First impressions of Amarante

We left Braga behind, after one more procession, viewed from the balcony of our apartment as planned. We were quite ready to move on to somewhere more peaceful. For me, Amarante, in the Douro region, provided just that. Settled very beautifully in a gorge on the Rio Tâmega, a tributary of the Douro, it has lovely walks on both banks of the river.

Driving from Braga took only 45 minutes, and our hotel, Casa da Ribeirinha, was situated right on the riverside. The car was manoeuvred up the drive, and there it stayed for 3 days. It was an older property, full of character, with views across the river to the church and former monastery of São Gonçalo– just perfect! I couldn’t wait to cross the elegant bridge and explore.

Confidently dominating the main square, the church of São Gonçalo allegedly marks the site of the hermitage of this 13th century hermit. A performer of miracles of healing, touching the saint’s tomb is said to guarantee a swift marriage.

We wandered upwards through the town, loving the dignity of the houses. Our reward for a stiff climb was a breathtaking overview of the church and cloisters, stretched far below. The smaller church of São Domingos, at the top of a steep flight of steps, was where the Good Friday procession was to start, later that day.

It was an unexpectedly warm day and we were glad to dip into São Gonçalo for some welcome shade. Despite the ornate decoration the church felt light and airy, the organ mounted high above us and the cloisters welcoming in the sunshine. I resisted the temptation to stroke the saint’s foot. One marriage is enough, isn’t it?

An irresistible cafe overlooked the river, a perfect spot for lunch, with a counter loaded full of inviting cakes, but I have my priorities and there was more exploring to do. Back at the bridge we opted for the left hand route, bypassing the market and dropping down to the footpath along the river. It proved a good choice, for we ambled through dappled shade, with rowing boats idling by the riverbank.

Rounding the bend beneath the road bridge, we were surprised to come upon a water slalom, disturbing the surface of the flat calm river. It was deserted, apart from a couple idling on a pontoon in the sun and, further along, a family fishing and dabbling at the water’s edge. An idyllic scene, it was time to turn back and do a little idling ourselves, on the roof terrace of our hotel.

83 thoughts on “First impressions of Amarante

  1. It’s so nice to see your version of Amarante, with blue skies! It was gray, cold and rainy when we were there, but I do recognize many of the sites. I’m sure it was nice to wander along the riverside and climb the hills with blue skies all around. xx

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  2. It certainly looks an idyllic place Jo and such gorgeous weather too 🙂 Mlle will be somewhere round here (the Douro) in early September for her friends’ wedding – I don’t think I’ll tell her about the saint’s foot though lest she thinks I’m meddling (just joking!). I have actually now booked to come over at the same time as her – it seemed a good opportunity and we can keep each other company. Monsieur will hold the fort back home – he’ll probably go a few months later to see his side of the family. We’ll have a couple of days in London before I head north to Yorkshire and Mlle heads off to Portugal. We’re only going for a couple of weeks so it will be a bit of a whirlwind! Will be a bit surreal to travel overseas again – we’ll see how it goes. Hope all is well with you and have a lovely week xx 🙂

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    • That’s lovely news, Rosemay! I thought at first that you were coming to Portugal too, but it will be fantastic to see your Dad again and exchange hugs. Zoom is no substitute, useful though it has been. 🤗💟

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      • No alas not enough time for me to get across to Portugal on this occasion Jo but one day! Of course if you find yourself in Yorkshire at the end of August and the first 10 days of September please let me know! I’ve booked msyelf an Air BNB in Harrogate as my dad can’t really cope with visitors anymore (for very long that is) so I will taking myself off to do a few things. Mlle will come up to Harrogate for a couple of days too. Just trying to get to grips with all the different travel rules since we last went abroad! Hope you’ve had a lovely week and enjoy the weekend xx 🙂

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      • Next time Jo! Mlle and I are hoping to do a day jaunt to Paris from London at the beginning of the trip. We’ll have to see how it will work out. She’s booked us an Air BNB in London to start off with then she’ll go off to Portugal and I’ll head up to Yorkshire. Hopefully the weather will be nice! xx

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  3. I really enjoyed the sights you shared here in Amarante with us, and your narrative was calm and mesmerizing. I chuckled at your joke about resisting the temptation to stroke the saint’s foot. Your photos were a joy with the shapes and shadows and blue skies, town and church scenes, the bridge and river. Thanks so much, Jo, for this lovely walk through Amarante.

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    • There’s always another cafe, and definitely always another pastelaria- cake shop- here in Portugal, Alegria. If I can, I always find one with a view. It would be nice to share with you. Thanks, hon!

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  4. Wow, where to start loving this walk is the question? The first two pictures with the reflected building in the water had my mouth hanging open. But then I saw the little picture of the red boat and the arch whose reflection made it a complete circle. I can see it was quite a climb to see those beautiful red rooftops. I’m missing the cake at the end, though. Maybe you should have stroked the saint’s foot if your husband isn’t insisting on buying you cake after every walk. 🙂 (I’m kidding, you know!) One husband is plenty. 🙂

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    • Marsha, I think he would say the same for one wife! I ‘lost’ my phone today, after a relaxing stroll by the beach. Didn’t realise till we got home an hour or so later. We drove back again and lo and behold, retrieved my phone! I had left it on the bench where we were sitting, and a chap working in a nearby kiosk had picked it up and kept it in case I came back. Unfortunately Mick had emailed to cancel my SIM becaause he was sure it would be gone. A new one will be sent to me, via the UK. For the time being I have half a phone! But I still have a husband…

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      • LOL I’m so glad you still have your husband. Phones are so wonderful when they are with us. Scarier than anything, when we can’t find them. What can you do with half a phone?

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  5. I love the river and bridge pictures. There’s nothing more satisfying that a reflection on clear, blue water.
    If I were younger, I might kiss the saint’s tomb.
    As an American, when I see pictures of cloisters with their arches and covered open-air walkways, I’m reminded of the missions all up and down the coast of California, most of them founded by Franciscan missionaries from Mexico,some of them before the US Declaration of Independence. I always thought the missions were beautiful and romantic.

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    • Yes, there’s a distinct similarity, Nicki, though I haven’t seen too many missions in person. I’ve always loved cloisters though…and reflections! Thanks for your company!

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  6. Beautiful dogwood – you got two Springs by travelling north. My sweetheart always looks for green men when we find a church with ceiling decorations, but I couldn’t spot one on his behalf here. The wallpaper-style drawings on the huge column fascinated me.

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  7. Wow Jo, what a truly beautiful spot – you should go into the tour guide business! Just before covid struck we had scheduled our next trip – Portugal. If we never get there I’ll treasure your images of its beauty that much more. Meandering thru these towns you highlight looks like a dream.

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    • It’s something we had looked forward to for a number of years, Tina. There were no disappointments and I’ll soon be planning another trip north, but probably not this year. We have visitors over the summer so we’ll see what Autumn brings. 🤗💟

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  8. Another gorgeous place in Portugal, Jo! Your country has stolen my heart (and I already love the wine and have good memories from a trip in the mid-seventies.) Perhaps one day we’ll get there and enjoy the beauty and treats for ourselves. In the meantime, thanks for sharing!!

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    • When we came here we knew that Portugal had so much more to offer than the Algarve beaches, Janet, but seeing these places for ourselves has been wonderful. Did somebody mention living the dream? Thanks for enjoying it with me..

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  9. Such fantastic photos, Jo 🙂 Amarante looks like a picture-perfect town with medieval, Renaissance and Romanesque influences that make it an absolutely breathtaking place to explore. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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  10. “Beautiful” is what wanted to start with, going on with “those images with mirroring in the water”. But then I continued to look further down this article, and I can only continue with “all of the images”. Absolutely fantastic, especially the interior of the church.
    Thanks for sharing, Jo.

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    • I was a bit uncertain in my choice of hotel but it turned out to be wonderful. Our bedroom, and several of the terraces, looked over the river to the church, and we were spoiled for choice of walks. Never can resist reflections. Thanks, Jude!.

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      • We’re in a hotel at the end of the month as we want to be in a town and not miles away from amenities so we can go out for a drink in the evening and not have to drive. I usually prefer my own B&B or holiday cottage.

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  11. Jo, What a beautiful place to walk. I love the reflections of the bridge and greenery in your first two photos. That red scooter just beckons to ride to new adventures.

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  12. I’ve never heard of Amarante but your pictures reminded me so much of our sixties trips to Portugal when we were discovering towns like these every visit we made. What a delightful spot for a few days of r & r even if the r & r included slightly strenuous walks. The riverside pix are really lovely.

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    • We walked both ways along the river over our 3 days there and also along a former railway line, Mari. It was the perfect antidote to Braga, wonderful though that was. Thanks for your company, hon. It’s always a pleasure to share with you. 🤗💟

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  13. Pingback: Last Day in Prague (Part 1) – Boomer Couple Travel Journal

  14. Lovely views of the river – so peaceful. But wow, that blue-blue sky … that’s just amazing! So much to see on this Monday walk – thank you, I’ve enjoyed my virtual walk with you in Amarante 🌸.

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  15. I’ve never heard of Amarante but it looks just perfect for a more relaxed visit (apart from the hill!) The church looks beautiful AND interesting, and I love the riverside scenes with the dappled greens 🙂

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