12 wishes

Sunset-at-Penha-Longa

A thin line separates the year that was from the year that will be. In Portugal, we prepare for the magical moment when time crosses this line with 12 raisins in our hand. With each of the 12 clock strokes, we eat a raisin and make a silent wish.

This year we’ll save a raisin for you, dear reader, to wish that you’ll come experience the radiant beauty of Portugal.

Happy New Year!

Sea dance

DCIM103GOPRO Like a child who can’t wait, the sea brought its gifts today. It asked the clouds to dress in white, lavender and yellow. It convinced the sun to warm up the salty air. And then the waves danced. Arabesques of water, pirouettes of foam. We wish you were here to share in the indescribable beauty of the Portuguese sea.

Making love last

Mangerico

In Portugal, June is devoted to celebrating the popular saints. In Lisbon we celebrate Santo António on the 13th, in Oporto São João on the 24th, and in Sintra São Pedro on the 29th.

There is an old custom of writing a verse and offering it with a “manjerico” (a pot of miniature basil) to our loved one. According to tradition, if we smell the manjerico with our nose, it dies quickly. We should instead pat it gently with our hand and smell the hand. Then, the manjerico will last and, presumably, so will our love.

The art of seeing

Pedras na praia

We can be artists without drawing, painting, dancing or playing music. All we need is to see the world with child-like wonder. Here’s how Lourdes de Castro, a great Portuguese artist, demonstrates the art of seeing:

“When the tide is low, I hear the sound of the waves pouring over the stones, rolling them day and night, for years, centuries until pieces of basalt become smooth. A pebble is a work of art!”

Portugal’s landscape is an immense canvas inviting you to become an artist. Come and see!

A romantic proposal

AB 2013_382- Casa do Gato Cinzento

Perhaps you found your true love and would like to propose in a romantic, unforgettable way. If, after watching numerous black-and-white movies you still have no ideas, we have a suggestion.

Invite your loved one for a weekend in Lisbon. Without revealing your intentions, drive to the location in the photo in the end of the afternoon, an hour or two before sunset. Take a bouquet of flowers tied with a ribbon that has two pieces of lead (one to use and the other to keep as a memento). Each piece of lead should have your two initials carved.

Find the perfect moment to say: “When ancient Greeks made eternal vows, they threw a piece of lead in the ocean and promised to keep their vows until the lead floated. I want to do the same; I’ll love you until this lead floats.” Throw one of the pieces of lead in the ocean with a dramatic gesture. Take some beautiful photos and celebrate with some great Portuguese espumante.

The gazebo in the photo is part of the Casa do Gato Cinzento estate, located between the Consolação and the São Bernardino beach. It is private property, so please ask the caretaker permission to let you in. 

Writing your story

A do Mar_147F

Peter Mayle, a British advertising executive, moved in the 1980s to Ménerbes, a tiny village in Provence. There, he wrote “A Year in Provence,” an entertaining account of his experiences that became a global bestseller.

Frances Mayes, an American writer, moved in the 1990s to the Tuscan country side to renovate Bramasole, an old villa. She told her story in the inspiring, bestselling “Under the Tuscan Sun.”

The success of these writers reflects their ability to put the reader on location, feeling the thrill of living in a place where every day is a new adventure.

There are currently so many Portuguese houses in great locations selling at very affordable prices. These beautiful homes are waiting for the right person to come along and make them part of their story. Hurry up!