The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

Retire early, be passionate, don't worry, die poor

Monday, February 6, 2012

Covilhã, Serra da Estrela and a bad restaurant

It was my birthday, the perfect excuse to leave town.

The mission was to visit mainland Portugal's tallest mountain, relax in the snow and and enjoy the subfreezing temperature. Appetizing!

When I used to live in Canada, I saw, felt and shovelled enough snow to last me forever, or even longer.

Ana, on the other hand, had only touched snow once. "Isn't once enough," I asked her, perplexed?

First, I took the jeep to a garage and put on new rugged front tires, added anti-freeze to the radiator (good thing because it was full of pure water) and changed the oil before driving 300 km to Serra da Estrela that rises 1,993 meters into the sky.

Ana prepared as though we were going to the North Pole: long underwear, extra-thick socks and even a heavy blanket just in case. "Canadians sit out on their decks drinking beer and tanning in -5º C," I told her.

She gave me the look, you know, the look that says "don't men ever grow up?" OK, we'll take the blanket.

To make a boring story short, after a 3-hour drive (I'm a slow driver and get better mileage that way), we found ourselves half way up the mountain feeling hungry. That's when a restaurant conveniently came into view.

Did I say restaurant? Sorry for misleading you, it was a tourist trap (which functions much like a fly trap). These establishments should be avoided and, even better, banned! They're the modern version of highway robbery. After dishing out sixty-three euros for one of the worst meals I can remember, we resumed our journey upward.

It was a beautiful sunny day, and I was beginning to sweat in my long underwear. We wound up the road not seeing a spec a snow, but the views were awesome.

When we reached the top, we saw everyone hunched over wearing hats, gloves and big coats. That's what it was like in Canada. It didn't look good.

I stepped out of the jeep and there was no doubt about it, this really was the North Pole. The wind whipping over the mountain top bit into my face like icy sandpaper, just like in Canada.

"This is amazing!" I shouted through the wind to Ana.
Serra da estrela
The peak of Serra da Estrela
Ski resort in Portugal
Ana loving the cold, can't you tell?

Accommodations in Covilha
View from our room at the charming Residencial Panorama in Covilhã

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