Blog Posts

Sunday, May 24, 2020, 15:09 | No Comments »

The façade of the Palácio de Freixo facing the River Douro

We don't often stay in posh hotels: guest houses and Airbnb are our standard choice. After all, as we are usually out and about all day, we only use our accommodation to sleep in, so why spend money on a place we'll hardly see? Besides, I like the opportunity to chat to locals and find out about the area I've come to and their opinions of what is going on.  That is not so easy in a big hotel.  Every now and then, though, we give ourselves a treat, especially in January, which is when the Pousadas and luxury hotels do deals.

The Pestana Pousada Palácio de Freixo, a luxury hotel on the banks of the River Douro in Porto, is a case in point. In January they sometimes offer rooms at half price. That is still well over €100 a night when you could probably get a perfectly acceptable room for €40 elsewhere but hey! What the heck? Let's have a night out!

To see more of the Pousada Palácio de Freixo, luxury hotel and national monument, click here.

Monday, May 18, 2020, 17:13 | 2 Comments »

The view to the west from the Run do Alto do Cavalo

In the previous blog I said that, though there's little to do up here on our mountainside, life is not without its simple joys. One is creating a garden from the jungle of weeds that used to exist on the terrace below our house. (I may show you that some other time.) Another is the freedom to walk up a quiet rural road or to branch off into the woodland. Today I'm going to take you on one of my rambles.

To read about my route and see what I found, click here

Monday, May 4, 2020, 13:23 | No Comments »

Boxes of salt cod in the local shop

Christmas Dinner! I said before Christmas that I would try to write another post about the customs in Ponte de Lima but I never did.

We had the whole family to stay – they came from Phoenix in Arizona and Chippenham in Wiltshire as well from my home town of York - which was wonderful. Yet preparation filled up the time so completely that writing blogs got put to one side. And then came the Coronavirus. Life was put on hold, the local news became how long one's hair had become and where to buy face masks so blog writing became difficult. What do you have to write about up here on the mountain? Well there are a few things, not world shattering but at least interesting in their own way. First, however, the Ponte de Lima Christmas menu.

To find out what people in the Minho love to eat on Christmas day, click here.

Thursday, December 12, 2019, 22:36 | No Comments »

The synagogue in Belmont

Belmonte synagogue

We are once again in the Beira Baixa town of Belmonte, home of the man who had brought about the evangelisation of Brazil. ( But Catholicism was not the only religion deeply held in Belmonte, Judaism was there too and, just up the hill from the statue of Pedro Álvares Cabral, is the old Jewish quarter of the village.

What I am about to tell you is a story of deeply held faith and extraordinary, almost incredible, tenacity. It starts more than 500 years ago, at the time of the reconquest of Spain by the Catholic Kings, Fernando of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, contemporaries of that same king who had favoured and then forgotten Cabral; Dom Manuel I.

To read the extraordinary story of the Jews of Belmonte, click here

Thursday, December 12, 2019, 21:54 | No Comments »

The castle on the hill at Belmont

You can see Belmonte with its imposing castle from a long way off. Dominating the region with its 360° view, it was once an outpost built and manned by Portugal's early rulers to defend the state against invasion from Spain. However, unless Portugal's much more powerful neighbour was showing serious aggression, it is unlikely that any Belmonte resident ever met the king or any members of his court - or indeed anyone else from further afield than a few kilometres around - because the settlement was so remote and difficult to reach.

Despite its historic isolation, however, Belmonte is not without history. There is a fascinating reason why we chose to make a special effort to go to there and a curious fact that we discovered upon arrival. To find out first about the curious fact, click here.

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