Welcome to Casa dos Avos – the door is open and I would love for you to come visit!  Here is a link to a video of my home and village.

This is the start of my 3rd week in The Algarve region of southern Portugal and the sun is once again shining.  The high for today will be in the mid-70’s.  The church bells have been ringing all morning to announce that today is Sunday and the one day of the week the church doors are open and a priest is in residence. 

Yes, Portugal has a shortage of priests and the church doors are closed during the week to dissuade those who might want to remove some of the most valuable artifacts.  The problems are the same wherever I travel.  

I have managed to settle in, thanks in large part to the most wonderful landlords I could ever hope to find.  Jorge & Maria Joao Sinta Coelho have welcomed me with open arms.  They have introduced me to their extended family, included me in family outings and even had me over to dinner to celebrate the arrival of the ‘new wines’ and the time to roast the chestnuts.  
 Grandma Rosalina, Daughter Marie, Grandpa João, Maria João, and Jorge

Last weekend they called to see if I would join them as they traveled to the area of Monchique for a traditional Portuguese lunch.    ‘Known as the Top of the Algarve where peaks reach 3000 ft., the pace of life in Monchique is far removed from that of the busy coastal resorts.  Small hamlets nestle between the hills, home to artisans who uphold age-old traditions and farm labourers who tend their terraced vegetable plots or citrus groves.  The fruits of their labors are reflected in the region’s mouth-watering gastronomy.  Black pork sausages and cured hams, the unique honey that comes from the region’s scented wild flowers and the powerful medronho liqueur, known as firewater, which is brewed from the fruit of the strawberry trees.’ – Portugal


After a stop to land that has been in the family for generations and where Jorge, a contractor by trade, is slowly building their retirement home, we went to a local restaurant, Laranjeira (Orange), where we were the only customers.  The mother was in the kitchen cooking our lunch while her son had prepared fabulous teas made from local herbs and flowers to begin our dinner. He has an enormous organic garden where he grows all of the vegetables and herbs used in the restaurant and lots of the strawberry trees to make firewater – think moonshine – only legal. 

After lunch, we went to wander through the town of Monchique where since Roman times they have been known for the thermal baths,  a beautiful town with many spas and hotels.
Mid-week, I took a river cruise to the ancient, Moorish capital city of Silves.  

The trip from Ferragudo to Silves takes 1 1/2 hours and our ‘captain’ spent the time entertaining 2 Brits and 5 Dutch and myself with the history of the River Arade, the villages that border it’s edges and how the direction of the river has changed over a 1000 years.  He is a professional fisherman by trade, and only offers these cruises a few times a year.  Our ‘cruise’ boat is a brightly-painted fishing boat and was filled with our group of 8 passengers.   

Arriving at Silves via the river is a lovely way to approach the city.  On this day, the sun was gleaming off the white homes and buildings that climb the hill where the Cathedral and the remains of the Moorish castle dominate the skyline.
We had 90 minutes to explore this hilly city and have lunch. Off I went, camera in hand, to see what I could in such a short amount of time.  

Up to the top of the hill, though the massive wall that once protected the citizens of Sives from the Crusaders came to battle the Moors, all under the protective eye of the priests that filled the Cathedral.  
Then back down the hill, because it was 14:00 and I was starving!  Sives is also known for the roasted chicken restaurants that dot the waterfront.  That’s where I headed for a fabulous lunch before hoping back on our ‘cruise ship’ for our return to Ferragudo.  
I wish I had a better photo.  Here was my lunch – a delicious salad of fresh lettuce, onion and tomatoes.  A bowl of olives, grapes, pâté and fresh baked bread to nibble on while I sipped a carafe of red wine (not shown) until my dinner of a 1/4 of roasted chicken (absolutely delicious) and chips arrived.  The cost of this very normal lunch – €7.00 – just  $7.53!! 

My second week in Ferragudo was spent wandering the narrow streets, getting to know the locals. The most exciting discovery was learning that I can get Netflix on my computer (English-language stations are not plentiful on my cable – 3 news channels, a religious channel and Disney!) I have signed up and will start  over-55 gymnastics, water aerobics and pilates classes next week.  

I’m looking forward to spending Thanksgiving in Cascais and the Lisbon area with the group known as Americans in Portugal who have invited me to their annual Thanksgiving Day dinner and then joining International Women in Portugal for their monthly meeting – a walking tour of The Women of Lisbon.  

Beautiful cobblestoned streets of Ferragudo

 The canal that runs through the village

The view across the river to Portimao

Flowers are abundant, draping across the streets

I just got invited to Grandpa and Grandma’s home for lunch – which normally is at 14:00!  Must go have a snack before I go as I would hate to arriving starving!  I’ll leave you….until next time.…with a photo of the harbor coming into Ferragudo.

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