Most families prepare well before Christmas by decorating their home, with the traditional nativity scene with donkey, cow, Mother Mary and of course Baby Jesus. Baby Jesus is placed in the crib after midnight on the 24th of December.
Although not inexpensive at 120euros a person this full day walking tour introduces you to some of the delights of Lisbon food and local markets. The tour takes you to small back street restaurants and cafes that you would definitely miss on your own.
If not, you're missing one of the true delights of Europe.
It has been dedicate as a World Heritage Site.
Imagine entering a fairy tale, with castles, palaces and forts literally around every corner.
Beautiful tree line windy roads and mossy paths through majestic forests. This is the magnificent Sintra. It's hard to believe it still exists.
See it before it succumbs to modern change (hopefully it won't).
Alentejo is the largest region of the country and is located in south-central Portugal. It comprises the Évora District, Beja, Portalegre, part of Setúbal and pat of Santarém.
Well known for its hearty appetizing cuisine and especially for the production of some of the best wines in the country (many of them recognized and awarded internationally). Also known for their black pork, angus beef, olives and production of cork.
The best months to go for country walks in this area are from September to late May, after which time it becomes absolutely too hot in the day.
To see the spring wild flowers, including tiny wild orchids, go from mid March through April to May.
It is tricky to tie down the absolute best times for the wild flowers since a lot depends on the rains. Wild flowers spring up almost overnight once it has been raining for a week or so.
A Sensational Walk, Vale Centianes to Carvoeiro
Photos and text by Phil Harbord
This is a medium difficulty walk of about 1 hour, one way. For a circular route, you may choose to walk back via the road (another 45 minutes).
This is the walk I dream of when I'm freezing in the middle of another Canadian winter. I especially look forward to the spring flowers and the smell of wild thyme and rosemary in March, April and May.
The area where the violent seas crash against huge rocky cliffs along the coast of Costa Vincentina are the home of the highly sought after
Percebes. In Portugal they are such a delicacy they can cost 3 times the price of Lobster. Highly sought after for a lunch or dinner,
it is a true feast to eat them!
The Portuguese' coffee culture' is like no other. IF you take the time, you can learn to appreciate what real coffee is all about.
Northern Europe for the last few months has been inundated with lashing rain, wind and even heavy snowfalls.
Serious flooding has affected many areas in the UK with the worst rainfalls in 240 years, since the record taking began.
At the end of February it rained for more than than ten days without stop in the Algarve. The Algarve is not equipped for such heavy rain, drivers not used to rain, aren't thinking of slowing down, there are more accidents on the roads. Yes the Algarve did get some rain but nowhere near these flooding conditions throught the rest of Europe. Storm Hercules roared across the Atlantic straight to Europe especially to England and the Algarve.
STORKS are springing up all over!
Many would say that wine was the nectar of the gods. But in the Algarve there is stiff competition from the remarkable orange.
Oranges with their juicy sweetness often grow to the size of grape fruits here.There are fresh oranges almost 9 months a year. It takes only 3 to 5 oranges to make a brimming glassful.
Sweet as Heaven, full of Vitamin C and Fibre.
At the side of every main road you will find local farmers selling their bags full of oranges usualy about 1 per kilo. Somtimes getting even cheaper further down the road.
When you think of Carnival you probably think of Rio or New Orleans, but in every part of the Algarve
mini carnivals are held for the children! Every town and school have their own traditions but the village of Loulé outshines them all.
On the last day of school before the Carnival break, children gather in small groups at the municipal auditorium. Each class usually has a theme ie circus, traditional dress, etc.
Some of the classes still make the costumes using recycled materials, others have the parents put together the costumes at home, some being incredibly inventive. Teachers follow the children to the auditorium which is bursting to the seams with excited children and the adults are treated to a parade of hundreds of children in colourful costumes dancing to lively music.
A mini version of what is happening in Rio over the whole week!