: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.
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?
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!
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…
“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.
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!