Costa de Prata

Silver Coast Blog

Foz do Arelho

By coincidence we discovered 10 years ago the resort town of Foz do Arelho. Through the internet we came across the website of a Dutch broker who had his office in this village. In January 2005 we went for a week to Porto and Lisbon, and as well Foz do Arelho was on our list. So Sunday we drove from Lisbon to Foz and when we arrived we saw then this old and some neglected beach place.

But anno 2014 Foz is a fantastic nice seaside resort, both in summer and winter. The roads have improved and there is a new boulevard with plenty of parking places. Along the promenade you will find great beach bars where you can have a drink or eat lunch or dinner. Also outside the summer season it is a good place on the terraces. They lie in the shade overlooking the promenade and the beach. Who alights in the morning, slowly sees flooding the terraces, tourists and locals, as well as groups of cyclists and motorcyclists. We are a fan of this place and come here on nice days when we have time. Relax with a book and a glass of wine, we stay for a few hours easily.

The beach is wide and you will find next to beach visitors also (kite) surfers, kayakers and fishermen encounter. But for everyone there is space and is an ideal resort for families with small children. The local government spent money to open the passage to the sea as it was silted up. This had many implications for the underlying pond, such as excess water during heavy rainfall which business was partly flooded. Now they are working on a solution to permanently open the opening.


In central Portugal are a number of rivers which are not only look beautiful but where you also can go kayaking.

Zêzere River is one of the finest in the region. The crystal clear waters and strong flows make this descent one of the most popular. The flow is from the higher dam in Castelo do Bode. Tejo (or Tagus) is the largest Portuguese river and has little flow, is generally quiet and accessible to everyone. So go Paddling!

The Nabão river is less known, but no less interesting. It is a small, winding river with a greater diversity of flora and fauna. This river is because of the strong flow only navigable by kayak between March and June.

Kayaking on the rivers is one of the sporting activities in the area and worth doing it. Besides being active, you again enjoy the beautiful surroundings with views from the water.

Last September we went there with family out on a nice trip. You have a choice of different lengths and difficulty levels. We obtained for a journey of 10 kilometers, part of the Zêzere and partly on the Tejo. The start is at Constancia Barquinha ou Chamusca, east of Tomar. First we got a short instruction by owner / instructor Pedro how to kayak, because not everyone is experienced, for some of us it is even the first time. All equipped with a life jacket and drinking water we go on our way. " With two persons in the kayak and start paddling . Halfway inserted a break, which the crew of my kayak could use. We remained the most sluggish team, but with the most fun, and then again I do not see every day the family, so also a great opportunity now and then to catch up. But then again it hits our rhythm and get disrupted. We enjoy the break with apples and biscuits for some new energy and great views of the Castelo de Almoural.

On arrival at the end everyone helps each other on shore, including kayak. With a van we were brought back to the starting point where our cars are. The advantage is that you can hand over valuables to the organization and you do not have to leave it in the car or take it in the kayak. Not even a camera, because the instructor goes along as a guide and he makes during the trip photo’s of the group which you get sent home a day after by email.

Lear more: Descidas em Kayak


In 1385 work began on the construction of the monastery of Santa Maria de Vitoria in Batalha

It was built over 200 years to realize the lime sandstone building. It was built in Gothic style and has many decorations by many turrets on the roof and gargoyles adorning around the monastery.

Necessary maintenance

By influences from weather and traffic maintenance is necessary and it started in the autumn of 2013 with the necessary restoration work on and around the monastery. The square has been refurbished on the side of the Unfinished Chapels are coated with a special layer of gravel. The monastery is partly under construction, the tower looks like new again. On the wall around the monastery work is done by artists from a local company, so the work will be completed in the spring of 2014.

Monastery Tower

Restoration appears badly needed because the limestone is pretty ratty which made the tower unstable and dangerous. During the restoration work the tower turns out worse than expected so the staff works extra careful to preserve the tower and to ensure their own safety. When all the work is finished, it is intended that the tower is open to the public. In addition to the restoration, all the towers and walls get a cleanup so all the details will be nicely visible. When everything is done it gets a special treatment to protect from the weather.

116 French Lilies!

Work on the wall near the square is performed by a local company where two local artists are involved, Zira and Antonio Antunes Moreira of Garguła Gótica. They received the order from the municipal to renew and restore the French Lilies on the wall around the abbey. Especially for this job they attract nine artists who perform work on a project basis with them.

For years, the lilies adorned the wall but they were broken off all influences or perish! This is precision work to restore everything to its original state. The 116 lilies that are newly created and then some that are being restored.

First of all the cement has been removed to the remaining portions of the lilies. This cement layer shows through the years the underlying limestone (partly)and the wood eaten away. Sand-lime is just a stone that needs to "breathe", which cannot with a cement layer. After the removal of the cement is the remainder of the lily processed so that it remains firmly in the future. The wood, often rotten. is replaced for lead. And after filling the object is rebuilt or cut with limestone.

Protective in the summer!

Following completion, in the summer when it stays dry a protective coating is applied against algae. It should be dry 15 days in a row because the protective layer should have no contact with water to do its job as well as possible. Hence a summer job in the winter and spring, the risk of too much rain.

Visit the monastery

When you are in Batalha, a visit to the monastery is worthwhile. Perhaps you are the first to climb the tower which certainly gives a magnificent view over the village.

The monastery is closed only on Christmas Day and New Years Day 1st. All other days it welcomes visitors. On Sundays and public holidays until 14:00 pm there is free entrance, then on other days a ticket costs € 6.00. Well worth it and do not forget to watch the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier from the First World War.


pelgrimsroute 03Or the pelgrimage route

Earlier I wrote about the history of the shepherd children and the pilgrims days. Today, more about the various pilgrimage routes running from Portugal to Fatima. For we see every year the pilgrimage in May and October towards Fátima where we live 12 kilometers from.

Last May I took the decision to run itself once , one of the routes. In the Netherlands, I was twice member of the “vierdaagse van Nijmegen” ( 4 x 40km). Very nice to do, but one of the pilgrimage routes here seems to me a great challenge. When I go ... no idea, but who did. My sister and girlfriend Willeke Winter has already indicated that they would like to take the challenge as faithful four-day walker.

Why does the pilgrim goes on pilgrimage?

The 'peregrino' has a destination in mind and a purpose in his heart. During the trip there is usually a sense of self-reflection. There will be (again) space in the mental condition of the pilgrim, the contact with nature and new realities of the country, the people waiting at home for him and encounters with other pilgrims. Of course there are also those 'who are just do it' it for the challenge, as I do.

Rota do Peregrino

For those who are looking on Dutch websites finds a lot about Fatima as pilgrimage. But found little information on the various trails. However, the routes from Lisbon and Porto to Fatima, but the other routes you'll find anywhere back and there are five.

Through Google Portugal there is more information to be found. The most comprehensive website is and is available in over 40 languages ​​and describes all routes. There is also a downloadable app called Caminhos de Fátima nos Telemóveis. Not only the routes can be found here, but also all amenities like a good sleeping place or restaurant.

The routes

Each route has its own colour.

  • The longest route is the purple route with a total length of 335 km and starts in the north of Portugal in Braganca
  • The blue route is the second longest and 264 km long and starts in Viana de Castelo. This route can also be picked up from Porto and is then "only" 194 km long. For both the purple and the blue route counts that the first days more than 20 km per day should be walked. A severe part when you consider that Portugal has a hilly landscape
  • The red route is the route from Lisbon to Fatima. Who chooses this route has the shortest and has 121 km to go
  • The green route starts from Aveiro, also known as Little Venice, and is 128 km long
  • The orange route starts in Castelo Branco and measuring 147 km. In short: which route you choose, you should go for the challenge !!


For the holidaymaker who is attempting a sportive activity: Hiking the Mata do Cerejal

The start and the end of this hike in Central Portugal is located in São Mateus and the chapels of Our Lady of Alcanades, about 15 minutes drive from the center of Batalha.

The hike goes through 'forest Cherry Orchard', a wooded area with narrow paths and many different plant species. The route is quite varied and offers beautiful views and is mentioned along the old mouth of the coalmine, Os Polvarinhos. Here was once stored the gunpowder which is used for mining. The tour passes a quarry where several employees daily the big stone blocks cut into various sizes ranging from small to large stones. And no, it does not involve any machine, even just craftsmanship.

For this walk requires good shoes and a reasonable condition but accessible to everyone. Nice touch is that the route is well indicated. The construction of the new road the IC9 makes the route extended from 6.5 km to 9 km. The duration of the tour is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Port House Taylor

The port house Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman in Porto is one of the oldest port houses. It was founded in 1692 as a family company, now in existence for over three centuries and is still a family business. To this day Taylor's is led by the descendants of the Yeatman and Fladgate's.

Both families are since its founding partners. The company has never been sold, bought or taken over and they are rightly proud on that! Their goal is to make good port to sell. This company has been fully independent during all these years.

Taylor grows its grapes in two large vineyards in the Douro Valley, namely Quinta de Vargellas and Quinta de Terra Feita. Quinta de Vargellas seems to be one of the finest vineyards in the world and is 176 hectares. The vineyards are located a considerable distance from the port house itself which is located at the top of the bank of the Douro which runs through the centre of Porto.

Late September is harvest time and the grapes are placed special plastic boxes to counter the fermenting process as long as possible. During the day you pick the grapes and at night the pickers pressing a part of the grapes with bare feet. These grapes are the source of the best wines of Taylor's. It is impossible to press all the grapes, however Taylor has invested much time and money in equipment to mimic the effect of barefoot presses.

In the spring following the harvest, the wine is brought to the Port house on the Douro. The drums go as 60 kilometres downstream toward the cool cellars. The content of the barrels varies between 600 and 22,000 litres, and these are divided into three cellars.

Not only can you do a tour for a few Euros at Taylor but by every port houses. Upon entering, a movie is shown that you watch while sipping a white port. The tour closes it with a tasting. For lovers it is possible to buy in the shop port or port glasses.

Those who visit Porto, be sure to visit one of the port houses! An absolute must.


Some years ago it was the hype to start a B & B, preferably abroad. Today the trend is continuing. Even tourists and business people now find their way to the B & B or other small-scale accommodation. These accommodations are often preferred by holidaymakers for its personal atmosphere. After three years, we see that more and more guests prefer the small-scale accommodation than a large hotel or holiday parks.

Experience of guests

New small-scale accommodation and parks provide a positive experience. For those who visit a B & B or small holiday park for the first time, it appears to be a surprise. The small scale, the service, hospitality and personal attention are all aspects that they did not count on. In the larger hotels or parks they usually miss it. There often must be paid for the extras which in turn makes it less attractive prices. In small-scale accommodation this is done as a matter of a normal course. Not at least because the owners themselves are also available and easily accessible.

Experience of business people

For two years also businessmen choose frequently for B & B. Certainly an important role for them is the small scale . In the breakfast room of the hotel they are often a little lost with their laptop or IPad. The B & B is the return of the business appointment time for a conversation with the other guests or owners. Sit down at the dinner also, which is more fun than in a restaurant using a meal. There is internet access you can also work. Either in the room, on the terrace or in the common room.

Many accommodations, a lot of competition?

Only in our region of Central Portugal there are more than 900 accommodations. A variation include hotels, residences, apartments and B & Bs. In Emigreermagazine of July 2012 there was an article on Women and Business in Portugal with myself and colleagues Margaret Mertens of B & B Quinta Verde and Iris Franken of Casas Fruta. During this interview, we concluded already that each attracts its own audience. Every holiday has its own preference, but small-scale plays an important role. There is nothing wrong with All Inclusive packages but not for everyone it is a suitable accommodation. Often we encounter guests who have chosen previously for All Inclusive. Now the children are greater or or not joining , they rather opt for small, quiet and comfort.


Today, the Internet is not indispensable. Both youth and adults want internet on holiday address. When selecting the accommodation will be checked not only on the location but also the presence of internet and a swimming pool. The internet for free so in morning guest could read the news headlines for they go off.

If you want to try it yourself, you are welcome at B & B Casa Ceedina or at one of my colleagues here in Portugal.

Portugal was recently again in the news as a top holiday destination

For those who prefer this year a cheaper holiday in conjunction with quality, comes to Portugal. Here you not only find the most beautiful beaches, but also very hospitable people.

A recent World Economic Forum report, released by the International Travel & Tourism Competitiveness, shows that Portugal is one of the 10 most hospitable countries. Portugal got the 7th place in the ranking. The attitude of the Portuguese population to the foreign tourist appears very friendly. Something we often hear from our guests and experienced ourselves as a resident of Portugal. When newcomers find their way to our B&B, there is always a Portuguese fellow villager who knows where the Casa of the ‘Holandaises’ is. Even when our guests in the evening had dinner and want to take a taxi. Without saying anything, they can take a seat and the cab driver knows unerringly that its clients are the guests of Casa Ceedina.

Add to the welcoming also that four of the five top destinations of Portugal are in "our area, central Portugal “ and your holiday is made. Nazaré, São Martinho do Porto, Ericeira and Sintra are all well worth visiting. In particular, the resorts Nazaré and São Martinho do Porto are very popular with our guests.

Sao Martinho do Porto

Lovely to relax or have a nice walk down to the lighthouse for a magnificent view over the Atlantic Ocean or the bay. Also recommended to go surfing , sailing or canoeing. In the nice restaurants along the promenade you eat tasty a fish.


In the weekends and holidays the Portuguese also like to go their selves to Nazaré. The beaches are long, wide and clean, so a quiet spot is easily found. Eating a fish at the fish-drying place, go with the funicular to the upper town O Sitio or stroll along the boulevard. In Nazaré authentic and modernization goes hand in hand with each other to offer you as a tourist a pleasant time.


Nature lovers travel to the mountains of Sintra which is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Visit the palaces that served previously as a retreat for the rich. Sintra has because it is surrounded by forest a really special atmosphere. 

In a previous blog I wrote about a new place that we discovered, but there is still more to discover.

Situated between Torres Novas and Abrantes there is the castle of Almourol, or as the Portuguese saying Castelo de Almourol. It seems to be a fairy tale castle located on an island in the Tagus. The island itself would not be more than a large boulder. Accessible by ferry or on foot when the water is low. Who wants to see the castle inside, choose the ferry because without any ticket no entrance.

According to the story the castle was built in 1171 by Gualdim Pais, the first Grand Master of the Knights Templars in Portugal. Conquerors have never been able to penetrate it, because the Templars knew that a round tower was better to defend than a square tower. The castle is surrounded by nine towers and ramparts. Tomar was the later headquarters of the Knights Templar in Portugal. Still, the round towers of castles from the period after 1100 are a sign of recognition that this is a building of the Knights Templars.

About Almourol castle seems to exist a beautiful knight novel Palmeirim the Inglaterra which tells the story of knights and giants and fights of the crusader Palmeirim for Princess Polinarda. And in the castle would still haunt the ghost of a princess, yearning for the love of her Moorish slave.

This spring we will certainly go. The prince on the white horse I already have, but princess for a day seems to me quite nice.

In addition to all culture and beautiful beaches, Central Portugal appears to be a paradise for cyclists

Sister Marian and brother Frans explored this year the area by bike. Of course you need a bit of condition and the right equipment to do fine in this hilly area. As they  say: "A good decision because with a full breakfast there is enough energy to start the journey with confidence." They are experienced bikers, several times they cycled from the Netherlands to southern France, and Germany to Prague. Say, the sports branch of the family.

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