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Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 3/4) – Portugal

Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 3/4) – Portugal

Facing Lisbon from the hilltop.​

North/West Quadrant

In this quadrant, you can see Lisbon and from the city, I can only distinguish little more than a jungle of houses that seem to be glued to the Sintra Hills, is the effect of a view from a far distance because, in reality, Sintra is a 30 minutes drive from Lisbon.

In this direction I can see many vineyards and, although I have difficulty to distinguish them, I know that two wine producers that are considered to be in the gallery of the best wine producers in Portugal: Quinta da Bacalhôa and José Maria da Fonseca.

Somewhere there you can find Moscatel grapes used for the production of the famous wine “Moscatel de Setúbal”. The “Moscatel de Setúbal” wine is considered the best in Moscatel in the world. “Moscatel de Setúbal” wine is a fortified wine of amber color, which I love.

Watch this 2 minutes and 30 seconds funny and interesting video that pretty much explains the “Moscatel de Setúbal”.

In the small village of Azeitão one can also find two other extraordinary products: Azeitão cheese and pies of Azeitão (Tortas de Azeitão).

The cheese of Azeitão is a small cheese made with sheep’s milk, yellow-colored and very soft, buttery, excellent for spreading on toast.

Tortas de Azeitão is a small cake rolled up, made from flour and eggs, and is delicious.

to be continued …

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Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 2/4) – Portugal

Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 2/4) – Portugal

At the Formosinho hilltop.​

North/East Quadrant

When I turn on eastbound I’m in the direction of Setúbal, despite not being able to see the city I can see the end of its industrial belt which creates me mixed feelings. In my mind is contradictory the need for development with the awareness of a natural environment conservation of a diversified place as the river Sado estuary.

Looking in the direction of Alcochete, almost facing the north side, I try to see the Ribatejo plain areas but I can’t any longer distinguish the settlements.

Setúbal, where our famous 18th and 19th-century writer Bocage was born and to whom is attributed a lot of anecdotes and naughty sayings.

to be continued …

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Group travels are like wine and friends

Our shared life experiences, like those we may have during group travels, have a special place in our hearts, they have their own little house there.

They are so special that to access to those memories in full we will need the set of keys we own together with those folks we shared the moments.

We can even remember those moments by ourselves, revive all the details in the comfort of our homes, post the pictures in a blog or tell about those magnificent adventures to friends that will listen all the words we will say … but it will never be the same, there will be always something missing.

However it only takes a couple of seconds after joining our adventure buddies and the keys will open all the doors of the house and the sun will fulfill our hearts with joy and laughter.

A good wine will always be a good wine but it gets much better when shared with friends.

Carpe diem.

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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Walking on the Lousã’s aqueduct – Portugal

A hidden aqueduct in the well preserved valley is a jewel and you can find that quite close to Lousã.

Wild horses in Portugal at Gerês National Park.

Water was always one of the most precious resources in the world and around here that not different.

In this case water’s value shows itself by the power it has to produce electricity with its weight when falling from a certain height … simple. But, to have that in this narrow steep valley, a small aqueduct was built to conduct the water along the valley keeping the altitude as much as possible until the right place.

The result was a beautiful two miles aqueduct in the middle of the valley where one can walk.

How to access to the aqueduct? It’s not too easy but I can think about to nice ways to do it:

  1. Starting from Senhora da Piedade (Lousã) it’s possible to find a single trail that will take us to a small village called Talasnal. At this village we can taste a small cake called Talasnico e find the trail down to the aqueduct walking towards down the valley. The trail will last for (+/-) 150m and after that it will be walking across the bushes. Always walking down you can not miss the aqueduct and after finding it is to follow it until the trail that will take us back to the starting point.
  2. There is an entrance to the aqueduct from the EN236 road at N40° 05.470′ W8° 12.814′. From Lousã you can take a cab until the spot, find the aqueduct and walk back.

Have fun.

David Monteiro

Location: Lousã, Portugal

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River Ébron canyon – Spain

I love to think that there are trails that have a different objective than the walk itself and this one is a perfect example.

The river Ebron it’s an interesting case of a river that starts and finishes in the same river. It’s a tributary of the river Turia and in the same river has its mouth.

In its short path, the river Ebron crosses a canyon that was named “Estrechos del Ébron” (the Ébron strait)  and it was built here some funny iron infrastructures that allows people to walk in the canyon without wetting their feet.

Exactly, you will be able to walk almost on the water. The maximum height is about 1,5m high.

Funny isn’t it?

To access to the canyon area the trail was equipped with some iron structures that helps you “climbing” some rocks … very easy.

In the way in will find some places where you won’t resist having a bath in crystal clear waters.

Be sure to came here during a hot summer day because is the best time.

The canyon walls will provide the necessary shade and the water will be refreshing.

This is what I call a walk with a hidden agenda 🙂

Have fun.

David Monteiro

Location: Tórmon, Spain

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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

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Climbing “via ferrata” a wonderful adventure

A via ferrata (iron way) is a climbing route where you will find metallic structures installed on the rock walls.

According to some sources, this kind of climbing routes had their origin in Italy, where the alpine guides of Madonna di Campiglios (Dolomites) started to place some support metallic structures to facilitated their tours with customers.

This idea was than very well received by the Italian army that came to develop the concept between 1915 and 1918 allowing their soldiers to progress on apparently inaccessible mountain terrain and getting some advantage towards the enemy that couldn’t imagine such structures.

After the world wars, from a military use the “via ferratas” started to have only a touristic use and to be spread out to other countries.

More recently there was a great effort by the Spanish authorities in the direction of installing many “via ferratas” of excellent quality that allow an excellent sensation of adventure tothose that are more experienced climbers as well to those that are not so experienced.

In the area of the Spanish Pyrenees there are has a dispersed set of excellent examples of “via ferratas” and that gives the possibility of fantastic vacations.

Although the “via ferratas” allow an easier progression than climbing on the plain rock, the use of these structures respect a set of security rules that, in case you are not familiarized such techniques is preferable to use the services of a guide.

The via ferratas are graded in many ways. There are some difficulty level grading that can go from an easy level of 1, also referred as A, or an extremely difficult level or 5, also referred as E. You can find other kinds of grading that involve other criterias suchs as a psychological factor of the “via ferrata”.

During the tours I promote to climb via ferratas, concerning the lodging terms I opt to present possibilities of reasonable economic lodging but with the basic comforts as privative bath. However, is always possible to find lodgings in accordance with one needs and pocket..

A memorable adventure.

David Monteiro

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Trekking Tours – what are

trekking04Trekking tours are tours where the participants will walk several days autonomously in mountain environment. By autonomously I mean having in one’s backpack all that will be needed for the tours days.

Well, in my trekking tours I usually use mountain huts to spend the night and is also where we can have our meals. I do not usually camp unless when the guests expressively ask for that.trekking05

The mountain huts are constructions, houses type, that can be found n isolated places in mountains as it is the case of the photo that if it sees here to the side.

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In these huts you can sleep in huge rooms that can hold 20, 30, or more persons, depending of the capacity of each hut. In some huts you will find bunks and in others you will find wooden decks with mattresses and blankets where you and sleep.

In each tour day you will have a certain trail to accomplish, usually until the next hut.

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The use of huts will prevent you from carrying all the gear and all the food, allowing you to enjoy more the landscape and the trail itself. In these huts you also have the possibility to meet other people that come from other countries and these sort of moments are something that always makes part of the stories we will tell later.

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The trails we will accomplish are adjusted to the difficulty level announced in the tours brochures.

Only for being a mountain trekking tour does not mean that will be d
emanding. If in the brochure is referred to be an easy level tour so it will be easy (for a common person) however if the tour is classified as strenuous so you can also count on that as well.

I will be waiting for you.Are you ready to join me for a trekking adventure?

David Monteiro