The Romaria a Cavalo, or pilgrimage on horseback, takes place in Estremoz every year on 8th December, which is a national holiday in Portugal celebrating the Immaculate Conception.

A delight for any horse lover, the procession of riders and their animals leaves early in the morning from the main square in Estremoz en route to Vila Viçosa via Arcos and Borba, a trek of around 19 kilometres.

This week the Alentejo, just like most of the country, suffered some really unpleasant weather. We had received warning SMS messages from the authorities alerting us to the heavy rainfall and storms that were on their way, but we still didn’t feel too worried about the impending deluge. We prepared the vegetable garden with soak-away channels, made sure the drains and guttering were free of leaves and debris, got in lots of firewood and settled down for the evening.

Estremoz despite being in the Alentejo region of Portugal is really well connected with the rest of the country, as well as being just an hour to Badajoz, the nearest large city in Spain. So if you feel like taking a cheeky trip to Lisbon for a taste of big city culture, the Estremoz to Lisbon express bus run daily by Rede Expressos is just a two-hour trip away.

The Alentejo region of Portugal is the largest by area in the country, and it stretches all the way north to the River Tagus (Tejo), that flows into the sea at Lisbon. Having heard there were some great river beaches and passadiços (wooden walkways) to explore, we decided to take a trip to Alentejo Alto to see for ourselves. Only an hour and a half’s drive from Estremoz, we trundled off in the ‘bus’ to the municipal campsite at Ortiga, which is a small village that falls under the municipal district of Gavião.