Portuguese Hospitality

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Portuguese Hospitality

:Portuguese hospitality is certainly nothing to be scoffed at. As you continue along your Western European Roadtrip, crossing the border into Portugal, you might want to head to the mountains, and check out the amazing town of Manteigas.

Portuguese Hospitality

Even in the light, there’s nowhere to stop on this road

This town is absolutely incredible, tucked into the mountains, it doesn’t get much more picturesque than this! Take your time, and wander around… there are many great picture opportunities. After all, the freedom to stop and wander is the whole point of not taking one of the conventional methods to travel Europe.

As the sun starts to set, and you get back in that beaut of a car you’re driving, you’re in for a fairly rude awakening. There is practically nowhere that you can sleep for free around this town. The roads are tight, there are few pullouts and even fewer shoulders and the chance of finding a flat spot for your mattress are slim to none.

Like any mountain towns, the roads in and out are few and far between and they tend to be pretty sketch. So, where does the Portuguese hospitality come in?

Portuguese hospitality

Seriously, where are you gonna put a tent?!

Looking for a place to pitch a tent, or at least pull the car over to the side of the road, your desperation will increase… after all, you’re pretty much lost, on mountain roads in the dark… not good.

The sheer grade of the road brings other problems to light. You keep passing little dirt roads that appear to be driveways, but due to the fact that they cut sharply down from the road, you can’t actually see where they go… until you’ve past them, and you certainly don’t have enough room to turn around.

Eventually, you learn to anticipate one of these driveways, and decide that you’re going to have to go for it… what a choice.

You’re bravery, courage, and ridiculousness is rewarded by a little dirt road that pulls just out of sight of the main road, and flattens out (more or less). Looking back, you realize that you’re even blessed with a phenomenal view looking down over Manteigas… what a score!

Portuguese hospitality

At least you have a nice view

Take out your little camping stove and start cooking. You’re about to find that this majestic valley channels wind amazingly, right towards you. Take a couple of big breaths and try to blow in the opposite direction, being careful not to blow in the direction of any straw or wooden houses. If for some reason your lung capacity is not quite sufficient to fight the forces of nature, you’re going to have to get creative.

Use everything you can to set up some sort of wind shelter, blankets, chairs, coolers, and rocks happen to make a phenomenally unstable structure that should manage to allow your stove enough time to light and provide hope before flickering out.

Rearrange your things and try again… As you’re frustration grows, feel free to yell into the wind. This is a fantastic way to use your dwindling energy… The best things to yell are along the lines of…

Portuguese Hospitality

Hiding from the wind…

“This isn’t the Portuguese hospitality we heard about…. AAAAAhhhhh!” (Make sure to put extra emphasis on the aaaahhh… without it, mother nature won’t get your point)

After fighting the wind for a few hours, and finally managing to cook some food, you’re probably ready for bed. This is the best time to realize that what you thought was flat happens to be nowhere near, so move your tent around a few times, kicking and swatting at whatever inanimate objects lay in your way. Try to take out your frustration on the inanimate objects, and see the humour in it… they won’t hold grudges.

Portuguese Hospitality

…and trying to cook

After scratching the rocky ground for a good half hour, you’ll probably find that your original location was the best you good make of a rocky situation, so climb into your tent and listen to the wind howl as you wiggle and squirm your way to sleep. Ahh… what a great rest.

In the morning, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out that a goat herder has decided to bring all of his goats up to your tent. As it turns out, you actually slept on his property… oops.

As you awkwardly try to pack up all your things, and hope he doesn’t get too upset, you’ll find that he is quite curious. If you’re lucky enough to speak decent Portuguese, than jump into the conversation, otherwise you’ll be shocked to realize that he actually speaks a bit of French… how many places will you keep finding French useful?!

The conversation will still be broken, but what a friendly old man you’ve found. Sure, he may not have all of his teeth, and he seems to point at his goats a lot… But, he also offers you some of his homemade goat cheese. This will certainly be a breakfast that sticks in your memory for awhile. As you eat all the cheese that you feel right about accepting, and savour every bite, you’ll realize that the hours are ticking away. Never wanting to overstay your welcome, time to thank your friend (in whatever language you can muster) and climb back into that vehicle and continue along on your European Roadtrip.

Finding Manteigas, Portugal a day after Pampliega, Spain… you are certainly on a roll with the diamonds in the rough!

Now that’s the type of Portuguese hospitality you’ve been hearing about!

Jonny Jenkins

Jonny Jenkins

My name is Jonny, my friends call me Stef. I'm Canadian born, but don't find my identity based upon some borders that man drew hundreds of years ago. I have begun to make my way through the world, travelling and living in many different countries and cultures. I believe whole heartedly in staying longer and going deeper to get the best understanding possible of many different perspectives of life. In order to do so, you have to speak the language. I am no polyglot, but have started to put more emphasis on learning languages in the last few years. I have learned Spanish, relearned French, and started in on Portuguese, German, Indonesian and Malagasy. When it comes to the third world, I am willing to help where they (and not I) decide they need it... in the first world, I am hoping to inspire and motivate people to live more engaging lives.

6 Replies to “Portuguese Hospitality”

  1. Funny story 🙂 Well, in Portugal it is compulsory to learn at least one foreign language in school so most people choose English or french — there is a chance your herder used to be an immigrant in France, or Switzerland, or Luxembourg. Just thinking out loud, don’t take it for a fact 🙂 You should try to visit the Azores sometime; people will see you lost or wandering and will invite to camp at their property 🙂

    1. The herder did indeed spend a bit of time in France… which caught both of us off guard, it had been quite a bit of time earlier but he certainly held fond memories. The Azores sound fantastic, I’ve got a huge soft spot for islands and have certainly looked at visiting them in the past… You’ve just given me that much more motivation to up them on the list

  2. Violet says:

    Super-Duper website! I am loving it!! Will come back again. I am taking your feeds also

    1. Hi Violet, thanks a lot. My feed tends to end up in the junk box (spam filter) for most people. At the moment I’m not using it as much as I intend to. Right now, liking the Step Up… Dive In Facebook page is the best way to stay current. But I really appreciate your comment and will put more of a focus on using the RSS feed on the site. 🙂

  3. girjaa says:

    Fabulous invitation off the beaten track JJ…who would even think it possible or inviting? It opens up my vista to look at all side roads differently, and my courage to follow your example. Thanks!

    1. While I can’t say that sleeping in pastures is typically the best option, the incredible hospitality and friendliness of the Portuguese opens many doors to otherwise unwise options… And creates new ways of meeting and connecting with the locals.

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