Showing posts from January, 2010

Winter beaches

This morning once again I took the dogs to the beach as the morning was breaking. I am enclosing a picture of Praia Pequena 'waking up' - if you look closely, you will see the little black dots, that's the early surfers. The other picture is of Praia Grande. It is full moon now, and the time of the year of 'Marés Vivas' - the rough winter tides. You can see the stairs going down to the beach, with blue railing. Notice how the stairs seem to stop in the middle of the way. They don't. That's 'all the way to the beach' normally - just that the tides took away all the sand! In two weeks, with the new moon, the sand will be back again. An interesting phenomena on our winter beaches!

Winter frustration - and Special Getaway prices

This is the frustrating time of the winter season - the rain has stopped and we have had a week of cool, clear days with a variable amount of sun. As I walk around the grounds, I do notice on the winter flowers: the lavender is starting to have long purple flowers, the calla is still going strong and the old rose tree has an odd pink rose as well. Also it seems that all that we planted last fall/winter have taken to their new places and have started well. However, it seems that the walls that need painting, the moss that needs to be scraped and stairs that need washing - all seem to scream louder than the flowers.

The gardeners started pruning the trees last week, and will continue for a few more weeks. As they advance, I keep seeing lots of other things that need to be done - we still have to wait about ten days for the painter. The electrician is supposed to arrive any day to fix a few odd things. The carpenter is still to fix odds and ends as well - it seems everyone in town …

The Natural History Museum of Sintra

Only a 10-minute walk from Casa do Valle, in the Historical Center, this museum is the newest addition to the many museums of Sintra. I went for the first time today, though it opened in August already. Like many of the local museums, this was first a private collection of the couple Miguel and Fernanda Barbosa, who for 50 years collected, traded and bought 90% of the pieces that now are a part of the museum's collection.

My first reaction was that the museum is attractive, modern and organized. Street level hosts the special exhibition and the lower level the permanent exhibition. This is where you can see the only specimen in the world of a species of flying reptiles, the Braseodactylus sp, or see a simulation of the big-bang. There are many recreations, but even more of the REAL things: dinosaurs eggs and nests, bones of all kinds, skulls...

What made it interesting to me was the fact that it was not only bones - there are parts of the exhibition dedicated to minerals, foss…

Fresh Seafood at Búzio's

Sintra has a long coast and excellent beaches -and on one of its most famous beaches, Praia das Maçãs, there is an excellent Seafood restaurant 'Búzio'. Right on the main road, with the day's catch of fish and shellfish on view in a see-through fridge, this restaurant has long been the favorite of the local sea-food lovers - and has also become the favorite seafood spot of our clients. It is about 10 kms or a 10-minute drive, from Casa do Valle, with private parking and easy access with the local transports. (In the pictures above you can see some of the fresh fish, the newly decorated main dining hall and my daughter choosing her dinner as one of the owners, Luís Alberto, looks on).

This family restaurant first opened in 1959 and has since passed from parents to children and their spouses. I have been a customer for over 20 years and seen many 'face lifts', turning the restaurant each time more and more stylish, yet staying comfortable. One thing that has not …

New themes for the blog

To start the new year well, I have decided to blog about the wonderful things in Sintra - to start, go through some of the favorite restaurants and coffee shops of our clients this passed year -and add a few newer things that are not necessarily in the guide books yet. I will label them accordingly so in the future, if you look for a restaurant that has pleased many of our clients just write 'restaurants' in the search function of the blog and it will filter them for you, same with parks, museums etc.

Many guide books mention the same monuments, hotels and restaurants year after year - even when they have stopped existing some time ago. We have noticed this with our clients when they ask us to make a reservation in a particular restaurant that no one knows about anymore. And it seems to be increasingly difficult for new restaurants - or old ones with new management - to get in the books. That is why I like our 'Guest to Guest' book - it is current always. All it ne…

Happy New Year 2010!

Today was a beautiful day in Sintra - and lots of people filled the streets as they visited Sintra on the first day of this year 2010. I watched the traditional New Year's Strauss concert in TV, and will see it again on the 10th of January - live here in Sintra, as the Strauss Festival Orchestra & Ballet Ensemble perform at the great auditorium of Centro Cultural Olga Cadaval. The Cultural Center has a very nice and varied program in its 2 auditoriums (300 and 1000 seats). The pages of the center are if you want to check out the programs. Plan ahead and check out the program for the June Sintra Festival!

We have had quite a lot of reservations recently from A Vida é Bela - the experience-gifts for getaways. It seems that after these holidays people really need a break, with massages in the beautiful Sintra. Welcome to all of you to relax here!