PÓVOA DE VARZIM, Portugal - A scenic cuspate foreland reaching out between the Minho and Douro rivers will serve as setting for the next Open European Mahjong Championship, an event sure to draw the best players from thirty eight countries to compete for the new title as European Champion.
While now one of the largest modern bustling regions of Portugal, this charming outcropping has its settlement roots dating as far back as 900 BC, having been fortified to defend trade routes of the ancient Greece and Roman civilizations.
In modern times, this coastal region is now better known for its sandy beaches, influential literary culture, music and art; a setting graced for its gentle summers and mild winters. Currently an economy driven by tourism, gambling, hotels and fine dining, there is plenty for a visitor to find and do when not engaged over tiles and tables.
The Junqueira shopping street was one of the earliest to ban the automobile, being dedicated to foot traffic for one of the largest shopping districts in the area. Dotted with boutiques in traditional buildings, pedestrians can find all manner of wares for sale, most notably the jewelry and gold famous to the district.
Many other tourist venues abound, including the gaming and entertainment venue Casino da Póvoa, and other notable hotels including the Grande Hotel da Póvoa, and the oldest in town, the Hotel Luso-Brasileiro.
Adventure seekers can also take in more of the local flare attending the Póvoa de Varzim Bullfighting Arena, which showcases the Portuguese-style bullfighting, horse shows, and musical events.
Those with high-minded pursuits can enjoy the many museums of the area, including a "European Museum of The Year" award winning Ethnography and History Municipal Museum of Póvoa de Varzim Siglas Poveiras exhibit displaying ancient sacred art and Roman inscriptions. A whole host of other worthy museums are around, from large displays like the Santa Casa Museum, to smaller eclectic displays like those of the galleries within Casino da Póvoa.
When all that walking has the appetite ready, the local cuisine of locally grown vegetables and fresh-catch seafoods and lobsters. not forgetting to mention the savory Portuguese barbecued chicken.
And what better way to relax after a fine meal than to drift in the seas via one of the many marina-based attractions docking in Clube Naval Povoense, drifting on the waterways famous for fishing, trade, and navigation since ancient Greco-Roman times.
Images and demographic data from Wikipedia.