Discover more from Expat in Portugal
A Little Town Called Alcoutim
And a GREAT lunch!
We love exploring places that are NOT on the “must see” list. We typically don’t do a lot of research before we leave the house. As I write to you twice a week, I really should do more. In this case, Denise had read that Restaurante O Soeiro was a great place to have lunch. So one rainy day, before my most recent surgery, we headed up the road to Alcoutim.
The Guadiana River, which separates Spain and Portugal, is tidal. Alcoutim is situated at the point at which it becomes tidal, meaning in earlier times vessels had to wait here for hours until they could continue to sail south. This is likely the reason Alcoutim was built. In fact, while the original walls that surrounded the city are now gone, there still is a castle there that was built by the Moors to defend the border in the 14th Century. (Note, while we did not visit it, there is also a beautiful castle directly across the river called Sanlúcar de Guadiana. You can take a ferry across the river if you want to visit.)
With a population of only 3000, Alcoutim is a picturesque hillside town. Our drive there over a lightly trafficked winding road ran through green hills and valleys. When we got to the town we followed signs for Centro. Actually, at one point we took a right at a sign for the castle by mistake. We found ourselves in a small parking lot and had to do a three-point turn to exit. At this point, the streets were very narrow and not clearly marked as to their direction. So Denise asked that I get out of the car and walk ahead of the car to warn her as to what might be beyond the next 120-degree turn. I walked, and she drove (slowly) for two blocks until we found what looked like a normal width road to our left. We followed it across a bridge and found a long-covered parking area. Unable to find a meter anywhere, we decided that the city was generous to provide free, covered parking.
Restaurante O Soeiro
We walked the few blocks into town to find the restaurant. As the town is quite small, and she had read the restaurant overlooked the river, it didn’t take long to find it. As it was a rainy day, their outdoor dining was closed. Instead, we were led to the only open table which happened to be for two on the third floor. We sat down to enjoy the best fish lunch we have had since arriving in Portugal.
It was a Tuesday, which happens to be “fish day” at the restaurant. There were 7 or 8 grilled offerings, all were fish. We choose the robalo, sea bass, which is a very traditional Portuguese fish dish. It is typically grilled and served with boiled potatoes and a salad. The restaurant has a dressing of olive oil, garlic, and minced onion that can be put over your fish, potatoes, and salad. If you go…ask for it. And drench your meal in it. In fact, take some home and bathe in it. It is fabulous! But even without the oil, the fish was tender and flakey. It seemed they put a healthy coating of crushed salt over the fish before grilling it, which made the dish sing.
A Church, A Castle, Some Boats, and a Cat
After lunch, we retrieved Onix from the car and took a little stroll. The Igreja Matriz de Alcoutim, built in the 14th century and among the best examples of Renaissance architecture in this area, unfortunately, was not open.
We walked along the river admiring the boats and the white-washed Spanish village.
And we spotted a door whose color perfectly complemented its house color.
But the next time we visit, we will be coming from Spain via zip-line…see below. (This attraction reopened this week!
Next Week: filing your taxes twice and the rise of the right in Europe.