WELCOME TO Val's Alentejo -I write about my region of Alentejo. My art ,painting, my cottages, Family life, my animals -Travels And my love for Roses- and rural country life.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Country drive and rice paddies

Yesterday , I invited my friend to take a drive and do some shopping in the Medieval town of Alcaçer do Sal. The town is about an hour's drive from my quinta.
All towns in Portual and Spain beginning with Al. are names given by the moors.
Its an interesting route to drive , from my village. Its the old road that leads to Lisbon. One can now go on the big open highway and cut out the back roads, I still like to drive the back roads, as there is so much to see. Camera in hand , we set off on our little outing stopping on the way to take some photos.
The Castle of Alcaçer is now a "Pousada" .
" Alcaçer do Sal", is a stunning historical town. With castles ,convents and medieval cobbled streets. Its very difficult to manouvere your car within this old ancient city. Its best to walk through the little streets. You will find old buildings in desperate states of disrepair.. and others that have been renovated to their original state,looking ever so beautiful.
The village lies on the bank of the river Sado.
The castle dates back to Vll - Vl BC . having been inhabited also by the celts.
The Berbers and Arabs entered the Iberian peninsula in 711 led by Tariq ibn Ziyal.. a loyalist of the Umayyad Emir of Damascus -- Al Walid 1st.
Walking through the town one can still find the old quarters with century old remains of buildings and streets. Its a very unique town .

The river sado is about 170 or so klm long. Its river flows from the Setubal estuary where it meets the Atlantic Ocean.

The museum, is full of history of the Iberian wars and occupation of this area.
Boats are on the river today, mainly for fishing and also when the tide is out the fishermen dig for clams. Large big clams called "Lamboginhas" they are delicious cooked in garlic butter and olive oil.

The river Sado was used by traders of North Africa,possibly Greeks and the Phonecians..
They traded in Minerals, Wool, and other goods.
Stopping along the way. I took these photos of the Storks. The route to Alcaçer is known by the "route of the storks" So many all over the rice paddies. They make their nests perched on special poles that have been erected for them.
I was so close to this one. Not sure if it was "mummy or daddy".. but the bird didnt flinch.This nest unlike the others, was on top of the telephone pole.
Alcaçer is one of Portugals largest rice growing areas. We have to drive over a very long bridge that goes over the rice paddies on that route. Here in this photo the paddies are full of water and the rice is growing.
Rice paddies with the rice recently planted.
Another view of a rice paddie.. I also thought the tree was rather amazing.
These rice paddies are being prepared.
you can see how far inland the paddies go.
It ended up being the most unusual afternoon. We did some shopping at the supermarket on the outskirts of the town. Then headed back home. Only to find ourselves being diverted through the town and driving all over to find our way out. We both know Alcaçer well, or so we thought. We came upon some interesting buildings and ended up in on way streets. The signs were all in the wrong places. We just shrugged our shoulders and said to each other. "Well we certainly know Alcaçer now."

wishing you all a happy Tuesday


  1. Hello Val:
    We have very much enjoyed your tour and the history of this most interesting of towns and a closer look at your local area.

    We had not realised that rice growing took place in Portugal. How fascinating and how amazing it must be to drive over the paddy fields!

    There is nothing quite like getting lost in order to really discover the true heart of a place. This happens every time we visit Venice and we love it!

  2. Wow, thank you. So lovely and I love the stork on the pole! You have some fascinating places to visit. x

  3. Fascinating trip to such an historical place, you have many lovely places to visit there. Love the stork on the pole! x

  4. Dear Val - what a lovely drive to take with you, with lots of interesting history, and scenery along the route.
    I know I was surprised to see rice paddy fields in Italy the first time I saw them. For some reason I always tend to associate rice paddy fields with China and India.
    Glad you had such a lovely day out with your friend, and thanks for taking us along with you♥

  5. Thank you Rosemary,
    I am so pleased that you enjoyed the ride. It was delightful . How right you are in what you wrote.. When i first came to Portugal, I said the same.. "No" rice only grows in China .. little did I know. So much to learn along the way.

  6. Rustic Vintage Cottage,
    thank you for your kind comments. I too love the storks they are a magnificent bird..to see them close up is even better.

  7. Thank you Jane and Lance,
    It is an interesting drive and the area is beautiful.
    like Rosemary said.. i too didnt know that rice grew here.. Now I know it grows in Italy as well.We did see a lot more.
    I must say however, that i truly wouldnt mind getting lost in Venice. A place i need to visit
    Thank you for your lovely comments. always appreciated..

  8. What a fascinating post, it oozes with history, I had no idea rice was grown in Portugal, the storks are amazing!
    Thea x

  9. Hi Val,
    Thank you for taking us on your trip through the Portuguese countryside. I loved the stork and was astounded that you had paddy fields too!
    Sarah x

  10. This is charming, interesting, beautiful and amusing, Val! I sure like the landscape - I would also drive the old road. Alcacar reminds me a bit of San Gimigniano in Tuscany when I look at the old buildings and also the from the way you describe it. I love the storks, Val and I find these rice paddies very interesting. Had no idea that you grow rice in Portugal as well! I only know the ones in the region of Milano, Italy. Looking forward to your next post! Hugs, Christa

  11. looks like you ended up having an afternoon of discovery! The area is so interesting!

    Val, if I got lost in the back streets of Venice, at night, I think I would crawl into a corner and hide until daylight. The place must be really scary: all those little back streets, no cars... oh, my God! what a thought, Val! No, thank! I think I'll get lost in the middle of Manhattan, instead!
    The storks are lovely! In Germany they put up poles, specially for the storks, so they don't make nests on chimneys.
    I think the stork in your photo was a male, because he was wearing a blue jacket! (that's what a child would say!)



  12. PS: Of course we grow a lot of rice in Italy!That's where all Arborio, Carnaroli and other types of delicious rice are produced. The Italian word for rice paddy is: risaie.



  13. Hi Anna,
    Its not that scary. There are some lovely little restaurants and taverna's.. and cafe's in the side streets.
    Thanks for pointing out it was a male. He sure was handsome.
    Something to learn every day. I did not know Portugal or Italy grew rice.. now i know.
    Our rice here are a couple of qualities.. long grain carolina rice and the split rice..for the deserts and so on. Maybe some other type but i dont know them all.

  14. Thank you Christa. There is always something we can learn, from each others blogs.!
    I would love to visit san Gimigniano.. it looks a magnificent town. Alcaçer is old and in need of repair to the old houses..
    best wishes Christa. val

  15. Thank you Sarah,
    It is amazing to see the paddie fields.. you can look them up on u tube or wikipedia.. very interesting.
    The storks add to the lovely scenery around.
    thanks for your comments sarah..much appreciated.

  16. Thank you Thea, Yes, its amazing. I too when i first came to Portugal couldn't belive there were rice paddies .. there are more of them too.
    Trading of rice has gone on for centuries.
    The fields are about an hour from my place.

    loved your hats.. thanks for passing by.

  17. Such a fascinating post Val - the ancient town is amazing with so much history going so far back in time. I did not know the Moors were responsible for naming all those Al places. The storks on poles look very happy! And who knew? rice grows in Portugal!!

  18. OMG! This is just like visiting a DREAM!...:)JP

  19. Well I thank you for sharing these pictures and giving us the information- because I probably will never see it in person! sandie

  20. You're always traveling somewhere so interesting, Val. The rice fields are pretty. The castles interested me very much. Whenever Jess travels and sees a castle, she always takes a picture of it and sends it to me. It sounds like you had a special day with your friend.
    ~Sheri at Red Rose Alley

  21. I live in the rural countryside ..the shops are not close. we do have a couple of little mini market shops in the village. We decided to take the hours drive to Alcaçer. Its a nice route to take and different than always going to the same shops.
    Thanks for your lovely comments Sheri..
    I too love castles .. lots of history to tell us.

  22. Thank you Sandi, you never know..one day you might just take a trip somewhere..

  23. Thank you JP.. its all country around me. Some lovely places to see and visit.
    We both enjoyed our little outing . Glad that you liked the post

  24. Thank you for your lovely comments Patricia..
    Yes, i thought the same, when i first came to live here. I was very surprised that rice is grown here.
    In Portugal and Spain all names beginning with Al are names given by the moors. Iberia has a most fascinating history.

  25. Hi Val!
    Thanks for an interesting piece of history og wonderful photographs. I am back to blogging - I think ; )

  26. Great to see you Demie, pleased you like my photos and post.
    Blogging every day, is sometimes difficult..but we will see you. look forward to that.
    happy wednesday

  27. What a wonderful area to investigate, Val. And how lovely that you can still use the 'old roads' to get to these places and see so much beauty along the way. Thank you so much for posting this!

  28. Thank you Haworth,
    I live a fair way from the big highways. I love the little country roads. So much more relaxing to drive on.
    It is a lovely place indeed

  29. Such an interesting post - the word medieval in conncetion with a town or village always catches my interest. Alcacer sounds like the kind of place I'd love to explore. The stork's nests are amazing aren't they? I've seen the same sort of thing in Romania. I had no idea that rice was grown in Portugal, I always associate rice paddies with the Far East so I've learned something new today:)


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