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  • Tony

Living in Portugal - April 2024

A mix of travel and hanging out at home this month. We enjoy time with friends and experiencing what the Algarve has to offer, balanced with travel and the experiences that come along with it. Two trips this month occupied the bulk of our time, a few days in the South of France and a long weekend in Lisbon.


The weather in the Algarve has been unpredictable, a common occurence here in spring. A mix of much-needed rain, cool days, and welcome sunshine throughout the month. 


The gardens around us love the mix of weather. The California Poppies have taken over, providing an array of bright orange flowers that blend nicely with the Bird of Paradise. The citrus trees are a mix right now. The clementines are just about finished with the winter crop, a few of the other orange trees are getting their summer blossoms, and the two Valencia oranges are full of fruit, a few weeks away from their peak ripeness.


Teresa and Luis have been busy planting for the summer harvest; Tomatoes, Onions, Potatoes, Green Beans, Bell Peppers, and Zucchini while the Favas have finished. The herbs are unstoppable here: the Rosemary, Parsley (they call it Salsa here), Sage, Lavender, Thyme, and Chives are growing year-round and spreading throughout the gardens.


The sailing ship Royal Clipper departed Portimao after a stopover.


Beach walk in Alvor


This month's Algarve Wine Society event was held at the Eva Senses Hotel in Faro. The format was a bit different: a tasting followed by dinner with wines paired with the menu. The featured winery was a Spanish Pago, Ville de Garcia, located south of Madrid. The wines were good but a bit overpriced compared with similar-quality Portuguese wines.


We took a long weekend trip to Lisbon this month to see our new boat featured in the Lisbon Boat and Recreation show. When we bought it, we agreed to allow the dealer to use our boat at the show in return for favorable pricing. It was our first opportunity to step aboard the new boat since we have been traveling, and the boat is still awaiting registration.


The event was held in the Park of the Nations (Parque das Nações), an area created for the 1998 World Expo in Lisbon. Many tourists miss this area on a trip to Lisbon, a modern, vibrant area with a long seaside promenade, shops, restaurants, and many open spaces.


Another area of Lisbon that sees fewer tourists is Almada and Cacilhas, which are a short ferry rides across the river. We walked the old wharf promenade, where crumbling old warehouses have become artistic canvases for street art, and had lunch at one of the riverside restaurants.


We visited the restoration dry docks at the ferry landing in Cacilhas, where two historic vessels were on display.


Just up the hill, a short bus or Uber ride brings you to the hilltop Sanctuary of Christ the King-Portugal. Visible from throughout Lisbon is the Catholic statue dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, inspired by Rio's Christ the Redeemer.


Back on the Lisbon side, just up the hill from Belem, we visited the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda. This is the third version of the royal family's residence (the first was in the old center and destroyed by the 1755 earthquake and tsunami, and the second, built in the current location, was destroyed by fire). The Neoclassical palace, a former residence of the royal family, is now a museum featuring the furnishings and antiquities of the royal family. There is a separate museum holding the royal treasures.


While still in Lisbon, we learned about a relatively new attraction: Roman ruins underground in the old center. In 1755, when workers in Lisbon were cleaning up from the devastating earthquake, they discovered remnants of an old Roman village buried beneath the city. They found 2,000-year-old stone passageways, rooms, chambers, and bridges.


Today, the entrance to this underground world, known as the Galerias Romanas, is through a hole in the street on Rua da Prata. The ruins are closed most of the year because they flood. After city workers clean up the mess from the flood, the ruins are open to the public…but only for a few days every April and September.


More photos from Lisbon


Sunset in Alvor along the riverfront/harbor


We attended a wine tasting/education afternoon at About Wine in Faro through one of the wine groups that we joined. We are trying to learn more about Portugal's wine industry and the more than 250 indigenous grape varieties. It's as difficult as learning the Portuguese language. These tastings are small group gatherings where the owner and Sommelier of the wine shop arrange blind tastings of Portuguese wines; each tasting has a theme; the previous tasting focused on lesser-known regions/varietals in Portugal, and this tasting focused on great wines in great values.


One of our favorites was the VT'18. A 2018 Douro blend that scored 90 points from Wine Enthusiast, a blend of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão & Tinta Amarela (a few of the more than 250 native grapes in Portugal!) that reminded us of a bold well balanced Bordeaux with black fruits and toast notes. This is the current release of 2018, fermented in Granite casks, crushed by foot, fermented with natural indigenous yeast, and aged in French Oak for 9 months! All of this care and attention you would expect of a high-priced wine, but here in Portugal, it's €8.99!! We would probably never have found this on our own. There were other great wines tasted, none over €20.00, which is considered pricy for mid-range wines here, but for the quality that we sampled today, these are all incredible values


Brunch at Green Heart


Barney and Sonny are living the dream in the Algarve. We bought them a new cat tower in the hope that they would use it instead of our new couch to scratch and stretch their claws. So far, Sonny has taken it over and is enjoying his elevated perch at the windows. Barney, on the other hand, after a thorough sniffing of it, has decided he wants nothing to do with it and is quite content with his blanket and bed.


As always we hope everyone is doing well, healthy, happy, and thriving. We miss you and love you all...A lot!




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