ende
ende
menu
ende

You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

The other Portugal: Singulartrips, Serra da Estrela & sweet moments of seduction in Porto.

Portugal. “When I get on a plane and arrive in Lissabon three hours later, I do feel just the same: Home”, I often find myself musing with others. My mind then wanders off thinking about my dear friends in Portugal, switching back to speaking Portuguese as if it was completely normal (read more here “about how & why this is possible here” :D), simply feeling relaxed. Happy. And calm. Portugal, my love, always has this quality of welcoming me home.

 

“And you, where are you from?” – “From the world”, I muse, smiling inside out. Just like the well traveled, multilingual Portuguese friends I know.

Quite obvious then, that a world citizen like myself speaking six different languages feels immediately at home in an old seafarers’ & explorers’ nation. And because every trip you take starts right at your doorstep, this is exactly where I want to take you this time: By the (local’s) doors and backyards of Portugal. Right inside Lisbon’s dynamic, up & coming Marvila district, located between the airport and the historic city centre. Up & away into the mighty Serra da Estrela, one of Portugal’s most well-kept secrets of nature travel. Down & deep with the delicious foodie tips of the locals in Porto, the country’s second-largest city to the north.

(My) Portugal: Always worth the journey.

Lissabon überraschend anders: Unterwegs mit Patrícia Canejo von Singulartrips.com.

Lisbon, surprisingly different this time: Out & about with Patricia Canejo, of Singulartrips.com.

 

Die Magie der atemberaubend schönen Serra da Estrela kennen lernen, zugleich Portugals höchste Bergregion mit knapp unter 2.000 Metern über dem Meer.

Breathtakingly beautiful Serra da Estrela, Portugal’s highest mountain district just under 2.000 metres above sea level.

 

Schließlich: Ankommen bei Freunden in Porto. "Nach Hause" reisen, eben.

Finally: Arriving with my dear friends in Porto. “Travelling back home” to Portugal, that is.

 

Let us start with Singulartrips.com. What’s in a name, you may say? Patricia Canejo will tell you this: Singulartrips is all about getting to know the “other Portugal”.

“We focus entirely on small groups of travellers, designing custom-made tours”, Patricia tells me full of joy for the positive development of her creative travel enterprise in Lisbon. “Creative travel, food travel, travel with the locals in & around Lisbon, this is exactly what we want to promote thanks to our fantastic Singulartrips partners. Your book has been a great source of inspiration to me, dear Elena! This time, it is our turn to host you and your mum on one of our brand new tours: Our ‘Historic Downtown Food Tour‘ through Lisbon!”

Now, who is to resist an offer like this?

Patrícias Tour startet in der innovativen Start-up-Craft-Beer Brauerei "Dois Corvos", mitten im ... Stadtteil, der als einer der dynamischsten für die zukünftige Entwicklung der Stadt Lissabon gilt.

My mum & my friend Antonia certainly can’t: Patricia’s tour takes off at the innovative start-up craft beer brewery “Dois Corvos”, right inside Lisbon’s trending Marvila district.

 

Wenig später besuchen wir die "Casa do Alentejo" im historischen Zentrum der Stadt ...

We then move on to explore “Casa do Alentejo” in the city centre of Lisbon …

 

... verkosten dort typische, portugiesische Chouriço ...

… where we get to taste typical, Portuguese Chouriço …

 

... laben uns an Farben & Formen eines der ältesten Gemüse- & Obstläden der Stadt ...

… marvel at all the colourful veggie & fruit stalls around …

 

... schreiten schließlich zur "Ginja"-Likör-Verkostung ...

… before moving on to a delicious “Ginja” liquor tasting …

 

... und beenden die Tour (wie könnte es anders sein) mit einem Gläschen Portwein, köstlich-würzigem Käse sowie einer saftigen Scheibe Quittengelee dazu. Herrlich, wie dieses Trio unter der Sommersonne Lissabon mundet & duftet !!

… ending our tour on a note of port wine, mountain cheese and a thick slice of delicious quince jelly : Mmmh !! The strong summer sun, I believe, has the power to bring out the aromas in all those delicious ingredients even more.

 

But the fun does not stop here. If you, like us, are set on getting to know the real Portugal, then go get lost with us in Serra da Estrela mountains.

Sure, there might also be other regions, such as the Alentejo, that are equally apt at promoting some of Portugal’s essence: Hard-working, smart and extremely friendly local people who have “made a difference” to themselves and their communities. On top of it all, Serra da Estrela in the Centro de Portugal region spoils us to the quality of yet another natural produce that might sound as unexciting as it is ubiquitous: Wool. Or let’s just say: Extremely high quality wool from the highest mountains of the country.

Check this out.

Portugals Serra da Estrela ...

Portugal Serra da Estrela …

 

... ist eine der geologisch ältesten Regionen Europas, deren Granitblöcke bis zu 500 Millionen Jahre alt sein können (ganz ähnlich wie "unsere Wackelsteine" im niederösterreichen Waldviertel übrigens!).

… is one of the oldest regions of Europe, geologically speaking: Some of its granite boulders are said to reach an age of 500 million years, dwarfing the Alps by far (and similar to those found in our own backyard, in Lower Austria by the way!).

 

Hier, auf knapp 2.000 Meter Seehöhe, finden wir neben eines für österreichische Verhältnisse doch eher, nun ja, bescheidenen Skigebietes ...

Right up here, on almost 2.000 metres above sea level, my mum and I go exploring one of the country’s, well, modest ski resorts for our own Austrian standards …

 

... auch ganz, ganz köstlichen Serra da Estrela-Schafskäse vor, den uns José hier bereitwillig aufschneidet.

… all made up by the wonderful, delicious Serra da Estrela mountain cheese that José has cut here for us.

 

"Kreative Spinnereien" hat sich auch die Wollfabrik "Burel Factory" ausgedacht ...

We then move on exploring the “creative spinning” vibes of talented local enterprise, “Burel Factory” …

 

... welche sich auf hochwertige Schafswollprodukte, zu wunderschönen Decken, Deko-Artikel und vieles mehr verarbeitet, spezialisiert haben.

… specialised in high-quality sheep wool produce, such as blankets, decorative items, clothing, as well as footwear (!).

 

Der Besuch der Schafswoll-Fabrik in der Kleinstadt Manteigas, im Herzen der Serra da Estrela ...

Visiting the wool “fábrica”, in the heart of Serra da Estrela …

 

... ist so augenöffnend wie inspirierend: Inhaberin Isabela hat es sich zum Ziel gesetzt, ihr Management-Wissen aus vielen Jahren internationaler Karriere in Lissabon nun für das Wohlergehen einer alten Tradition aus den Bergen der Serra da Estrela einzusetzen.

… and listening to the owner Isabela is as inspiring as it is heartwarming: After many years in Lisbon, she has made it her goal to use her excellent networking and management skills to revive the old tradition of wool processing right here in the Serra da Estrela mountains – and provide much needed employment opportunities to the local communities.

 

Faszinierend – und unbedingt empfehlenswert: Der Besuch der Burel Factory in Manteigas.

Burel Factory in Manteigas: Truly worth your visit.

 

If you love a little luxury, great food, and local charm, you will not be disappointed from staying at Casa das Penhas Douradas, easily the most beautiful accommodation in the entire Serra da Estrela.

This luxurious (and at the same time, very down-to-earth) design & spa hotel breathes with the promise of peace and ultimate recreation. I swear: Up & out here, at some 1.600 metres above sea level, my mum and I found a Portugal we (and many among you, I presume) did not know existed. Fresh, cool air even during the heat of summer, the promise of eternal sunshine around all those sparkling little mountain lakes & lagoons, the excellent cuisine at the hotel, great value-for-money massages & treatments at the spa, extremely motivated and friendly employees starting with the cleaning ladies and all the way to João the owner taking us for a night-time stargazing walk: I am quite literally, mesmerised. All of our days passed way to fast, and at the same time, time is what really did not seem to matter here at all.

Do make a point of coming out here …

... das "andere Portugal" ruft: Hier beim Frühstückstisch in absolut märchenhafter Stille der ringsum liegenden Serra da Estrela-Berge.

… because the “other Portugal” is calling: Beautiful breakfast terrace at Casa das Penhas Douradas in Serra da Estrela.

 

Schon beim Frühstück offenbart sich die enge Verbindung zu Kultur & Kulinarik des Ortes: Wieder und wieder naschen wir vom köstlich-cremigen Serra da Estrela-Schafskäse ...

Already during breakfast, the clear connection of the hotel with its surrounding mountain landscape becomes evident (and palpable): Tasting that famous local mountain cheese again and again …

 

... und loben den Küchenchef (der jeden Abend seine Runden dreht und sich nach dem Wohlbefinden jedes einzelnen seiner Gäste erkundet) ...

… praising the kitchen chef (who every night makes sure to come out and ask for the wellbeing of each and every individual guest) …

 

... der herrliche Kreationen zaubert, wie dieses ungemein zarte Schweinssteak mit Gemüse & Röstkartoffeln.

… as well as cooking beautiful meals, such as this slow-cooked pork loin served on a bed of vegetables and potato gratin.

 

Verhungern muss hier wahrlich niemand: Kulinarisch köstlich geht es auch bei der Nachmittags-Jause im (Ski?)Aufenthaltsraum der Casa das Penhas Douradas zu ...

Casa das Penhas Douradas won’t let you starve, that’s for sure: Here we are, tasting our way through the afternoon tea time buffet!

 

... wir sagen Dankeschön (A Nossa! Prost) ...

So all that’s left to say, is a big thank you (A Nossa! Prost) …

 

... für so viel Gastfreundschaft in der Casa das Penhas Douradas ...

… for such warm-hearted hospitality here at Casa das Penhas Douradas …

 

... hier im Herzen der Serra da Estrela ...

… at the heart of the Serra da Estrela …

 

... direkt über der Kleinstadt Manteigas mit ihren typisch weiß-roten Häusern gelegen.

… located right above the small town Manteigas with its pretty little red-roofed, white houses.

 

But once again, the fun does not end here. Heading even further north, we can find the “other Portugal” perfectly reflected in the dynamism of one of its great incubator cities: Porto, the second-largest city in northern Portugal.

If you know my blog, you will know about my love for this town and its people. Will have read, followed and sighed about just how deep I fell for its sweet, sweet temptations.

From a wine trip out into Douro valley, to the many creative culture & foodie travel experiences in & around Porto, all the way to my absolute highlight as a young, professional travel author: That’S Porto’s super famous bookshop, “Livraria Lello“, having managed not just to retail my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, but to sell it out in a matter of just a few days ..! Definitely a time to keep the happy flow going. 😀

Thank you so much, dear Hugo Cardoso & team, for your kind words: “Elena, your book is great. We want to have it in our bookshop. Please let us know all about the terms & conditions.” And this being named along the same lines as J.K.Rowling, who is said to have inspired herself at Livraria Lello for writing some of her famous Harry Potter novels … obrigada Livraria Lello, obrigada Porto! Still very overcome with emotion about this.

Obrigada, Livraría Lello & Team ...

Like I say: Obrigada, Livraría Lello & team …

 

... mich hier einmal mehr zur internationalen Signier-Stunde eingeladen und mir diese Freude ermöglich zu haben. Schaut vorbei: In einer der schönsten Buchhandlungen des Landes! Mein Buch findet Ihr dort ebenso. :D

… for having made it all possible: For me to sign more books for you, and for you to sell my book at your prestigious library: Go check it out on your next visit to Porto. 😀

 

However, you can’t visit Porto without the one & only “Taste Porto Food Tour”.

It’s been a good two years since I first met André, of “Taste Porto”, and his network of avid foodies & #winelover friends in northern Portugal. Ever since, I have participated in this truly delicious “Food Tour” twice, and recommended it countless times over: The three and a half hour tour is definitely something you shouldn’t miss on your next visit to the city. At this third tasty visit of mine, several more foodie travel tips have been added to the game. Porto (as well as André) just haven’t stopped ..!

Los geht's Porto: André bei den ersten kulinarischen Erläuterungen in der altbewährten "A Loja Dos Pastéis de Chaves"-Bäckerei just oberhalb des Bolhão-Marktes.

Off we go Porto: André, of “Taste Porto Food Tours & Cooking Classes” starts off his foodie spiel at “A Loja Dos Pastéis de Chaves”, only a stone’s throw away from the city’s famous Bolhão market.

 

Dort, am ältesten historischen Marktplatz der Stadt, finden wir nicht nur gewaltige, von den Einheimischen so genannte "Ochsentomaten" ...

There, at the oldest market hall of Porto, we gasp at those so-called giant “ox tomatoes” …

 

... sondern auch das charmante Duo Hugo & Catarina vom Bolhão Wine House vor, die uns Sardinen, Brot, Olivenöl, kleine Törtchen sowie köstlichen Moscatel kredenzen.

… as well as enjoy being served tasty sardines, bread, olive oil, and muscatel by this charming lot, Hugo & Patricia of Bolhão Wine House.

 

Einer der nächsten Stopps ist das absolut köstliche Slow-Food-Restaurant der Stadt, "Flor dos Congregados" nämlich ...

Among our next stops is one of Porto’s most well-known slow food restaurants: “Flor dos Congregados” …

 

... in dem alles, was wir sehen und essen, mindestens einen (halben) Tag lang geschmort, eingelegt oder langsam gegart wird. Herrlich. Diese Qualität und Aufwand schmecken wir auch.

… where everything we eat, see or taste has been slow-cooked, left to simmer or soak up some flavours for at least (half) a day. Hummm. Tender loving (food) care we can taste!

 

Zusätzlich zu den insgesamt sechs herzhaften wie süßen "Tasting Stops" weiß André zahlreiche Restaurant- oder (Wein)Marktempfehlungen auszusprechen ...

In addition to the six savoury & sweet tasting stops on the tour, André stops to give us many more food, wine, restaurant & market recommendations on the way …

 

... und führt uns erneut zu einem meiner Lieblings-Aussichtsplätze über die Stadt Porto: Den Miradouro da Vitória, dessen Aussicht mich übrigens schon einmal soweit inspiriert hat, die Stadtansicht Portos von hier aus zu malen. *seufz* ... Porto!

… leading us once more to one of my favourite view points over the city of Porto: The Miradouro da Vitória, whose view has already inspired me to paint this unique creative experience of mine. *sigh* … Porto!

 

Als Nächtigungstipp kann ich Euch das traumhaft schöne Flores Village Hotel & Spa mitten in der Altstadt (A Rua Das Flores) nennen, das neben einem eigenen Spa & traumhaft schönen Zimmern auch diesen wundervollen Gartenzugang bietet.

As for accommodation, I can recommend you stay at Flores Village Hotel & Spa right inside Porto old town (A Rua Das Flores) who next to a spa also offers a perfect summer garden as well as gorgeous breakfast, lounge and room areas.

 

This is where we find the perfect retreat, enjoy our glass of port wine, or simply "snap-chat a little", as my dear friend Rita Branco likes to host me once more on one of her channels: Obrigada, Rita querida, for all the wonderful moments together! Check out our incredible pilgrimage adventure walking from Porto to Santiago earlier this year here.

This is where we find the perfect retreat, enjoy our glass of port wine, or simply “snap-chat a little”, as my dear friend Rita Branco likes to host me once more on one of her channels: Obrigada, Rita querida, for all the wonderful moments together! Check out our incredible pilgrimage adventure walking from Porto to Santiago earlier this year here.

 

And should you still long for more – all of my travel pictures about Portugal are now published here, too:

 

Disclaimer: We have been invited by Singulartrips, Turismo do Centro de Portugal as well as Taste Porto Food Tours on our different tours and activities around Portugal. All opinions are my own.

Spread the love

Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
Women Walking The Way: Insights & Inspiration from the Portuguese Camino.
Fun, Food & Family Travel: Why we should all be #inCostaBrava right now.

0 Comments

Leave a Reply


Follow me on my travels: