There is nothing better than staying with with friends. We were lucky enough to meet a lovely Canadian couple, Charles and Yelena, in Croatia who invited us to stay in their family home in Ferrel, near Peniche. We were so excited at the opportunity to stay with someone and see a new place from a local perspective that we changed our Portuguese plans and ended up walking the Camino Portuguese to make sure we’d arrive in Peniche as they finished their travels. We had the most amazing 5 days and hope that we will get to see them again one day.
This post won’t have too many tips on what to do in the area. It will be more about what a wonderful time we had and the stories along the way.
Highlights of Ferrel
Just being with Charles, Yelena and Charles’ mum, Sally, was wonderful. We have been on the road for 2 months, moving from city to city every day or so. It was so nice to low down for a few days, to take a break and not worry about the basics for a few days. They also went out of their ways to ensure that we had a wonderful time and got to see the real Portugal.
Taking a break from cooking
For the first time in 2 months someone cooked for us at home! Actually this is not a common occurrence in New Zealand but it was extra awesome to happen while traveling. So many people made us lovely meals while we were in Ferrel, Yelena and Charles even made a massive batch of tasty chilli, which made a lovely change to our quick pork concoctions.
Yummy!! On our first night in Ferrel we were taken out for the most amazing dinner. This was a dinner that could have fed a small army and was so much more than I expected. For starters we had grilled squid and octopus salad, which is beautiful chunks of octopus with lemon, onion and parsley. This would have been a good meal on its own but it was just the beginning. The main event was caldeirada. It’s basically a massive fish stew with about five different types of fish and potatoes in a tomato broth. It was actually about 7-8 litres of food. If this wasn’t enough we also ordered another dish which I don’t know the name of, this was similar to the calderadasp but made with rice and monkfish.
Meeting the family
Despite living in Canada, Charles is Portuguese and all of his family family lived close by. On our first day in Ferrel we went and visited aunts, uncles and Charles’ grandmother. We even got to feed a donkey and some mini horses! They were all so lovely and had lots to share about life in Portugal. They also offered amazing kindnesses during our stay.
Traditional Portuguese soup
Move over leek and potato!! Sally’s Portuguese kale soup, is devine. It’s Portuguese name translates to green soup and it is a tasty thick broth with finely chopped kale and chorizo. It is super tasty, healthy and filling and was a lovely treat for our final lunch in Ferrel.
It’s looking like Portuguese food may be my favourite of Europe. One of the selling points of staying with Charles and Yelena was the promise of fresh sardines, grilled over pine cones, in a garage. It was so much better than expected. Not only did we try fresh sardines for the first time but we also had a much bigger fish which I thought was called Gurada but Google cannot confirm. Both were unbelievably tasty, served with fresh salad and boiled potatoes. It was so cool to join a family meal, with everyone chatting away in Portuguese. Desert was a massive cream and cookie pudding, made by an aunt, that Daniel was practically swimming in. Apparently it was about as Portuguese as you can get.
Fresh produce straight from an uncles farm
As part of our meet the family tour we met one uncle, who has the most amazing small farm, growing everything you could ever want, even chickpeas! I had no idea how chickpeas were grown so was pretty excited to see them in little pods on plants. This same uncle brought a massive box of fresh produce to the house which we are over the following days.
Beached as bro
Charles’ family home was about 50 metres from the beach!! If you’ve been following our adventures you’ll know that we are beach people. I am happiest when I can see a wide expansion of ocean. It was lovely to be so close to the sea. There are surf breaks for every level along the coastline and seeing all of the people jogging around with boards under their arms reminded me of home. Unfortunately we didn’t have the best weather but we still managed to get some time lying on the beach with some good snacks and drinks.
We attempted multiple times to see the sunset while in Ferrel but the clouds ruined it every time. It was still lovely to be at the beach as the light dimmed. There is nothing like sitting on the beach in the dark, with the waves crashing and maybe even a nice glass of vino in your hand.
Day trips from Ferrel
During our time with Yelena and Charles we took a few trips to their favourite places so we could see their local highlights.
This cute little town was such a treat. It was only about half an hour from Ferrel and was a great way to use an afternoon. Obidos is a gorgeous little castle town, built within an intact fort. It’s a popular spot for tourists to visit and has lots of cute little streets, linned with shops selling souvenirs. Many of the houses are painted blue and white but there is the odd pop of colour with a bright house or flowering tree. We loved walking along the castle walls, there was a beautiful view over the town and of the surrounding landscape.
Obidos is also famed for its cherry liquor, ginja. This is served in little chocolate cups. First you drink the liquor and then you eat the cup!!
We’ll talk more about our time in Lisbon in a separate post but Yelena and Charles took us to Lisbon when we left Ferrel. But first we stopped at IKEA. This may not sound exciting to the rest of the world but for two little kiwis it was very exciting. Our first ikea experience. I particularly loved the tiny apartment set ups and was about ready to move in.
After IKEA we headed to the oldest pastel shop in Lisbon, Pastel de Belem. Here you can try get their famed pastel de nata, which basically means cream pastry. They are little baked pastry cases filled with a cream custard. I couldn’t eat them but Daniel has decided that these are his favourite European food so far. I got very excited as there were two gluten and dairy free options on the menu, but they were sold out!! So if you want to sample these, make sure get there early.
The restaurant has grown over the years, buying the surrounding buildings which means that the whole place is a maze of passages and rooms, all tilled in beautiful blue and white Lisbon tiles.
After our pastel experience we headed for a walk around the area. Nearby we were able to look at the Jerónimos monastery. You can go in but we chose to just walk around the outside.
We then walked down to the waterfront to see the Padrao dos Descobrimentos tower. This is a monument celebrating the Portuguese age of discovery. It is massive and towers over a beautiful square and gardens below.
We are so grateful to Yelena, Charles, Sally and the rest of the family for having us and showing us amazing hospitality and generosity. It was so lovely for us to chill out and not move on for a few days, it was very relaxing! We now have another reason to visit Canada, other than mountain biking in Whistler.
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Chloe and Daniel