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Unknown places to walk – the river Alva dams

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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Walking the Douro Valley – Portugal

Walk the Douro Valley trails and paths, Portugal

Walking along the river Douro – Portugal

The Douro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and walking along the river Douro is a unique experience.

From the belvedere of São Salvador do Mundo (Saint Savior of the World), we can see a huge portion of river Douro.

The Belvedere is at 493 m high (1617 feet) at the top of a long slope.

At the top, you can see both river bank’s completely filled with vineyards.

Port wine and table Douro wine are produced here.

Looking around, the river dominates the landscape. Is like a long snake on its way to the ocean.

Almost all we can see from here are steep shores with vineyards.

Is there something else besides vineyards?

In the few little spaces that man is not be able to extract wine from the land, proud olive trees will be found whose fruit will produce one of the best Portuguese olive oils, the Douro Valley olive oil.

In addition to the olive trees, the almond trees stand out in number and, the closer we get to Pocinho, the almond trees become more numerous.

Is in the Algarve and Trás-os-Montes regions where there is a greater abundance of almond trees in Portugal.

The Douro train line.

This is an overwhelming location.

From this high point, a huge number of other summits can be spotted. There are countless mountains around here, spread as far as the human eye can reach.

Down the steep slope, very close to the river, the train slips through the railways. It looks like a toy.

It’s hard to distinguish the train and sometimes it seems like a caterpillar being swallowed by the landscape.

In fact, the train is going into some tunnels existing along the railway.

When the train passes, it always causes for joy and excitement.

I love to imagine what the people inside the train think about the group of walkers who apparently are in the middle of nowhere.

The train stations are perfect locations for brief stops, to eat a snack, and we can also admire the hand-painted tiles.

Porto São Bento, Pinhão and Pocinho are the train stations where you can see wonderful hand-painted tiles.

If you want to know more about the train ride please access here.

About the walks.

You can find many different kinds of walks.

Some of them are quite easy, on paved surfaces,  with wide-open views, as you can see in one or another photo here.

But the walks to the highest points are not easy, especially if you lack training but with some patience and walking slowly you will overcome the strong inclination of the trails.

In the end, at the top of the hill, you will finally get the reward for the effort by looking to these wide landscapes.

I prefer to walk during the first hours of the day.

It’s usually quite pleasant with a cold breeze and even some fog on the water.

Photo opportunities.

The river water condenses in the air, leaving a very slight mist. It gives a mystical ambiance to the Sunrise complementing this idyllic setting.

This is gold for photography lovers.

I can also say that this is a paradise for landscape photography with all sorts of angles.

The weather.

During summer months is very hot.

As the day progresses it starts to get warm reaching 40º C (104ºF) or higher during the summer.

However, early Spring or during the Fall one can have very nice weather.

When walking down towards the river, we will notice an increase in temperature, especially at a half hillside.

We understand why these grapes ripen so early in the season and we understand how life can be so hard around here for those who are harvesting vines.

A large part of these grapes are harvested by hand and, during harvesting season, there are numerous teams of people hired from everywhere to participate in the harvest.

What kinds of wine can we get here?

Port wine and table wine from the Douro region.

In another post, I will detail a bit more matters concerned with the port wine, the wine production, and the harvesting.

What about hand-painted tiles?

There is a long tradition of hand-painted tiles in Portugal and we can find impressive tile works in these train stations.

The train stations of Pinhão and Pocinho are the most impressive, hand-painted tiles wise.

When to visit the Douro Valley?

Between April and the end of May and between mid-September to late October the Douro Valley is just perfect to visit and to walk around.

Anyway, there is no one time better than the other, there are different seasons and with very different scenarios, although this is my favorite months.

Visiting the Douro Valley in September/October you will see the end of the harvesting season. The vines have dark red leaves and the scenario is an impressive spectacle of shades of red and one can take amazing photographs.

The grapes harvesting is probably the most important time of the year and all around you can see people carrying baskets of grapes in a huge frenzy.

What else to do in the Douro Valley?

This is a wine region so wine tastings are to be expected.

If you are at Pinhão, the heart of the Douro Valley, you can try one of the many farms with wine tastings.

Is also a good opportunity to earn more about Port wine and its differences versus still wines.

Suggestion: you can try Quinta do Bomfim for a wine cellar visit.

Enjoying one of the several upscale lodgings is an experience that worth the cost.

A suggestion: Quinta Nova Nossa Senhora do Carmo

In a landscape dominated by the River, the hike could not finish better than with an excellent ride on a Rabelo boat.

The Rabelo boat is the wooden typical boat of the Douro River that was once used to transport the barrels of wine to Vila Nova de Gaia, in front of Porto.

From Vila Nova de Gaia, the wine was then shipped to the rest of the world.

The river waters are usually calm and the Rabelo boat, with its wide hull, is a very stable and comfortable vessel, sailing toward the mouth, to the West.

Ahead of us, the sunset is the end of a fabulous day, a treasure to save.

Suggestion: Magnífico Douro Wooden Rabelo Boats for a boat ride.

Check our tour to the Dour Valley here.

David Monteiro

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Visiting Portugal – where to go, what to visit?

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Visiting Portugal – where to go, what to visit?

Where to go, what to do when visiting Portugal?

Where to go, what to do when visiting Portugal, must be the question I answer more often in this context.

Of course, the answer will always depend on who is asking. Not everyone enjoys doing the same things.

Not only will depend on individual preferences but also depends on the time and money you have available to spend in this country.

My answer could be very different for those who want to visit Portugal for walking vacations or for those who want to spend some time in Portugal relaxing on the beach or visiting museums.

However, I will try to simplify the idea and try to draw a plan to the visitor who wants to spend some time in Portugal, having active vacations but not necessarily for walking in the countryside.

Will be a plan for a visitor who values visiting areas with some History, values tasting the Portuguese cuisine and local wines, and is also interested in our cultural differences.

I will also consider this visitor prefers to see the sites in a more relaxing way rather than jumping from site to site in a frenetic race … more quality instead of quantity.

In relation to the time length, I will consider two possibilities: 7 days and 14 days.

For both options, I find it fascinating to do the trip from North to South, in which the city of arrival will be Porto and Lisbon the departure city where there are more flight connections with the rest of the world.

7 days: 2-Porto; 1-Guimarães; 1-Fátima/Óbidos; 2-Lisbon; 1-Sintra/Cascais

14 days: 2-Porto; 1-Guimarães; 1-Viana do Castelo; 1-Pinhão (Douro Valley); 2-Coimbra/Fatima/Óbidos; 3-Lisbon; 2-Évora and surroundings; 1-Sintra/Cascais; 1-Setúbal/Tróia/Arrábida

Each of these sites has a remarkable History, different customs, and typical gastronomy and wines to accompany and I will write about these places on this blog.

Join me to tour in Portugal.

David Monteiro

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Walking from Fuenterrabia to San Sebastian – Spain

Walking from Fuenterrabia/Hondarribia to San Sebastian/Donostia, Basque Country, Spain.

I loooove to walk … that is obvious … however is not an absolute truth because there are walks I love more than others and some walk I hope not have to do them.

Each walk has its charm but for a walk to enter into my favorites gallery the walk has to have something special like a story, History, superb views, extraordinary places or, something less objective, has to have that je ne sais quoi that will make it special.

The Spanish Basque Country is widely known by its gastronomy and there there is also a quite long and beautiful coastal line.

When I first started to analyze the trail from Hondarribia (Fuenterrabia in Spanish) to Donostia (San Sebastian in Spanish) I didn’t know what to expect so I was open to whatever I could find.

Hondarribia is a Spanish Basque village at the border with Hendaye a French Basque village and, in between these two Basque villages, you can find the river Bidasoa. Is a village full of life where you will find a lot of bars with amazing pintxos.

There’s a trail here that will take you directly do Donostia, always along the Cantabric coast and that was the trail I first thought about doing. Has 30 Km with 1400 m of elevation gain, challenging but not too difficult.

In the meantime, I realized that not too far from the trail there was quite a good number of elements that are quite interesting to visit while doing the walk and that could increase the charm of the walk, decrease the length, reduce the elevation gain a little bit and increase the charm … looks like a good deal.

The trail ended up having 27 Km with 1100 m of elevation gain. Is still a challenging walk but with added value. Not too bad, I knew that some of my clients would love to do it.

Now I know that I can either do the trail in one shoot or split it in two wonderful walking days.

During the trail you can visit/see:

And, before crossing Donibane de Pasaia you can have lunch in a wonderful terrace by the river Oiartzun mouth looking to the sea.

Arriving to Donostia will be time to have a deserved bath and a nice meal. One thing that you will find in abundance in Donostia is restaurants where you have a superb dinner.

I already did this walk with clients and they loved everything. For sure I will repeat it.

Enjoy yourself.

David Monteiro

Location: San Sebastian, Spain

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Casas do Côro at Marialva, glamorous village hotel – Portugal

Casas do Côro at Marialva, glamorous village hotel - Portugal

Some places deserve to be referred and "Casas do Côro" is certainly one of them, a glamorous village hotel in a spectacular landscape.

Most of the times, when I think about traveling, I will first think about where to go and then where to stay. However, in some cases is totally the opposite.

With Casas do Côro (http://www.casasdocoro.pt/), the lodging itself is the destination. Around it, there are plenty of things that can be done like countryside walks, ride a mountain bike, a guided castle visit and also visiting other small historical villages.

Casas do Côro is located in Marialva which is one of the twelve Portuguese historical villages as you can check at http://www.aldeiashistoricasdeportugal.com/en/. It worth visiting all the historical villages and Marialva is no exception.

Marialva is a village older than Portugal, isn’t that funny? Portugal was founded in the XII century AD and Marialva was founded by the Romans probably during the II century AD.

But, if you think that you will go to Marialva and you will find there a building with a sign saying “Hotel” you couldn’t be more mistaken.

When visiting Marialva you will notice that a certain part of the village is better preserved and has some kind of harmony even in the chaos of the narrow streets of the village. This newer area is the hotel.

Casas de Côro is composed of an increasing set of rebuilt stone houses and there is a bigger house where one can find the restaurant, a living room, kitchen and breakfast area … lovely concept, a village hotel.

In each stone house you will find a complete house, I mean with rooms (with private bath), living room, kitchen and even a small yard.

The decor is absolutely fabulous but never ostensive. If I need to find only one word to describe it I will say elegant … yes, very elegant.

This is the kind of place a Tour Leader loves because everything works like a Swiss watch, the service is as good as everything looks like, just perfect.

One starts to wonder about the reason behind the success and the elegance until talking with the owners Paulo and Carmen Romão. You will feel they live the hotel and consequently, the hotel mirrors them and it’s their heart and soul.

I know the place since 2010 and I’ve been there on many different occasions, in all the stations of the year.

Although I can say that it was always good independently of the time of the year, is with bad weather conditions that I prefer the place.

Several times I returned to the hotel with the guests, all of us completely wet from the rain and cold from the hard wind after a walk in the woods and the people there had lightened the fireplace thinking about us. Upon our arrival, we were greeted with a “Would you like some hot tea to warm you up?” … this is pure gold.

If you have an opportunity, visit the place and enjoy yourself.

David Monteiro

Location: Marialva, Portugal

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Visiting Sintra – what to do/visit?

What to do and where to go when visiting Sintra.

Facing the dilemma of having too many options when having only one day to visit Sintra? Let me give you a hand.

Sintra is internationally known for its deeply romantic environment by its palaces that seem to have come out from a Walt Disney fairy tale. Actually, they tell very real stories and they are also carriers of our past until present days.

Please check: Romanticism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanticism

Every time I go to Sintra I have the fantasy of imagining elegant 19th-century gentlemen strolling along the streets of Sintra with their mistresses (yes, mistresses) carrying small umbrellas that one can never know if they were meant to protect their holders from the sun or from some indiscreet looks. At the evening, for tea or for dinner, the secret couple receives at their chalet the gentleman’s best friend and his adorable lover.

I believe that this lover’s net is part of the Portuguese who soon learned to enjoy the works of Eça de Queirós, a Portuguese writer of the 19th century that wrote a famous novel called “Os Maias”, among many others, and we had to learn about it during high school. Also, Sintra’s warm summer together with the haze that often hangs on these surroundings, are elements that help to create this mystical and romantic environment.

Walking in Sintra is effectively immersing yourself into the romantic atmosphere of the 19th century. This century was so important to Sintra that I cannot imagine how this place would be like without the events that happened during the 19thcentury, to better explain myself I list some important events occurred during that period of time:

– 1808: the signing of the Convention of Sintra which put terms to the first French invasion

– 1808: Lord Byron stayed in Sintra

– 1838: Ferdinand II acquired the convent of Nossa Senhora da Pena (actual Pena Palace) and the Moorish Castle

– 1858: Major rebuilding works on Monserrate

– 1887: Lisbon-Sintra train line was inaugurated

– 1892: barons of Regaleira sold Quinta (farm) to António Augusto de Carvalho Monteiro.

In this very synthetic list we can see important references to buildings/monuments considered today as great monuments of Sintra and events that are closely linked with the romantic image we have today of this village, as an example please notice the time spent in Sintra by Lord Byron the author of a famous version of Don Juan and many other works that promoted Sintra as a romantic village.

In 1992 the cultural landscape of Sintra was classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO and this was also another crucial step to Sintra’s promotion. Nowadays Sintra is a “must see” place when considering a travel to Portugal.

Sintra is not far from Lisbon. Is less than one hour by train from Lisbon, taking the train at Rossio train station, right in the Centre of the city. The train is a very simple, fast and economical way to reach this village as opposed to driving that can turn to be annoying because sometimes is difficult to park or even to arrive at the historical center of Sintra.

When in Sintra, please go to the Tourist Office, the employees are incredibly friendly and very professional. They will show you many options for your day.

The great difficulty will be: what to select considering to have an only half day or one day?

Well, being this a blog of walking is also a blog of cultural options as well. Anyway, is probably expected to find here some information’s about walks in Sintra. I am sorry, but the walks in Sintra hills and woods do not fascinate me as much as the monuments that are a must see of beauty and diversity as also I love the walks in Sintra village as well.

I know that most of the Portuguese people you will talk they will refer the walks in Serra de Sintra (Sintra’s hills) but, believe me, Sintra’s monuments or village you won’t find them anywhere else.

There are so many to see and not having all the time in the world, what to select?

I do not know what to answer because it depends on what each one loves to see but I will try to summarize the most important things of each place for those who have between half a day to one day to spend here.

The focus will be on the following monuments/places: Pena National Palace, Sintra National Palace, Moorish Castle, Quinta da Regaleira and the village Sintra itself.

Please forgive me for leaving out other spectacular monuments but a selection had to be done.

The time it takes to visit a monument will depend on the interest for detail, the background history, and many other elements. One photographer can take easily half an hour in a place where a relaxed walker will stay only for a few seconds.

However, there is a general idea of the time it can take visiting each site and is what I will refer to during this post.

I am not going to detail what we can see in the monuments because you can find plenty of good information on the internet. I will give you a general idea of you can expect to visit each place and the time it will take to visit so you can better organize your time.

Pena National Palace

We can divide the space in two: the Palace and the Park.

The Palace takes between an hour and a half to two hours to visit and another hour to the Park.

The Palace, despite its existence, while chapel that contradictory sources point to the end of the 14TH century and others for the 16th century, is in the 19th century that begins the construction of the spectacular monument we see today. The interior is like a fairy tale, full of color, full of nooks and a fabulous example of a moment built in a certain time in History when wealthy families began to receive guests at their home and give more value to socialization. Also, major changes were happening in the intimate dynamics of the family life – the architecture of the palace was quite innovative at the time in what family dynamics were concerned.

D. Fernando II bought a former convent and built the Palace from the convents structure. He was the regent king, married with queen D. Maria II. We were born in Vienna, Austria.

The Palace is the vision of a foreigner perfectly fitted to this country with both modern and classic concepts brought from Northern Europe.

The Park is quite nice for a relaxed walk. You will see some lakes, high points that serve as a lookout and a collection of very interesting trees and plants.

Walking in the Park, there is a point not to be missed is the Giant, a statue from where you have a fabulous view of the Pena Palace and the surrounding area.

Sintra National Palace

Is one of the ex-libris of Sintra appearing in many photo brochures, is very easy to recognize by its two huge chimneys. It is located in the center of the most touristy part of the village and therefore, maybe because of that, is also known as “Palácio da Vila” (Village’s Palace).

In addition to being a spectacular place and all its merits, you may want to choose it for more practical reasons: it’s right in the Centre of the village, it is very accessible.

The visit takes about an hour and a half and what I find most amazing in this monument is that during the visit we feel we are in a space that brought to the present days bit of every moment of its existence and, considering that it exists since the 14TH century, with major renovations in the 15th century, we have the sensation of walking through history.

Also important is the fact that it was a Royal Palace, it has sumptuous spaces and full of meaning, as the room of the coat of arms.

Despite the immense beauty of many of its rooms, the kitchen is a fantastic place and maybe one of the funniest sites because we can see inside these chimneys that mark the landscape of the village. At the top of this post, you can see an outside photo of this palace.

 

Moorish Castle

As the name implies, is a castle built during the Moorish occupation period. However, although with not very strong evidence, some people believe that before the Moorish period this place would have initially been holding some Visigoth’s constructions.

With a military objective, is located in the highest area of the outskirts of the town and, as such, we can have a great view from the top of the Castle, providing excellent photos being the Pena Palace, perhaps, one of the most photographed spots from here.

Is a medieval castle and so a Spartan environment and their wall and towers are what is there to see. A visit to the Castle takes about one hour and a half.

Quinta da Regaleira

 I must say that I love Quinta da Regaleira for a good number of reasons. In addition to being an extraordinary monument represents also a dream made reality, a dream of someone who was neither King nor Aristocrat, was a merchant, a living proof that personal fortune can be used to make long-lasting works.

With a ten-minute walk from the historic center of Sintra, you will arrive at this place and the visit takes between two to three hours.

At the end of the 19TH century Quinta da Regaleira was bought by Carvalho Monteiro from the barons of Regaleira and after that, he built this magnificent palace with the technical support of the Italian stage designer/architect Luigi Manini.

For the monuments visits, I strongly advise that the visitors are accompanied by a guide or some information that will guide them. This visit is undoubtedly one monument where guidance will make a huge difference, without it you will not enjoy the charm of a story that seems to have come out from a fairy tale.

Within the Quinta da Regaleira there are many points of interest such as the Regaleira Tower, the Palace, the chapel of the Holy Trinity, the Initiatic Well and the wood.

Is, without doubt, one of my favorite places.

Sintra

 This village presents itself as an exponent of romanticism while urban cluster and is, by itself, an excellent reason to visit. Reserve about two hours to walk in the village. For your guidance and better time management, at the tourist office, you can collect some urban walks leaflet.

Whatever the route you will take, there are some points you should not miss, they are:- Taste the traditional small cakes: “Queijadas de Sintra” (Sintra’s cheesecakes) and the “Travesseiros” (Pillows) – traditionally are sold at the Periquita coffee shop;- Other traditional cakes but less known: “Fofos de Belas”, “Agualvas” and ” Nozes Douradas”

If you are going to have lunch or dinner then look for some restaurant where you can ask the local dishes: “Leitão de Negrais”, Roasted Lamb, Southampton of pork “Mercês” style, Sintra’s Veal or one of the many grilled fish.

Please be aware that the purpose of this post is not to do an exhaustive description of the monuments or places but help you, giving information to help you decide about what to see/do during a visit to Sintra.

About every monument, you will find a lot of literature on the internet.

Enjoy your day.

David Monteiro

Location: Sintra, Portugal

 

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Walking in the Serra da Freita – must see / must do

Walking in the Serra da Freita – must see / must do.

I’m a little nervous about writing this post. “Serra da Freita” (Freita’s hills) is one of the places that inspired me to start this long walk to become a professional on Active Tourism and I do not know if I will have enough talent in the art of writing in order to fairly reward this site.

However, I feel that this blog will never be complete if it does not have some something written about Serra da Freita.

I’ve done a lot of hiking in the hills area, repeating the same and doing many others that I never had the opportunity to repeat.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Serra da Freita” is also an area where I did many other activities besides walking such as climbed, canyoning, hydrospeed and rafting not far from 

here. However, this being a blog of walking, I will confine myself to this theme.

The translation of “Serra” is hills or small mountains and we often use the word “Serra” for the name of a short mountain area. Here I will be writing about Serra da Freita as well as about Serra da Arada.

Frecha da Mizarela

201208Freita (76)This waterfall, with more than 70 m high, is the business card of Serra da Freita.

Is part of a system of cascades that as a whole exceeds 90m high. This beautiful waterfall landscape and the vision of many other smaller waterfalls is what we can expect when we walk in this area.

Ribeira is a small village that lies at the foot of this system of cascades and the trail that goes along this watercourse could not be more spectacular. Here you will find many small ponds where 

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DSCN1717When we walk from Ribeira to Mizarela we can choose between walking along the watercourse as I mentioned or, from a certain point, choose a little “detour” and climb (very easy climbing) some rocks on the right side of the waterfall Frecha da Mizarela. Is a low-difficulty climbing but that of course always requires some care.you can bathe in the crystal-clear waters or simply enjoy showering at the waterfalls.

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All the people who made this trail with me felled in love for place, is without doubt a fabulous  hike.

This trail requires us to cross a small pond so we better have our swimming gear with us and a nice pair of rubber sandals.

It’s so fun to walk this trail that nobody forgets it.

A rock giving birth to another rock

Talking about a rock giving birth to another rock looks like we are talking about the “Lord of The Rings” saga but this time it’s really true.

There is a rare geological phenomenon which results in the granite rock releasing some crystals that will form new chunks of rock. Apparently, this phenomenon can only be seen in two places in the world, near Castanheira, a village in Serra da Freita and somewhere in Russia. I do not know if whether there will be other places but as much I investigated there is only these two places.

It is very interesting to see the new stones because they look like flattened black eggs and on the mother rock you will find kind of a nest where the “baby” rocks was formed.

See the translated version of Wikipedia at: http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedra_parideira

Tungsten mine – Rio de Frades – Cabreiros – Tabelião

DSCF2925Rio de Frades (River of Friars) is a small village deeply marked by what used to be a tungsten mine.

The tungsten mine’s, today in ruins, began in 1914. This metal hardens the ammunition and makes them more resistant.

These mines belonged to a German company named “Mining Company of North of Portugal”, drilled more than 6 km of holes along the river from where they extracted this rare metal to be sold during the first and second world wars.

Nowadays you will only find its ruins and a small highly stratified village, as it was the standard way of living in those contexts of mining communities.

The river with the same name as this village, has fabulous landscapes hidden in its valley. Small turquoise lakes and astonishing cascades are only accessible using the techniques and knowledge to do so.

Walking along the trail from Rio de Frades we will arrive to Cabreiros a charming village with lovely stone houses, a typically village. From here we can go until Tebilhão on bucolic trail, flanked by granite stone walls.

From Póvoa das Leiras to Covêlo de Paivô

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After the stone houses of the village (Póvoa das Leiras) there is a trail that leads us to a stone platform path that goes almost until Covêlo de Paivô, downhill always at half-slope.

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After this long walk we will arrive to Covêlo of Paivô, but not before crossing a large natural pool … a bath is “compulsory”. The crystal clear water with small fishes makes us feel like it should be in paradise.Despite not having any proof, this route appears to have been a work of

Romans, is one of those trails that one must put on the list of must-sees.

Arouquesa beef and goats from the hills

IM000090.JPGThe sighting of grazing cattle when we walk is always an interesting moment and here these moments happen often because breeding is a strong source of income to the locals.

Around here we can find mainly cows and goats.

The arouquesa cow breed is highly appreciated and its meat reaches high values on the market is.

Arouquesa cows are docile animals with a candid look and with an impressive pair of horns that easily awakens your deepest sense of respect.

Goats are also very numerous and abundant are also the products t

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hat this animal provides us such as the milk to do goat cheese … nhummy 🙂

Covas do Monte is another small village with an interesting particularity: is has about 75 inhabitants and we can find here more than 2000 goats coming out every day in the morning to go graze on the hills, a spectacle worthy of seen and living as a shepherd for one day.

Gastronomy

IM000213.JPGThere is no place in Portugal about which there is not a lot to talk about gastronomy and this area is no different.

I would like to point out two typical dishes: Serra da Arada lamb baked in wood-burning oven and the roasted aroquesa veal.

They are both, of course, dishes based on products of the mountains such as the veal aroquesa, the lamb, vegetables and other products, both worked with the traditional techniques and equipment as the wood-burning oven, trays and platters of clay and slowly baking the meat to be tender and without losing their juices and flavors.

Of course the wine we drink around here is the Dão doc but on this spectacular wine I’ll write a post one day.

Are you willing to meet the Serra da Freita and Serra da Arada? I hope so:) Here I am to go walking with you in the Serra da Freita and share these wonders.

David Monteiro

Location: Arouca, Portugal

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Mudejar Architecture in Teruel, Spain

Mudejar Architecture in Teruel, Spain.

In 711 AD Moorish troops crossed the Strait that today we know by the name of Strait of Gibraltar and in less than 20 years they conquered almost all the Iberic Peninsula with the exception of some Christian strongholds like the case of Covadonga up north in the Picos da Europa mountain range.

Obviously this occupation brought profound changes to the local Christian Visigothic civilisation. In terms of the architecture, nowadays we can visit some magnificent monuments left by this Muslim people like the Alhambra or the Cordoba Mosque.

This occupation last for around 700 years, if we count the time between the Guadalepe Battle in July 711 AD and the War of Granada that took place from 1482 until 1492 where the Moorish definitely defeated.

Immediately after the Moorish invasion the Christian started a process called “Reconquista”, reconquest that had the objective of regaining their lost territory. Apparently it started with a rebellion lead by Pelayo in 722 AD.

Well, from 722 until 1492 is the period of the Reconquista, around 700 years of a slow transition returning to a Christian society and is during this time and this process that a new architectural style emerges, the Mudejar style. It includes both gothic and Moorish architectural elements.

I truly love History and the period of the Moorish occupation is one of my favorite times in the Spanish History so is not too difficult to imagine how much I love Mudejar style.

Teruel is a city located halfway from Madrid and Barcelona, in the province of Aragon, and an extraordinary example of Mudejar architecture. I love to walk here and imagine how life was back then.

It worth to travel here … oooh yes it does. The Mudejar architectural style is classified as World Heritage by UNESCO (please check http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/378) and Teruel an extraordinary example.

There are plenty of monuments to visit in Teruel and there no need for me to list them here because the information is widely available. However there are three monuments that are my favorits:

The Lovers of Teruel – http://www.teruelversionoriginal.es/Turismo/home_eng.nsf/documento/los_amantes_de_teruel

The Historical Archive of Teruel . http://www.patrimonioculturaldearagon.es/archivo-historico-provincial-de-teruel

Torre de San Martin – http://www.patrimonioculturaldearagon.es/bienes-culturales/torre-de-san-martin-teruel

In future posts I will write about walking trails not too far from Teruel.

Have fun.

David Monteiro

Location: Teruel, Spain