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Viseu, Serra da Estrella, a beautiful trip

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Wednesday 04 July, Viseu, Serra da Estrella, a beautiful trip

Washing timeAt night we have some rain and we find out that our tent isn't waterproof anymore. But we didn't let the weather discourage us and first went to Viseu. But we don't let that discourage us and we are ready for new adventures. First to Viseu and then a trip through the highest mountain range in Portugal, the Serra da Estrella.
ViseuViseu is a small and attractive town. We walk through the narrow streets up the hill to the old centre where the cathedral (right) stands on a square. We sit outside for a meal, so that proves it isn't really bad weather nor cold. This medieval centre has a lot of artisans and small shops and we could be back in time for several centuries.
From Viseu we take byroads to Seia, a town north of the Serra da Estrella. The Serra itself is a magnificent mountain range. Elisabeth thinks this is how the moon would look like (without the clouds, of course). From Seia we take the N339, a narrow and twisting road to Torre where the clouds fly over in a great hurry. Sometimes we drive through a cloud, in a thick fog, sometimes the sky looks very bright and blue.
Serra da Estrella Serra da EstrellaIt is very quiet on the road and we sometimes feel as if being on another, deserted planet. Near Torre lies the highest point of Portugal (left), 1993 metres above sealevel. Despite some vegetation we occasionally see, this landscape is mostly empty and desolate, with it's granite rockformations.
Serra da EstrellaFrom Torre we first drive towards Covilha, but then back again and through the glacier valley of Zezere to Manteigas, a quiet village which is totally surrounded by the mountains.
Glacier valley of Zezere A goat on the roadIn Manteigas we have a short break. Then it takes us more than an hour to climb the hillsides to reach the northern side of the Serra da Estrella with many breathtaking panoramic views on the glacier valley we have just gone through.
Serra da EstrellaWe only traversed a part of the Serra da Estrella, but the trip is really worthwhile. This mountain range has a very unique character and is very different from the rest of Portugal, so don't miss it when you are there.
In a quiet pace we drive back towards Satão and we have a delicious meal in a small village near Casfreires. Back on the campsite it is getting too cold to sit outside, so we spend a few hours in the pub where we meet a newly arrived couple, very nice people to chat with. It is warm inside and we have a pleasant time talking to these people.

Thursday 05 July 2001, Satão, exploring the neighbourhood

Washing day Thickest tree of PortugalThursday washing day. Again it is quite cloudy, but the forecast is good. Today we want to drive through the neighbourhood and look for some prehistoric monuments, stone circles and the biggest tree of Portugal.

It takes some time before we find the tree, but there it is, with a diameter of more than 12 metres. The tree is more than a 1000 years old. What kind of tree it is? We have no idea what it is until we get an email from Eugenia in November 2004, telling us it is an eucalyptus.
Medieval pillory in Ferreira the AvesIn Satão it is market day; many stands with fish and meat, but also many shoes and second-hand stuff. The prices range from ridiculously low to ridiculously high, but we don't need anything. To the right the medieval pillory in Ferreira the Aves.
Dolmen Cunha-BaixaAnd then we start looking for stone circles and dolmen. Teije loves them and there must be quite a lot in this area. We follow a lot of signs directing to stone circles, but then the signs stop and we don't find any. Once on a sandy path in the woods: there is a clear sign, Dolmen 1 km. But after walking at least 2 km. we come to a crossway and Teije walks the tracks into all directions. A nice landscape, but no dolmen, no stone circle, nothing. Finally, near Mangualde, we run accidently into this dolmen, called Cunha-Baixa. We are just touring around and there is this sign; a small pathway leads us to this impressive prehistoric tomb.
We have made quite a long trip and drive to Lamas the Ferreira (near Casfreires) for a meal. We first sit outside but after 10 minutes we flee inside, it still is a bit too cold. Through loudspeakers on the street we can follow live the mass in Fatima. Back at the campsite we are glad to spend the evening in the warm, cozy pub, reading a book and talking to some fellow campers.


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