Central Portugal – Off the Tourist Trail


Fabulous Frango …..

Barbecued piripiri chicken is one of my favourite meals to eat when I go to a local restaurant, but I have never tried cooking it myself.
That changed yesterday. I made it on my little BBQ last night, and it was delicious.

When I bought my BBQ about 5 years ago, it came with a strange metal contraption. I had no idea of its use, and so I put it in the shed. One day in conversation I learned it was for cooking whole chickens in, and so when I spotted chickens prepared for cooking on a BBQ the other day ( they look like they have been run over by a lorry), I thought I would give it a go.

trees and bbq chicken 009

I coated the flattened carcass with piripiri, trapped it in the metal contraption, set it over the hot coals, and turned it around until it looked cooked .

It was so easy, and YUMMY !!

My neighbours also like chicken. It is not something they eat often, but when they do, I am sure that their home reared chicken tastes better than my shop bought one, however they cook it.

They look after their chickens well. They feed them on corn they grow, and let them run around the village. They seem to have a good life, and lay a lot of eggs ( they often bring me some when they have too many ).

Julia preparing chicken for sunday lunch

When the time comes, a bird is killed, plucked, cooked and eaten. There is no sentimentality involved. It is just the way of life here.

Although I could not do that myself, I accept that they can, and do.

As for the frango de churrasco ( bbq chicken), I will be making it more often.

The village dog will be happy !

waiting for scraps

waiting for scraps


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Gois Choir

Gois Choir

After enjoying the first day, I decided to pop down on Saturday and Sunday too. There were various art events on over the 2 days, from artists in the park, poetry, talks about artists, to bands, choirs and fireworks.

One of the highlights, on Saturday evening, was a performing arts extravaganza, held in the towns newly built Cultural centre.
It was a great night, with dance, drama, the Gois choir, a comedy duo, and 2 concert bands; one from Figuera De Foz and the other the Gois- Varzea Band.
The place was packed to the gills, and it was lovely to see so many people, of all ages, enjoying the opening night of the cultural centre.

Another highlight for me was on the Sunday evening. A group called Real Companhia were playing in the park, next to the river beach. I had seen the stage being built a few days before, but had no idea what sort of music they played.
It turned out to be better than I could have hoped.

The musicians played guitar,accordion, drums, mandolin, violin, and keyboards, and the music was a sort of Portuguese / Celtic/ Fado mix. As a big fan of Irish music I really enjoyed it.
A female vocalist called Ana Lains, a Portuguese Fado singer joined them for the night.

If you want to hear the sort of music click on the link

This was followed by a wonderful firework display at midnight, to end the 3 days.

Gois Oroso Arte 2013 was a real treat, and I am already looking forward to next years event !

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The last few weeks have been pretty busy. My mum and dad have been here on holiday, and so most days we have been out and about, visiting villages, river beaches, and cafes, and I have hardly had time to switch on my laptop.
The day after they left I checked my e mails, and had a lovely surprise; a friend had sent me information about a 3 day Art event in Gois, starting that day .

Gois and a town in Galicia called Oroso have joined together every year since 1996 to hold an art/design festival.
It kicked off in Gois on Friday, with animation and music in the streets and the opening of an art exhibition, and later in the evening was an event called Aldeias historicas – Historic villages. So I grabbed my camera and headed to town.


The voluntary  fire brigade band  with  giant puppets

The voluntary fire brigade band with giant puppets

I missed the opening speeches and presentations , but got there in time to see 4 giant puppets and the band from the fire brigade, making its way to the towns gallery space.

The art exhibition was bigger and better than I was expecting. The gallery space is really nice for such a small town, and it was great to see it in use. It was packed with both the artists and visitors, and there was a variety of works on display .




The final event of day one, “Aldeias Historicas” turned out to be a fashion show, and was a real surprise . It was brilliant. The lighting, sound, and location made it really atmospheric, and I loved the clothes, which were inspired by old buildings and churches around Central Portugal. They were 100% Portuguese, as the wool comes from the Sierra Estrella (a mountain range about 80 kms from here) and they are designed and made by a very talented man, Miguel Gigante, from Central Portugal



Here is a link to give you a brief glimpse of his work. http://vimeo.com/61051351

So that was day 1 .
In my next post I will share some more highlights from this week-end.

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Unofficial tour guide

Last week I drove to Porto airport to pick up mum and dad, who were coming out for a holiday. We spent a couple of days sight-seeing in Porto, before heading back to Central Portugal, and I found an apartment just off Praca Batalha, which was handy for shops,bars, cafes, and the market at Bolhao. The only down side was it was a bit noisy at night, as it was above a bar, but that did not bother my parents, whose hearing is not as good as it was, and I bought some ear plugs.

However to walk anywhere off the main shopping street of Rua Santa Catarina meant steep hills, and so sight-seeing by foot and public transport was not possible.

So after a wander up and down the high street, and a few stops for tea and cakes, we bought a ticket on one of the sight-seeing buses.

There was the Red, Blue or Yellow bus companies, which were all similar in price, and itinerary, and all picked up in Praca Batalha.
We chose the historical sites and river Douro tour on the Yellow bus. For 12 euros it was possible to hop on and off along the route as much as you liked,or stay on for the round tour, which we did.

The double-decker bus was open-topped, with a covered front section. We had seats at the very front, and in the shade, which I was happy about as it was about 38 degrees in the sun !
We were given ear phones, to listen to the commentary, but they were a bit fiddly for my parents, so I relayed the information whist they took in the views.
Although I am more of an independent tourist, the bus tour was a perfect way for my parents.
It is a cheap and easy way to travel around the city, and I would recommend it if you have a limited time to see Porto, can’t/ don’t like walking, or are bad at reading maps and metro/ bus timetables.
Using the hop on and off option, It is possible to see and do a lot in one or two days.
Here are some snaps I took from our bus.

If we had another day,I would have bought a two-day ticket for 15€ and hopped off at one of the Port lodges, for a tipple.
Maybe next year !