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Relaxing at the SPA of Casas do Côro

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Relaxing at the SPA of Casas do Côro

Relaxing at the SPA of Casas do Côro, an off the beaten path hotel, after a walk in the Côa Valley is an experience I definitively recommend.

Are you looking for off the beaten path experiences? If so, this is for you.

Imagine spending a morning chatting and walking on the rolling hills of the Côa Valley.

To end your morning there is no better way than having a marvelous home cooking food at Ervamoira, a wine-farm from Ramos Pinto winery.

At this wine-farm, you can also visit a rock art engravings site with more than 25.000 years old drawings … amazing.

After this good meal and a cultural moment, is time for some walking.

The existence of several trails nearby gives you the opportunity to do a longer or a shorter walk as you please.

Walking is always a moment for extra chatting with your adventure companions while time flies.

One way or the other, one arrives tired at the end of the day and will be the perfect time to relax, enjoy some downtime.

In the Côa Valley your eyes can only see small villages, rural roads, some castles, and nothing more.

However, like hiding itself from most of the less curious people, you can find an extraordinary hotel with a not less impressive SPA area.

Its name is Casas do Côro.

… a massage followed by a warm bath … uuaauu …

The evening spent with friends and good wine is also unforgettable.

I can get used to this … and so do you.

Join me for a tour.

David Monteiro

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What is Port wine?

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What is Port wine ?

What is Port wine and how do you start by understating how to choose a Port to buy is what you will find in this post.

Port wine is probably one of the most know products from Portugal.

Is kind of a Portuguese icon.

Some people like it, some people don’t. What about you? Do you like it?

The truth is, there are so many kinds of this particular wine that you might never have tasted the one you love.

Maybe you tasted a Ruby with no idea there was a Tawny port or even a white.

Let’s map port wine so you can have a better understanding of this lovely wine.

You can call port wine or just Port.

Tawny, LBV, Ruby, Vintage, … these are some of the names that will see on the bottles.

What is the Port?

In the research I did, the definition of port wine that pleased me most is on Wikipedia and says “Port wine (also known as Vinho do Porto,…, and often simply Port) is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal.” (link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_wine)

Is Port so different from a regular table wine? If so, why is that?

Good … very simple, just drink one and drink the other and you will see big differences.

Port is sweeter and has higher alcohol content than table wine.

Regular red table wine has around 14% alcohol and a red Port around 20 or 22% alcohol.

As you already know, Port can only be produced in the region of the Douro Valley.

To produce Port or Douro table wine the same types of grapes are used. The production method is what makes the big difference between the two wines.

The whole process of picking and treading the grapes is equal to Port and table. The difference starts during the fermentation period.

To produce Port there will be a shorter fermentation period of 2 or 3 days and to produce table wine a regular fermentation period of 6 or 7 days.

Then, in the case of Port, to stop the fermentation process a certain quantity of wine spirits is added to fortify the wine.

As a result, we will get a sweeter wine because not all the sugar was transformed into alcohol and this wine will have a higher alcohol content because it was added wine spirits.

These wine spirits are neutral, colorless, with a 77% alcoholic content, it is generally added at the rate of approximately 115 liters of spirits per 435 liters of wine in fermentation, although this ratio can vary.

In relation to the types of Port, let us start by understanding how do they to relate to each other and then we will see some details of each category.

Are there several types of Port?

Yes, there are several types of Port.

Are they so different to the point of a regular person to feel the differences?

Ooohhh Yes.

Between the various categories, there are significant differences.

Nothing better than drinking different categories and feel the differences – this is the best part, naturally.

My intention is only to give a general idea about Port and help those who want to choose a bottle to take home or offer.

However, it is always good to taste them all – eheheheheh – that is the true choice of the knowledgeable.

What kind of categories for Port? 

Red – on the red’s you can find two different families:
Ruby and here you can find: Ruby, Recently, LBV (Late Bottled Vintage) and Vintage;
Tawny and you will find: Tawny, Tawny Reserve X number of years (10, 20, 30 or 40) and Harvesting

White – rated in accordance with its sweetener lever:  very sweet called “Lágrima”, “Sweet”, “Dry” and “Extra dry.

Rosé – with only one classification

In a future post, I will give you some insight about each kind of Port  I mentioned above.

There are a lot of pieces of information on the Internet about this subject but the biggest problem is to choose what to read.

I strongly recommend consulting the website https://www.ivdp.pt/ .

The IVDP is the Port and Douro Wines Institute and there you will find very good information.

To learn more in detail about the various categories of port wine can go directly to https://www.ivdp.pt/pagina.asp?codPag=64&codSeccao=2&idioma=1

Now it’s time to stop writing about it and go drink port wine.

I will drink a Tawny 10 years of Quinta de La Rosa, anyone with me?

“Saúde” (means health in Portuguese)

David Monteiro

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The Garrano Horse at Gerês National Park, Portugal

Garrano horses at Peneda-Gerês National Park, Portugal

The Garrano Horse at Gerês National Park, Portugal

Wild horses in Portugal at Gerês National Park.

Why are the Garrano horses so important?

In a territory with such ancient boundaries, such as Portugal, and where the human presence is almost everywhere, there are not so frequent wildlife sightings.

When these sightings happen, as it was in this case, it is always an exciting moment.

Garrano is a breed of Iberian horses.

We often tend to refer to Garrano horses as being Portuguese but the fact is the animal knows no boundaries and they can be seen both on the Portuguese side and on the Spanish side.

On the Spanish side, the Gerês (Gerês National Park) is called Xures, very similar.

These are horses of small stature, wrongly often referred to as ponies, adapted to the harsh conditions of the Gerês and with working horse characteristics.

It’s difficult to find the word to express how much I love seeing these free animals in the wild.

They are no longer in danger of extinction as once they were, it is a sign of hope in the future of coexistence between humans and wildlife.

This was a moment to remember.

David Monteiro

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How to visit Lisbon in one day?

Commerce Square, Lisbon
Commerce Square, Lisbon

Are you planning to visit Lisbon in one day?

I will leave here my suggestions on how to divide the time during a one-day visit to Lisbon and the best way to structure my suggestions is to divide the visit in morning, afternoon and after dinner.

You know the answer: that is impossible. However, what to do when a day is all the time we have to get to know Lisbon? Of course, we will have to make the most of the available time.

I will leave here my suggestions on how to divide the time during a one-day visit to the city and the best way to structure my suggestions is to divide the visit in morning, afternoon and after dinner.

JOIN ME FOR A TOUR

In this post, I will not include meals or lodgings because I will write about hotels and restaurants later.

Morning

– One monument visit: Jerónimos Monastery – this monastery is classified as UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built by King Manuel I in 1502 and it took about 100 years to be built. Is the maximum exponent of Manueline architecture, also known as the Portuguese Baroque.

– One tasting: Pastéis de Belém – as a result of the Liberal Revolution of 1820, in 1834 the convents and monasteries were closed. Was in this context that someone went to a sugar refinery close to the Jerónimos Monastery and put a few cookies on sale, these cookies are today known as the “Pastéis de Belém” and they must be the better worldwide known Portuguese sweets.

– The first walk: Baixa and Chiado – are two typical neighborhoods of the city and good representatives of the society of 18th and 19th centuries. Start by the view from the Viewpoint of São Pedro de Alcântara and walk downhill until the Camões Square and after this walk along the Garrett Street and end at Rossio. It is certainly a beautiful journey through Portuguese Romanticism and also a good opportunity to visit Baixa (downtown), the neighborhood that was built after the great earthquake of 1755.

Please check: Lisbon walking tour map – 1 of 2

– The second walk: Alfama and São Jorge Castle – Alfama is a medieval district and has been inhabited since the foundation of the city so it is here that we can find the oldest buildings in the city. Walking through the narrow streets of Alfama and observing its inhabitants is to know the typical Lisbon. Start your walk at the São Jorge castle and hence find the Miradouro das Portas do Sol from where we can see the roofs of Alfama, the quarter where we will walk until Terreiro do Paço.

Please check: Lisbon walking tour map – 2 of 2

Note: using a city map will help you making sense of all these names I’m mentioning.

Afternoon

Having walked in the morning, for the afternoon I will suggest more cultural moments for the afternoon, so I will propose a Museum and the Oceanarium visits.

– Museum of the City: it was easy to propose a visit to the Museum of Ancient Art (Museu de Arte Antiga), which is the most common suggestion you will find in terms of visits to museums. However, I believe this Museum, being an excellent Museum, does not offer something unique to those visiting Lisbon, here you will find excellent pieces that could be in any major European Museum but not necessarily Portuguese pieces. So I will propose a visit to the City Museum, a small museum, whose collection is not something extraordinary but has the particularity of being a very nice space and the collection is Portuguese, this is a truly Portuguese space.

– Oceanarium: is the second largest aquarium in the world which is by itself a sign of being something that you can hardly see elsewhere and has an extensive collection of marine creatures. It is located at Parque das Nações, which is an ideal area for a late afternoon beer and to end the active day.

After dinner

The visit to the city will not be complete without a stroll through the area of nightlife where you can have a drink and hear some music.

Of course, there are several areas in the city where this may happen but without complicating too much the explanation I would say that is in the Bairro Alto where you can find more diversity of bars.

Personally, I love bar “Pavilhão Chinês” (Chinese Pavilion), one of the most beautiful bars I know.

JOIN ME FOR A TOUR

Have fun in Lisbon.

David Monteiro

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Cliché photo of a waterfall in the Azores

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Cliché photo of a waterfall in the Azores

Some shots are irresistible.

I was at Flowers Island, at the Azores archipelago that belongs to Portugal, spending days of vacations and, contrary to the rest of the year I was not in the mood for physical activities, which I do all year round. I wanted to enjoy being there, the place and the tranquility.

But, after two days of heavy rain and being confined to this cheap hotel room the relaxation was starting to annoy me a great deal.

We had planned to spend two days at Corvo island but it was impossible to go out or to arrive in Flores, boats, and planes are not running because of the bad weather. So, that tour went down the drain.

After this two days, the plan was to go spend some more days at Fajã Grande, the opposite extreme of the island.

With so much rain the soil couldn’t absorb more water and the creek and waterfalls were pumping of life in movement and colors.

On our way to Fajã Grande at a certain moment I saw another waterfall but without realizing how far I was a didn’t pay too much attention, it was just another one and … who cares for pictures of water falling from a cliff?

I was not for cliché photos were at that time until I reached the road that is close enough ear the water falling and that was really far anyway.

Ok, I was totally convinced to stop and photograph the scene.

David Monteiro

Location: Waterfall of the “Ribeira Grande” and viewpoint of Fajãzinha, Flores Island, Azores archipelago, Portugal

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Unknown places to walk – the river Alva dams

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Unknown places to walk - the river Alva dams

The river Alva starts in the southwestern part of the Serra da Estrela and goes into the Mondego River upstream of Penacova, around 230km north from Lisbon.

At the mouth of the river Alva, and near Penacova, there are a number of small dams that allow a very interesting walk where we can cross the river several times from one side to the other, as we can see in the photographs of the various walks I led there.

With a good knowledge of the region, it is possible to predict the level of water passing over the dams in such a way that it becomes possible to do the crossings without taking your boots off.

 An unknown location, which does not come in tourist guides but well worth a visit and the hiking is fabulous, especially if it’s finished with a typical regional dinner with dishes such as “Chanfana” or a Lamprey Rice. I will write about these dishes later.

Let’s walk?

I will be expecting you.

David Monteiro

Originally posted 2015-12-28 12:37:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Aigüestortes National Park at the Pyrenees – Spain

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Photos from previous tours – please, click on one of the photos to enlarge.

Aigüestortes National Park at the Pyrenees – Spain.

The Park’s correct name is Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park but usually is referred as Aigüestortes because the name is quite long.

Is located in the central area of the Spanish Pyrenees and is the only national park in Catalonia.

Its territory is divided between the municipalities of Vall d’Aran, Pallars Sobirá, Alta Ribagorça and Pallars Jussà, about 200 km West of Andorra.

Was created in 1955 and today covers an area of approximately 40,000 hectares also considering the peripheral protected areas.

Is a natural space of great beauty where both water and granite appears in their maximum splendor and in surprising combinations.

With a high concentration of ridges often around 3,000 m high, as is the Punta Alta (3,015 m) and the Contraix (2,960 m), you will find a high contrast with the deep green valleys where streams flow with crystal clear waters.

The first time I visited this park I didn’t know what to expect, I thought this was another Pyrenees park as beautiful as the others I knew. I was wrong.

In between my circle of friends it was not very known and back then I couldn’t find much information about it so it took me a while to be interested in going there.

I remember to join a group of friends to climb the Vignemale and after that, because I still had a few days to spend so, together with my friend Carlos Queirós we decided to visit the park.

The first two days was quite foggy so I couldn’t really appreciate the place but on the third day it was just amazing, it was like walking in a postcard, I

My company logo was inspired in the mountains of the park and my active tourism entrepreneurial endeavor was begun, important landmarks for me.

Have fun,

David Monteiro

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Climbing our way up to Canchal de la Ceja – Spain

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The day was perfect to climb up to Canchal de la Ceja. The ice was hard, the snow was very firm and the sun was shining … just perfect.

Sometimes is just a question of luck, some other times it’s a result of a good planning but when you get a little of both you might get the best of all, like the day we spent at Laguna del Duque, not too far from Salamanca.

The access to the parking area is some how bizarre because you will need to remove an apparently locked chain that makes you wonder if one day you will arrive there and find it really impossible to open.

At Solana de Ávila you will find a narrow road that will lead you to the weirdest parking area and from here facing the dam wall, on your left you will find a trail, that’s the one.

Please be aware that on the right side of the dam wall there’s a hut you can use in case of emergency.

Usually I do a trail on the right side walking up to the summit, is a nice trail, not too difficult at all, accessible to most of the walkers.

On that day we wanted a more “vertical” wall so the left trail would suite us much better, a more technical way offering a moderate challenge.

The summit, Canchal de la Ceja is the highest point of the “Sierra de Bejar y Candelário” with 2428m and climbing up here via the Laguna del Duque is the most challenging way.

The day started quite foggy and I was not very enthusiastic but by around 10 am the sun came out and the day just turned to be perfect.

It was such a nice that I will repeat it.

Who will join me?

David Monteiro

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Canyoning with the three stooges at Salto de Bierge – Spain

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Once in a while I find astonishing  places, truly amazing locations.

It’s not easy for me to point one single place in between so many incredible places I know but sometimes there is something I can’t explain that makes location to shine in a different way it get stuck in my maind.

On the case of Salto de Bierge is quite obvious, just look to the pictures, the spot is definitely wonderful and, I can assure you that what you cannot see gives it even a greater interest.

This small dam of the river Alcanadre is located in the Sierra y Cañones de Guara Park, the Spanish Meca of canyoning. For those who don’t know what canyoning is please check this clip.

After a quite windy canyon the river Alcanadre arrives to a wide area where its waters slows down and spreads along a shallow bathing area.

Around here, besides being a pleasant area for a bath, one can jump from the river dam wall. It’s a 9,5m high wall and the falling will end in deeper waters, egnouphly deep to jump safely.

I came here for the first time on vacations with two friends, I was far from imagining that one day I would guide tours here.

At the time we thought it was a good idea to hire a local guide to l
ead us throughout the canyon, a real treat, really vacations time.

We was so excited that we didn’t pay too much attention to the guy saying: the canyon will require many jumps to the water increasingly higher along the way. The point here was that one of the three stooges was afraid to jump from high places.

As you can imagine it was quite an amusing morning until the moment that we arrived to the river dam wall and I realize that is was impossible for my friend to jump.

I never in the world could imagine he could say what he said: I WILL JUMP!!!!

I grabbed my disposable camera … dreadful camera … but the only one I had at the moment and I jumped to be able to capture his jump from a bottom up angle.

I was so excited that I almost lost the camera. Fortunately I was able to retrieve it.

One step to the void and there he was, the guy that refused all the jumps during all the canyon was jumping from the highest one.

The jump was immortalized in a lousy picture and all the crowd was clapping theirs hands … How did they knew? The third stooge had given short a speech before the jump telling everybody present about what was happening and the second stooge had is moment of glory.

What a day 🙂 thank you my friends for such memories.

David Monteiro

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A hard day at Sierra de Gredos – Spain

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A hard day at Sierra de Gredos – Spain

The wind was blowing tremendously strong intensifying the wind chill effect and the fog was preventing us to see more than 50m ahead.

I knew the summit Almanzor was not too far from the point where we was standing but we were still missing the most difficult part to climb.

The team was not prepared to overcome such a difficult task and, on top of that there was no point to continue.

I knew everybody was eager to reach the top … we were so close …

“THAT IS IT GUYS … WE HAVE TO RETURN”

It’s hard having to “stop the fun” especially when I knew that everybody had traveled from so far away to climb this mountain but I know today that was the right decision at that time.

(one day earlier)

I can’t say the day before was sunny and with a blue sky, was not. Was kind of foggy day but good enough for a ice climbing introduction and I had the opportunity to explain all the techniques I was supposed to and, at the end was a wonderful working day.

We spent the night at the Refúgio Elola, the local mountain hut and I remember the substantial dinner we had, was something like a goulash in a Spanish way, whatever that is.

The climbing day was supposed to have better weather but Nature has its mysteries and during the night the Gods might had some disagreement in between them.

I slept regularly, in mountain huts I never sleep deeply but the fair amount to rest. Anyway, inside the mountain hut one cannot have the perception of the weather outside.

We left the hut around 5am, just before sunrise. It’s always better to start walking with hard snow.

There was no way to see the clouds and or to assess the weather for the next hours.

Around 8am the weather was already giving us a hard time and we was right before being exposed to the most severe area, we was about to be at the north face of the mountain, the windiest part.

Half an hour later I had all the team tide up to a rock, all prepared to climb the last section but there was when I realized the team couldn’t continue and you know the rest.

I’m joining a picture of the place but with god weather so you can understand where was we 🙂

The mountain is still there so we will try another day.

David Monteiro