I am hopelessly in love with Portugal.
When I lived in Spain for two years, the school that I worked at was within let’s-go-grab-a-coffee distance from the Portuguese border.
My friends, then-boyfriend (now husband <3), and I would hop over to Portugal on a pretty regular basis to yes, grab a coffee, but also to just stroll the cobblestoned streets, admire the tiled buildings, and wander the beautiful mix of historical and natural beauties that you can find in literally every city, town, and village of this precious country.
Tomás and I came to love Portugal so much that we decided to honeymoon there, and now, when we return to Spain every summer to visit his family, we always make sure to spend a few days in our favorite neighbor nation.
This past June, our Portuguese destination of choice was Beja, a wonderful little city in the Alentejo region of south-central Portugal.
During our two days in Beja, we slept in a 13th century convent, strolled around a 13th century castle (good century, that 13th), and ate way too much of the most delicious artisan bread.
But the part of that trip that burns the most brightly in my mind is the evening walk we took through the center of the city.
The shops were closed, but the street lamps and neon glowed bright, and the winding lanes felt simply enchanted as we slowly traversed a part of the city that felt touristy by day, but just magical by night.
We passed some other couples, as well as a few families with small children also out enjoying the fresh night air. But overall, the city felt uninhabited — silent, sleeping, and solely existing for our personal enjoyment.
I am not at all a night owl, and even when traveling prefer to spend my evenings curled up in bed with a good movie or a better book. However, after this sultry evening in Beja, I am much more curious about venturing out to experience nighttime versions of the places we visit.