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James Martin

Penhas Douradas: Getting High in Portugal

By April 30, 2010

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Today we are walking and photographing from a mountain resort village called Penhas Douradas, 1550 meters above the town of Manteigas. That's Manteigas you see in the picture.

Penhas Douradas is named after a couple of granite outcrops poking from this high plateau. They give off a golden glow when the sun sets, I'm promised. I'm guessing this is the reflection of warm colors of the sun off the mica contained in the granite. I'm not a romantic person.

Golden glow aside, it's absolutely stunning countryside. We're lucky to be spending the night up here. Now, you may think we'd be couped up in a rustic cabin eating stew from a can, but we're not. We're staying at the Casa das Penhas Douradas. Our room is lined in birch. It smells good and woodsy. We can get a massage any time we want it. The oil we'd be massaged with comes from a birch grove a short walk away. Tonight's dinner sounds excellent, as they all seem to be in Portugal.

Europeans are pretty high on this wellness thing. Get out in the fresh. mountain air, eat well, get a spa treatment or two, and go home feeling better than ever. At a time not so long ago, tuberculosis patients were cured up here in the good air.

So if you think European vacations are too full of gawking at statues of people you don't know, or standing attentively in front of paintings you were forced to write about in high school, maybe you should look into a more active vacation. You could do worse than a week at Penhas Douradas I'm sure.

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