Sometimes you arrive at a place and you straightaway feel that this is a spot where you would like to stay for longer. A few weeks ago Jim and I decided to rent a place for a while and enjoy a little more space than our van has to offer. We chose a house on a quinta in central Portugal, away from any city or even a village. The pictures on AirBnB looked promising, the reviews were positive, and it was good value for money.
So, after months of touring through the Algarve, we drove north to a region we hadn’t been to before, except for passing through on our way to Cascais last November. And we were happily surprised. The region is much less visited by tourists it seems, and it was good to finally not to be surrounded by a load of huge motorhomes and snowbirds. There are beautiful spots to go for walks. It’s home to Portugal’s highest mountain range, the Serra da Estrela, where you can ski in the winter and go for hikes. There are a lot of characteristic villages here too, worthwhile visiting. Mainly the regions is filled with trees, farms, magnificent old olive trees, huge granite stones and Neolithic tombs. All very interesting, and a pleasure for the eye.
The little house were we stayed was even more comfortable than we had expected, and surrounded by lots of green, flowering trees and birds. And we both felt at ease as soon as we arrived, and got along well with the owners, Peter and Ute, who take good care of their land. We had wonderful weather for the week we had planned to stay, then saw that the forecast predicted a cold and rainy spell, and we quickly decided to stay longer than planned. And slowly the idea to come back came up.
One of the plans we set out with when we started this trip was to work on one or more farms. So far we haven’t yet found a place. It’s not difficult to find a place where they’re looking for volunteers, it is difficult to find a place where we both want to be and will also have time to work and write. Especially since we don’t have experience and were looking for places where we could stay for a short period. And then some of the descriptions of potential places just don’t work for me: free love; spirituality; alcohol, drugs and radiation free zones; no internet; or they sounded either too alternative or dogmatic. I just don’t see Jim and me fitting in to such places. And with some regret, I had almost given up on the idea.
But now it seems like we have finally found a place. While Peter and Ute gave us a tour of their farm, we both got enthusiastic, and decided to discuss the possibility of coming back and staying for longer, help with some of the work that needs to be done while getting a chance to learn and find out whether we would like this kind of life as much as we think we would. So after a few months in the Netherlands and Scotland this summer, we’ll return to Portugal in mid-September.
It’s been a while since we knew what we were going to do or where we would be in six months time. And I hadn’t expected that we would go back to a place so soon. Will this be the end of our period of wandering around? Will we be, as Ute called us, after we extended our stay for a second time to avoid traveling in heavy rain, the people who never leave. We don’t know yet. But we do look forward to a longer stay on the land of seven wells. If you have the chance, you’d be welcome to visit us. It’s just a two-hour drive from Porto, or 3-4 hours in the train from Porto or Lisbon.