Posts Tagged With: river

“I am of the river”

Miranda2Way up in the north of Portugal there’s a region called Trás-os-Montes, which is known for several things: its rough and breathtaking landscape, the Mirandese language, the extreme weather (“nine months of winter and three months of hell”), the wonderful produce, men in skirts (I haven’t talked about that one, yet), the unique costumes (usually associated with Carnival, but also used at other times) and, last but not least, Miranda do Douro.

Miranda3Here, Portugal and Spain are separated only by the river Douro. All along the northern border there are other places where a river makes a natural frontier between the two countries but it seems to me that this is where the river acts more like a unifying force, rather than a dividing one. Maybe because of the harsh circumstances? Some of the areas which are now covered by water were once the spots where the poorest people would grow their food. Eventually they noticed that their produce was actually better: those high cliffs on both sides meant more condensation and, therefore, more humidity, in a place where it can get very dry in those “three months of hell”.

Miranda1We were on a boat cruise when we were there (highly recommend it!) and our guide said something which, to me, sums up very well the relationship between both sides of the river here. She was the daughter of a Portuguese father and a Spanish mother and said: “I don’t see myself as being neither Portuguese nor Spanish; I am of the river”.


Enjoy! 🙂

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A change in perspective?

View of the river Douro, waaaaay up in the north of the country, in Miranda do Douro. Portugal to the left, Spain to the right of the picture

View of the river Douro, waaaaay up in the north of the country, in Miranda do Douro. Portugal to the left, Spain to the right of the picture

As you may (or may not) know, Portugal has a new President. Just to give you some context, in Portugal, Presidents are not the ones who actually rule (that’s for Prime-Ministers). They act like diplomats, in a way, and can veto laws from the Government.

This post is not meant to be about politics and I’d like to stress that I have no political affiliation and it is not my intention to give Beyond Lisbon a political colour of any kind. Still, I couldn’t help but be surprised when checking the news this morning and coming across a sentence, which the new President recently said (sorry, it’s in Portuguese), regarding the presidential ceremonies that will take place in Porto: “Because Portugal is more than Lisbon” (“Porque Portugal é mais do que Lisboa”). Now… that has always been my motto, Mr. President! 😀

headerHonestly, I hope this type of action, coming from the President, will help pave the way for a change in perspective regarding the way people (both in Portugal and abroad) look at the country.


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Categories: News about Portugal, People | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Along the coast


Along the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast you’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal. This area covers most of the Alentejo coast and part of the Algarve, in a total of about 110km of cliffs, unique plants, big waves, rich culture and history and, yes, amazing sunsets. Actually, this is such a special region that it is the only place in the world where storks make their nests in the rocks by the sea – and by rocks I mean cliffs!


But today I bring you another side to this coast: The town of Vila Nova de Milfontes, in the Alentejo, as seen from the river Mira. No cliffs seen from here, just the peaceful sunset inviting your mind to drift away and relax. There’s a lighthouse at the mouth of the river; you can see some boats and a few of the white houses from the town. The beaches are empty now and every living thing seems to stand still to appreciate the sun going down and the moon coming up.


Enjoy! 🙂

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Beauty beyond the hills

The region of Trás-os-Montes (literally “behind the hills”), in the Northeast “corner” of Portugal, is often half-forgotten. Seen by many as being “too far away” the fact is the region is rich with traditions, tough hard-working people and gorgeous landscapes.


Trás-os-Montes is also home to century-old chestnuts, small happy rivers and music that can make your granny dance like she’s 18 again. I’ll be talking about some of those traditions (which include men in skirts) in future posts – today I want to show you some of the happy little rivers.


Sometimes you get to enjoy their beauty in small, more of less secluded, river beaches and some other times you can only appreciate them from a distance. Either way, it’s always worth it.


This region is also known for having “nine months of winter and three months of hell” (nove meses de Inverno e três de inferno) because the weather goes to extremes, with very little space left for autumn and spring. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons behind all be beautiful sceneries?


Enjoy! 🙂

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Before the crowds arrive


Vilar de Mouros

Yep, it’s true: we’re rapidly approaching the most wonderful time of the year! So today I’ll be showing you the location of two famous Portuguese music festivals – before the crowds arrive.

Vilar de Mouros, in the north of Portugal, is home to the oldest music festival in the country. It all started in 1971 and, at the time, the festival attracted thousands of people from other countries as well – much like today, except they had funkier outfits back then! The lineup of the two-day festival consisted mostly of Portuguese bands, but also included Manfred Mann and closed with Elton John. Woho! I found some amateur footage from then which I’m sharing here to spread some 1971 groove… (Embedding disabled by request. Sorry, not my fault!)
Not far from Vilar de Mouros there’s Paredes de Coura, which also hosts an outdoor summer music festival. Both festivals take place in beautiful natural areas (rivers included!) and if you happen to be nearby – even if it’s not summer – a detour is well worth it!

A detail in Paredes de Coura.

If you’re planning on coming to a concert, music festival or historical reenactment in Portugal this year you might want to check the website’s page with that info – and with everything neatly organized by dates and location, including links (when available).

Vilar de Mouros

 Have fun!

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Simple pleasures


I already mentioned Ponte da Barca on the blog before, but I couldn’t skip the opportunity of bringing it up again. I mean, look at those trees.


Sometimes you really don’t need an incredible work of art or a fancy resort to enjoy being somewhere. Sometimes the colors of the sky and the trees are just right and Nature creates a perfect paiting.


Or maybe it’s just the way a boat fits a reflection – almost perfectly.


Or noticing an unexpected rower.


Trivia tidbit of the day: Remember when I told you about Santo António? His mother was born in Ponte da Barca, no less!

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Categories: Activities, History, Nature, Places | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A castle on the limit


Recently, I got to spend a few days in the Minho region, in the North of Portugal and let me tell that although this is a relatively small part of the country, it is packed with history and things to do and see.

You know when you look at a map and think that a small place will have nothing to see and no stories to tell? Don’t let yourself be fooled! Minho is packed with history and beautiful landscapes, making it a mix of brain and beauty! Old churches, monasteries and manor houses seem to pop up everywhere – besides pre-historic remains and landscapes that make you go “wow”.

Today I bring you a castle from Lindoso, a town located very very close to the border with Spain, in the area of the Peneda-Gerês National Park, which offers jaw-dropping views of the surrounding area, including the river Lima. This castle, classified as a national monument in 1910, is not big or of very intricate design but it served its purpose of defending the border. It was built in the 13th century and, like so many other fortifications, it went through some modernisation work throughout the times.

Near the castle you can also admire a different type of architecture, which will be topic of the next post. Let’s call it… a system that allows you to keep your corn dry and safe from rodents! 🙂 Stay tuned!

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Building bridges


First post of the year and anniversary post as well – today is the blog’s second birthday! Yay!

This past year was incredibly busy and it seemed to go by in a flash. I met great people, explored new places and learned a lot. There’s a website in the making and an increased presence in social media, besides a never ending bucket list for travel destinations and experiences in Portugal. I’d like to thank everyone who stops by, whether you’re fellow bloggers or interested in knowing more about Portugal – you rock! 😉

For today’s post I’m bringing you a bridge – but not just any bridge.

You can find this bridge in Castro Laboreiro, a town very very close to the border with Spain and in the area of the Peneda-Gerês National Park.
Castro Laboreiro is the kind of place that is older than you think might be possible and has a ton of history. Still, you risk missing out on a lot of things if you don’t pay attention. This bridge, for example, can be found by the side of the road and you may not actually notice it. Not much is known about it but, like many bridges in the region, it probably dates back to the time of the Roman empire. Can you imagine how many thousands of feet walked on it?

The surrounding area (which I’ll show in future posts) looks like it came straight from a scene from The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, with breathtaking views of mountains and valleys.


I’d like to wish everyone a wonderful 2015 with plenty of travel and good times! 🙂

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Categories: History, Nature, Places | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Out and about


Do you like to explore new places? I know I do!

This spot in particular is in Sintra, although it’s not what you’d call a “touristy” place. Actually, it’s one of those places you hear about or have a vague memory of reading about in some obscure blog (ah!).rio1

Being there I thought of how much I believe “authentic” travel to be important. And what do I mean by “authentic” travel? Exploring! Even if you’re in a city, venture out of the most famous streets, have your lunch where the locals go to, lose the tourist guide!

So many people seem to focus on going somewhere to see castle A, palace B, famous street C… I see that happening everyday  – in Lisbon, in Sintra, in Porto. I know that sometimes we manage to fit a little “travel time” on a weekend or a business travel and time doesn’t stretch. But, come on, get out of your comfort zone!

This place is close to Lisbon, very close to Sintra and I can tell you the GPS coordinates I had for it were wrong!

There were a few BTT lunatics people there but it’s far from being a well known place. Unfortunately, I didn’t reach the waterfall because my hiking shoes are not that good and I was in serious risk of slipping. Still, it’s a beautiful place and I will surely go back!

Location? Top secret! :X


Enjoy! 🙂

Oh, before I forget, there’s a surprise on the way! 😉

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On top of the hill


Generally speaking, if you’re not the religious type, there are two reasons why you should visit some of the churches and sanctuaries and Portugal: their history/architecture and the view.

Today I’m bringing you the Santuário de Santa Luzia (Sanctuary of Santa Luzia), in Viana do Castelo, which offers an amazing view over the river Lima, the sea, the city of Viana do Castelo and the surrounding area. You can actually go to the top of the sanctuary and enjoy the breathtaking views.


Before the modern sanctuary was built (the construction lasted from 1904 to 1959) there used to be a small medieval chapel in its place but the modern sanctuary has very few, if any, medieval elements to it, being a mix of neo-romanticism, byzantine and neo-gothic in a temple shaped like a Greek cross!

And then… Then, there’s the view.



Enjoy! 🙂

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Categories: Activities, History, Places | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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