Our First Impressions of Northern Portugal – Minho Region

Although the Minho region is small – about the size of Norfolk in area – there’s a wide variety of scenery: two huge rivers – Rio Minho and Rio Lima; a mountainous National park – Peneda-Geres; the oldest Portuguese city and third largest – Braga; the largest weekly Portuguese market – Barcelos; a world renowned wine region – Vinho Verde; and a fabulous coastline – Costa Verde – with the significant port of Viana do Castillo.

It might be the same all over Portugal, but there are certainly a lot of cobbled roads in the Minho region. Not sure our bikes, or teeth, will cope with much more!

The people are always busy. In the rural areas there are many small-holdings which require a lot of labour. At this time of year it’s mostly vine pruning and burning. In the towns, you can usually see groups of men of a certain age hanging out together, in bars, or just on benches.

The average stature is small and petite, they look hardy and wear practical clothes. We’ve got the impression that they are well-mannered and conservative with a small ‘c’.

Unfortunately we haven’t seen many people smiling. Even on Valentine’s Day when we went to a restaurant in the evening which advertised a ‘romantic’ evening, there wasn’t any smiling or laughing amongst the diners. It was noticeable that the average age of the diners was about 60, which was a surprise on Valentine’s night!

Compared to the Spanish, the northern Portuguese are very quiet. We’ve not come across anyone talking loudly into their phones which is a main activity in Spain. Also, compared to Spain the dogs are very small, but they still bark all night like the Spanish dogs do!

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