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PORTUGAL    DIARY  2

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1  2

From Diary 1 and the north and western Portugal,  I now head east.
19/4.
I start the day on a long row of winding mountain roads. The first part though, is through some wetlands, teaming with frogs and white storks. The I reach the impressive Castelo do Montemoro-Velho, found on a misty peak. It is hard to glimpse the views, but is does add to the atmosphere, and I have it all to my self.
Where other castles have been a bit neglected inside the walls, this one have a beautiful garden.

The next two hundred kilometres is on a mountain road, I have been looking forward to. It start nice with green trees like the round pines, small villages with old houses and a big lake. In the distance, I can see snow covered peaks. Then it changes drastically:  I had not taken the massive forest fires in consideration: Most have been burned. Most stems still stand, but besides from them, it is a lunar-landscape. Some houses have burned along with the trees, other small villages been saved by the small, green fields just around them.

Then I reach the isolated valley with the little village; Piodao. Apparently, the valley is so isolated, not even the fire could find it! Her are a small cluster of huts, build in slate. The alleys are so narrow, I fail to get any good photos within the village, but is is a nice experience to walk around here.

I start on yet another winding mountain road, this time towards Parque Natural do Tejo Internacional. The first part is through more burned valleys and mountains, but then I reach a highland without trees. Only the heather and herbs can grow here, and they did not get burned.

Then the road find its way down to a lower area with wetlands and numerous white storks. They are building nests, and fly low over the road with nest material. The lowlands are also home to a few sheep, but despite I see a lot of grass, I only see so few livestock.

I pass a river, which has one of the nice granite bridges. Then I enters cork oak land: Big, flat hills with plenty of grass and scattered oak trees. Some areas seems to have more flowers the stains of grass. I am now entering the huge Parque Natural do Tejo Internacional, which have several villages within it.

But the area is so rich in wild flowers, I have not seen anything like it. Brooms, lavender, bulbs, Fabaceaes and so much more species I don't have a clue to. I make several walks in this rich nature, listening to cuckoos and nightingales, the bees and river. The scent in some areas are amassing, a blend of lavender, broom and herbs.

I reach a valley with a little mountain in. On the top, the village of Monsanto is found, and the very peak is taken up by the classic Crusader fortress. Both village and fort is nice, but I'm most exited about the huge granite boulders and the rich flora. Well, the view down to the valley is not bad either.

It is getting real late, and I have to find a camp. I skipped it earlier, but I can swing bye now, while I head back up north. It is located above 1000 metres, but I am real south in Europe by now, and the evening is mild. I work to way too late - again.
Castelo do Montemoro-Velho, Burned P, Piodao, P N do Tejo, Monsanto.

20/4. I start the day with a long and really surprisingly beautiful mountain drive. The road winds it way up through pines to the heather and then bold boulders. Here are snow, and a bit chill at the 1600 meter pass. I might have been a bit optimistic with my choosing of footwear; Flip-flops. But the sun is real nice and warm, and I start botanising.

Among so many plants, I find the tiny Narcissus, not more than five centimetres high, fascinating. On the way down, I pass a lot of naked oaks trees and waterfalls. Then the newer villages starts, and I stop at the recommended Manteigas.

I find it a bit disappointing, and try to find the great part. I walk quite some around, but in the end, I give up. When I try to drive out, I end in a maze of real narrow alleys.
I have not mentioned it before, but so many houses in the towns have a lit facing the front. It always say AQUA, and I guess this is where they have their fresh water delivered.

I head on through the really fertile lowlands. Here are some sheep and even a few goats along with few cows. A long, but rather narrow lake have been fitted with a bridge in the middle. I enjoy the drive, but eventually, I reach a big city, and soon after, I reach Transoso.

It has a impressive city wall, and within are some nice old buildings. I walk all the way up to the fortress, which seem real familiar. While walking around, I end up in some areas, where the houses are less impressive, but more cosy.
I pass the vegetable market along with a huge clothing market, but I lack none, and they do not appear to be that exotic anyway.

Here don't seem to be any foreigners, but some busses with Portuguese retired people are enjoying the Saturday. The farmers are in town for the market, and several tractors are parked within the town.

I head west, and quite soon, I reach the Spanish border. I was not able to find anything real interesting in the southern part of the country, and I cross over to Spain. It have been a great visit, and quite cheep; 1216 for the five days. I have driven 1493 kilometres and taken 1153 photos. The highlands, Manteigas, Transoso, the lowlands.

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1  2