Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Portugal - first days - Leiria & Quinta da Lontra

On the 24th of August, after an uneventful 7h flight from Perth to Dubai and then an 11h flight from Dubai to Lisbon we landed in Lisbon 30 min ahead of schedule. 

Because I don't sleep much during flights I spend time watching movies, and on the trip there I watched 7 movies.
I can recommend two of them: "A United Kingdom" an historical romantic drama and the romance "Paris can wait".

Lisbon from the air - Christ statue, 25th April Bridge, Edward VII park


On arrival, we were picked up by my middle sister and niece and headed to Cascais where my sister and my parents live, to join the rest of "United Nations family" already there - my younger sister, brother in law and 2 nephews from South Africa, my niece, husband and baby from San Francisco and my niece from Angola, we had lunch and then spent the afternoon catching up.

My daughter and partner would arrive around dinner time from Amsterdam, and after their arrival we had our first loud and lively family dinner.

The purpose of our visit to Portugal was for the Christening of our grandchild and with a lot of planning we managed to be able to join the whole of my immediate family, plus 2 of my husband's 3 brothers for this special occasion - a grand total of 21 people! 
It really was special as the last time we were all together (minus a few of the new members) was 20 years ago!!

Our son, daughter in law and baby boy had also flown from Perth to Portugal 2 weeks ahead of us and were staying in the center of Portugal with DIL's family.

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The following day the adventure started with the family divided into 3 cars for a 1 1/2 hour car trip to Leiria,  a town about 30km from Fatima - a Catholic pilgrimage site, home to the Sanctuary of Fatima. Here we met up with a group of friends and some cousins for lunch.

The group after lunch in Leiria

After lunch, we got back on the road for another 1 1/2 hours ride to our final destination. 
I was dropped off at a Cafe in Carregal do Sal, a village where we had lived for 10 years before moving to Australia, and where I was meeting up with some lady friends for late afternoon tea. 
The rest of the family drove to Quinta da Lontra - the riverside country estate where I had booked accommodation for 16 of us, so they could check in, unpack and rest.

The ladies meeting in Carregal do Sal - I'm at the back in the center

Tasty desserts for afternoon tea - Chocolate mousse, Rice Pudding and my favourite Sponge cake with runny Serra da Estrela cheese, made from sheep's milk

Quinta da Lontra - (Otter Farm) - this ecological farm is situated in the countryside, 1,5km from Póvoa de Midões on land bordering the Mondego River (which was quite dry due to drought). The farm is accessible via a dirt road and is off-grid, but electrical needs are provided via solar panels.
The English owners, Toby and Nina were very friendly and welcoming. Two dogs and a cat completed the idyllic setting.
Breakfast and dinner is available on request for an extra fee and the owners use their own organic produce or locally sourced produce when possible.

The yurts and domes (top), a bedroom in the dome, the blue house with the top and bottom apartments
The accommodation is made up of a bricks and mortar house with an upper apartment that sleeps 5 and a lower apartment that sleeps 3, both houses have bathrooms. Then scattered thorough the property are a couple of big domes and yurts that sleep 2. Two composting toilets and 2 showers made up the bathroom facilities for the domes and yurts, and were located just above the Kitchen/lounge zone.

The Kitchen/eating/lounge area was everyone's favourite and enabled the whole family to be together while cooking, playing games, talking, or eating...  Built on the higher part of the property it was a functional but cosy area too - the kitchen was well equipped, comfy sofas, books and music were available and there was a long table that could accommodate all of us.
Just outside there was a table-tennis table that the younger crowd used daily and an outdoor sitting area around a fire pit.

I was surprised when my young nephews - 18 and 21 years old, told me that they thoroughly enjoyed their time away from their mobiles (cellphones) and had fun playing cards and  walking along the river chatting to each other. 
The only drawback was that due to the uneven terrain,  it was a bit challenging to walk from the domes up to the Lounge area at the top, my parents in their 80's also found it a bit tiring but coped.
I think we all got a bit fitter from going up and down the whole day anyway. 😉😉

The main house - bedrooms, lounge, kitchen, deck

Dining room, fire pit area, Sitting room //  Kitchen/lounge area seen from the bottom, kitchen, playing table tennis
The outdoor toilets and showers
The Mondego River - very dry due to the drought
Views over the river Mondego, Bridge over the river, Swinging boulders
Another beautiful view from the mountain top to the Mondego river

Check out this youtube video of Quinta da Lontra.

Hope you enjoyed the photos of this idyllic place. You can get more information about Quinta da Lontra from this website:


  1. Uma viagem muito cansativa mas pelo que vi nas fotografias valeu a pena.
    Um abraço e boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

    1. Sim viajar de tao longe e cansativo, mas valeu a pena voltar a ver a familia toda junta. Obrigada Francisco.

  2. 20 years, oh, wow, then this gathering was truly very, very special.
    Where do you get that energy from?!
    From here to Perth I´m ok, but from Perth back home I always need a day or better two or three to adapt! Is there a trick you might share?
    Wow, that dome-bedroom is fantastic!
    That sounds like a lot of fun - sure worth the long journey.

    1. Yes, truly special as you say Iris. I have no trouble flying from here to Europe, get off the plane and I'm ready to go. The worst for me is the jet-lag I get from Europe to Perth, it takes me about 1 week until I sleep the right time. I even tried taking a relax tea but to no effect.

    2. Crazy! Exactly the other way round... Maybe it´s because we´re happy to arrive for a holiday and can work around that jet-lag...

  3. Wow!! Those yurts are so cool!!!

    Que férias fantásticas!! Nunca tive uma reunião familiar assim. Muitos membros estão dispersos, alguns nem conheço, e alguns já não estão connosco.
    Dá bastante trabalho coordenar horários, dias e meses para um encontro como este quando muitos se encontram “all over the place” , mas, no fim, vale a pena.
    Estou a adorar ler o relato destas férias e ver as fotos correspondentes.
    Obrigada, Sami. Também dá trabalho selecionar as fotos e postar!
    : ))

    1. Realmente foi uma trabalheira coordenar as férias para todos, a acomodação, etc., mas valeu a pena o encontro.
      Os yurts eram formidáveis! Obrigada Catarina.

  4. Fiz esse voo entre Dubai e Lisboa (ida e volta) na semana passada.
    Com passagem por Banguecoque.
    Cansativo mas valeu a pena.

    1. Realmente o voo é o que mais me custa Pedro, mas o destino vale a pena 😎.

  5. What a grand time you must have had. It looks terrific in the photos. I was a little puzzled about the otter farm. Why farm otters? Can you eat them? I realised it is just the name of the farm.

  6. Hi Andrew, I forgot to ask the owners about the name of the farm. I don't think you eat otters, but maybe there are otters in the area as it's close to a river. A "quinta" doesn't just mean a farm where you cultivate things, it's also an estate, a rural property...

  7. Looks like a great visit with family! And I've never stayed in a yurt.

    1. Thanks for your visit Linda. It was my first time too and I was pleasantly surprised.

  8. What an amazing first leg of your vacation. I've only seen yurts in pictures, so I was glad you got to see them in person.

    You and your parents must be physically fit to navigate that terrain. I'm sure you were motivated by the reunion, though.

    I really enjoyed the beautiful and informative photos. Laughed at the showers and toilet facilities!

    Welcome home, dear.

    1. Hello Elizabeth, the yurts and domes were really great and spacious, even I was surprised! My parents are actually reasonably fit for their age.
      It was strange to go to a composting toilet but we soon got used to it, they were even decorated with pictures to make them look quite normal 😉.

  9. How fantastic Sami! We really don't do that often enough do we, whole families getting together like this! It's too hard with family members being all over the world. Looks like an amazing spot you found, no phones etc sounds brilliant! I like the sound of Paris Can Wait 😀

    1. Thanks Grace, not easy as you say when the family is spread all over the world!

  10. Dearest Sami,
    That looks like a perfectly organized family get-together for such special reasons.
    Your areal views from Lissabon are stunning and very meaningful, capturing all those landmarks.
    Yes, we both went to Fatima, it was so impressive to be at a Mass where prayers were said in numerous languages.
    Sure, for people in their 80s such a rough terrain is different than for the younger generations. But no doubt it was a special and also bonding time as a family together.
    Now I understand what you meant with maybe the last time... If it was 20 years ago since the previous time, that says enough for certain age groups.
    Happy for all of you for having been together.
    Sending you sunny hugs,

    1. Hi Mariette, sorry that saw this message now.
      Yes, with my parents being in their 80's who knows if there will be another family reunion. My younger sister actually stopped in Fatima on the way to the friends and family lunch in Leiria, but we didn't.

  11. Que férias deliciosas e com a família reunida, que bom! O cansaço e os sacrificios foram com certeza recompensados pelo convivio familiar. Tudo de bom para si Sami.

    1. Obrigada pela visita Sandra. Sim foi um encontro maravilhoso.

  12. This is just fantastic!

    All the best Jan


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