I arrived in Guimaraes late in the afternoon after touring the old border castle towns and was greeted by my hosts from Alojamento F&B – another AirBnB find and an absolutely wonderful place to stay. Once I settled in, I took care of business. Yes, time to do some laundry! I asked where I could do so and Fatima showed me where the washer was but insisted I let her take care of it for me. I was most grateful for this and since she refused to charge me for it, I got her and her family a beautiful flowering plant the next day.
Fatima and her daughter pulled out a map and immediately got me oriented and even scribbled some suggested restaurants – per my request, those they’d visit! With that out of the way, I headed out to explore. As usual, I just wandered out and about – getting lost, bumping into key things, and letting the flow of the city take me where it wanted me to go.
Let’s take a step backward. Guimaraes is known as the birthplace of Portugal, dating back to 1139 when Afonso Henriques proclaimed himself king. It has both a castle (Castelo de Guimaraes) and a palace (Paco dos Duques) and they’re next to each other. What more could you ask for?
Of course, the narrow, intimate cobble stone paved streets leading up to them and taking you through the different squares tend to be my favorite part of a city such as this.
Walking around the newer part of town, one gets to see the stunning esplanade Largo Republica do Brasil with the Sao Gualter church at the end of it, and the Sao Francisco church.
If you continue further along, you can take the Teleferico de Guimaraes (the cable car) up to the Penha Sanctuary. This is a beautiful mountain top church with incredible gardens for meditation, prayer, or just to connect with your spiritual side. I found myself wandering through those gardens and just sitting at different spots. It was a great experience.
I spent two nights here and I took advantage of that to do some night photography. It was some of the same areas I visited during the day, but they look so different at night.
One thing I did that I seldom do is I had dinner at the same place both nights. You may wonder why and there are a couple of very simple reasons. First one, the food was REALLY good. Second, it was the first place I came across that accepted credit cards! Yes, I had been using up all my euros all along, did not have my ATM card, and was not finding any place to exchange currency!
So, about dinner, Paraxut Restaurante is the place. I honestly don’t recall what I had for dinner the second night (and I didn’t write it down!), but that first night, OMG! I’ll start with the bread and salmon pate, absolutely delicious. I had some Cardo Verde to warm up the body followed by some polvo (octopus – a local specialty) grilled and served over some potatoes and spinach. It was so damn good! Dessert was a flan pudding that was out of this world good. It was all enjoyed with a small bottle of Duoro Valley wine.
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Guimaraes and it was probably one of my favorite cities visited during my road trip.