There it was, a Border Castles Tour listed in the book. What could be better than a series of old border castle towns? Not one, but several of them! That was today’s exploration and so I set out. The plan was to visit Castelo Mendo, Almeida, Castelo Rodrigo, Pinhel, and Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo (which I never did find!)
It was a beautiful day for it. Narrow, windy, back country roads. Beautiful! And then….the fog. Where did that fog come from? As a photographer, I was a bit upset but I didn’t care. I was going to enjoy this adventure no matter what. I got to the first town, Castelo Mendo and the fog was just thicker. It was also cold! I added another layer for warmth, grabbed my camera and bag, turned around and…..BAM! The fog was AMAZING. It set such an incredible mood for the town. I was in awe. To make it even better, there was an elderly lady dressed all in black right by the gate. How perfect can this be?
I set out to explore the small, old town and it was just perfect. The thick fog just added a dimension that I could have only dreamed of.
After exploring the small town, I headed back out to the next stop – Almeida. Almeida is an old fortress town with a 12-pointed star wall formation designed in the 1600s. While not as picturesque as the other towns, walking through the old walls (to get into the town you have to cross through a bridge over a moat and go through a tunnel!), seeing the fortification arrangement, and enjoying the old town was really interesting.
The next stop was Castelo Rodrigo and this was my favorite for the day. The fog kicked in at the right time for the perfect mood, the old palace ruins (destroyed in 1640!), and the sweet almonds I purchased were the highlight of this town that dates back to 1296!
By the time I reached Pinhel, the sun was breaking through and I got to see some beautiful blue skies. Pinhel is a much larger town than the rest visited on this day so I focused on the old town section.
Overall this was a great fun day and I had a chance to explore some old castle towns. Again, the advantage of off season is the complete lack of crowds. I highly recommend this area to anyone that loves small, historic towns.
I continued on to my next stop – Guimaraes. More on that in the next article.