Coat of Arms, Casa da Calçada, Melgaço

My first experience of staying in restored Portuguese manor houses came about by accident and now I’m hooked. These lovely old buildings allow me to indulge fantasies of living in stunning historical settings and to find out more about Portugal’s past on a very personal level. Solar is Portuguese forRead More →

Changing of the Guard ceremony, Lisbon

I arrived in Belém one Sunday morning, curious as to why the roads had been blocked off and crowds were lining the pavement opposite the pink walls of Belém Palace. As I got closer, the navy uniforms of the brass band and the showier costumes of the stern-faced national guardsRead More →

wooden shields and fake weapons

Whenever I stand on ancient castle walls, I find myself trying to imagine what life was like when the castles housed royalty and their grounds contained thriving marketplaces buzzing with people, produce, livestock and flies. When I visit Óbidos during its annual medieval fair, however, I don’t need to stretch my imagination veryRead More →

Jazz musicians

I grew up thinking that all jazz was jarring to the ears and a musical genre that was best avoided. Now that I’m a bit older and have more experience of the different forms of jazz, I really enjoy its softer side. I don’t know if I’ll ever learn toRead More →

Iberian Mask Festival Lisbon

The last thing I expected to see in the grid of shopping streets in Lisbon’s Baixa district was a couple of men in hessian suits wearing blood red devil masks. They weren’t alone, either. A very odd couple with distorted, bubble gum pink faces danced past me and the otherRead More →

Embroidered handkerchief of friendship

Valentine’s Day seems the perfect time to mention the wonderful embroidered handkerchiefs of love from Northern Portugal. You can find these delightful pieces, or products inspired by them, in most souvenir shops in Portugal but they used to serve a practical purpose in the romantic lives of people from the MinhoRead More →