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Another Wonderful Portugal - Part 1

Jack SoiferFor many years I have been visiting small villages and enterprises, and was a guide in Portugal. I have thus developed friendships with hundreds of professionals all over, which made me accept invitations to revisit them now, after pandemics.

The advantage of being old is not having to leave a legacy, and to enjoy life. I started last week's journey in beautiful villages where I have been, in Serra do Sicó and Serra da Estrela. They are reminiscent of traditions, bring emotions and unforgettable encounters.

On a mini-road in Serra, between Cipó and Estrela, I became unsure if I was on the right way. I stopped at a bar where there were about nine houses around. There were some older ladies and gentlemen, all retired and when I asked about the road they said "forward". I thanked, told a joke, they laughed and an old woman said, "bring your lady and come for lunch and spend the day with me".

I spent 8 days in a modernised stone palace, now a hotel. It is about 300 years old. The view from my bathroom to Serra da Estrela is amazing. The breakfast is wonderful, bread coming out of the oven, still fragrant, fruits from the nearby garden, Italian coffee, cheese from Serra da Estrela. The 4-star hotel has it all, but the villages have what hotels do not have: they are genuine, made of stone, with beautiful chapels, producers of artisanal cheese.

In walking distance you find a chapel surrounded by flowers from the fields and one thousand year old stone-graves.

In the tavern where we had lunch, the owner, Sr. João, gave details about the Celts who were there in the 8th century, from Lusitania in the 11th century, and how the Romans were stopped from going up the Serra da Estrela, by stones thrown down from the top of the mountains. João, a chef in a tavern with a phenomenal view, in an old village, where everyone smiles and says "welcome".

You can easily drive up to a row of windmills close to Gouveia and enjoy gorgeous views.


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