A trip to Viseu, Bussaco, Porto, Viana do Castelo & Santiago de Compostela, Part 1/4

 

Viseu

After a few hours of driving from Lisbon, I reached my first destination, Viseu. I know Viseu quite well, and I always love to spend some time in this historic city. I had arranged to stay at the Pousada in Viseu, which used to be an old hospital built in 1799, but turned into an immaculate hotel by the famous Portuguese architect Gonçalo Byrne.

The Pousadas are run by the Pestana group, and they are responsible for preserving and turning some of the most beautiful buildings in Portugal into high-quality hotels and resorts. They maintain the spirit and respect the heritage of each region, respectively. Meaning, the decorations, and cuisine differ from each hotel.

Portugal may not be a vast country but do not be mistaken each region has its individual fingerprints, and this is what makes this country so incredibly diverse and fascinating. The Pousada in Viseu is decorated in a contemporary minimalistic style with huge spaces. The architecture is an art in itself and hence “less is more,” and this is a textbook example. The care for details in the interior, as well as, the exterior is strikingly marvelous. The front desk, and staff absolutely top notch and very welcoming. Guests also have the opportunity to book time at the Spa, which is opulence in world-class caliber. It has a great ambiance and all the facilities needed, – it is tastefully decorated and has a clean and fresh smell. The staff members are very catering and provide an excellent service.  The breakfast was of a very high standard. My two days experience at the Pousada was enjoyable, – top notch, and my return is inevitable.

 

 

 

The hotel is situated on a small hill overlooking the old part of town and within short walking distance to the Rossio square, and also to the “Harry Potter” like cobbled narrow streets behind the Cathedral. You can also enjoy a wealth of shopping opportunities on the main pedestrian street leading down to the city council’s building. For those of you appreciating large shopping centers, the Palacio do Gelo is the place to be. It has a wide variety of shops, cinemas, massive swimming pool complex, restaurants, ice skating area and even a bar made entirely out of Ice. It was nicely decorated during the Christmas time.

 

… And some pictures from the city. However, please view my little video beneath.

 

Ever heard about the legend of Viriathus? A Lusitanian hero who fought the Roman legions. Whether romanticized entirely, a statue commemorating this myth’s legacy is situated inside a complex of earthen walls which marks out an octagonal-shaped trenched area. The name is Cava de Viriato and is sort of an open park to explore.

 

 

 

Viseu has been voted one of the best cities to live. I can see why, as it has some excellent shopping facilities, restaurants and offer an array of many outdoor activities. Something is always going on in this charming place and walking around the old part of town is a delightful experience. The granite Cathedral, which dates back to the 13th century is the crown of Viseu and nearby areas. It is an essential religious complex, and due to its size of the area, it is referred to as a (Sé). You must pay the Sé a visit and the museum of one of the most important Portuguese 16th-century artist, Vasco Fernandes, whose extensive work is displayed in the Museu de Grão Vasco just adjacent to the Cathedral.

 

Here is a short video to give you a little idea of the surroundings. It was the first time I tried out the Go-Pro 6 so forgive the weak recording, please. 🙂

 

 

Strolling around this exciting city, you never know who you meet or run into. I have met many famous athletes and artists there. But also a wealth of talented craftsmen and this time I would like to bring attention to a fella named José Pereira Costa – Luthier.

When you step into his atelier, you are greeted with a lovely smell of wood and a massive display of tools hanging on the wall. José is a great person and without hesitation welcomes you into his sophisticated universe. Watching José perform his craft by continually measuring and accounting for every single step in the process is mind-numbing. His meticulousness is utter madness and gosh to be respected. It is a science, art and engineering process, combined, and to produce a world-class instrument, it must be beyond perfect!

 

Viseu has so much to offer. It also has an exciting culinary art scene. Not to forget the Dão wines, which I am going to cover in another article.  The Dão region is vast. There are so many grand wine estates on the Wine route and so much to write about.

 

Anyway, my next destination is Porto. Thus, I took a little detour to the Bussaco National Park to explore the Palace and the gorgeous natural settings.

I will be staying at one of the most opulent and historic hotels in Porto. I will then make my way over to the Portwine district of Vila Nova do Guia.  Walking around in this neighborhood I ran into two utter sweethearts, Ana and Maria. Anyone treating animals with so much respect and love is automatically a friend of mine. They run 3+ Arte, a cultural space for artists and those appreciating the fantastic world of arts. My trip will then continue to Viana do Castelo before I cross the borders into Spain to reach my final destination, Santiago de Compostela. Stay tuned.

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