Archive for the ‘Colina Flora’ Category

Upcycling a 1970s house into an eco-B&B

Thursday, 28 April 2011, WET


Hello Everyone!!!

Many artists today are incorporating Upcycling: the  ritual of  breathing beauty into rather mundane, and often unappealing,  discarded things.   Upcycling is a step above recycling.  According to those in the know, Upcycling ventures to please and delight.   

Joanna Vasconcleos, a Portuguese artist, who lives and works in Lisbon, is internationally acclaimed for her upcycled sculptures.    Her Cinderella slipper made of pot lids.

Then there is Margaux Lange who transforms Barbie dolls into jewelry.   Take a look at her interesting

Up-cycling became the modus operendi for Colina Flora, now an Eco-guesthouse.  We had dreams of acquiring a lovely antique ruin to renovate for our  planned B&B.  After months of searching,  with the realization that  antique houses were beyond our means,  we purchased a small, beautiful piece of land located in the heart of the wonderful Sintra Natural Park with an antique ruin of a windmill and great ocean views, and a very esthetically challenged 1970s country cottage.   The antique windmill is a future  project, but first we tackled the seriously design challenged house. We up-cycled fabric, tiles, ugly lamps, wooden walls, sinks slip-covered  and refashioned big bulky pieces of furniture.  Whew! and after 6 months of intense labor -we still have a ways to go- our Eco-guesthouse is smiling, small, yet lovely and open for business.

Take a look:

Variations on the shades of boring brown ( I like great deep browns – lots of wonderful browns out there).  We opened up the space, painted with clay paint ( a terracotta color was aimed  for,  but my mixing   ended up with peach.  With guests booked, the peach went on the walls.)  Amazing what a bit of paint achieves. 

 I removed heavy, dusty and very outdated lamps and created replacements out of  a torn wool blanket and,  with the help of a blacksmith, reworked the metal of the old lamps to form bases for the new lamps. for more pictures and information  

Living room before the change

upcycled living room

Retreat Style Vacations

Wednesday, 27 October 2010, WET

Iberian Nasturtiums

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.

View of Ocean from Peninha

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.

Portuguese Wind Turbine

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.”

Soon to Open…

Monday, 30 August 2010, WET

30 August 2010

Atlantic Ocean from Colina Flora

Quinta Colina Flora, our “green,” artistically contemporary B&B, is now scheduled to open for guests beginning in November 2010. We are situated in the tiny hillside hamlet of Pé da Serra, Colares in the heart of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, just 40 minutes northwest of Lisbon, with access to hiking and mountain biking trails right out of the inn’s gates. The cultural and historic centers of Lisbon, Estoril and Cascais are only a short drive along the coastal road.

Cliffs tower above the beach at Magoito

Despite its proximity to these larger urban centers, the 14,583 hectare (circa 30,000 acres) Sintra-Cascais Natural Park has a vast variety of landscapes including the Serra da Sintra mountainous forest with immense trees, a rich variety of vegetation and animal species, breathtaking vistas, lagoons, and a rugged stretch of coastline interspersed with magnificent dunes and beaches which are havens for swimming and all sorts of surfing.

Forest meets sea & sky at Biscaia

This Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is truly a hikers paradise with hundreds of miles/kilometers of trekking/mountain biking trails. The varying topography allows moderate walking to more strenuous hiking. Many of the Sintra area’s UN World Heritage historic sites can be accessed from marked trails. The characteristics of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park are so extraordinary that it is the only cultural landscape in the world to classified by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

This region is also a mecca for year-round cultural activities. From May through September music and art festivals are found everywhere. Earlier this summer both Sintra and Estoril held their annual music festivals hosting world-renowned artists. Cascais is currently hosting its annual 10-day Festas do Mar (Festival of the Sea) where every evening two bands perform in the large harbor plaza followed by a dazzling fireworks display. The historic center of town resonates with music, outdoor restaurants and cafes are bustling, and there are wine and beer stalls, all sorts of food and other vendors. A crowd of many thousands, spanning all ages, comes to enjoy this free event lasting into the early morning hours.

Brilliantly colored flora

Quinta Colina Flora’s beautifully appointed guest rooms, some with ocean views, art studio, secluded gardens, patios, chemical free swimming pool, and organic meals offer guests the opportunity to indulge in a stress-free, yet stimulating, Portuguese holiday – a haven for those seeking a truly relaxing retreat, and a diversity of outdoor and cultural activities. We offer shuttle service to and from the Lisbon airport, and to the nearby beaches. The local public bus is only a five-minute walk from our inn.

(Check-out our soon-to-be-launched website for further information.)

We sincerely hope you’ll visit us in the future.

Best from Portugal!

Aasta and James

New Blog from Portugal

Saturday, 08 May 2010, WET

Wide, sandy beaches along a Big Sur-like Atlantic Coast

Greetings from the Sintra/Colares area of Portugal where the beaches are gorgeous, the Sintra Mountains are lush and a hikers’ paradise, the traditional villages are a treat to explore, and where many historic palaces dot the landscape.  And, of course, where the living is easy!

We are Quinta Colina Flora, a soon-to-open eco-friendly B&B in this special region of Portugal.  We hope you’ll join us periodically as we use this blog to document our journey.  Please also consider visiting as a guest at our small, intimate bed & breakfast.

Best Regards, Aasta & James