Day: November 27, 2013
A Week in Ferragudo, the Highlights
> Our thirst for a small city
Our entire family was tired of the big city. We had been to the largest cities in Portugal; Porto, Braga, Coimbra, and Lisbon. We needed a break, and Ferragudo gave us just that. Ferragudo is a tiny town across the river from a big city. The entire town consists of country farms and a small main street with a playground and creek in the middle. This place was about a quarter the size of Morro Bay but had the same feel; very local. Overall, we loved it.
> Our flat
The flat is one of our favorites, it was up there with the Porto apartment. The farmhouse is centered in the thirty acres of land surrounding us and is made up of two buildings, the house and the barn. The three rentals are all part of one two story farmhouse, where across the way, a pool and yard accompanied by a barn lie.
Inside, the place is furnished with a modern styled furniture and cement floors, and the upstairs consists of only the two bedrooms and the one bathroom. The enormous stretch of land used to be a fig and almond orchard and even though it had been 100 years since the farm had been active, a few of the almond trees were still around. This gave Edie and me a fun activity. Throughout the entire week, we collected, shelled, and roasted the almonds, and let me tell you, they were delicious! Anyways, The thirty acres of land was connected to the city by a half mile dirt road leading to the town, and, as I learned, make fantastic running trails.
> The beaches
Twice on our trip have we frolicked in the Portuguese waves, but the waves are not the only highlight of the beaches here. The beaches are beautiful colors of gold and turquoise with cliffs twenty meters high looming above us.
In our second visit though, I don’t know that I should have been frolicking, because when my sister, my dad and I had been playing tag, a huge wave had taken me by surprise and had swept me off of my feet. Before I knew it, I was face planted in the sand and I was soaked with unwanted water.
There are many delicious restaurants in ferragudo, but two I would like to point out; the first, a small creperie to the direct right of the playground and creek on the main drag, and the second, a uniquely flavored world café called Tempo Bistro. The creperie is owned by a very friendly man who makes the flat pancakes right in front of your eyes on the crepe griddle. Tempo Bistro, a café right at the end of our dirt road, has a unique flavor that my family thought was delicious. The chicken satay was especially good, and goes well with a seven layer cake (I forget the name, something like spekuk).
This little town has been our favorite stay throughout our trip so far, but we still have a long way to go.
A Brief History of Portugal
Humans have been living in Portugal since before 30,000 B.C.E. but calling all the locals who thrived here Portuguese would be incorrect. Many different tribes, kingdoms, and empires have ruled over this coastal area throughout its history.
The Roman empire was the first rule to reach Portuguese ground. They invaded the southern peninsula in 310 B.C.E. and ruled over the first natives. This rule lasted until the early 5th century.
The first well civilized communities came from northern Africa in 710. The Moors conquered Southern Portugal and ruled it for centuries. Northern Portugal was often rebellious and the Moors never fully conquered it permanently. Eventually, in 1139, the rebels defeated the Moors and established a Monarchy with Dom Alfonso Henriques as king. From this time, over the next half century, Portugal became an extremely wealthy and powerful country because of their location of the prime ports of Lisbon and Porto. Their wealth allowed them to sail and conquer parts of western Africa, portions of western India, and parts South America (which would soon become Brazil).
In the mid 18th century, Lisbon suffered from an enormous earthquake that killed thousands of citizens and decimated half the city. This earthquake also destroyed many documents confirming voyages and conquests. Some theories suggest that the Portuguese may have discovered America before Columbus.
In the 19th century, the Industrial Age hit Portugal, causing them to quickly become a much poorer country. This is because Portugal’s prime income was of the oceanic trade. The switch from Ocean trade to countries making their own previously internationally traded products caused an enormous drop in income to the Portuguese government. Since then, Portugal has continued to stay as one of the poorest countries in Europe until this day.