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Wednesday, July 15, 2020, 13:08 | 2 Comments »
Decorative sardines made out of cloth

Many years ago we used to visit Portugal with our sons. As well as visiting the beach, playing tennis and eating ice cream down on the waterfront, a favourite occupation was eating in traditional restaurants. (Let me advise you always to choose the restaurants where the Portuguese themselves eat. In my view, the food is tastier and they are much better value for your money. In short, the posher the food the less good it is!) At this time of the year, starting around St John's night, grilled sardines seasoned with sea salt and accompanied by a crisp green salad is a popular choice of main dish.

In fact, as you can see above, the Portuguese have gone totally crazy about sardines. Those above are stuffed fabric ones but there are ceramic ones too - there's a series of about 50 different designs.

To see more about sardines and a special sardine shop in Porto, click here.


Saturday, June 20, 2020, 03:28 | No Comments »

A view of Vilar do Monte from the hillside above

Come with me to a village at the end of a long, winding road, which climbs ever higher up the mountainside from Ponte de Lima. The first time I went to Vilar do Monte was some 10 to 15 years ago when it looked run down and half empty. Indeed, it probably was since in 2011, the last date I can find for a census, the population numbered only 106 people. Up to 1970, there had been over double that figure but hardship and lack of opportunity had driven the young and adventurous to the cities or overseas.

Today, new red roofs and the occasional posh house with a swimming pool have transformed the appearance of the village. Maybe returnees from abroad have invested, as they so often do, or perhaps some weary city banker or entrepreneur from Porto has bought a hideaway here.

For us, it's where we shall park the car and start a splendid walk. Later we'll return for a glass of good vinho verde or a coffee in the shopcumcafé opposite the church.

To read more of the walk to the roof of the world from the end of the world, click here.


Saturday, June 20, 2020, 03:23 | 2 Comments »

A selection of ice creams at the ice cream shop in Ponte de Lima

Going out into town: it's such a simple thing but these days it feels like a treat doesn't it? OK! So you have to wear a face mask when you enter shops but when you visit Trisabores, the ice cream shop, after you've ordered you can go outside to eat and take your mask off. There are fewer tables than there used to be and those there are have been more widely spaced but hey! The sun is shining and at last all seems right with the world. What then could be better than to celebrate the partial lifting of lockdown with a scrumptious ice cream?

Now, as a diabetic, I am not supposed to have sugary things but the end of lockdown is special. It demands a celebration, doesn't it? The only problem is what to choose. There are so many kinds of ice cream: rich dark chocolate, mango, cheesecake, hazelnut, banana ....

We were told that there was a truly celestial new flavour made from lemon and ginger but it wasn't available when we went. We are assured that it will be back but only next week. Boohoo! Or maybe not. Perhaps it just means we'll have to make another visit. We'll be misbehaving twice!

The ice creams we chose

These were our choice this time. Lemon and coffee for me: lemon and passion fruit for Steve. Next week we'll probably both have lemon and ginger. But who knows? Maybe there'll be another innovative flavour.


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


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