMG_1916

We couldn’t leave without seeing some of the inited places in Évora, so in our limited time there we just had to choose a direction and let the wandering play out

On the way there, I had spent my time looking for the best

Mary Rogan's photo of the Sé

Mary Rogan’s photo of the Sé

restaurant. Obviously, I care much more about food than about sights and so I began to push for my restaurant of choice, Um Quarto Para as Nove. Drawing its name from a clock purchased by the owner that is stuck at 8:45, this awesome, had-to-find, difficult-to-recognize, and hard-to-find-room-in gem was the highlight of my entire trip to Portugal.

IMG_1921When we entered the small door it was packed. Luckily, a family was leaving as we arrived and we were seated –  surrounded by Portuguese. Tourists? Perhaps, but no backpacking, guidebook-toting people.

What was left of the tuna steak after we had all eaten.

What was left of the tuna steak after we had all eaten.

Only the three of us standing out as Americans but being treated warmly.

For this hour we were immersed in the food culture of Portugal. Families talking. Men waving their arms across the table. Food carried out from the partially visible kitchen in great cauldrons of seafood rice. Spectacular!

The portions were adequate for at least three people and we shared a Tuna serving the size of the largest T-bone one can imagine, a plate of vegetables fit for a family, and a large platter of small clams.

Was it the food? Was it the rich Portuguese wine? Was it the atmosphere? Was it having come from the imposing and somewhat cold cathedral into the steamy scent of food?

I don’t know…but it was enough to bring me back to Portugal if I ever have the chance.

The Wanderer