A Merry Little Portuguese Christmas

A Merry Portuguese Christmas

Harry and I have many happy holiday memories from our Portuguese Adventure. For me, though, our second Christmas stands out over all the others. We were members of the Igreja Evangélica de Algés at the time. Although Americans attended there, it was totally Portuguese in tradition and the congregation was amazing. Irmão Fernando Resina was one of the teaching elders. Our second Christmas in Portugal he and his wife invited us to eat supper with their family on Christmas Eve.

The adventure began when I asked Harry what time we would need to be there. He said, “Around 9:30 p.m.” I’ve always been a morning lark, and that made me blink. But, such a delightful invitation, offered in love was irresistible.

Before we left home on Christmas Eve, we had a snack around 6 p.m., and began to get ready to go. We borrowed the ministry van since it would be too late after supper to find public transportation. In addition, my tummy was feeling like I was coming down with the flu.

We arrived around 9:30, right on time, but the party had not begun. (Later I learned that it in Portugal, generally “on time” can be up to 45 minutes after the hour of the invitation. The Resina children had put their boots by the stove for Pai Natal (Father Christmas) to put presents in at midnight. The tree was beautifully decorated.  I learned that evening that, in general, Evangelical Christians had trees and Pai Natal who brought gifts;  Catholic Christians had manger scenes, and the Christ Child brought the gifts.

prespio

Bacalhau Cozido

Around 10:30 p.m., our hostess called us to the table. There was the traditional Bacalhau Cozido (boiled codfish).  That included salted cod fish, reconstituted and boiled. There was cabbage, boiled potatoes, and broccoli on the side. It was my first Bacalhau Cozido, and I really enjoyed it. As we finished the bacalhau, family members began clearing the table. I was comfortably full, and it was around 11 p.m.

Galo assado

To my surprise, there was another course; the galo assado, a roasted fowl that had once upon a time crowed at sunrise. Salad, and homemade potato chips accompanied it. I had slowed down on eating, feeling fine and was hoping the flu had given up on me.

Following the fowl, bowls of canja (chicken soup) appeared on the table. It was delicious, but I couldn’t eat much.  I was hoping that no one would be offended by my waning enthusiasm for food.

Bolo Rei

And there was more. We were directed to the dessert table. It was smothered with attractive sweets from rice pudding to Bolo Rei (King Cake). I’d never seen so many kinds of different pastries and puddings in my life. I nibbled a little here and there, and they were amazing. It was truly a feast fit to honor the King of kings. And no unhappy tummy all night.

Around midnight the children got their boots, and opened their presents. Food, fun and fellowship ran riot that night. Soon after midnight, we got into the van and drove back across town to our neighborhood.

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all of you. I look forward to sharing more about Portugal and our time there in January. 

The Lisbon Pousada

A little history and a beautiful place to rest.

Salt of Portugal

PousadaLisboaLisbon has a wonderful new historical hotel: the Lisbon Pousada, located in the old royal-palace courtyard known as Terreiro do Paço.

Until the middle of the 18th century, ministers, nobles and other power brokers constantly stamped the soil of this courtyard with their footprints. But, after the 1755 earthquake destroyed the royal palace, the king moved to Ajuda and the courtyard lost its illustrious traffic.

In the 20th century, Terreiro do Paço regained its status as the walkway of power. The new hotel occupies the Ministry of Internal Affairs building. It was here that Salazar, the man who ruled Portugal from 1926 to 1970, had his office.

The pousada is decorated with numerous historical artifacts, including models for many of the statues that adorn the city. The rooms are elegant and comfortable with windows that frame beautiful views of downtown Lisbon: stucco buildings, ancient tiles, pink roofs, the walls of St. Jorge’s castle, and…

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Loving Ericeira

Our camp was very near this little town.

Salt of Portugal

Ericeira Summer 2013

Beaches are like people, they have different personalities. Portugal has 1,115 miles of coastline, but no two beaches are alike. Some are popular, always crowded with sun worshipers. Others are shy and choose their friends carefully. One of these shy beaches is Ericeira, 40 miles north of Lisbon.

Everybody loves Ericeira when the sun is shining and the sea is balmy. But Ericeira tests its visitors to make sure they deserve its beauty. So, there are cooler days to discourage those who complain that Winter spends the Summer at Ericeira. And foggy days to see who appreciates the joy of walking on a misty beach. Sometimes the sea is rough to see who is in awe of the ocean roar. Other times, the wind blows to see who feels invigorated by the ocean smell.

If you fail these tests, Ericeira is not for you. If you pass them, you understand the true…

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The Estrela Basilica

This is a beautiful place to visit.

Salt of Portugal

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One of the buildings often found next to a Roman forum is the basilica. It served as a place where people could meet. Basilicas had no statues of Roman gods and had beautiful light that came in through windows near the roof, so they were a favorite gathering place for early Christians.

The plan of the basilica was later adopted for the construction of important churches. Lisbon has an elegant basilica at Estrela, built in 1790 by Queen  Maria I.

Few people seem to know that one can climb the stairs to the roof of the Estrela basilica and enjoy in peaceful silence breathtaking views of the city. It is a perfect place to meet Lisbon.

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