Meet my new travel buddy

didi1She’ll be 10 months old this Sunday and she’s teething really badly right now. Didi likes tickles, going to the beach and staring at people in restaurants. Me, I’m the breastfeeding, babywearer, BLW (Baby Led Weaning) kind of mom. In future posts she’ll show up on occasion, so expect some tips here and there about travelling in Portugal with babies. Spoiler alert: there’s always someone trying to pinch your baby’s cheeks!


An upside down map, baby? Well, you’re still learning, I suppose…

Didi (almost) turned my life upside down and that is why the blog has seen less activity – but the blog’s Instagram is actually more active. She has already travelled a bit but I can’t wait to take her on some more serious and fun exploration… And sharing it with you!

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A change in perspective?

View of the river Douro, waaaaay up in the north of the country, in Miranda do Douro. Portugal to the left, Spain to the right of the picture

View of the river Douro, waaaaay up in the north of the country, in Miranda do Douro. Portugal to the left, Spain to the right of the picture

As you may (or may not) know, Portugal has a new President. Just to give you some context, in Portugal, Presidents are not the ones who actually rule (that’s for Prime-Ministers). They act like diplomats, in a way, and can veto laws from the Government.

This post is not meant to be about politics and I’d like to stress that I have no political affiliation and it is not my intention to give Beyond Lisbon a political colour of any kind. Still, I couldn’t help but be surprised when checking the news this morning and coming across a sentence, which the new President recently said (sorry, it’s in Portuguese), regarding the presidential ceremonies that will take place in Porto: “Because Portugal is more than Lisbon” (“Porque Portugal é mais do que Lisboa”). Now… that has always been my motto, Mr. President! 😀

headerHonestly, I hope this type of action, coming from the President, will help pave the way for a change in perspective regarding the way people (both in Portugal and abroad) look at the country.


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Snapshots of Nazaré (and a revelation!)


View from the lighthouse at the Fort of St Michael Archangel.

Nazaré is one of those places that has its own mystique, legends, folk lore and, in more recent decades, tourists and surfers.
In the late 1940’s Nazaré attracted the attention of a then-young photographer called… Stanley Kubrick! He captured bits and pieces of the lives of the people of Nazaré (fishermen and their families, mostly) with their somewhat “exotic” hats and clothes, squinting in the sun and smiling – sometimes.

nazaré4Life by the sea can certainly be hard, particularly when you’re facing giant waves in tiny boats. Ever heard of the “Nazaré canyon“? Probably not, but that’s the phenomenon which caused the famous 100 foot (30 meters) wave surfed by McNamara in 2013, in Praia do Norte.


Even in Praia do Norte the sea can sometimes be flat – like on this day! Just my luck!

Traditionally, the women of Nazaré wore not one, not two… but seven skirts! Why? Well, there are several theories, but no certainties. Some people say it has to do with the magic usually associated with the number 7 (and, particularly, with the seven waves, since they used to spend a good part of their day near the sea); others claim it was simply because the women used those skirts to cover both their heads and ther legs while they sat in the sand, waiting for the men to come from the day’s fishing activities. Contrary to what some people might think, yes, it does get cold in Portugal and, yes, we have fog, cold drizzle and wind, even on the beach! 😉


And if you think that Nazaré sounds reaaaaally similar to Nazareth… well, that’s connected to the legend of Nazaré!


Remember the lighthouse from the first photo? It’s that tiny spot on the left.

There’s a giveaway taking place right now on the blog’s Facebook page. It’s your chance of getting a box full of Portuguese goodies – for free! 😉

P.S.: If you follow the blog you may have noticed that I haven’t posted so often lately. No, I haven’t given up on the blog or the site. It’s just that I have… let’s call it “a new project in the making”! 🙂

coming soon

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Categories: Legends, Nature, People, Places | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Portugal in a box


Can you put Portugal in a box? The Portuguese company My Own Portugal proves it can be done!

How does it work? Very simple: each month there’s a new box with a different theme. Inside the box you’ll find several Portuguese products, a postcard and a guide – all related to that month’s theme.

I got this box full of goodies dedicated to their September theme: Portuguese libraries. Inside the box there was a craft beer, a chocolate bar, a savory jam, biscuits, a notebook, a pencil, a guide to Portuguese libraries, a postcard and several discounts for bookshops. So, for this post I’ll suggest Portuguese writers to go with these products – a kind of food pairing, but with authors. 😉


Starting with the biscuits I’ll suggest the poems by Florbela Espanca, who lived between the late 19th century and early 20th century. Her poems aren’t what I would call “sweet”, but rather melancholy. Feeling like curling up with a book on a grey Autumn afternoon? Prepare you favourite cup of tea, grab some of these biscuits (shaped like letters, did you see that?) and lose yourself in Florbela Espanca’s poetry.


Moving on, we have my favourite Portuguese writer: Fernando Pessoa. I could have a whole blog dedicated to him and it probably wouldn’t be enough. Here we have a milk chocolate bar with a reproduction of a famous photo of him and a quote, which reads: “Because I’m the size of what I see and not the size of my height”. Fernando Pessoa was an incredibly prolific writer who had dozens of different personas, all of which with independent characters and types of writing. Several of his works are translated into English, so do get to read them if you can!


Next we have another prolific writer and a big name from 19th century Portuguese literature: Camilo Castelo Branco. This red pepper and chili savory jam bears the name of that which is, probably, his most famous work. Amor de Perdição is a tragic love story involving 3 people, two rival families and plenty of autobiographical details. If you’re into literature you might find it interesting that, although this work falls, mostly, into the Romanticism category, it already has a few characteristics from literary Realism.


Last but not least in our list of authors for this post we have a Nobel prize winner: José Saramago. He stirred a lot of strong feelings and opinions throughout his literary career – most people either love him or hate him. So, for a strong craft beer like this an equally strong writer is just the right match! Pictured here is my autographed copy from Saramago’s O Evangelho Segundo Jesus Cristo (The Gospel According to Jesus Christ).


In case you want to start your own book (or just write down a few thoughts) there’s also a cute little notebook. This pencil with multiplication tables is a classic item from the Portuguese school materials from decades ago (rarely used today, but I think I probably had at least one pencil like this – until my teacher found out, of course).


Enjoy! 🙂

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Some may call it a love story


I prefer to call it a horror story.

Today I bring you a legend with much historical truth to it – a story of love… beyond the grave!

It was the year of 1340 in the kingdom of Portugal. The young prince, Pedro, heir to the throne, was about to be married to Constança of Castille. There was no love between them, for love was never a matter of importance in marriages between noble families.

Along with Constança came her ladies-in-waiting, all of them fair young ladies. Much fairer, it seems, than the bride. But among them one stood out for her beauty. To the prince’s eyes Inês de Castro was the fairest of them all.

The young lady’s parents were members of both the Portuguese and Galician nobilities, but she was not a princess – she could never be a queen!P&I5

The love between Pedro and Inês grew stronger everyday and it was rapidly becoming obvious to everyone in the court that the prince was neglecting his wife, Constança.

The prince’s father, king Afonso IV of Portugal, was afraid of what this love might mean to the delicate diplomatic relations between Portugal and the kingdom of Castille. Not only was Pedro madly in love with Inês, but her brothers were close friends to the prince as well. Aware that kings often had mistresses, Afonso thought his son would eventually grow tired of Inês.

The years passed and in 1345 Constança dies after giving birth to a son. Despite his father’s pleas Pedro refuses to marry any woman other than Inês. Dark shadows were cast over the court and the kingdom was in turmoil.

The prince’s legitimate son was a fragile infant, whereas the children he had with Inês were healthy and happy. Rumours were everywhere in the court: Inês was a witch and her family was planning to murder Constança’s baby so that her own son could ascend to the throne. The king decides to banish Inês from the court, but Pedro remains in love with her, despite the distance.


In 1355, after numerous attempts to keep them apart, Afonso IV decides to get rid of Inês de Castro once and for all. He has two of his counselours speak to Pedro and tell him that the king, his father, would allow his marriage to Inês. But the prince realised this was a trap and replied he would never marry Inês de Castro.

Three men, hired by the king to kill Inês, find her in Coimbra and kill her in front of her youngest child. Pedro, it is said, became half mad at the news of her execution – but he would have his revenge, even if it meant waiting several years.

The prince became the new king of Portugal in 1357 and later, in 1360, he publicly stated that he had secretly married Inês in 1354, although he couldn’t remember the exact day. By doing this their children would no longer be illegitimate and Inês would be queen…


In 1361 two of her killers were found and brought to the king’s presence. The king claimed that they had taken his heart from him and so he would do the same to them. They were both publicly executed and, legend has it, their hearts were ripped from their ribcages… by the king himself.

But the king’s revenge was not over yet. He wanted vengeance from everyone who surrounded him, everyone who had stood against his love for Inês.

Legend has it that Pedro ordered the exhumation of her corpse and had it dressed in the best possible clothes, as would be fit for a queen. The corpse, which had been in its grave for years, was placed on the throne and every member of the court was forced to bow down and kiss the hand of Inês de Castro, swearing allegiance to the new queen – a corpse queen.

Pedro and Inês are still together and still apart to this very day. You can visit their stone tombs in the Monastery of Alcobaça where they are opposite each other. On Judgement day, when the angels sound their trumpets, Pedro and Inês can look at each other’s eyes again as they rise from their stone cold tombs.P&I6


Today’s post, although it does fit the day and the purpose of the blog, was written by special request – this one’s for you, Sofia! 😉 Happy Halloween!

Enjoy! 🙂

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Portuguese trivia (IX)

igreja Guimarães

Remember our buddy Afonso Henriques, Portugal’s first king?

Well, legend has it that this is the church where he was baptised as a baby. It may not look grand, but hey, it was the Middle Ages and he was the son of a count (well, actually, maybe he wasn’t).

This church, near the castle of Guimarães, is dedicated to Saint Michael and, in fact, it was probably built after the birth of Afonso Henriques (there may have been a previous temple at the place).

Most, if not all, countries have a mix of truth and legend concerning their history and, as you  may have guessed, Portugal is no exception.

Despite all the mystery this chapel represents a nice bridge between the Romanesque and Gothic types of architecture and, let’s face it, who doesn’t like a good legend?

Enjoy! 🙂

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Meet the countess


Source: Wikipedia

A long, long time ago, before there was a country called Portugal, in the 10th century, there lived a noble woman called Mumadona Dias. Her parents were counts and she married… well, a count.

Not many details are known about her life. However, it was after her husband’s death that Mumadona became a relatively well-known figure and, in fact, the most powerful woman of the time in the North West of the Iberian Peninsula.

How did she manage that? Very simple: after the death of her husband she refused to marry again, becoming the owner of lands which included a big chunk of what is today the North of Portugal and which extended all the way down to modern-day Coimbra. This would prove crucial to the definition of what would later become the kingdom of Portugal.

Among the many things she did during her administration the most notorious was, probably, ordering the construction of the castle of Guimarães to protect the population from Viking raids (yes, there were Viking raids along our coast). This same castle would, also, be fundamental in the foundation of the country.


This statue can be found in Guimarães, city which the countess founded.

Enjoy!  🙂

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All hail the king!

afonso henriques 1

Meet Portugal’s first king: Afonso Henriques.

I’ve mentioned him before on the blog but I had never really gotten into a lot of detal about him – and today will not be that day, either! Why? because there’s so much I could tell you about him, a mix of fact and legend, that it would take several posts to do it.

You can easily look up information about him but, in a nutshell, we’re talking about a man who defied/ignored a lot of feudal rules (we’re talking 12th century Europe, here!) before and after becoming king. Just for starters he proclaimed himself king – at a time when Christian kingdoms needed the Pope’s approval for everything!

There’s not much certainty about the time and place of his birth and, actually, one of my favourite legends surrounding him concerns his birth, altough it is not one of the most well-known stories about Afonso Henriques.

afonso henriques 2

Statue of Afonso Henriques in front of the castle, in Guimarães.

Legend has it that when the countess (Afonso’s mother) was pregnant a noble man, by the name of Egas Moniz, offered to raise the child. The baby was born with a problem in his legs, which meant he would probably never be able to ride a horse – troublesome if you happened to be a count’s son! So Egas Moniz prayed to the Virgin Mary and left the child for a whole night on an altar. When the morning came, lo and behold, the baby’s legs were normal! Some people choose the believe there was a miracle involved, while others prefer to think that Egas Moniz swaped the count’s baby for another – possibly his own son.

What’s your favourite explanation for this legend? 😉

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Random photo of the week

sra da boa estrela1'

Way up in Serra da Estrela you can find this sculpture of the Lady of the Good Star, aka, Senhora da Boa Estrela. Carved into the mountain rock it depicts the patron saint of shepherds and it was created in 1946.

As is the case with so many other similar religious monuments there’s a miracle associated with it. In this case, legend has it that a shepherd was lost during a snow storm and that the Lady of the Good Star showed him the way to go back home safely.

Even if you’re not the religious type (like me) you have to admit that it looks impressive. After I saw a photo of the sculptor (António Duarte) working on this 7m tall image I was even more impressed.


“Safety helmet? Ropes? I’m the badass of big sculptures! Oh, and I wear glasses…” Photo taken from

Here’s a final photo from a different perspective. Enjoy!

sra da boa estrela2



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Portuguese trivia (VIII)

st antónioI know what you’re thinking: What does a religious fresco have to do with this blog?

Well, a few things.

The fresco above (in the Capuchos monastery in Sintra, of which I’ll speak about in another post) depicts Saint Anthony holding baby Jesus, a very common theme in Catholic art. You might remember I mentioned him on my previous post and now I’m dedicating a post to him – for a good reason. Saint Anthony is one of the most beloved saints in Portugal and I believe that understanding the reasons behind that help in understanding a thing or two about Portuguese culture.

First of all, he is believed to have been born Fernando Martins de Bulhões in Lisbon, on August 15th 1195, although there are no data from the time to determine that for sure. Half of the Catholic world knows him as St Anthony of Padua (because the died there), but over here people call him St Anthony of Lisbon or, simply, St Anthony.

He is celebrated in Portugal on June 13th (remember the most wonderful time of the year?) on what is one of the religious festivities with more mundane aspects to it. Today, celebrating St Anthony’s is more like a huge party outdoors than a religious celebration. He is a beloved character in Portuguese lore, regardless of religious cult.

In his lifetime, the young Franciscan became well known for his culture and his preaching abilities. There are many legends around him and the miracles he performed. In Portugal and Brazil he is the saint people call upon to help in finding something or someone who is lost but, probably more than anything, he is seen as a saint who helps single girls get married. This tradition is so strong that still today, in Lisbon, every year there are the “Saint Anthony’s marriages” in which young couples with monetary needs apply to, simply put, have their wedding paid for by the Lisbon City Hall. This first took place from 1957 to 1974, when getting married “by the book” was more important than it is today, and the concept was developed by a newspaper of the time. In 1997 the Lisbon City Hall brought the idea back to life and adapted it to modern times.

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