It’s springtime and I have returned to Portugal for a few days. As always my main reason for being here is to spend time with my daughter, her boyfriend and his family, but it is always good to do a little bit of sightseeing and sample some of the local cultures.
The last time I was here the oranges were just starting to ripen, but this time I was very happy to find that not only that there was plenty of oranges still on the trees but the trees were starting to flower in preparation for the new season. It was a beautiful sight and the smell of oranges in the air was an added bonus.
Ponte de Lima
This was my first time visiting this town but it definitely will not be my last. It is a very pretty place with a lovely old world charm about it and lots of narrow side streets to explore. We had a lovely 3-course lunch of homemade vegetable soup, Pato a Gula (a duck pastry roll) with a variety of vegetables and a traditional rice dish, followed by a (rather large) serving of mango mousse. After such a large lunch we needed to walk it all off and where better to do that than along the river.
Walking along the river we could hear the very loud sound of large quantities of frogs croaking and we did manage to see a few of them hopping through the grass and into the edge of the river.
The Gerês is full of incredible beauty and seeing it on a warm spring day is an experience not to be missed. We had lunch in Gerês at a waterfront restaurant on the edge of the River Caldo. This is where I experienced my first Francesinha, a dish that you have to try if you visit this region. However, it is not for vegetarians as it has 5 or 6 different types of meat in between 2 slices of white bread with a fried egg and a good sized helping of melted cheese on top served with a special sauce.
Driving through the mountains there were many waterfalls and picnic sites to stop off and enjoy the views. We only stopped to get up close to the wild Garrano ponies which were taking a break at the side of the road. There was one little foal in the herd hiding behind some of the older ponies.
One pony decided to use the car as a scratching post before we left.
From here we continued on through the mountains across into Spain then back into Portugal near Soajo.
The first time I saw this I thought this was a burial site and that these were tombs. It turns out that they are in fact used for storing grain. The idea is to keep the grain up off the ground and away from vermin.
We finished off the day with a traditional family dinner at a little restaurant but I don’t remember where. I was the only person who didn’t speak much Portuguese but that didn’t seem to make a difference. It was made very clear to me that I needed to eat lots and of course, drink lots too. I had the famous traditional Portuguese Bacalhau and it seemed like every time I looked away from my wine someone topped it up. Before dinner and again after dinner we were treated to a Rap Battle, Portuguese style. I would love to have understood the words because everyone kept bursting into fits of laughter.
This trip was short and sweet but my long term goal is to move here. In the meantime, I am working on a new career to help me achieve this. I have recently been certified as a Teacher of English as a second language. I am now teaching online via Skype. You can find me on facebook https://www.facebook.com/Learn-English-Online-LEO-424330374566284/?view_public_for=424330374566284