I’m might seem strange to put out a travel report of a Carnival photo trip, when we’re already a couple of weeks past Easter (that report is also due), but still felt the need to share this, because of its photos but also because it was exactly the same plan as in the previous year, but on a slightly slower pace.
Just like the previous year, me, João and Nicole had a simple program for the long Carnival weekend: first the small villages of Góis, right in the center of Portugal, and then head north to Vila Boa, one of the most amazing Carnival’s in Trás-Os-Montes. The first big change we had this time was the company of Pedro Vilela and his crew (i.e. his cool family), more people drawn to these masked traditions, but also to come along was we return to our favorite spots, eat our favorite foods and visit old friends. The second change was to calm down the hurry from the previous year, where we rushed out both of the Goís and Vila Boa carnivals. This year we arriving slightly earlier, leaving slightly later and had a laid back attitude throughout the weekend. And for someone like me, that the more I travel the slower I want to travel, this makes perfect sense!
Góis is a small city in the center of Portugal, and in the villages around it, lost in the Lousã mountains, there’s one of the most curious carnivals in Portugal: its masks are built of cork tree bark, making the masked people that wear them look like old people of the forest. For those of you following Game Of Thrones, imagine a bohemian version of the Children of the Forest, playing bagpipes instead of stabbing people with dragon glass. And the accent might be familiar, as a part of the participants are British expats living in the region.
Góis is one of the few traditional masked traditions in Portugal being relatively close to Lisbon, my hometown. Most of those are further north, making the drives back and forth a bit tiring, so having the dates enough apart so that we could split the drive to Trás-Os-Montes in two was a blessing. After that first stop, and a comforting meal, it was time to head north, for the second part of the carnival, in a region home one of plenty of interesting masked traditions. Vila Boa, our returning spot, has pretty much of what almost other: bright hoods and noisy bells running around, playing tricks on bystanders, bagpipes and drums playing, eating and drinking. All this with no frills, nothing fancy, no stands or sellers, just people enjoying the season in the raw beauty of Northern Portugal.