Thursday, 16 April 2015

Portugal - A few days in the North

We had a few days before leaving Portugal, so a trip to the Center and North of Portugal was still due.

On the highway we encountered a truck transporting sheets of cork on their way to be transformed. Portugal produces 50% of the world's cork, used in many industries that make wine bottle stoppers, shoes, flooring, bags and other household products very much in fashion nowadays.

Another interesting thing we saw on the highway was this type of sign a few kilometres before the petrol stations, advising the brand of the petrol provider, their distance and the price of petrol (which was the same for all of them).

Just before arriving we cross the River Dao, and it was wonderful to see again the beautiful scenery of the river, the houses on the slope, the lush greenery... Oh it felt good to return!

First stop, the village of Carregal do Sal, where we lived before we emigrated to Australia, situated in the District of Viseu, about 40 km south of the city of Viseu and 60km north east of Coimbra.

                                            The main church (photo from net)

We loved meeting up with old friends and some of the family, and were greeted warmly by people who hadn't seen us for a few years.

I found quite a few changes, some good, some not so good - I saw very few people on the streets and the lack of young people was worrisome, many seem to have either emigrated or moved to bigger cities, looking for work.

We arrived at lunchtime and headed straight to Cafe Central,  a small family restaurant, where we ate the Brazilian Feijoada (Black Bean and Meat Stew) that is only served by them on Wednesdays or Sundays. It was on our wish list and it was cheap and Delicious!!

Brazilian Black Bean Stew (photo from  the net)

We had other meals at various other restaurants in Carregal do Sal, one that stands out is Quinta do Cabrizfor a gourmet experience with great wines which they make on the premises and also export, as well as their own olive oil. A bit pricier, but the service is 5 star!

We couldn't leave without buying cheese from Serra da Estrela,  (highest mountain in Portugal, not far from this area) to take to Lisbon. The cheese is made of made of sheep's milk, and although the original cheese is from the mountain, you can also find a cheese factory in Carregal do Sal - Flor da Beira-  and they won a prize for best cheese in 2014.

We should have bought cheese to bring to Australia, as it was utterly delicious, still runny in the middle, just wonderful to spread. When the cheese is cured you can easily slice it. 

Image result for queijo serra da estrela
Serra da Estrela cheese (photo from net)

The three days were over too quickly and we headed further north to Braga.
On the way we found a farmer selling his fruit and vegetables by the side of the road and we stopped to buy 2 boxes of the biggest strawberries I had ever seen.


  1. Dearest Sami,
    What a delightful post again. Well, when you mentioned: 60km north east of Coimbra you triggered my memory of our trip to Portugal and Spain in 1994 where I did purchase Portuguese Guimarães white work in Coimbra! A lovely table cloth for our dining table and another smaller table runner.
    Time is never enough when you find lovely cities, culture, great food and FRIENDS.
    Thanks for sharing this beauty with us.

    1. Hi Mariette, Coimbra is such a lovely city, didn't have time to visit it this time either...

  2. What a wonderful post, the truck with cork is impressive. So nice you had a meeting with old friends.

    1. Thanks Marianne. Yes, I had never so much cork in one place.
      It was truly wonderful to meet up with old friends.

  3. Braga is such a wonderful city! As to Carregal do Sal, I'm not sure I've ever been there.

    1. Hi Jose, nothing much in Carregal, but if you like good food give "Quinta do Cabriz restaurant" a try. I'm sure you have probably tried their wines, as they are sold all over Portugal.

  4. I didn´t know about the cork! I guess when you move really far away it feels different to come to your old home than when you move but 60km ...
    Yet in some things it´s the same - young people are rare, they move to the cities...
    Oh, that cheese looks so yummy! And I agree on the strawberries - huge! The Archbishop's Palace at night is really very beautiful!

    1. If you ever visit Portugal you must try that cheese, but the runny one is better to spread, to eat with cake or crackers.
      Braga also has some beautiful monuments.

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