Our Northern Trek

So we are back from the northern border, a tour that took us through the mountains and the northern villages. It was both beautiful and adventureous, a perfect combination. For the most part the travel seemed much more relaxed, though that could be that I slept most of the time in the car. Seriously though, we had lots of time to stop and make small detours – there was never a rush and almost no other tourists. We had the world to ourselves.

Our first stop was to see some of the original grain silos. These ones were grouped togehter in a community bundle, which is only duplicated one other location (that we know of). You could see some slight changes in designs over time, though it was just impressive to think they moved and cut the stones for this use. Later on the walls become just wooden and the structures were individually placed at the different houses. Another interesting thing we noticed during our explorations was that these are still in use today, names are marked on the doors and inside you see grain and brooms. Incredible!

After some lunch, we continued on and found an arched bridge, which is unique in its construction due to the type of material combined with the rounded archway.

We attempted to take a dip in the water just below the bridge, but the stream was just a little cold for the boys.

There are times in life where you just feel the urge to move the world!
After a stop for some coffee Luis and I decided to take on the challenge of climbing the hill right near the shop! So leaving the boys with Patricia, Melissa, Luis, and myself headed up on our “15 minute hike” to the top.

And really, it only took us about 15-20 to get to the top of the first peak … then another 10 to get to the next … and I just HAD to climb up a final stage. And coming down proved a little slower than going up.

The final stage
The view from the top was incredible and well worth the hour and a half adventure.

Besides spotting a deer at full gallop on the hills, we also saw a couple of the cows in the area. The boys like to call them “Gazelle” cows, I called them tasty steaks that evening at dinner.

Nice cow … tasty too!

The hotel that evening was really quite interesting as it was situated right next to an active church right below some mountains. Was so peaceful it was hard to get up the next morning.

Our second days journey started out with a stop for a café at a little village, but things seemed to be closed so we just took a look around.

What we found near the old water-wheel mill was just what we were looking for on a hot day. It just seemed to call to the boys…

The main destination of the day was the northern border and Fort Valenca, a fortress from the 13th centural that played a pivotal role in ensuring that Portugal’s borders remained.

The walled city was home to many shops and restaurants, in which we pulled up a chair for lunch. One drink that Luis has been looking to introduce me to was what he calls “Fire Water”, the liquid used to stop the fermentation process. But for some it is also a drink, or in our case added to our café.

Amoung the shops we found that the area had been overrun by forgeiners, but of the friendly kind!

Since Spain was “right there”, we took a small trip across the bridge and across the border (and a time zone). We returned on a second, much older bridge.

Our last stop was at Ponte De Lima, the oldest Vila (town) in Portugal. While likely large enough to become a city it has held its current status since 1125, when it was decreed a town by the queen.

Ponte Da Lima, which means “Bridge of Lima” (Lima being the river), is obviously named. And this is that bridge.

While there was lots more to see and lots more pictures to take, the boys where tired, it was hot, and it was time to head home and get a good nights sleep. For tomorrow comes another adventure.

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