October 13, 2010
We arrived in the late afternoon at this interior Portuguese town.We had left Viseu earlier in the day, and had driven inland, through spectacular country, dramatic green hills, descending into deep gorges and river valleys, covered in pine and arbutus forests, then suddenly the countryside changed into a more barren, rocky harsher landscape. The many windmills suggested both a potential for wind energy and the possibility that this area is very windy, and maybe less comfortable to live in than the area we left behind.Here is one example of the kind of treatment that awaits the traveler in Portugal. I needed to buy an adapter so that my North American plugs could fit into a European socket. (I left the one I had in the hotel in Braga). I entered a computer shop and asked. No, they did not have adapters, but the owner left his customer waiting there and walked me down to the corner to make sure I understood where I could buy one. This kind of treatment is common, almost daily. The one word that comes to mind about the Portuguese is “genuine”. What you see is what you get. No showing off, no pretense, no ulterior motive, just genuine friendliness and helpfulness.It was soon dark in Guarda, and we were tired, and had to wash some clothes in our room, so we decided to eat in the hotel , rather than venture out for dinner. In a way I regret it. This morning I went for a pre-breakfast run, up the hill to the old town. Narrow streets, old cathedrals, and the feeling that this was some kind of fortress town near the Spanish border (Guarda?). Already an interesting tourist destination, well worth the trip, it could do with a little fixing up. As it is there are restaurants for tourists, but one also has the impression that it is lived in and not just a relic. I noticed a large school on the edge of the old town.I will be meeting with teachers here, and maybe some of them teach at that school.I will try to take pictures later.
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