Subject: Portugal-Colette questions
Thank you Don And Linda for inviting me to get involved with Colette's requests.I've been working hard and so somehow in the background lately,although I always try to read through every digest. It was my intention to comment recent postings of new members leaving for Portugal or interested in this beautiful country.

Although passionate about Portugal I've never been in Penacova.This village is cited in only two of my 5-6 recent guidebooks of Portugal.It seems to be a village that hasn't a lot to offer in itself,but set amidst lovely wooded landscape and on Mondego river(actually the same river that flows through Coimbra,from which town you can kayak to Penacova).Based on my personal experience,I strongly recommend to visit Buçaco forest,an outstanding example of man-made forest with really huge trees and a lot of humidity,planted by monks from VI century on; in the middle of the forest stands a mock manuelino style luxurious hotel built in 1907.Buçaco is a national forest and is only 18 Kms(11 miles)north of Penacova or 25 Kms(16 mi)northeast of Coimbra. If someone is interested, I've recommendations about accomodation and restaurants.

One place that I want to recommend is Amarante,and I was delighted when I saw that Collette is pointing her nose to it. Amarante was the starting point of our last extensive travel to Portugal(in 1998),and it was a perfect introduction to the rest of this country's delights.It's about 80 Kms(50 miles) from Porto(1 ¼ hrs drive).The sight from our pension room's balcony was one of the most idyllic in the whole month:the romantic granite 1790 bridge,the unusual red brick roof of Sao Gonçalo church,and the ducklings swimming in the Tamega river below,while the sun was setting.Great!Other than this,Amarante has a well kept and rich modern and contemporary art museum(da Sousa Cardoso,behind Sao Gonçalo church).

I agree, 2 ½ weeks are more than enough for covering the mentioned area,I would put in something also in the area between Lisbon and Coimbra,one of the best in the country.

I also prefer to reserve my accomodation,especially because we have a young daughter(or at least she used to be young,now almost 11 !).Alas,I imagine it's not really easy to speak american english with the average Portuguese small-hotel clerk,so why not sending a fax,or when possible ,an e-mail?

God bless the travelling man!Goodbye,