From the Rocksure Office in the Cotswolds, England: This famous Portuguese Fado song perfectly describes the simplicity, kindness and love felt in a Portuguese home, where it is a customary welcome to have bread and cheese always on the table....and it is true, the Portuguese are famous for their iconic wines as well as their heartfelt hospitality.
There are many ways to discover Portugal and one that we love to share is something of a road trip along one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world - from Porto to the Algarve.
From Porto - famous for its iconic Port wine - follow the Douro Valley and stop along the way to see the cleverly terraced landscape bursting with vineyards which produce Porto using centuries old methods. Wine tasting is a must while in the area, and there are numerous river cruises along the Ervedosa do Douro affording some of the best views of the vineyards and a joyful way to take in a little more scenery. Local restaurants offer contemporary takes on traditional classics - a steaming bowl of Bacalhau with local fish is always a favourite with visitors and residents alike.
From Porto drop down to Coimbra: here, holding court in the town is the University of Coimbra, famous both for being one of the world's oldest universities (established in 1290!) and for one of its libraries, Biblioteca Joanina, which inspired elements of the legendary Harry Potter series. Coimbra has interesting architecture and winding streets galore, with cafes and bars and little market stalls nestled alongside beautiful churches, many of which are almost entirely decorated inside and out with intricately painted ceramic tiles, each telling its own story.
The coast road then winds past Nazaré, famous around the world for its huge Atlantic waves, the perfect paradise for surfers. Stop at the little medieval town of Obidos with its ancient castle and much-loved farmers markets and little local shops. Head to Lisbon, via Sintra, where every vantage point from the ocean-side road is spectacular. Lisbon itself has an energy that almost belongs to another time - majestic buildings and winding cobbled streets of tiny pieces of marble hark back to another era.
Palacio Chiado is a favourite central spot for drinks or dinner. For a welcome aperitivo - Portuguese style - choose glasses of white port wine served very cold, or Porto Tónico, together with Amategado goats cheese served with pumpkin preserves and thin slices of sourdough bread. The tiny spoons used to scoop out the buttery soft cheese ensure that everyone around the table can enjoy this treat.
From Lisbon follow the coastline further south along the Atlantic. Beautiful native flowers, shrubs and citrus and cherry trees are everywhere - since the area is less populated it feels very traditional and there are many footpaths linking tiny villages with their beaches and coves that make this part of the world a delight to explore on foot. It is easy to see how this route South is one of the highlights of the region. The Algarve begins with the historic town of Sagres, famous for its fifteenth century nautical academy and history of famous expeditions. After an expedition encompassing so much of the beautiful Portuguese countryside, the Villa Casa Alto do Cerro, and its fragrant gardens, pools and incredible surroundings are well and truly worth the wait.
The villa is located in Goldra which is delightfully situated in an elevated location and enjoys the most spectacular views towards Albufeira in one direction and Tavira in the other. This magnificent villa has 5 comfortable bedrooms situated across 3 different levels, four of which enjoy their own terrace or balcony. Living is open-plan with wide doors opening up onto sun drenched terraces and balconies with stunning 180 degree views towards the coast. You are just a few minutes’ drive from Loule, a charming inland town which was once a Roman settlement and where the remains of a ruined castle can still be seen in the old quarter. An indoor market is held here 6 days a week, which is excellent for fish, fruit and vegetables. The wide avenues, bordered by many pavement bars, cafes and restaurants, provide many distractions and offer a wide variety of shopping. Almancil is just a 15 minute drive away from this gorgeous Rocksure villa as are the beaches and golf courses of Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago. Neighbouring Vilamoura lies at the heart of golfing country, with some of the world’s best golf courses being found here, along with many pleasant beaches, dramatic cliff top walks and all manner of water sports. Stay here awhile!
The words of Uma Casa Portuguesa beautifully sum up the feeling of this idyllic Portuguese home - because, after all, while you are here it is your home - four whitewashed walls, the smell of fresh rosemary and a bunch of golden grapes are all that are needed.
"Quatro paredes caiadas,
um cheirinho à alecrim,
um cacho de uvas doiradas..."
From our Rocksure family to you and yours we send you our best wishes,
The Rocksure Team