DESTINATIONThrough well seasoned paths we discover pieces of history at every step
This month you'll discover…
The Route of Portugal
The sun emerges, the temperature rises and Portugal becomes a garden next to the Atlantic. A garden that inspires poets and musicians. A garden that fills the fields with life and colour.
As it was impossible to highlight all the flowers that enrich Portugal, we focused on three: the almond flowers, the flowers of cherry trees and the wild orchids.
We travel to the surroundings of Vila Nova de Foz Côa and get entangled on its snaky roads between the almond trees in bloom, a place known for having one of the country's largest almond extensions.
Stunning views were what awaited us in Resende and Fundão with its slopes full of cherry blossoms.
At the mountain of Aire and Candeeiros, we looked the beautiful and elusive wild orchids. This mountain gave us the best landscape we ever seen so far, while it hid, the small and elusive orchids between its vegetation.
Spring is here, in fact. This time we gave the floor to nature, to hiking, to discovery. A sensorial trip through colours and aromas.
But it's not all! From the litters to carry the saints, at the parish festivities to the processions in academic parties exist, in Portugal, a tradition to decorate the parties and festivities with paper or natural flowers. A huge work that takes months to prepare for, often, a one day event. Therefore with this theme we wanted to highlight four parties "in bloom" that will happen through the year of 2015. You should go because, some of them, only happen from four in four years 4 in 4 and other only when the community wishes….
Be enchanted by the flowers in Portugal!
Resende- Route of Cherry Blossoms
Who said its only in Japan that you can enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms? In the same way, in Portugal, between Mach and April, we can enjoy this magnificent flowers that slash the hills of the Douro in white.
Resende (and it's surrounding area) he is, therefore, one of the cherry clusters in Portugal. After a quick passage through this place when we visit the Romanesque Route (March 2015), we are delighetd to come back, this time to witness something more... floral.
The voyage, that we take starts at the town of São João de Fontoura, where we found a wonderful slope full of fully bloom trees. We kept going through São Pedro de Paus, Barrô and São Martinho de Mouros, between farming landscapes. In this last town, you can visit the interpretative centre of the cherry, (if you book first) that is located at the old building of the primary school on the village of Vila Verde.
If you have any time left go see the monuments of the Romanesque Route on this town. As for us, we'll be back when the cherries are ready to eat!
Booking for the Interpretative Centre of Cherries: Phone. 254 877 200 E-mail. email@example.com
Vila Nova de Foz Coa – Route of the Almond in Blossom
The beauty of the almond trees in blossom took us to the town of Vila Nova de Foz Côa and the surrounding area. Every year this phenomenon is marked with festivities that rise the spirits of the population and take them to visit this trees. The almond trees are one of the main sources of income of the region for they are highly regarded.
You can start at the town centre, at the tourism information shop or on one of the traditional shops that exist at the old part of town, and from there go towards Freixo de Numão to see the first orchards. Next go to Murça and on the way enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding fields. All you'll your eyes can see is a blanket of white flowers.
We can't get tired of the beauty that folds out before us so we decided to enter the curvy paths to Torre de Moncorvo, passing through Pocinho on the way, first by the road near the river and later through the panoramic route. Through this way you'll see, not only the almond trees in bloom, but also a incredible landscape further down.
This is a region worth visiting, full of tangible and intangible patrimony. If you have the time, end your visit at the Museum of Côa before heading to your next destination.
Tourism Delegation of Vila Nova de Foz Côa:Address: Av. Gago Coutinho e Sacadura Cabral, 5150 Vila Nova de Foz Coa Phone. 279 760 329 E-mail. firstname.lastname@example.org
Fundão- Route of Cherry Blossoms
Fundão is known for the quality and quantity of cherries that produces. However, we were told that cherries just arrived about 200 years ago to our country, brought by the Jesuits coming from Japan.
Two centuries later you can continue to observe the beauty of this tree, their canopies transformed in snowy petals covering the slopes. But, it's not in the city centre that you'll find the cherry trees. You need to step out a little from the urban network to observe these trees in all its splendour.
You'll enjoy the landscape more by walking through the orchards. We start our journey at the headquarters of Gardunha Viva, the Mountaineering Association of Fundão, towards the village of Alcongosta, by dirt paths, asphalt and stones, by ups and downs that are, sometimes, difficult to cope (depending on your strength). It is in this village that starts and ends the hiking cherry route that has a total distance of 9,9 km and it's all correctly market (PR7 FND).
The sense of peace and relaxation involve us as we walk. The landscape changes completely this time of year, with terraces in the hills of Gardunha painted in white. The petals released themselves by the touch of a refreshing breeze like a white rain.
Watch out along the way because you can find various species of birds and wild boar groups.
In Alcongosta it's possible to stop and taste the cherry brandy or cherry tarts or just rest a little in local cafes. It's a small and picturesque town, but it receives, every year, the Cherry party around June.
We passed by isolated houses, until we reached a barren hill. Then we had to go down through the trees clinging to ropes to get to the viewpoint overlooking the city of Fundão and the surrounding cherry tree fields.
The end of our journey was, again, in Fundão. Take the time to explore the town and taste the local cuisine. You will not regret.
Useful information: Hiking Cherry Route PR7 (FND): here
Serra De Aire e Candeeiros – Wild Orchids
This route is not all about fruit trees. Nature in Portugal has many hidden secrets. Wild orchids of Serra d'Aire e Candeeiros are one of them. From the 55 varieties of Wild Orchids existing in Portugal, 25 of them can be found in this mountain, becoming a great place to see them.
We decided to go looking for them using the trails of the hiking route. The bravest can take the 16 km route PR2, from Chãos to Alcobertas, or, like us, take the shorter 4,5 km way, PR4, from Chãos to the cave at the top of the hill.
We begin and end the walk at the cultural centre of Chãos in the middle of huge pine trees. After, just follow the route instructions carefully so you don't get lost. Or, if you have our luck, you can get the company of one of the village dogs that are often near the coffee shop, just before leaving the village. The animal world has these things. The dog did not abandon us and prevented us from getting lost. 4,5 kms with a new furry friend.
As you climb the mountain you will face a ground covered with herbs like rosemary and thyme. It is an intense, fresh scent that drives us to climb through narrow paths. The view becomes more and more beautiful has you climb. The mountains of Montejunto and tertiary Tejo's basin are right in front of your eyes, as well as the villages of Chãos, Casais Monizes and Alcobertas. At the top, near the cave (possible to visit with a guide), there is a support structure where you can rest.
Orchids appear on the way, shyly, in their lilac and white tones. Small bells that sway in the wind. You'll have to takes attention because they are small and can be hidden between the vegetation.
With the wind fans as background, we passed by the pond of Candeeiros. Behind it you may see the town of Benedita and the Atlantic coast between Peniche and Nazaré if the day is clear.
We began the descent back to Chãos (PR4) by narrow paths of loose stones until we reached the Cultural Centre of Chãos again, but we still are not satisfied. Awaits us one last surprise.
We went, by car, to the windmill park of Candeeiros, to get dazzle with the view from the geodesic mark, at a height of 485 m. At our feet rolls out a carpet of thyme and rosemary. Among them, hundreds or thousands of wild orchids shoot out to the sky in search of light. Stay here for a while. If for nothing else, at least close your eyes and let yourself emerge in the charm of Serra d'Aire e Candeeiros.
Useful information: Hiking Route PR2 (RMR) Chãos / Alcobertas: here Hiking Route PR4 (RMR) Chãos / Cave: here Geodesic Mark of Candeeiros GPS: 39º 26’ 10’’ N 8º 54’ 06’ W
Flower Festival in Madeira
During a week, Madeira Island is stage of one of the most emblematic events - the Flower Festival, a show that happens normally in April or May. It's a commemoration to the arrival of Spring and the blooming season, the Flower Festival pays tribute to the special relationship between Madeira habitants and the flowers, in an unique spectacle due to the huge amount of beautiful flowers that fill the streets of downtown Funchal city, with colour and fantasy.
The festivities start with the opening of the Flower Market, at the centre square of the Arriaga Avenue, initiative integrated in the event since 2007 that shows several floral species existing in a traditional and picturesque environment, where the sellers – the “Madeira florists” – are dresses with traditional costumes. The Flower Exhibition, that happens at the city centre, namely at the Restoration square, allow, even nowadays, to the observation of the most beautiful flowers produced in Madeira, being evaluated in several categories by a distinguish and specialized jury.
Thanks to its beauty, from a couple of years until now, the flower carpets are made on the streets, being, like the floral sculptures, a big contribute to the magnificence of the city decorations, whose construction is shared and admired by the tourists. These wonderful flower pieces occupy the central areas of the Arriaga Avenue.
Saturday morning is held the Children Parade, in which hundreds of children, dressed accordingly, walk to the Municipality Square to build there a flower mural, named "Wall of Hope". This initiative, held since three decades ago, associates the children innocence to the delicacy of the flowers and has a goal the appeal to world peace. Each child brings a flower and at the end it will be release several pigeons and will be held a children spectacle.
On Sunday afternoon, downtown streets fills again with music, colour and mild perfumes with a sumptuous parade that bring together several floral species full of creativity. This is the Parade of the Flower, one of the main events, expected by visitors, and population, held since 1979, with many exuberant cars and hundreds of extras dressed with flower motives, mostly children, adorned with many, varied and magnificent flowers, that parade through the streets, at the sound of music, simple, or elaborated.
Picture Credits: Madeira's Tourism
Useful information: Dates: 16 to 22 of April 2015 Website: http://festadaflor.visitmadeira.pt/
Festival of Trays – Tomar
From four in four years, is held in Tomar the traditional Festival of Trays and we are lucky of 2015 to be one of those years.
It's believed that this is one of the most ancient festivities in Portugal, that has roots in the ancient pagan tradition of the festival of the harvests and the celebration of the fertility of Hearth and the goddess Ceres. This parties where then Christianized by Queen Isabel, wife of the King D. Dinis, and today is dedicated to the Holy Spirit.
But the most characteristic trace of this festival is the Parade or Procession of Trays, that represents the 16 towns of the municipality and that goes through the streets of Tomar for 5 km, sided by the blankets that the population hangs at the windows, and the thousands of visitors that come wonder with this profusion of colours.
Traditionally, the tray is carried by a girl dressed in white and must have the same height as her. The tray is decorated with flowers and coloured paper, wheat, 30 breads, with 400gr each, stuffed into rods coming out of a wicker basket surrounded by a white embroidered cloth. The top of the tray has also a crown with the cross of Christ or the dove of the Holy Spirit.
Besides the parade, the Festival has several traditional ceremonies such as the Parade of Crowns, the Parade of Boys, the Parade of Stuarts or the arrival of the bulls of the Holy Spirit, the Partial Parades and the Popular Games. The streets of the historical centre are equally decorated with flowers which give colour and joy to the city.
On the day after the Parade, still remains the tradition of the Pêza which is the sharing of the bread and meat with the population.
Picture Credits: Lisbon Tourism
Useful information: Dates: 4 to 13 of July 2015 Website: www.tabuleiros.org
People's Party – Campo Maior
Some say that "Carnival is wherever men desires", well, the same happens with the Festivities of Campo Maior "it’s when the people desires"! Indeed, these parties don't have a defined schedule, they happen when the people of Campo Maior decide to do it, because they are based in a titanic volunteer work.
In 2015, the people embraced this challenge again and we thank them for it! So, this year, between the days 22 and 30 of August we all head again to Campo Maior, maybe we take the time to visit again the wine cellar Adega Mayor (click Route of the Surprising Wine Cellars) but surely to visit the streets full of flowers.
These festivities define themselves as a spring in the middle of Alentejo's summer, an oasis of colour and fantasy that contrast with the white houses.
Are about 100 streets decorated with paper flowers and other cardboard materials, which represent about 20km of flowers, 30 tons of materials, 7.500 volunteers, months of preparation, much love and dedication.
Campo Maior becomes a huge garden where roses grow from the hands of artists, tulips, wisterias, marigold, all coming from the imagination and creativity of the organization. To the visitors it’s only asked to dazzle and have fun!
Picture Credits: People's Party of Campo Maior
Useful information: Dates: 22 to 30 of August 2015 Website: www.festasdopovo.pt
Flower Streets – Redondo
The tradition of the Flower Streets in this Alentejo's village of Redondo comes from 1838 and it is an event that is held from two in two years, where the population gathers to decorate their streets with thousands of paper coloured flowers.
Each street, in a total of 43, has a different theme that is only revealed on the day the program is presented. This theme depends only of the "creativity of the florist artists" of Redondo, and can go from the kids imaginary, to ethnography or even cinema, the imagination is the limit.
Children and adults all gather around their festivities, that are only possible due to the dedication of the village habitants. Months of hard work, to offer to its visitors, for a full week, a magnificent colour spectacle, dream and fantasy.
This festivities where recognized by one award in 2013 and with other in 2014.
During this event there is also music, theatre, crafts and regional food... you must not miss the opportunity!
Picture Credits: Redondo's Municipality
Useful information: Dates: 1 to 9 of August 2015 Website: www.cm-redondo.pt