Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few former Portuguese colonies around the world, notably Macau, China (twice) & Goa, India (three times now). So although I hadn’t been to Portugal before a few days ago I did feel like I knew what to expect. Everything has lived up to expectations so far. I’m in a small village called Gradil, about 30 minutes drive north of the capital Lisbon. It’s an eerily quiet, relaxed place with whitewashed walls, cobbled streets & friendly locals, although there doesn’t seem to be too many of the latter around.
If you need to switch off & get away from things for a while you could do worse than to come here to Gradil. There’s not much stiring here. You’ll see locals walking the quiet, picturesque streets. But not many. And not too often. Bring a few books. It’s that kind of place. Gradil, Mafra (), Portugal. August 21st 2013.
Gradil is the kind of village where everyone knows each other’s business and where strangers like me stand out like a spare thumb or, to use a cruder albeit more appropriate analogy, a spare prick at a wedding. Because that’s why I’m here you see, to attend a wedding. Myself & the rest of the wedding party are based at a quinta, a wine producing estate that overlooks the village. There’s not a whole lot to do around here so that’s exactly what I’ve done since arriving 2 days ago – not a whole lot. That said, I have taken myself & my camera for a few walks around the village & in the hills of vines surrounding the quinta.
Vines of the Quinta de Sant’Ana estate in the hills above Gradil. The vines are part of the 10 hectares of vineyards found on the Quinta de Sant’Ana Estate, an historic family run wine estate that also offers an escape for guests seeking relaxation in charming traditional summer houses set around equally charming & equally traditional courtyards. This is home for my 4 nights in the region (the wedding I’m attending is also being hosted here). Guests are encouraged to explore the surrounding landscape and so with little else to do I did exactly that towards sunset on my second day in the village. Quinta de Sant’Ana, Gradil, Mafra, Portugal. August 21st 2013. Mafra, Portugal. August 21st 2013.
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A dove perched on the roof of the ornate chapel of Quinta de Sant’Ana estate. Off the main courtyard of the Quinta, the church, dating to 1633, is the oldest part of the estate. The dozen or so doves who call the courtyard home really push the idyllic-o-meter into overdrive. Gradil, Mafra, Portugal. August 21st 2013.