The most truly amazing thing about central Portugal…the picturesque schist villages, the beautiful undulating eucalyptus and pine forests, the fabulous river beaches, the tasty local produce from the weekly fruit and veggie markets, the sunny summer weather…I could go on…but actually, my favourite thing about central Portugal, is, by far, the people.

Nowhere else where I have been in the world, have I ever experienced such a kind and friendly welcome, especially for families.  The boys are revered, treated like royalty, they can do no wrong.  Even if they are having a fit of the screaming abdabs, their head is patted, their cheeks touched affectionately and a little knowing smile is given.  The Portuguese love families.  When we go to the local markets the boys are always given a free banana or piece of fruit, yes it might make you buy from the stallholder but that’s not why they do it.  They appreciate your business but they truly do it for the boys, to make them smile and make them happy.

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Happy because he has cake and my galão

When we go to cafes, (after being 99% caffeine free for the last 3 years whilst being pregnant and breastfeeding) I am now addicted to the cafe culture here and lust after a daily coffee hit in the form of um galão, which is like a weak latte.  Coffee is serious business here but I digress, when we go to cafes the boys are often treated to lollipops (unfortunately for their teeth).  Shop owners give them biscuits, at least two each (again, sugar rush kids) a lady even bought Chaos some chocolate in the supermarket (he was crying because I said no more sugar).  So although Portugal isn’t great for the kids teeth or sugar intake, it is fabulous for their social skills and interaction with the kindness of strangers.

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Ice cream (gelato) boys