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Ventana - An Enchanting Resort in BIg Sur

Summary: I love Ventana. I highly recommend visiting  and exploring the landscape at Lime Kiln and Andrew Molera State Park which I've blogged about here. Please note this is #notsponsored . Yes, that means we paid our own bill! Lots of details in the following review. including a Post Ranch vs Ventana comparison.  Can you tell there's something exciting beyond this beautiful gate? There's something special about Big Sur, a magic in the light, the presence of the Pacific, the cliffs, beaches, redwood forests and the murmur of the surf. It's one of my favorite places in California. I couldn't think of anywhere else I wanted to be to celebrate turning fifty, because it's a place where there's a sense of nature, space and light and a wide horizon. We've been to Big Sur many times and for a celebration there are two fantastic hotels vying for your attention. The exclusive, modern and very private, cliff top Post Ranch Inn and on the other side of the road the …

A Palace, A Pousada and Medieval Monuments

Lisbon's quiet charm was such that we only made it out of the city on two brief jaunts, once to Sintra for a day trip and for a single weekend away visiting some great medieval monuments. There is so much to say about these sites. Batalha and Alcabaca are both well worth visiting and at the end of our weekend we made a quick stop at Mafra (above) to see the enormous royal palace  which was reminiscent of the endless rooms at Versailles.

I think Alcabaca (above) was my favorite  because give you a real sense of the religious lives of monks with their cloister, dormitory, kitchen and dining room.The church itself has a simple gothic elegance, with a very tall nave.
There are several wonderfully detailed tombs with dogs sitting faithfully at the feet of the deceased. I particularly liked this one.
It's a beautiful stone building and the double cloister is built directly onto the church.
The dining room above has a pulpit for sermons. 

This is the extraordinary kitchen where meals must have been prepared for hundreds. The scale is enormous and we've never seen a mediaeval kitchen like it.  You could roast several oxen under this chimney and there is an elaborate water system filling multiple sinks as well as huge marble tables for butchering or food preparation. 

The monks' dormitory has direct access to the nave which you can see at the end of the room in the photo below.  
The building went on and on and there are extensive areas and gardens that are not open to visitors, see below. Highly recommended and well worth visiting. I'll try to post some pictures of Batalha  and the pousada at Estremoz in another post.