A happy customer, that’s what we want!

When our son and daughter in law decided to move to Nadrupe (Lourinhã), we were looking for a holiday home in a quiet environment where we could go every year in September-Oktober for more or less 6 weeks and once a year for one week. We needed a house where we could bring our old cat and with a garden so she could walk (on a leash) there. Furthermore, we needed a good internet connection, because I work every day for a few hours on the computer. And, of course, it couldn’t be that far from our children’s house and not that expensive! And that was often the problem, mostly the holiday homes that meets our expectations were often too expensive.

Then we got a message in a facebook group from Lieve that she had a few houses to choose from. On their website, it seemed that the houses meet all our expectations, so we booked immediately for 5 weeks. And shortly after, for more one week in January 2020. We knew we were taking a risk, without even seeing the house in real…

But then we arrived at Vila Oasis Verde… We were way later than expected because we had some problems with our rental car, but we were very good welcomed by Bert. The house was more than we expected: big, cozy, modern, very well equipped, a large lawn and a big garden for Pitou, our cat. Amazing! Even more amazing, when I discovered the heated pool, which I used a lot! For my husband, the big television was the pinnacle of luxury.

On a regular basis, Lieve came to ask if everything was ok with us and if we needed something and if there were problems, Bert was there to solve them.

We knew already a little bit about the Silver Coast. We knew that there were fewer historical sites and cities in the direct environment than when you compare it with Spain or the south of France. But we knew that you could visit a lot. We visited the medieval city Óbidos, Santarém, Coimbra with the oldest and definitely the most beautiful of Europe university of Portugal, Lisbon with Castelo de São Jorge and beautiful Belém, Alcobaça, the palaces of Sintram, etc… And of course a lot of churches, monasteries and the beautiful city Nazaré. This city has a beautiful museum about traditional fishing and fishermen ship but has also a beautiful sandy beach with a cozy, but touristic dike

In Lourinhã there is a small but beautiful museum and of course the DinoParque. You must visit this to understand the fascination of the habitants of Lourinhã. They put in every name the word ‘dino’..

But the most beautiful of the SilverCoast is.. the beach!! I think we visited all the beaches between Peniche (where we took the boot to the Berlengas islands) and Ericeira. If it is for just a quick walk or if you want to do a long walk, everything is possible on this beautiful coastline. This is definitely the most beautiful at the Silver Coast and Central Portugal.

We’ve seen a lot, but there is, even more, to visit to come here for a few years on a holiday! And if we’ve seen everything, we just start over again. And our base? Casa das Palmeiras – Vila Oasis Verde, without a doubt!

The windmills of Lourinhã

This weekend, we visited windmills.  Beautiful ones and at only 5 minutes driving from Vila Oasis Verde.  When you come to us, you definitely need to see them!

Of course, they don’t play an active role in the economy anymore, but they are without doubt important heritage to centuries-old traditions of Portuguese people. 

We saw 5 windmills in Alto da Pinhoa, in the Moita dos Ferreiros region. Theye were all restored in April 2000, 3 are still in operation and 1 is transformed into a bar.  The last one has other purposes. 

I was told that if you were lucky (we weren’t at that moment 😉 ), you can talk with the miller and his wife and they show you a windmill in operation and they explain how it works.

The visit doesn’t take so much time, but it is nice to see, as well as for adults as for children.

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Nazare: a beautiful fishing village

Today I am going to tell you a little bit more about the beautiful town of Nazare. 

Nazare surf
Nazare surf

This town is a typical fishing town, in all the streets you see fish-sellers.  You can also see the fish (carapaus) laid out to dry. I don’t really like the smell, but we are in a fishing town so a bit expected, right?

Nazare for tourists

The most touristic thing for Nazaré is the town’s highest point which is accessible by an elevator. It’s the point where you can see a beautiful view of the area, but it has also some history.  It is associated with the cult of Our Lady of Nazaré who, according to the 12th-century legend, was invoked by the alcaide (commander of a fortress or castle) Dom Fuas Roupinho who, while stalking a deer, was about to fall down into an abyss with no possible salvation.  As a sign of gratitude for the mercy he received, Dom Fua Roupinho ordered a small chapel to be built – the Ermida de Memoria. A little way away, in the 18th century, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré was built, in whose honor grandiose festivals are held in September.

Nazare fishing and craftsmen
Nazare fishing and craftsmen

The Nazare people have a close relation with the sea.  Everywhere you look, you can see local handicrafts. In particular the nets, buoys, baskets and traditional puppets dressed in the typical costumes of seven skirts. As well as in the cuisine, with its emphasis on fish and shellfish dishes. Examples are the caldeiradas, soups, açorda (purée of bread, herbs, and garlic) and the dried horse mackerel.

Nazare beach
Nazare beach

The most important feature of the surrounding area is the 7th century Chapel of São Gião, one of the rare holy places of the Visigoths existing in Portugal.

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The wines of Porto

Today I am going to tell you a little bit more about the delicious Portuguese wines, also known as ‘Porto’.

The history of Porto’s wines, known as port, could well have started with the arrival of the Romans in these lands, who first introduced grape-growing all over the area.

With time these wines would acquire great prestige, and in the 14th century, they were already exported to countries like England. However, to really speak about the port wines, we must wait until the 17th century, when British merchants discovered, it is thought by chance, the production technique based on interrupting the process of fermentation by adding neutral brandy.

From 1703 and until 1757, the signature of the Treaty of Methuen gave the English the monopoly of practically all the wine trade.  For this reason, it is very frequent to hear that port wines are as much English as they are Portuguese, a theory reinforced when you read words like Vintage, Tawny, Crusted or Ruby on the labels.  Some even say that its taste is more English than Portuguese. 

In spite of this, nobody can question that port wines are a genuine product of Portugal, They are produced in the Regiao Demarcada do Douro, the first designation of origin in wine history, are kept in the wineries of Vila Nova de Gaia – until 1986 the cellars could only be in that locality – and only Porto companies can export them, this being indispensable condition for obtaining of Regiao Demarcada do Douro label.

Port wines may be white or red, aged in barrels or in bottles. The most commonly used grapes are, for red wine, the Portuguese touriga nacional, tinta cão, tinta barroca, tinta rorix and the French touriga francesa, while for the white wines, malvasia fina, codega and malvasia rei predominate.

Brought to the wineries of Vila Nova de Gaia, the wine is put in pipas, large barrels with an average capacity of 550 liters, and brandy is added to fulfill the conditions required by the Instituto de Vinho do Porto (IVP).

Once the aging process is complete, port wine is ready for consumption. 

The most popular are Ruby, a fruit young red with a ruby colour, Tawny, aged a minimum of three year in barrels, LBV (Late Bottled Vintage), with its strong flavour and very dark colour and, particularly, Vintage, wines made from the finest grapes, with a ageing period between ten and fifteen years. 
For many years, port wines were transported from the area of the vineyards to the wineries of Vila Nova in boats called rabelos.  The rabelo is a boat from the Douro with a large oar used as a rudder and two smaller oars on either side.  With time, they became larger in size and a sail was added. With the arrival of trains and lorries, the rabelos lost the privilege of being the only adequate means of transport for the barrels.  The few boats you can see today operate as tourist attractions whilst paying tribute to those earlier times.

And now, which one do you choose? I go for the RUBY!! 🙂

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Tudo bem…. tudo ok… tudo what???

Yes, Portuguese seems a little difficult, isn’t it? And I, as a native Dutch speaker, can only confirm this. Portuguese is not easy, especially all the verbs. But which language is easy??

To help you, I found at Pinterest a nice picture of some basic sentences.

Enjoy!

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Waterpark of Santarém

Last week, it was quite hot in Portugal. We needed water, lots of water, more specifically a water amusement park. Sure, there are a few around here, but the biggest we know is located in Santarém. So, we jumped in the car and drove North for about an hour to our destination, the water amusement park in Santarem!

Santarém

Santarém is a bit further from the coastline, so the temperature is about 10 degrees warmer than Lourinha. At 10 am, it is already 30 degrees celsius, a real sweaty day to look forward to.

The water park

At the park entrance, there are long queues, a lot of people want to spend the day swimming and enjoying the water. The park offers several possible arrangements, you can have a deck chair with and without beach umbrella, on the lawn or you could choose a more private zone for your family. We decided to go for the chair plus umbrella. The shade is very welcome when there is a hot day ahead. More information about the prices here.

First impression: wow

When entering the park, we see a big pool with real waves, big slides, a pool for kids with fountains and slides and a big lawn with chairs. It looks amazing and we are ready for a great day.

The kids enjoy their day in the kid’s pool when they want to go to the big pool, the one with the waves, they need an adult accompanying them. The waves are fun for adults but kids with little swimming experience should have an adult with them making sure they don’t get in trouble.

Conclusion

Overall, we had a fun day in the water park and we will for sure come back for more in the future!

Tip for your perfect holiday: visit the water amusement park in Santarem!

Read also about dinosaurs in Lourinha!

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The beautiful coastline of Peniche

What are we going to do today?  A question that a lot of parents recognize.  Let me think. It’s windy today, so we can’t go to the beach unless you want to be sandblasted.  The sun isn’t shining either. But it’s hot. The perfect moment to discover the small city of Peniche.  And that’s what we are going to do.

The trip starts

After a drive of 10 minutes and some roundabouts further, we arrive in Peniche.  We drive through the center and take than a small street at the right. Immediately, we arrive at a small beach with an unexpected pretty view.  Of course, I take some pictures. We see a lot of cars driving by and are wondering what to see further. We drive also a little bit further and arrive at ‘Papoa’.  Wouldn’t call it a real village, it’s more a cliff. We are going to explore the cliff. And what an amazing walk we make there! Nice view, nice walk, perfect for my kids.  Nice view of the ocean and not too exhausting. I discover here a walk that you may not miss when you are visiting Portugal. Also, my kids are very enthusiast. 

Cabo Carvoeiro

After this, we drive further along the coastline of Peniche.  We don’t drive too fast, so we can enjoy the beautiful views. Don’t worry, everybody is driving slowly, so that’s no problem.  We arrive at ‘Cabo Carvoeiro’, the most Western point of Europe. You have a very nice view here. We can see the Berlengas Islands, fishing boats passing by, but most importantly, the waves of the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.  Here you stand still for a moment to think about how beautiful life is.

Fishing Port of Peniche

Then we drive further to the fishing port of Peniche.  The moment we arrive, there are a lot of people. Wondering why.  It seems that we are there exactly at the moment that a lot of boats are departing for the Berlengas Islands.  This explains the crowds. On the pier, you can walk until the end, which seems nice. But we leave this for others because we would like to have an icecream.  We find a nice ‘gelateria’ and enjoy further our day.

Watch also on YouTube.

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Wanna see some dolphins? Visit the Lisbon Zoo!

The Lisbon Zoo, we have visited him already a few times!  I really like him. And my kids also. Every year they ask: when do we go to the Zoo?  When people are visiting us, I always recommend the Zoo, and when they are back, they thank me for the tip I gave them.

The Zoo

Everybody loves the Zoo.  But before entering him, you need to get rid of your car.  And that is not always that easy.. When you come at opening time, it is no problem to find a parking spot, but if you come in the afternoon, you can have some difficulties.  There is a -paid – parking right in front of the Zoo, but it is not that big, so it’s full very fast. When you want to park around the Zoo, there are some men walking there to show you the available spots.  They afterward appreciate it when you give them a little coin. This is the way how Lisbon works, people showing you the available places to park and you give them a little coin to thank them for their help. When you have the possibility to come by bus to the Zoo, it’s a little bit easier.. (we have every hour busses going from Lourinhã to Lisbon).

Once you’ve entered the Zoo, you forget that you are in a city.  You are immediately surrounded by gardens, shadow, and sun. One of the big advantages is that there are a lot of trees, so when you come in the summer, it is not that hot to see animals.   When you’re in, you can start your visit through the Rainforest, the African Savannah, Asia, and South America. Each offering you each own experience.

Shows

There are a lot of shows at the Zoo, all at different hours, so you can attend them all.  You have the pelicans feeding, the flying birds and the dolphin show. And what do I like this last one!  For more or less 20 minutes, you will be amazed by the tricks of the dolphins and the seal dog. Even their monitors go inside the water with them.  The only negative thing is that they do the show only in Portuguese. There is one thing they still need to learn in Portugal, and that is English.

Once my kids enjoyed the dolphin show, they always want to do a tour in the cable car.  This is a very nice way to see all the animals! There is also a little train riding through the Zoo, but unfortunately, you need to pay extra for this.  This is a pity, knowing that the entrance ticket is not so cheap.

After a day of fun, you can eat something in the restaurants.  A hamburger and a ‘cachorro’ is easy to find, but when you want to eat something healthier, you need to go somewhere else.

Like in every attraction park, you have a small shop at the exit of the park. Don’t forget to buy a small dolphin, they are so cute… 🙂

More info about the Lisbon Zoo on www.zoo.pt

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Obidos: a medieval city!

Today I came across a nicely written piece on the website ttps://www.visitportugal.com, about the medieval city, Obidos. It describes very well what Óbidos is and what you can see there. Hence, it is definitely a must-do when you are staying with us! A small half-hour drive will take you to this beautiful village. To bring you in the mood, I share with you some information about this medieval village.

Location

Óbidos is close to the capital, on top of a mountain near the Atlantic coast. It was once of strategic importance for the defense of the territory. People lived there even before the Romans occupied the Iberian Peninsula. Obidos rose to greater prosperity from the moment the royal family chose to stay in this town. When King D. Dinis donated the town to his wife, D. Isabel, in the 13th century. Medieval Obidos became the city of the queens of Portugal, who fortified and enriched the town for several dynasties. This is also one of the main reasons why there are so many churches in this small town.

Het kasteel van Óbidos

Within the city walls, there is a well-preserved castle between a labyrinth of narrow streets and charming white houses. Between the portals in Manueline style, the flower decorated windows, and the small squares, you find different sights. All good examples of the religious and civil architecture from the golden times of the town.

Obidos, more than just a castle

The churches Igreja Matriz de Santa Maria, Igreja da Misericórdia, Igreja de São Pedro, the “Pelourinho” are within the walls. Outside the city walls the aqueduct and the sanctuary Santuário do Sr. Jesus da Pedra, with a round plan, are some of the monuments worth a visit. Like the Museu Municipal de Óbidos, where you can admire the works of Josefa de Óbidos. This famous painter from the 17th century was a woman with an idiosyncratic artistic attitude. And that was quite unusual for that time. Her paintings show the influence of great 17th-century masters such as the Spanish painters Zurbarán and Francisco de Herrera. But also the Portuguese André Reinoso and Baltazar Gomes Figueira, her father.

Obidos view from the walls around the town

You can visit the medieval city of Obidos throughout the year. The love stories that are told here and the medieval atmosphere, make this town ideal for a romantic or just a quiet weekend. If you spend a night in the castle, your stay will certainly be perfect.

Obidos small streets with an abundance of flowers

Events in Obidos

One of the most famous dishes of the local gastronomy is the “Caldeirada de peixe da Lagoa de Óbidos” (fish stew). It tastes even better when you drink a wine from the Oeste wine region. Another attraction is the famous cherry liqueur, the “Ginjinha de Óbidos”. You can taste this drink in different places, preferably in a cup of chocolate.

Throughout the year, events take place that brightens up this small town. The most famous are the Festival Internacional do Chocolate (chocolate festival), the Mercado Medieval (medieval market) and the Christmas market. In December the town transforms into a Christmas village. Other important events are the Temporada de Música Clássica Barroca (baroque music), the Temporada de Cravo (harpsichord) and the “Festival de Ópera” (opera festival) that give a special atmosphere to Óbidos. There are also many outdoor shows in the hot summer months.

Obidos overlooks the valley and was important for the defense of Portugal

In the area of Óbidos, there is the large sandy beach of Praia d’El Rey. Golf enthusiasts can practice their sport on a golf course with a view over the Atlantic Ocean. You need to pass by the city of Caldas da Rainha, whose history links closely to the Queens of Portugal. You will arrive at the beach of Foz do Arelho, which connects the Lagoa de Óbidos lagoon with the sea. An excellent place for a delicious lunch with seafood and fresh fish. Or to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the sea.

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Interesting read as well: dinosaurs in Lourinha.

Caves of Mira d’Aire

I was not immediately aware of any caves in Portugal, however, locals told me that ‘Mira de Aire’ was the place to be.  Just one hour drive north of Lourinha. A nice alternative for the extreme heat this week, because in the caves it is noticeably cooler.

Tickets

We arrived in the afternoon, therefore a good tip for anyone is to go there before noon. A huge ticket line! One lady serving the clients, in July, high season!  Once we got our tickets we waited another 15 minutes to enter the first room. Just to see a video about the history of the caves. And it was boring.  The video was all in Portuguese and although my Portuguese is not that bad, I hardly understood anything. The children were also bored after 2 minutes. After the video was finished, we finally entered the caves, with a friendly, English speaking guide.  I had a lot of expectations because the pictures that I saw were very promising.

The experience

They were right! From the moment you enter the caves, you feel the magic! Nice colorful light shows at the walls give amazing effects. All my frustration went away.  The guide gave all the information you need, in English, French, and Portuguese. There are a lot of steps, and sometimes they are a little bit slippery. But that’s the way it is in a cave, isn’t it? At the end of the visit, you see a beautiful light show, which is amazing for the kids. After that, you take the elevator to see some beautiful crystals. A short walk brings you back to the entrance.

I strongly suggest doing this trip, especially in the high season, in the morning. Afterward, you can visit the waterpark which is near the caves. You can swim and slide as much as you want!

More info: http://www.grutasmiradaire.com/

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Read also about the dinosaurs in Lourinha!