I was under the impression that The Peneda-Gerês National Park (normally just called “Gerês”) was home to the Richard Gere family, and that we might experience sightings of either Richard or some hookers that look like Hollywood movie stars, because of course we all know most hookers look like Julia Roberts.
But we had to settle for a bunch of Barrosão (or Barrosã) cattle. They might also be known as Cachena, it’s a little confusing to us non-dairy creamer– er farmers. Anyway, whatever you call them, they are a breed of “triple-purpose cattle,” (I’m thinking the triple purpose means milk, meat, and playing extras in movies) native to Spain and Portugal. The ones we saw may not actually have been in any movies, but they sure meandered down the road like they were on a red carpet. Plus they refused autographs. Udderly entitled cows. Pssh.
Gerês is the oldest protected area and the only national park in Portugal. So we decided to take a drive through it and see what all the fuss was about. To be honest, there wasn’t any fuss. Sometimes we just make things up for dramatic effect. We like to horse around, like some of Gerês’s taxis.
The park covers an area of about 696 square kilometers, or 269 square miles, which is about the size of the country of Bahrain. While Bahrain is home to over 1.7 million people, only about 9,000 Portuguese live in Gerês. So I’m just spitballin’ here, but if Bahrain ever runs out of room… just sayin’. Anyway, above are the top scenic shots from the drive as voted on by so, so many of our loyal readers.
There are also a number of megalithic (which means “very big lithic”) structures and Roman ruins in the area, but we mostly just gawked at nature’s natural beauty because we couldn’t find any lithics at all, no matter how hard we didn’t try.
To the west of Gerês, is the municipality of Viana do Castelo. With a name like that, we were pretty certain there’d be a castle in the vicinity, so we tore through the national park and drove like bats outa hell to see it.
Despite the impressive-looking sign and the promise offered up by a Very Old Wall (or VOW as we castle hunters like to quip condescendingly), the castle was a bust. Not a female-breast-bust, or a statue of someone’s head, but a pure, unadulterated, complete and total bust, as in well sheeit, we passed up additional views of Barrosão asses just for this? There was a hotel in there, but we were so disappointed at the lack of castleness we rated the hotel one star on Yelp.com, even though we never set foot in the place. From the depths of passionate spite came posts that the cockroaches were eating the mice, one of the bathroom tiles looked like it could come loose if you only took a hammer to it, and that there were human feces in the mini-fridge (although we admitted they could have been tootsie rolls). The fact that I accidentally posted all that on our own rentable apartment would actually be funny if I could only figure out how to take it down.
Human settlement in the area began during the Mesolithic (which means “very messy lithic”) era. The Mesolithic is also called the Middle Stoned Age, I think because that’s when they first discovered marijuana. Or maybe it was fentanyl. Either way, it’s obvious that the drugs were bad for them because not a one of those people is still alive today. See what happens when you do drugs, kids?
It was a nice area, but the best thing about it was the views. While we didn’t get our castle, we got 57.6% of what we usually look for out of castles.
This guy had a great view, but list that among the jobs I’d never take, right behind prostitution and being a handler for one of Richard Gere’s pet hamsters.