Vilarinho, Vila Real District,
Vilarinho da Raia, 5400 Chaves, Portugal
A Step Back In TimeDriving down an old dusty dirt road near Vila Verde da Raia in the area of Tras-os-Montes in northern Portugal I could imagine the area in the 19th or 20th century.The region probably hasn't changed very much. I have seen pictures of this road from the 1940's and I can't see any difference.
The road was not paved then and still isn't. There are no modern homes or strip malls. I loved the natural vegetation and the peaceful vista.
After following the road for about 10 minutes, it curved to the right.There were huge sycamore trees on both sides of the road leading into a tiny tucked away village that dates back about 1,000 years or so. The village of Vilarinho had a small plaza and a well. There was a post office on one side of the square, a beautifully restored church ( I wished that I could have seen the original), and many whitewashed granite and concrete homes. I saw that most homes featured modernized interiors. Past the church was the cemetery and large fields of many crops.
At first, the residents were very curious but warmed up and became very friendly offering stories of the village, the farming, and tales of the relatives buried in the cemetery. As I walked the village and farm grounds they kept their eyes on this "stranger", but they were very happy when I expressed such interest in their lives, homes, and their lovely village.
A side trip is always a travel bonus and is one of the rewards of going off on your own to mix with the locals.