Sights of Portugal: Passadiços do Paiva

As the year advances, the less likely it seems I’ll be able to get on a plane to travel for the simple joy of it before the end of 2020. I might as well accept it and get over it. However, I found myself getting excited with the new opportunity of spending this time in Portugal and explore my own country, something I haven’t had the chance to do a lot in the past 4 years.

I’ve always turned to Nature when looking for comfort. It’s like going back home, the original one. Even when I couldn’t escape London, I would find refuge in its beautifully wild parks. When I could, I found myself  drawn to the highlands of Scotland, or to the beaches of my other home. Unsurprisingly, Nature turns out to be now, more than ever, the place for me to escape to.

Because I’m not obliged to wear a mask, because I can get out of the (home)office where I spend 8 hours, 5 days of the week. Because I am free to walk without breaking any social distancing rules. But mostly, because, it always makes me feel humble. It makes look at things and problems with different eyes and perspective. Interestingly, making myself feeling small when confronted with the wonders of Nature is the way I can find my way back to mental sanity. By realising how irrelevant my problems are and how privileged I am for living and existing in such a beautiful planet.

I’ve been posting a lot of photos from the seaside, as I’m quite fortunate to be only a few twenty minutes’ drive from the coast. But this last weekend, we went for a change of scenery. Drove up North, to district called Arouca, to finally do the trail named Passadiços do Paiva (Paiva Walkways). The site was closed for 2 months due to the pandemic, and opened its doors last week, allowing 600 visitors a day (on normal days it allows 2,000). We bought tickets online to make sure weren’t driving for 2 hours just to get there and be stranded at the door.

The trail is about 8.7Km long, going alongside the mountains and the river Paiva. At the start, middle and end, you have the chance to relax in small beaches by the river, and even go for a swim. You’ll see amazing sights, waterfalls, incredible rock formations and also some interesting flora and fauna.

It’s a one way trail. You can do both ways, but unless you’re training for the Olympics it can be very strenuous as there are multiple bits where you need to climb stairs and it does get really hot. Luckily, for most of the trail, there is enough shadow.

I love walking, so if you ask me if this is a difficult trail, I’ll say no. Of course this depends on your physical preparation. I’d say the weather is another factor to have in consideration. Ensure you pack sunscreen if you have vampire skin like mine and enough water to get you through it. Some snack are also advisable.

You can start the trail either in Areinho or Espiunca. After some online research, most articles were advising starting from Areinho. Here you have some 20 minutes of climbing steps but, after that, the path is pretty smooth. If you come from Espiunca you’ll have to climb a lot more.

Along the walkways, you’ll see a suspension bridge that you do not have to cross. This is something I made sure of, as I’m incredibly afraid of heights and get such vertigo, I cannot handle myself. But guess what – I faced the fear, and found myself crossing the bloody bridge two times (you always need to come back). Could see the river under me, its waters raging, the bridge shaking with every step I made. I was shaking for about ten minutes after this, but it was worth it. I hope I’m not becoming an adrenaline junkie…

What was really refreshing was the first dive of the year. After 4km, we stopped by the river beach for snacking and it really felt good to wash myself of all the sweat I had already accumulated in my skin.

How is it going in where you are? I like to think we are every day a bit closer to get back to a new normal, but the kind you can go back to travel.

Love

Nic

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