Portugal, the Overlooked Gem of Europe

January 20th, 2012

walking between Colares Velho and Gigaros

outdoor still-life walking to Gigaros

Hello Everyone!

After two years of living in and loving Portugal, we are still discovering great new places in our home area the Sintra Natural Park.  Historic Sintra is a wonderful old town with amazing palaces and parks, cobbled streets, churches and more.  Heralded by many as   the birth place of Romanticism, artists, writers, savants have been seeking refuge here for centuries. 

 Sintra and the Sintra Natural Park are UNESCO World heritage/cultural sites and truely worth a visit.  www.parquesdesintra.pt

 Our “green” country guesthouse  www.colinaflora.com is nestled in the hills of the wonderful circa 14, 000 ha (circa 40,000 acre) Park with the most beautiful beaches only 3 km from  our    house.  Since we purchased Colina Flora 14 months ago, we have been working non stop.  Our only R&R has been exploring the Park on foot, a few shopping sprees in Lisbon  and the occasioanl visit to the cinema (very comfortable theater in Beloura).  Our on foot expeditions are  such a treat and full of discovery that we do not miss venturing further afield.  Yesterday we walked to the picturesque village of Penedo, on to the quaint hamlet of Gigaros with our destinatuion being  the wonderful park and palace of Monserrat.  This was a 3 hour walk through magical forests with babbling brooks and interesting rock formations, past historic sites, amazing vistas and fragrant, unique flora and fauna, flourishing gardens.  The architecture ranges from ruins, to humble tumbledown abodes, to cute cottages and  incredible manor houses and palaces.  This was a guided walking tour and our guests were so amazed.  The couple, in the film industry and well traveled,  from the USA, continued to comment on the special, exceptional  beauty of the Sintra region and how few people, especially in the USA, have Portugal on their radar screen.  They could not rave enough about  the people of this wonderful small land being so very friendly.  The wine is good and inexpensive, the food is fresh, and the sun shines more than in any other country of Europe.  Walking, Golf, Tennis, surfing, riding, sightseeing etc are year round activities.

 our destination  the Palace and Park of Monserat

Wanderurlaub im Sintra Naturpark Portugal

January 17th, 2012

Schloss Monserrat, Ziel unserer Wanderung

Wanderpfad Penedo nach Gigaros

Hallo!

Nach 2 Jahren in unserer neuen Heimat – wir leben im Herzen vom wunderschoenem Sintra Naturpark, Portugal – sind wir immer noch fleissig am entdecken von besonders schoenen Gegenden.  Da wir ein kleines Landgasthaus leiten www.colinaflora.com, sind wir immer wieder dabei neue Wanderwege fuer unsere Gaeste zuerkundschaften.    Es gibt, natuerlich, viele schoene Regionen in Portugal: Die Algarve, Evora und Alentejo, Porto und die Gegend vom Douro Fluss usw.

Wir lieben   Sintra, ein UNESCO World Heritage Gebiet, und alles was es zu bieten hat und die naehe zu Lissabon (nur etwa 35 Autominuten entfernt).  Der Naturpark von circa 14,500 HA ist wirklich super: tolle Straende, Felsen und Klippen, bezauberte tiefe Waelder, ein besonders schoenes Sortiment von Flora und Fauna, romantische, historische Bauten und Parkanlagen, Wander und Radler Wege, saubere Meeresluft und ein mildes Mittelmeerklima.  Der historischer Teil von der Stadt Sintra hat im Jahr ueber 3 Millionen Besucher. 

Wandern ist das ganze Jahr moeglich.  Waehrend dem Herbst, Winter und Fruehling ist die Blumenpracht am herrlichsten.  Aber da die Temperaturen immer maessig sind, kann man auch im Sommer mit Genuss Wandern.

Es gibt eine reiche Vielfalt von Wanderwege mit etwas fuer jeden Geschmack. Gestern gingen wir nach  Penedo, ein bezauberndes kleines Dorf, dann nach Colares Velho, weiter nach Gigaros, ein uriges,winziges Dorf,  und weiter bis zum Monserrat Schloss und Park wo wir gemuetlich im Parkcafe ein gutes Mittagessen fanden.  Diese Wanderung dauerte etwa 3 ein halb Stunden durch die doerfer, Waelder, herrliche Aussicht aufs Meer, Gaerten usw. und war wirklich schoen.  Es gibt eine grosse Auswahl solcher Wanderungen.  Auch gefuehrte Nachtwanderungen werden angeboten.  www.parquesdesintra.pt bietet mehr information auch www.visitportugal.com

Sintra Naturpark, Portugal — der besondere Urlaub

January 9th, 2012

im Pena park

Hallo liebe Leute!

Der Sintra Naturpark im sonnigem Portugal – Portugal hat die meisten Sonnestunden von ganz Europa – ist eine wirklich besonders schoene Gegend.  Strand, Wald, Flora und Fauna,viele Sportarten: Surfen, Wandern, Tennis, Golf, Segeln, Radeln usw.,  historische Schloesser und Bauten, Parks, tolle prieswerte Restaurants, freundliche Menschen, gemuetliche Herbergen und Tophotels all dies und mehr hat diese Gegend zu bieten.  Und noch dazu das super milde Mittelmeerklima.  Ein paradise fuer Urlauber das ganze jahr hindurch.   www.parquesdesintra.pt gibt viel Auskunft.

Und dann gibt es noch Colina Flora,ein kleines aber feines, “gruenes” Landgasthaus, friedlich gelegen im Herzen vom Sintra Naturpark  www.colinaflora.commit tollen Wintersonderangebote.  

Ein Teil der tollen Kueste vom Sintra naturpark

Walking in the Sintra Natural Park

January 4th, 2012

waterfall in Monserrat park

Hello Everyone!

After two years of living and loving it here,  avidly walking and exploring the amazing Sintra Natural Park, we are still discovering new incredible paths and places.  Yesterday was a bright sunny day and we hiked from Colares Velho, a quaint little village, dreamily tucked on a hillside, through parts of the magical Sintra forest with its unique flora and fauna, past some crumbling houses,  to the remote village of Gigaros.  This hidden gem sits high in the hills of the Serra da Sintra, seems to have been forgotten by time.  There are  a few very old  village houses  still without have running water, an ancient convent being restored by an American who, according to rumors, collects houses in remote areas of the planet,  several large, beautiful manor houses,and  even a B&B which is for sale.  The public wash fountain was being used by several elderly and very friendly  ladies srubbing their laundry.  I was intrigued by the special huge bars of brown soap being used to remove stains the natural way with lots of  added elbow grease!!

Monserrat Palace,

We continued along  a high ridge to wonderful Monserat.  Monserat is a palace  and incredible park once a favorite retreat of Lord Byron´s.  It has been lovingly restored and is truely a place of special beauty.  The park has many species of unique flora and fauna, , grotos, waterfall, bridges, coves, follies etc and a cafe.   Visit www.parquesdesintra for more information.walking on the path past Convento do Carmo and the Atlantic beyond

 

Winter in Portugal for Walkers

January 2nd, 2012

 

a view from the walking trail in the Sintra Natural park

Hello Everyone!  Happy New Year!!

Thinking of escaping to a warmer climate with lots to offer ?  Consider Portugal!!  Due to the mild Mediterraean climate  many parts of Portugal  are  perfect for seeking warmth and sun during the winter months.  Portugal has the most sunshine hours of any European country. The Algarve is a sun seekers heaven with very little rainfall.  The Sintra Region is a bit cooler than the Algarve.  But also gets lots of sunshine.  There is some rain.  Most of it falling during November and February.  But daytime temperatures are usually between 12 and 17 degrees Celsius with cooler nights in the Sintra Region and between 16 and 22 in the Algarve. Flowers bloom abundantly during the Autumn, Winter and Spring.   

 The temperatures and sunshine are perfect for walking holidays.  Walking Holidays in the Sintra Natural Park are a delight: breathtaking coastal cliffs, pristine beaches and shorelines, magical forests, romantic historical sites, unique flora and fauna, friendly people, great restaurants at affordable prices etc.   All this and more  makes for a memorable and truely enjoyable experience.

Colina Flora, a rural, ” green” country guesthouse located in the heart of the amazing Sintra Natural Park offers year round centered walking holiday tailored to suit  each walker.  Walking holidays begin any time of the year.  But from November 1 to March 31, low season, prices are lower.  www.colinaflora.com for more information.   Also check-out the Sintra Natural Park website www.parquesdesintra.pt for information.

Vegetarian B&B near Sintra, Portugal

December 7th, 2011

Hello Vegetarians!!

A new wave of vegetarian restaurants, cafes and inns is flooding Portugal.  In 2009 the Lonely Planet guide to Portugal stated that Portugal is a difficult country for vegetarians.  This has drastically changed.  Many new vegetarian venues have recently opened and continue to open and not only in the big cities such as Lisbon and porto.

Even in our small village of Almocageme, Centro Tinkuy  (sse them on Facebook) is  serving delicious vegan meals. 

The wonderful Gallery/Events venue Flores Do Cabo www.floresdocabo.pt will be opening a vegetarian cafe in the Spring.  Currently they are offering a wide selection of cooking classes, meditation/yoga/tantra workshops.  Flores do Cabo is also selling a wonderful selection of organic artisan sourdough breads, artisan organic olive oil, honey and more, besides their selection of wonderful art, unique furniture, antiques and floral arrangemnets.

 

Flores do Cabo

Quinta 7 Nomes www.7nomes.pt , the local Natural Foods Cooperative in Colares, offers vegetarian lunches on Tuesdays.

And Colina Flora www.colinaflora.com is a “green” B&B peacefully located in the heart of the beautiful Sintra Natural Park (a walkers paradise), with ocean views, and only 3km to the most amazing Adraga Beach (one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in portugal – some say in Europe).  The owners are vegetarians and serve great Food For Life organic breakfast and dinners upon request.