Tag Archives: holiday in Portugal

Starbucks or real coffee?

 985: The Portuguese start to get coffee from Ethiopia

 986: The widow senhora Amorim da Silva sells her first cup in her coffee shop

1971: Gordon, Jerry and Zev start a coffee shop in Seattle

1985: Howard Schultz (CEO) travels to Italy and looks at the art of making coffee

1999: The heirs of the Widow open the 13th store in their Portuguese chain

2008: Starbucks invades Portugal

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To my great surprise, there are already 5 or 6 Starbucks in Lisbon. That stimulates my curiosity – I went on a search for how and why. The Portuguese make a delicious cup of coffee, a cup with a pleasant content and also affordable: a bica.

You can find a pastelaria on every street corner and in every apparently deserted village – a café that does what the name says: serve coffee. You can always add a nice sweetie: the bolo, in all its variations.

So what does Starbucks do here?

I know them from the airport – you can’t get around them.

Sorry. I find it expensive, far too much, and I don’t like to drink from such a mega-cup. I’m not a fan. Let me get that straight right away. I don’t understand that frappuccino-hype. The quantity is bizarre, especially if you are used to the Portuguese bica.

blog_Starbucks-or-real-coffee

Bica is espresso avant la lettre, the primal espresso. The widow Amorim da Silva would turn around in her grave if she saw the size of today’s cups. Those cups are about as big as she was, because at that time portuguese women were not that big. Okay, okay, I’m exaggerating ….

It was a rough trip from Ethiopia to Portugal

Even though the portuguese sailors were used to sailing all over the world, it was still a ferocious journey with a ship full of coffee over the Mediterranean sea, and then last but not least on the Atlantic. There have never been many mooring possibilities in the Algarve, strangely enough, so they rounded their own cape to get to Lisbon.

Of course, it soon became fashion to drink coffee.

Okay, well, all jokes aside …

Of course, the Widow Amorim never existed – I just made that up. The fiercely realistic reality of Starbucks’ world apparently does something strange to me. It’s all so unreal, so much, so … so … economically correct – there’s no fun in it at all. It’s only about money.

Your name is wrongly written anyway, while the whole intention is that it’ll all become more personal, with your name on the cup. Waiters learn fake smiles and standard sentences and probably standard jokes as well. Apparently they don’t understand at Starbucks HQ that it doesn’t work like that.

What does work is the Portuguese way

What still amazes me, sometimes, is the genuineness of the service in the pastelarias. No, they are not all equally neat and polite and friendly, sometimes people are even plain grumpy. Not against you, but just in general – they suffer from saudade. Can happen.

I find it a lot nicer than everyone is supposedly polite, interested and cheerful

blog_Starbucks-or-real-coffee

credits: fotothing

Most waiters are ordinary people, people like you and me, but the big difference is that in Portugal almost everyone is genuine friendly. It seems. That grumpiness of just now is an exception.

When the girl comes to bring you your bica, she brings a real smile, and she looks at you when she puts the cup down: “Se faz favor!

Would there be something – she spilled a little, you want some more sugar, no place on the table because you put all your things there – then she apologizes, helps, or waits patiently, jokes, says something nice. So completely spontaneous.

And that makes me happy. Just something as simple as that, without HQ or CEO. And also no liters of coffee. (*)

(*) A bica is to be precise a cup with 3 or 4 sips of delicious strong coffee.

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We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas da Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugal’s cultural heirlooms. Termas da Azenha, a old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and camping ground, there’s also a swimming pool. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere. The old bathhouse is a museum, where you can see how things have changed.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Google+, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

You like? Please like! And sharing is not forbidden ....

Presents

There are many people who leave things behind. Usually these are things like olive oil, salt & pepper, open bags of pasta, milk, cheese, a few eggs … “It’s a pity to throw away,” they say, “and you can still use it, can’t you? Otherwise you have to discard it.”

I wholeheartedly agree with them, “We will take care of it, thank you.”

The only thing I throw away is margarine. I think that, sorry to say, is horrible. But the rest lands in our kitchen, so at the end of the summer I always have a lot of bottles of olive oil, and pepper and salt, and so forth.

blog_presents-Termas-da-Azenha

In one or other weird way, it helps me to cope with nostalgia of the summer that’s past

Because yes, it’s one thing people come, but they will be going again. Now with some people it’s worse than with others, but it’s quite an art to say goodbye. What I found strikingly this summer is that everybody was here until last.

Huh? How do you mean? Surely they are here untill last

No, not true. Many people are already preparing or packing a few days before, or already busy with the trip, planning,  the next destination, or they’re mentally already at home.

Could it be that lots of people lead a mindfuler life?

It will come up sometimes, only sometimes. A single lady of 45+  sighed a few days before leaving: “Ooooo, I do not want to go away … I do not want to go home at all … it’s just as nice here, waking up with the birds …. ”

I replied firmly:” But it’s not over yet, it takes another eternity before you go home again … and there you have a nice life, right? ”

“Certainly, sure,” she said with a bit of excitement, “but my basement is waiting for a cleanup, and I do not really like that, cleaning and sorting everything out”,  but apparently a light started burning: “but hey, there I still have a stock of wool, so I can use that to make more felt. ”

“Ha!” I call for a moment, “Look carefully, and see what you’re up to … and, dragging things to the eco ponto, or maybe to the secondhand store might be a burden, but you’re  A / doing us all a favour, and B / you’re helping a poor fellow being who is happy with your stuff.”

After this conversation, we both continued:

I’m cleaning, and she’s making felt in bathroom 14. There is a marble massage table and there is hot water, and that seems to make it all work, if you  want to make felt. The whole process hasn’t become completely clear to me, but as a farewell gift I got the patch she made here, and I think it’s very pretty with all those blues.

blog_presents-Termas-da-Azenha

And I got more (goodbye) presents

Sweet! A children’s violin, a skirt with flowers, a beautiful red bowl, a very nice pot of honey, homemade blackberry jam (twice even), flipflops, a book (title: I’ll be back – a hint), a very nice drawing, and a geranium.

Part of the mother geranium is left in a place where this group of friends had a good time. That is of course a huge responsibility for someone like me, who doesn’t have green fingers. Fortunately, it has red flowers, and gerania are known for their enormous joy of life.

Of course I’m very happy about that

You understand that. My sentimental self is completely moved and whispers softly: “Thank you, and all I want is that you have a good time …” – that’s probably the piece of mother-who-only-thinks-of-others that is still in me, because that was the example my old mother gave me. Of course we all got a lot tougher. You’d never say this, but still …. secretly it’s true.

Last but not least: my son’s gift

That does not happen often, so I’m really happy with that. But …. it’s a cactus, and he looks like this:
blog_presents_Termas-da-Azenha

 

How should I interpret this now?

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We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas da Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugal’s cultural heirlooms. Termas da Azenha, a old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and camping ground, there’s also a swimming pool. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere. The old bathhouse is a museum, where you can see how things have changed.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

 

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Google+, on Pinterest, and on monday on LinkedIn.

You like? Please like! And sharing is not forbidden ....

Do you need physalis on holiday, actually?

A nice place to stay, some distraction, some sun, good food, a swimming pool is not so bad (for the children), nice company …. eh, maybe it’s a bit more than I thought.

I’m a holiday specialist, but not an experience expert

I rarely go on holiday myself. Sometimes a week on family visit in the home country, sometimes a few days to here or there in Portugal. To relax a bit of all the work that comes with making sure our guests have a nice holiday. 🙂

Depends on what you want …

We now have a Spanish family who want to show Portugal to their children from 8 to 11. They’re going to see another city every day: Coimbra, Aveiro, Lisbon, Tomar and on the way back to Batalha and Alcobaça, and Viseu. And the beaches: Nazaré, Costa de Lavos, Cabedelo – to play with the waves.

 

spanish-family-in-apartment-Ceylon

Termas-da-Azenha is almost exactly in the middle between Porto and Lisbon. From here you can easily reach Figueira, Coimbra, Aveiro, Viseu, Tomar, Lisbon and Porto. Although I usually advise my guests to combine the latter (Lisbon and Porto) with the return flight. Of course you can drive all the way up and down, but you can also plan it efficiently and spend the rest of the time doing nice things.

For example, a day of canoeing

Sometimes people get a bit distressed when I bring up canoeing on the Mondego. “Oh no, not that!!” is their first reaction, “Not all the day on such a rocky brook with a lot of other tourists to work your way back over the wild-flowing water!!” Those are people who have the wrong experiences.

Canoeing on the Mondego is a piece of cake. All you have to do is bring your joy of life and sunscreen. You can take your lunch (*) and picnic on one of the river banks you encounter on the way. You can stay away all day long, till 5 in the afternoon. Enjoy the fun with the flowing river, throw eachother in the water (the children), swim a bit (the parents), paddle harmoniously together, and if you’re fed up with that harmoniously paddling you just walk for a while. The Mondego is a river without pretenses. Width is okay, but actually not that deep.

Good food, always great on holiday

We have had chefs here (I really need to mention Jan Zwart from the Netherlands, Belgian Niels le Grandé and Dingo Robberts from Ireland) who cooked so well that the whole village came for dinner. Jan showed us that we had a physalisplant – we didn’t even know. We are not a star chef. Nevertheless, we can cook the stars from the sky with a delicious home-cooked meal. And the most beautiful is: a lot comes from our own garden.

The first crop has already been processed

We have to learn, but you have to think in stages, in the vegetable garden. Depending on your vegetable’s biorhythm. For example, cucumber likes living on this planet from June to September – and then you may want what you want, but they will not do it anymore. And lettuce doesn’t want to grow in summer. That is: if you go with nature, and don’t force things.

So we improvise something, but most comes from our own garden.

It’s a bit premature, so knock on wood

The plants are still small, but nevertheless I already clipped several recipes with eggplant. The zucchiniplant has promising flowers, but the zucchini’s are still small. Doesn’t matter, in my mind they are already in a tasty lasagna. The rucola is just in puberty, but the recipes with their delicious leaves are already in my workbook.

And this also works for beans, tomatoes, basil, gooseberry, dill, parsley, melon, pumpkin, cucumber and of course the champion: physalis.

physalis-and-dill

We eat a bean tomato salad with a dressing of olive oil and herbs tonight.
Delicious! I cheated with the beans, because those come from the market, but in a month we really eat this from our own garden!

 

(*) We offer it with a packed lunch for 27.50(adults)/ 20,- (kids) till 15). Food, drinks, fruit, water - all in a waterproof barrel with space for your car keys and a small wallet. When you approach your final destination, there'sa river beach-with-café - and you can enjoy a cold beer / fresh drink / ice cream.

We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas da Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugal’s cultural heirlooms. Termas da Azenha, a old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and camping ground, there’s also a swimming pool. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere. The old bathhouse is a museum, where you can see how things have changed.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation. We have some nice special offers on our site.

You can subscribe to this blog:

 

You’ll get it every weekend in your mailbox.

On Sunday morning we publish it on our Facebook Page, on Google+, on Pinterest, and on tuesday on LinkedIn.

You like? Please like! And sharing is not forbidden ....