When you close your eyes and dream of being somewhere other than where you are in that moment, where do you go?
Thinking about it logically, I would think my brain would take me to the places that I talk about wanting to go back to the most - spots like Tofino, Hanalei Bay, and most all New Zealand. However, that's just not the case. When I close my eyes and dream of being somewhere else, I go places which have left a strong impression on me. Typically these are places where I had a chance to slow down and spend my time walking around the area in which I was staying. I find walking gives me just about the best experience in a new (or not new) place.
We spent three nights in Soajo, Portugal, staying in Casa da Barreira, built with traditional granite blocks just like all the homes around it. The streets were skinny cobbled alleys with cattle moving down them, most often followed by widows dressed in black. We spoke with our neighbors in a combination of broken French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese. One evening we were enjoying the sun on our balcony while listening to a widow and her care taker sing out their front door. Grapes here are grown along overhead trellises, above patios set up for barbecuing fish and enjoying the sun with furry companions. Coveted golden hours were spent wandering the streets and visiting the most famous grouping of espigueiros (granaries). Soajo is a place I imagine I'll be returning to in my mind over and over again.
Tips For Visiting Soajo:
- Stay in an AirBnB or rent a traditional granite block home - hands down, it's the best way to experience Soajo.
- Soajo makes a good in-between base for day trips to the northern, less visited, portion of Peneda-Gerês National Park for rock strewn highlands and down to the southern end for forests and waterfalls.
- If you day trip out, make sure to get back early enough to experience golden hour and sunset in Soajo amongst the espigueiros - it's a beautiful site.
- Don't miss the almost natural pools just above the city on the way to Peneda. It's a wonderful way to cool off after a hot day and to enjoy some laughs with the locals as everyone takes turns jumping off rocks into the pools. They're hard to spot from the road, but they're right across the road from a picnic area with a fantastic view.
- There are two small grocery stores around the main square, but neither have any signage up to indicate so. One is tucked in in a skinny street running directly off the main square and the other sits across from a cafe on the main road running through the town.
- Watch your feet! With loose cattle, dogs, and cats on cobbled streets - let's just say there are plenty of opportunities to accidentally step in something!
Photography By: Adina Marguerite Pease & Fugue Photography