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Showing posts from March, 2010

The lovely trees we couldn't live without!

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In one of my early blogs I mentioned that when we bought these grounds, they were an abandoned wine-yard. In fact, around 1890 a family of army officials built a house across the street and our ground were the 'quinta', the farm, they had. On these grounds a wonderful wine was grown; it is said that the wine from here won several international prices, even.

A hundred years after the building of the original house, another house, our house, was built in the quinta. There was nothing here, really: a broken down pig-dwelling, a broken down ruin of a greenhouse. And the patio. The patio was, and still is, under huge trees, Cassias and Pittosporums, in the middle of the grounds. Perfectly placed so you see the palaces up on top of the mountain, get the afternoon sun in the winter and the afternoon shade in the summer. There was a type of iron structure to train the branches of the trees to form a sort of a gazebo, a protection and a shelter. During the years, however, the gr…

Beware of the taxis!

This is one of those blogs that I already don't like and I am only writing the first sentence! But please keep reading on, it is quite important.

This last weekend two different sets of clients arrived to our house from the airport with a taxi. In both cases the driver tried to ask for nearly twice the amount that is normal rate. Please be aware that the fare you should pay is 30-35 euros (depending on amount of luggage and time of day).

Here is some information you should be aware of:
The distance between the airport and Casa do Valle is 28 kms. The straightest road for this trip is using the road IC19. During the day, it takes about 3o minutes to drive that - in the peak hours up to 1 hour. There are no tolls to pay on IC19. The driver has the tariff '1' on until the end of 2nd circular road where he switches on tariff '3' = about 7 kms from the airport.

So what can go wrong:
The driver switches on tariff '3' too early or chooses another road, with t…

'The Wonderful Jazz Café just before the station on the right'

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Saudade, if you look it up from the dictionary, means Nostalgia in English.
In the Portuguese dictionary the word is explained as 'sadness caused by missing someone or something' AND as 'greetings'. The word includes both happiness and sadness, a longing for.

Saudade, the Life and Art of Portuguese People, is a coffee-place, a tea room, a place to gather to listen to music. For me, O Saudade is one of the only places where you can sit with your book, newspaper or laptop, enjoying a cup of coffee and a long conversation with your best friend and beautiful cakes, and not be harassed. It is what one of our clients described as 'The Wonderful Jazz Café just before the Station on the Right'.

O Saudade opened at the end of June 2009. The first week of July we already had two nice comments about in our Guest to Guest book. The truth is, it gained immediate popularity. Mary and João have lovingly turned one of the original 5 cheese cake factories of Sintra, Mathilde,…

What to do on a rainy day?

We have certainly had our share of rainy days. So what to do when your sister, niece and great niece are visiting and it just rains? Well, no worry. We spent an afternoon at the Modern Science Museum 'Centro de Ciência Viva de Sintra'- only 500 meters by foot down the hill from Casa do Valle. This interactive center is one of the 'new' museums of Sintra, opened just a few years ago. I confess, I had never been, though I had been in the large ones of Chicago and Helsinki. This one is a small one. You spend between an hour and 3, depending on your age and weather...

What do you see? Actually, what do you do? You can make a simulation of wave energy movement; make up your genetic DNA and find out how many people are out there with your combination of eye- and hair color, nose and jaw shape etc; test your short-term memory and reaction skills by part-taking in games that use sounds and colors; take a picture of your body to find out which parts of your body are war…