sexta-feira, outubro 06, 2017
Return to Serra da Estrela
Serra da Estrela, the highest mountains in Portugal, were always special to me, ever since I was a child and we would go there on Christmas time from my grandparents' home, which was not far. I loved the snow and the big granite boulders, the daytrips we took there were somewhat magical and different from our daily lives.
I went back a few times as a teenager, and later had a wonderful holiday there in the winter of 1989 with my girlfriend and a couple of good college friends - I remember driving towards the Torre (the highest point) through the mist and snow, a beautiful Narnian landscape.
I hadn't been back since then, and now I went back for a weekend in Manteigas with my family. And the feeling has remained the same, even if it was late summer and not winter, and the mountain was dry after a rainless summer. I always loved that rough summer landscape of granite boulders, brown and golden hills dotted with small dry green bushes, so reminiscent of my childhood summers at my grandparents' - playing cowboys and Indians with my sisters and cousins, stepping over a wild vipers' nest and running away, enjoying a respite from the dry heat under the rare tree.
The guesthouse near Manteigas had a splendid view over the glacial valley of the Zêzere river, and from there we hiked along the Wildboar route - no wildboars in sight, but a beautiful 11 km hike from the chestnut trees in the valley to the arid granitic boulders and back amid tall pine trees.
The next day we had a beautiful drive across the mountain, stopping here and there to enjoy the views and to have lunch at Sabugueiro, a village where I had stayed in that 1989 trip, now full of tourist shops along the main road, but keeping its old centre with the granite church and courtyards just the same as in centuries.
In between hikes and drives, we ate a lot of the wonderful regional food - lots of great cheese, grilled meat, chanfana (a very tasty goat stew) and pumpkin jam.
All in all, it was a great weekend, not only beautiful landscapes, tasty food and nostalgic hikes, but also great family time together.