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July 2017 – Trekking tour in the Pyrenees, Aigüestortes National Park, Spain

Trekking tour in the Pyrenees, Aigüestortes National Park, Spain

Trekking tour in the Pyrenees, Aigüestortes National Park, Spain

Trekking tour in the Pyrenees, Aigüestortes National Park, Spain

Moderate/Challenging Level – level 3 in 5 max
7 days of moderate hiking, 6 nights in mountain huts + 2 optional nights in Barcelona (hotels)
Tours in 2017: 1st Jul 2017 – Reservation Deadline: 15th May 2017
or gather your group and select your own schedule

Check our photo gallery from previous tours (click on one photo to enlarge):

david-monteiro
David MOnteiro

Aigüestortes National Park (Spanish Pyrenees)

Aiguestortes National Park 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’s 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 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 trail

The trail is approximately 75 km long and is divided into 7 journeys/days.Carros de Foc

Is a 7 days long loop trail which goes through hills and valleys where you will find crystal clear water lakes that reflects the silhouettes of impressive granitic mountains.

The average elevation of the route lies on the quota of 2,500 m, sometimes reaching very close to 3,000 m.

During the course the hike you will have the opportunity to visit 8 mountain refuges among which 6 we will use to spend the night and dine.

The use of mountain huts allows you to do not have to carry excessive weight in your backpacks because there you will find very good food, shower and a place to sleep. More than that, these huts are also a meeting point for travelers from various points of the globe and the talking and exchange of experiences creates unforgettable moments.

The comfortable pace and moderate distances make this an accessible hike to most trekkers, even with little experience.

The map image above gives you an idea of the trail we will walk where the each colour corresponds to each journey/day.

The 1st and 8th nights will be spent in hotel on the outskirts of Barcelona Airport.
The remaining nights will be spent in mountain huts in Aiguestortes National Park, in the Spanish Pyrenees.

In each hut is possible to sleep and they will provide dinner, breakfast and the lunch for the next day.

aiguestortes-004-espana

Questions & Answers

How does it works?

You can join me for a pre set tour or gather your own group and establish your own schedule.

Reservation forms and respective payment will be received until Reservation Deadline.

Reservations are only considered effective with the respective payment.

I will provide all required information’s in order to help client’s to prepare their travel.

Clients will be meet at the Barcelona Airport upon their arrival and, at the end of the tour, they will be taken to the airport as well. Different arrangements (ex: pick up and drop off at a certain hotel) can be agreed case-by-case.

Accommodations and meals

The included six nights will be spent in mountain huts during the trekking tour.

Extra/optional nights in Barcelona, or any other location, can be agreed. Please contact us for more details.

In the mountain huts you will find a place to sleep, ward style, where you will get a mattress, a pillow and blankets. We suggest you to bring your own light sleeping bag.

In these huts you will be served with very good meals. You can have both breakfast and dinner in the hut and lunch is provided early in the morning, picnic style for you to carry in your backpack.

From Day 1 dinner to Day 7 lunch you will have all three meals per day included in the base price.

Luggage and backpack

Each client has a volume/weight luggage quota of 60 liters and/or 30Kg.

During the walk you will carry your backpack with only what you will need for the duration of the hike.

Your remaining luggage can be left in the town’s lockers.

Clothing, footwear and other individual items

We will be glad to provide you all the information you may need to help you to better prepare your travel.

Transfers during the tour

There will be a logistical support vehicle allocated to the tour.

The transfer Barcelona/Tour/Barcelona is included in the price.

Detailed Program

The Detailed Program is part of the documentation that the participant receives when the tour is confirmed.

Plane flights

You can purchase directly your plane flights.

Please bear in mind: last minute reservations can result in increased costs and booking difficulties.

Mountain huts

There are many kinds of mountain huts and the experiences we have had in some places are not necessarily equal to the experiences we will have in Aigüestortes National Park.

In the context of mountain huts at an European level, we will find a set of huts with very good conditions, very good management and very well attended.

Some are stone and masonry construction, with wooden interior for greater comfort level and most of them providing warm water for showers.

With capacities to between 20 and 70 people, depending on their size, they offer a set of miscellaneous services not losing their mountaineer charisma.

Each hut has its own management so you can find small differences in the rules. These rules are extremely important when so many different people get together in small places.

The photographs here used can give an idea of the appearance of some of the huts used during this tour. To those that do not have previous experiences using mountain huts, this is an excellent opportunity to start.

We can provide you all informative support to help you to in the preparation of your travel.

Those who already have other experiences will be probably pleased with the conditions they will find here.

Cell Phone: +351 914 794 553 (also in WhatsApp)

Skype: monteiro.david

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Pinhão, the heart of Port wine

Pinhão, the heart of Port wine

A wooden boat ride and Port wine tasting? I can get used to it 🙂

In a previous article, I was describing some suggestions about how to visit Porto in one day, what to do and what to see there.

Now I will be focusing in a suggestion as to what to do on a second day while staying lodge at Porto, like you, only had two days to visit the area.

Before carrying on with this subject, please bear in mind that this is a suggestion and I do not believe one can really know Porto and surroundings in two days, not a chance.

But … life is what it is and you may only have two days so you better do the best you can with the time you have.

If you spent one day in town so why not visit a place outside? And, in this case, taking a train to Pinhão, the heart of Port wine.

Well, let me describe to you a possible plan.

09:10 – Take the train at São Bento Train Station towards Pinhão
If you did the suggested walk of the previous post you know already where the São Bento train station is, if you don’t so please download the map and look for number 1.

09:10 / 11:41 – The train ride São Bento until Pinhão
It’s the same train from the beginning till the end, you will not need to change trains, it will cost you 10,95€ (Feb 2017) and yes it will take you 2h31m to get there but it will worth your time, the train goes mostly along the Douro river and it’s a lovely ride.

11:41 – You should leave at Pinhão.
12:00 / 14:00 – Rabelo boat ride
Rabelo boats are the traditional wooden boats that used to transport Port wine along the river to Porto or Gaia. Nowadays they are used for touristic rides and it can be a great experience. You can book in advance your ride at Magnífico Douro a local small company at Pinhão that does this kind of tours and that I recommend.

14:30 / 16:30 – Port wine tasting
After your boat ride, it’s time to taste a few Port wines and learn about the differences between a Ruby and a Tawny or what kind of white Port’s there are. You can book your visit at Quinta do Bonfim or Quinta de La Rosa. Two very different wine farms at a walkable distance from the boat.

18:19 / 20:45 – It’s time to return to Porto and you can take the train back to town.
Please verify the train schedule and prices at www.cp.pt

I know I didn’t mention a place to have lunch or even described the differences between the wine farms. That will be a matter for another post.

Stay tuned and have fun.

David Monteiro

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Porto walking tour map legend

Porto walking tour map legend

A suggested walk through the most iconic places of Porto possible in one day.

Hi.

In the previous post I shared a map from Porto, Portugal, with self-guided walking tour suggestion that will allow you to know some of the most iconic places of the town.

Please download the map.

In this post my intention is to share the above mentioned map’s legend so you can know what to look for and what the map’s number means.

On the following list you can find numbers from 1 to 14 and each number has the name of the respective site and a link that will lead you to a site that can give some background about the place.

Wikipedia plays an important role here and if you need you will jump to other information sources as you pleased. Also, you will find some information in Portuguese and you may need to have some help from Google translator if you do not speak the language.

1 – Estação de São Bento / São Bento Train Station

2 – Avenida dos Aliados / Aliado’s Avenue

3 – Mercado do Bolhão (Bulhão’s Market)

4 – A Pérola do Bolhão (Bolhão grocery store) 

5 – Café Majestic

6 – Teatro Nacional São João (theater)

7 – Igreja de Santa Clara (church)

8 – D. Luiz I bridge upper deck

9 – Mosteiro Senhora do Pilar (monastery)

10 – Caves Vinho do Porto (Port wine cellar)

11 – Ribeira (Ribeira’s neighborhood)

12 – Sé do Porto (See/Cathedral)

13 – Livraria Lello (Book store)

14 – Torre dos Clérigos (church tower)

This walk has around 6,5Km or 4mi and is planned to be done in one morning or one afternoon. Naturally you can do it at your own pace and take as much time as you like.

Have fun and let me know if you enjoy doing it.

David Monteiro

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What to do and what to visit at Porto in one day?

What to do and what to visit at Porto in one day?

The most common answer you will have when asking such question to a “tripeiro” is: “you can’t”.

“tripeiro” – the natives of Porto are known in Portuguese as “tripeiros”

You will understand that the answer results from loving too much the city and when you will visit it you will easily get the reason why, it’s a gorgeous city, very photogenic in fact.

However, sometimes the reality is that we only have one day so we will have to cook with the potatoes we have.

By reducing the time to just one day we will have to select only a few places to go in a wide variety of interesting sites.

My suggestion for you is: a morning walk, a lunch with products from a local market and a monument/museum visit during the afternoon.

Does it seems like a plan?

Yes, it will be a busy day.

Morning walk in Porto:

Please download a map that will guide you on a walk where you can visit some of the most iconic sites in Porto. Please print the map in an A3 format or use it in your smartphone as a pdf.

Is a 6,5Km (4mi) stroll, perfect for a sunny morning and it will leave you enough time to stop for pictures and a coffee on the way.

The suggested walk will take you to several spots where you can take panoramic photos from Porto.

In a future post, I will describe what can you see during this walk by identifying the numbers you can see written on the map.

Lunch with products from a local market:

During your morning walk, you can visit a market identified as number 3 on the map, is the Bulhão market.

There you will find fresh products like fruits and vegetables and around there you will also find some old traditional groceries shops. I’m sure you can get there plenty of items to arrange a snack for you.

Monument/museum visit:

During the afternoon I suggest you visit one of the following monuments/museums:

Museu Soares dos Reis, Palácio da Bolsa, Torre dos Clérigos, Museum and Gardens of Jardins de Serralves or Casa da Música.

Enjoy your day and do not hesitate to send me an email you case you need to exchange some ideas.

David Monteiro

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Escaroupim, some days are forever

Escaroupim, some days are forever

A day at Escaroupim, Portugal, and you will feel that some days are forever.

Not too far from Lisbon, driving around 45 minutes north, you will find a tiny little village called Escaroupim.

It sits at the left bank of the river Tagus, Tejo in Portuguese.

Escaroupim is one of the several “aldeias avieiras” along the river. I guess you don’t know what an “aldeia avieira” is but in a later article I will explain.

At this traditional village, you can take a boat that will drive you through the several river channels where most of the birds go for their late afternoon bug meal … amazing scenario.

On top of all, we get to know more about the local birds with the entertaining explanations.

It really doesn’t matter if it’s cold or warm because the boats have covers that can be put on or off.

What it really matters is the time of the day and sunset is king.

A day to remember.

David Monteiro

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Photography tour in Lisbon

Photography in Lisbon, I can assist you.

If you want to do some photography in Lisbon, I can assist you. Let me know about your photography style.

If you are really interested in doing some photography in Lisbon, time is a constraint and valuable asset for you.

You may have already an idea of what do you want to photograph or you may need some assistance, in both cases, I can help you.

This tour is not a fixed tour but a flexible one because it depends on your interests.

In case you don’t know exactly what do you want, it will depend on what we can agree to do.

I will have some suggestions for you based on my own experience and knowledge but in the end, it will be your decision.

In this website I will progressively publish some of my photos but please do not take them as the photos I want you to take.

My photos are only ideas of angles or subjects.

Naturally, in case you want to take those shots, I will be pleased to assist you, obviously.

Check my photography tour here.

David Monteiro

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Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra, San Sebastian, Spain

Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra, San Sebastian, Spain

Initially was a private own palace and at a certain moment became an hospital, during one of the Carlists wars. During the beginning of the XX century was adapted to become an hotel.

Like in many other coastal towns, the origin of San Sebastian is related with fishing activities and the “La Concha” bay acting as a natural safe haven for traditional local fishing boats ultimately explains the success and prosperity of the town.

However, when we look around we mostly see buildings dated after the 1800’s and one can wonder why.

The reason, although not obvious, is not rare on this part of the world. After a siege that took place in 1813, where the combined Portuguese and English troops successfully fought against the Napoleon army, the city was almost completely destroyed by the winners.

As you can imagine, San Sebastian had to be rebuilt after that sad event.

It also happen that the Queen Maria Cristina had to spend some time in the city recommended by her doctor due to her health condition.

The queen enjoyed so much the town that started to spend more time around here and that alone attracted other aristocratic members and European wealthy people in general.

Was in this context that the building that today we know as the “Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra” was constructed in the middle of the XIX century.

Initially was a private own palace and at a certain moment became an hospital, during one of the Carlists wars.

During the beginning of the XX century was adapted to become an hotel.

Today we can find a hotel with an elegant classic decoration although very modern in all the ways you can think about.

The Hotel had many distinct guests until now. Anyway, in its long list there is one that, in my opinion, stands out and completely fits the hotel’s environment, I’m referring to the famous and mysterious spy Mata Hari.

The hotel rooms are very elegant and classy, the restaurant has an excellent service with very nice quality/price relation in what concerns dinner and lunches. Breakfast here is a treat, the proper way to start your day.

The best of the hotel is the their staff, no doubt about it.

In these years I’ve been staying here with guests, as you can imagine, many situations occurred that I needed their help … in fact at the end is always the guest that has the need and the hotel staff always faced the problems with a tender smile and a eager to help.

If you stayed in this hotel please let me know your opinion. My opinion is clear, is an excellent hotel.

David Monteiro

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Walking the river Cares Gorge – Picos da Europa

Walking the river Cares Gorge – Picos da Europa

Probably the most iconic walk of Picos da Europa.

You can locate Posada de Valdeon on the map, “Google it”, in the heart of Picos de Europa National Park, in the autonomous community of Castile and León, Spain, and from there you will take your way to Caín … where the road ends.

Can we go somewhere from here?

Not driving for sure, only walking we can move forward.

Returning to our map, we will see a river that unites Caín to Poncebos, is the River Cares.

The space between these two locations appears on the map as being a mountain range with peaks over 2.000m high and with many steep slopes surrounding the Cares Gorge.

Can it be crossed?

Yes, we can cross this gorge and you will find one of the most interesting walking trails of the National Park and probably of Spain, the Cares Gorge / La Garganta del Cares. It is a very deep canyon where runs the Cares River through all its extension, uniting Caín to Poncebos.

It’s a 12km / 7.5mi walk, without much elevation gain or loss, always following along a trail that is, for most of its length, about 1, 5 m wide.

Between 1915 and 1921 the “Sociedad Electra de Viesgo” built a canal that would drive the Cares River waters from Caín to the hydroelectric of Poncebos. The result of this work is the canal that nowadays we can see along the trail which has 71 tunnels and where the water will be constantly appearing and disappearing.

However, there was always many conservation problems and between 1945 and 1950 a new canal had to be built next to a new trail and that is the path that we can walk. In some photos you can still see the old trail on a lower lever along the river.

After walking the 12 km long trail we get to Puente de Poncebos where we can find some terraces and then will be the perfect time to drink a beer and eat some tapas, preferably from Cabrales cheese, a local cheese made with milk from sheep’s, goat’s and cow’s with very intense flavor and a characteristic mold, typical of the region.

This walk is part of one of the tours I’m constantly offering due its natural beauty and also because it is one of a kind.

I’ll be waiting for you.

David Monteiro

Originally posted 2013-05-07 22:43:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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How to divide the time to spend nine days visiting the Azores?

Lagoa do Fogo (Fogo Lagoon) in São Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal

How to divide the time to spend nine days visiting the Azores?

Where to go and how much time to spend on each island?

You want to spend some time in the Azores but you don’t know where to go.

Let me try to help.

The Azores is an archipelago of the Portuguese territory constituted by nine islands.

These islands are organized into three groups accordingly with their relative position and proximity: Oriental Group, Central Group, and Occidental Group.

Oriental Group: Santa Maria Island and São Miguel Island

Central Group: Pico Island, São Jorge Island, Faial Island, Graciosa Island, and Terceira Island

Occidental Group: Flores Island and Corvo Island.

Check the Azores location in Google Maps here.

In spite of the Azores being part of Portugal, the archipelago is totally different from the mainland.

Is far from sufficient to say that you will find there a unique environment. Is like visiting a different country but with the same language.

In between the several Azorean islands you will also find huge differences.

While some islands are green, with dozens of lakes and waterfalls, other islands will give you dark landscapes colors with impressive mountains.

These differences between islands are not only in the landscape but also in their traditions and ways of being.

At São Miguel island you will find a considerable size island, all green and quite exuberant, with an architecture based on black and white buildings.

On the other hand, just as an example, Pico island is dark and dry because of the volcanic dark stone.

At Pico, the locals love to paint their dark stone houses doors with red color and the result is fantastic.

With nine islands and also considering the difficulties of access to some of them, is almost impossible to visit them all in one week, at least it doesn’t worth your while to do it like that.

If you’re planning a one week tour, or 9 days for that matter, you will need to make choices regarding what islands to visit.

In this post, I will focus on a 9 days tour.

Later I will write another post considering a two weeks tour and these two possibilities will be very different.

Naturally, the answer will depend on your personal preferences.

However, in case you are more willing to go trekking the answer will be to go visiting islands like Flores or São Jorge.

If you are more of a general tourist maybe plan to spend more time at São Miguel and Terceira.

For the sake of the explanation I will divide the people that are interested in visiting the Azores in two big groups knowing that I’m taking the chance of leaving many possibilities out of this division:

Relaxed Group – Those that are more like a general tourist. Want some cultural activities, not too deep, some walks, not too far or not taking too much time, take some pictures, have some relaxation moments but get to know the place.

Active Group – Those that are interested in knowing the place while doing some physical activities like walking, maybe trekking, or scuba diving, photography, sea kayaking, etc, although are also interested in getting to know the place.

Note that, things like local food and wine tasting, getting to know people and some relaxing are included in both groups, naturally.

I know that splitting the people into two groups like this is probably not even fair but this is a blog post, not a scientific study … give me a break.

So, the question is now “How to divide the time to spend nine days visiting the Azores?”

Please bear in mind that I don’t like to travel with too much tide schedules or be all day long rushing.

I also need to feel that I’m making the most of my time in a balanced way.

What is good for me is not necessarily the best for you so you will do your own decisions.

Relaxed Group: mix tour with some cultural activities, some photo opportunities, and some walks:

3 days at São Miguel island

2 days at Pico island

1 day at São Jorge island

3 days at Terceira island

Active Group: plenty of opportunities for walking, scuba diving, serious photography, surf, rock climbing, etc – two possibilities:

3 days at São Miguel island

2 days at Pico island

2 days at São Jorge island

2 days at Terceira island

or

3 days at São Miguel island

3 days at Flores island

2 days at Pico island

1 day at São Jorge Island

This is only an idea of how to split time between islands, you will decide what is best for you.

The Azores is in my shortlist of favorite destinations

I’ve been traveling there for many years and I know deeply all the islands.

There are infinite possibilities to do a wide variety of activities like walking, photographing, lay down on the beach, jumping from cliffs, cultural visits, you name it.

Is really difficult to select some islands to visit in one week, leaving out so many other wonderful places but this is real life with its limitations of time and money.

In this post, I did not consider the logistic difficulties you can find when booking flights to the Azores.

It will always depend on where do you come from. 

Later I will write a series of posts regarding each island and with some ideas of what can be done here.

You also have the possibility of joining us on our tour here.

Have fun,

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