Quinta De S.Vicente
Lugar De Portas, Geraz Do Minho, 4830 315, pt
More about Geraz do Minho
In The North of Portugal
Driving in the Serra da Cabreira
Travel Tips for Geraz do Minho
Geraz do Minho is located HERE
Located in the far north of Portugal, the province of Minho holds great significance for Portugese as both the birthplace of their country, with its first capital at Guimares, and its main religious city of Braga. The region is heavily populated on its western edges, but further inland toward the mountains the area becomes very rugged. We chose to veer off easterly into the less sparsely populated areas to see some of the inland mountains. It was a good trip, but we ran out of time before we could make it all the way to the remote Parque Nacional da Peneda Geres along the Spanish border.
The Minho region is noted for producing Portugal's famous carbonated 'vinho verde' or green wines, which we occasionally enjoyed on our trek around the country. Everywhere we drove in this area, we saw vinyards growing in backyards, beside the highway and on hillsides. Here, we came across a typical arrangement at Moreira do Rei, east of Fafe, showing how the vines are supported off the ground by a lattice affair. On our travels through Portugal, we found a cold glass of 'vinho verde' to be a refreshing drink after climbing around various mountain top fortresses!
On our way south from Cabeceiras de Basto, I was intrigued to see these tall Portugese-style haystacks outside of the village of Canedo de Basto! I don't know how they put them together, but it looks like a lot of work to me! A few vines growing in the foreground are probably used to help make some of the local wines!
Update: VT-member 'JohntheFinn' tells me that they have similar haystacks in Finland, with the hay formed around a vertical stave with crosspieces!
Old Highway Bridge
Once we had reached Cabaceiras de Basto, a few km east of Fafe, we decided to turn directly north into the Serra da Cabreira to have a closer look at the mountains in this area. As we began our climb out of the town, we passed by this older generation of highway bridge, gradually becoming overgrown. It spans the Rio Douro, not the one of Port wine fame, but just a small trickle flowing down off the mountain. Route 311 from here was very scenic as it wound up to the ridge at the top of the Serra which divides the Minho area from Tras os Montes.
Mountains of the North
On a Sunday morning, the 7th day since we had left Lisbon in our rented car, we had to decide where we would make our one stab at going further north in Portugal before we had to turn south for good. Since we still had one more night booked in our hotel in Lamego, we debated the long drive to Braganca in the northeast or a shorter one northwest into the Geraz do Minho region. Taking a look at the twisting roads on the map, we decided to opt for the shorter route - so off we went at 9 AM. For a map of where we travelled in the Minho, please check my General tip.
The super-highway from Lamego to Peso da Regua was a breeze but from there to Vila Real was slow going on the most convoluted road we had yet experienced. Then it was high speed again to the west on E82 before we turned north toward Guimares on the N101. Once again, progress was noticeably slowed by the traffic as we passed through every town in this built up area of Portugal. I had somehow imagined a remote and sparsely populated northern area - but it isn't so along the western edges of the Minho! We finally stopped to look at our map for a course correction, deciding that we would forget the big cities and head back east into the more mountainous areas around Fafe. It was 3 hours since our departure before we breathed a sigh of relief as the green countryside opened up before us. And what countryside it was - very picturesque and the sun was shining!
In the end, we had a great day exploring up into the mountains of the Serra da Cabreira, almost reaching the famous Peneda Geres National Park before time forced us to turn back. Not wanting to repeat our torturous route up, we took a shortcut on a back road through a Nature Park in the Serra de Alvao, emerging very close to Vila Real at the end of the day.
This was our last full day in the north because, the next day, we made a brief tour of the Douro River (my 'Pinhao' page) before heading south and west to the Atlantic coast at 'Praia de Mira'.
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