Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Serpentine Magic – Portugal 16

Water clock

Water clock


It was time to head South. Leaving Arcos de Valdevez we dropped straight down to the  city of Braga, then went East along along the N103, a twisting, turning mountain highway that

passed through some beautiful scenery. The phrase “breathtaking” is a familiar one, but as I rounded one particular bend, the road clinging to the lush green hillside, I let out an involuntary gasp at the vista a thousand meters below.

Glistening, deep blue lakes, red and white homesteads, like dolls houses dotted across the carpet of green that fell to the shores. It was quite the most stunning landscape I’d ever seen, rivalling the Norwegian fjords, or the a view from the Swiss Alps. It was uplifting just to drive through it, and I could only rue the fact that I could not stop to photograph it.

Our intention had been to stop at a campsite we’d seen on the map near a village called Cha, by a large lake called Albufeira do Alto Rabagao – but it appeared to not exist.

We drove on, a little disheartened, deciding to make for Chaves, a large town quite close to the Portuguese border to the North. It felt strange, because we’d been heading South, but the border dropped down with us. Foregoing the campsite outside Chaves, we opted to stay in a great parking place by the river.

Crazy Chaves style

Crazy Chaves style

The town was wonderful, and seemed steeped in Medieval motifs, and haphazard, crazy architecture, reminiscent to my mind of the English city of York, which still boasts the top-heavy wooden balconies and balustrades that were also popular in London before the Great Fire.

Quaint doorways, and strange wooden afterthoughts to existing stone buildings conspired to give this town a wonderful charm, and we wandered through it at length, with Miki trying to capture it with her pad and pencil and me enjoying it with my cup and saucer, as per usual.

We also discovered a wonderful fountain, that in fact turned out to be a clock. Separated into sections marked with Roman numerals, it would pump water up through jets corresponding to the hour, and every quarter-hour thereafter. Checking the time on my phone, I confirmed it was indeed a clock, and moreover, was accurate!

I was then approached by a Portuguese guy who asked if I was from Aruba, as I was wearing my Aruba vest that day. I explained I was English, but I’d visited the island as a singer many, many times and loved it. He revealed that he’d been “the best waiter in the Carribean” working at the Hyatt Regency on the island, a hotel with which I was familiar. I’m sure he went way reminiscing, as did I, about that wonderful piece of paradise.

Bridge at Chaves

Bridge at Chaves

We were joined by the river that evening by two more motorhomes, French and Portuguese, and true to form, somehow contrived to be parked next to a children’s outdoor birthday party.

The fun never ends…

Once again we took the bikes out, and explored the remainder of the town on the opposite bank of the Ribeiro Caneiro, and elected to stay a second night before hitting the trail again, staying faithful to the continually serpentine N103, our intended destination, Braganca, some 20 kilometers shy of the Eastern border with Spain.

We’ve been on the road for four weeks now, and Portugal still sprinkles magic in our path.

Chaves skyline

Chaves skyline





July 14, 2008 - Posted by | Art, culture, life, personal, travel, writing | , , , , , ,


  1. And you share the magic so well. May you never be too old to stop traveling – you are made for it.

    Comment by Susan Cornelis | July 15, 2008

  2. Hi – I’ve enjoyed reading about your travels in Portugal. Chaves is definately on my ‘places to visit in Portugal’ list. Your photo’s are lovely too.

    Comment by Lily | July 19, 2008

  3. Susan: lets hope so!
    Lily: hi, and welcome! Many thanks for your kind comments. Still a little more to come from me about our trip.

    Comment by kevmoore | July 21, 2008

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