We have been so very busy transforming our quirky, hilltop house into a wonderful refuge for retreat style vacations. The blog posts have been neglected.
If you are seeking an alternative to typically crowded tourist spots, or you desire a relaxing get-away vacation, then consider Colina Flora, our soon-to-open “green” B&B at the edge of the Sintra Natural Park in Portugal – an ideal retreat just 5 minutes from wonderful beaches, quaint hillside villages, and the protected forest of this national conservation area, 40 minutes northwest of Lisbon. Portugal’s mild climate offers hikers/trekkers and bicycle enthusiasts wonderful trails/routes even during the winter months. And all types of surfers (kite, sail, etc) ride the exceptional waves here 12 months of the year.
Right out of our front gate one can take a scenic, but not strenuous, 8 kilometer bicycle tour along a quiet rural road through the protected forest, past huge moss-covered boulders and breathtaking vistas. Or one can hike from our back gate for 45 minutes through the woods to one of the best scenic views in the area at the former Peninha Convent overlooking the Atlantic Ocean below.
The historic town of Sintra (just 8 km by car) boasts several spectacular palaces and castles including Pena Palace said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Disneyland castle. It dates back to the 19th century and is a whimsical mix of architectural styles. King Ferdinand filled the royal grounds with oddities from around the world as a summer playground for his wife Queen Maria II. The historic center of the magical city of Sintra offers many other wondrous sites, convivial restaurants and cafes, interesting shops and museums, a world-class cultural center and lovely expansive gardens in which to roam.
A year round equestrian center has been refurbished and recently reopened in Sintra for those wanting to ride by the hour or take guided tours of the “Serra” (ridge of mountains) on horseback.
After 10 months of reconnoitering our adopted homeland, Portugal still enthralls us. And for such a tiny country, Portugal has in the past been, and currently is, a model – a forerunner: By early 2011, Portugal will be the first in the world to have an electric car EV charging network throughout the country. There are special perks to purchase electric cars and for installing solar panels which sell electricity back to the grid. Currently Portugal produces 23% of its electricity via wind power and solar power, the most of any European country. And Portugal´s island of Madeira is the first area of Europe to be officially GMO free.
Colina Flora is being beautifully, sustainably refurbished into a comfortable country house and will begin receiving guests Christmas 2010. Please email us for further information or for available dates, amenities, and winter specials. Our room prices range from 69 € – 99 € per night which include sumptuous 100% organic breakfasts and afternoon tea.
Stay well, go slow and be “green.”