Saturday, 30 September 2017

September has ended!

September was time to reunite whit old friends (some more restaurant posts soon), to return to Alentejo and to have a go at the grapes harvest at a winery near Lisbon. Was such a great experience that included crushing the grapes with my bare feet in order to make wine. The end of September was also time to visit a fantastic Medieval Fair in Palmela (less than an hour from Lisbon) and although it wasn't our first time at such an event, we had the best of times.

October is about to begin and, with it, the colorful Autumn. Until the next monthly wrap-up, leave you with the nine photos that are the Top 9 for September on our Instagram account. You can follow us there for daily photos and tips.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Lisbon Chronicles | Medieval Fair at Palmela

A long, long time ago... when I was a little girl there were two book collections very famous in Portugal. One dedicated to girls and the other to boys. I must confess that found those young ladies books a total bore and read all of the books from the boy's collection that I could get my hands on. Arthurian novels describing the quests of the nights of the Round Table, the adventures of Marco Polo, heroes engaged in interminable pursuits and dangers were my favorite, and in my imagination, I was some kind of avant la lettre strong female character that tagged along with the boys on those medieval sceneries of magic and adventure.

Maybe because of those early fantasies, I always enjoy visiting historic places. Events like Medieval Fairs are guaranteed to provide me with a great time and whenever I have the opportunity I try to visit one. Lucky me that in Portugal there are several Medieval Fairs every Summer. Last week I've visited Palmela's Medieval Fair and loved it so much that must recommend you not to miss it next year if you have the chance.

This large medieval fair lasts 3 days and is very conveniently located in and around Palmela's Castle, less than an hour away from Lisbon. The grounds are well organized with market areas, lots of food stands and exhibition areas where you can find daily medieval activities exemplified by artisans, and instructors, animals, and scenes of the household life.

Several groups of music, dancers, and performers animate the fair all through the day and night and the diversity of foods and drinks with a medieval twist guarantee that you'll have all you need to a long enjoying visit. But the high point of the night is the jousts with nights and warriors fighting each other with courage and honor.

Feira Medieval de Palmela
Organization - Palmela's City Council
Ticket Prices for September 2017:
1 Day: 2,50 euros | 3 days: 5,00 euros | Children under 12: Free
Medieval Costumes (1 day rental: 6 euros)

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Chronicles from Alentejo | Vila Nova de Milfontes

Vila Nova de Milfontes is a lovely small town on the Southwestern coast of Portugal and scenery for some of my childhood vacations. On those distant days wasn't much more than a small village with an old fortress overlooking river Mira, but for me, a dreamy little girl had all the ingredients needed for my adventures: imaginary pirates, secret paths leading to the ocean, tidal pools on the rocks...

Have returned there this Summer. The town grew, gained hotels and restaurants, houses and parking lots, hundreds of visitors, but because I still look at it with my 8 years old girl's eyes, still keeps much of its charm.

Is not hard to get there from Lisbon, and it took us less than two hours to arrive and park the car in one of the large free parking lots at walking distance to the beach. If you plan to stay, better book in advance from the several small hotels, Airbnb,  rural tourism and camping available in the region. There are numerous restaurants and cafés where you can have a proper meal or something lighter. But, please, don't leave Milfontes without having an ice-cream at Mabi. You maybe have to face a que but the effort is worthwhile.

If you're in the mood for a day at the beach you can choose between the calm river waters on the bay or the sea waves of Praia do Farol (Lighthouse Beach). I would suggest to stay on the bay on the high tide and go closer to the sea on the low tide. Then you can find pools (some large enough for a grown up person) where the water can be a little bit warmer. If you cross the river on the nearby bridge you can go to Praia das Furnas, a beach on the opposite side of the river Mira, known for its caves. Not far is Praia do Malhão, a more secluded (and less crowded) beach that you will love. At Praia do Farol you can also enjoy the spectacular view of hundreds of piled stones that visitors built on the sand. Don't forget to built one yourself!

Friday, 22 September 2017

The Wanderer's Hot List | 7 Things To Do This Autumn

Here we are... again in Autumn! People returning to work, the kids are back at school, the days get shorter and the temperature drops (and I start dreaming about getting back to southern hemisphere!). After the success of my Summer Hot List, I'm bringing to you my humble list of activities that can make this season a special one. Hope you can find here some tips and suggestions for your own Fall activities.


If there's something that makes Autumn special is the true spectacle of nature before the dormant months of Winter. The explosion of color and the warmth of the Fall's pallete are nothing less than breathtaking. Portugal may not be the perfect place for it (most of our tree species have perennial foliage) but I'm always alert for the next Fall photo. Walking through the city, its gardens or in the woods, photographing or sketching can be an engaging activity for the Autumn days to come.


In Lisbon, we know that the Autumn has arrived when we can smell the aroma of roasted chestnuts and see the smoke rising from the carts of the chestnut sellers. Although they don't seem to agree with my stomach, this year I intend to buy a cone of steaming hot chestnuts and fully enjoy the flavor of Fall. What is the Autumn signature flavor from your home country?


Harvesting is a traditional Autumn activity and for a long time that I had the plan to participate in a grape harvest. The anticipation of this year's harvest in Portugal allow me to have this experience in the last days of Summer, but I think it's fair to check this out of my Autumn list. Always find the contact with nature so soothing and the visit to farms such a great opportunity to have a new and fresh perspective on things.


Portugal has lots of Medieval Fairs and Markets. Some take place in the Summertime and others on the early days of Autumn, and I think this is the ideal time to enjoy all the fun these events can bring. All sort of performers, historical reenactments, and traditional food and beverages are some of the things one can find at these fairs. The possibility of dressing up just adds to the appeal of the experience. Do you have some nice Medieval events at your hometown?


The fresh weather calls for a hot drink and what better than a nice afternoon tea to bring some friends together? Either at home or at a nice place (check my Tea for Two suggestions in Lisbon), a good cuppa and some sweet and savory treats are the best scenery for a long talk (and a lot of laughs) with the girls.


Picture those rainy Autumn days, the windy and cold weather outside, a blanket over your knees, a mug full of hot chocolate and a great book. As much as I like to travel, near or far, this can be the picture of a perfect afternoon for me (just do not give me too much of it, please). Books have the ability to make you travel in space and in time, and many times are the trigger for your wanderlust and for the idea of visiting someplace new.


Exercise gratefulness is an year long activity and Autumn is as perfect to start practicing it more frequently and consciounsly as any other season. Be grateful for your life, all your conquests, all the challenges and dificulties that make you grow, all the people that make your life better and brigther, and let them know how much they mean for you. Looking at the alf full cup, will surelly make your drink taste better!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Wine Chronicles | It's Harvest Time!

The harvest is one of the most special times of the year for the wineries and, this year, I had the opportunity to participate, and just love it! Well, it wasn't the real deal, all day under the sun, picking grapes and taking the heavy buckets to the wagon. It was a (very) light version of it, in the right amount to make it totally enjoyable and fun.

Now, all you wine lovers that are reading this, pay attention: 2017 is going to be an exceptional year for Portuguese wine! Although the extraordinary climate conditions have made the harvest start 2 to 3 weeks in advance, due to the early warm weather that hit the country this Spring and to the very hot and dry Summer that we had, the quality of the wine only seems to be enhanced by that, and I can hardly expect to taste 2017 wines.

The day started with the grape picking, and everybody, armed with a bucket and a pair of scissors walked along its own line of vines, picking the ripe grapes while trying not to shop off their fingers. Must proudly say that we all city folks manage to survive our time of harvesting with no major injuries.

But after filling a couple of buckets, there is still much to do before your bottle of wine arrives at the table. Buckets must be carried and dumped into the to the wagon that will take it to the winery. Must thank Pedro that made all the hard work for me, while I was photographing. At the winery, the grapes must be crushed (yes, with our feet!), a process that takes several days. The crushed grapes go to this concrete deposits to ferment and later the wine will go to the barrels. Getting the wine into the bottles, it will take some time, so I must be patient and wait for a while before I can take a sip of some 2017 wine.

By now, most of the estates have finished the harvest, but if you're interested in having a similar experience, you better check if there is still something going on, or make your plans for next year. Many wineries of the various Portuguese wine regions have harvest days on their wine tourism programs. I was invited by Horácio Simões winery and spend a delightful morning with them at their Palmela estate. The Setúbal's Península Wine Region has many wineries that you can visit for the harvest time, and if you are a visitor to Lisbon, this can be a very convenient choice for the short distance to the Portuguese capital.

Casa Agrícola Horácio Simões
Rua João de Deus, 10
2950-731, Quinta do Anjo, Palmela
Phone:  +351 212 870 500
Mobile: +351 938 442 319

For other options in Setúbal's Peninsula Wine Region, please contact

Casa Mãe da Rota de Vinhos
Largo de Sao Joao Baptista
2950-248 Palmela
Phone: +351 212 334 398

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