It’s sometimes hard to convince friends that just because we live in a holiday destination it doesn’t mean we are on holiday all the time (it’s Lou here, by the way). We still have to work, pay bills, go to the supermarket and complete all those household chores which are a part of daily life. So a couple of weeks ago we decided to take a break and go on an actual holiday in Portugal, to the idyllic Aldeia da Pedralva.
Aldeia da Pedralva is a tourist resort located approximately halfway between Vila do Bispo and Bordeira, on the Costa Vicentina area of Portugal’s west coast. Popular with surfers, the west coast is more wild and unspoiled than the beaches on Portugal’s south coast, so we were excited to be exploring a different part of Portugal than we are used to.
Aldeia da Pedralva has an interesting history. It was an almost entirely abandoned village when the owners first discovered it. They spent two years gradually purchasing the dilapidated houses and another two years renovating them. The sympathetic renovation work was designed to maintain a traditional Portuguese village feel, complete with winding cobbled streets, mismatched house sizes and white-painted walls. The atmosphere is one of tranquil relaxation – often the only sounds we could hear were the birds singing and the tinkling of the sheep bells as a small flock grazed on the village’s grassland.
The houses themselves are a delight. Each one is different and has its own character and charm. We stayed in a one-bedroom house with delightful views over the open, hilly countryside, which is dotted with trees and flowers as far as the eye can see. Our house was quaint and rustic, yet spotlessly clean and with all the facilities we needed for a weekend away. It had a small yet perfectly adequate kitchen and a good-sized living space, as well as a large bedroom with an extremely comfortable bed. The bathroom was particularly charming, with a stone-walled shower very much in keeping with the whole feel of the village.
Aldeia da Pedralva is designed as a base for active holidays, yet it also makes a wonderful, peaceful retreat for those looking to escape modern life. WiFi is only available in the reception area, which was at once refreshing and a little unnerving (I am a massive iPhone addict). There are no televisions or radios in the houses. The emphasis is on enjoying the wonders that nature has to offer, along with fresh, clean country air and good food.
There are two restaurants in the village, which I will review in detail on our sister blog Food and Wine Portugal, but suffice it to say here that the food in both was excellent and the service extremely friendly. Both are worth a visit on their own merits and we will definitely eat at them again next time we are in the area, even if we are not staying at the village. Breakfast was also included in our stay and consisted of a good continental spread, along with gallons of coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice (so fresh that it was actually squeezed in front of us).
We spent our weekend at Aldeia da Pedralva exploring some of the west coast, as it is an area with which we are largely unfamiliar. Driving through the winding hills, we visited a number of windswept beaches, splashing around in the huge Atlantic waves coming rolling in. The highlight had to be the beautiful Praia do Monte Clérigo, where we lazed about in the sun for several hours, treating ourselves to a drink and a cake from the (horrendously overpriced) local café.
Praia da Amoreira, a stunning and desolate beach accessed by driving down a mountain, also deserves a mention. The scenic drive makes a wonderful approach to the sands, while the beach is backed by flower-covered dunes which are host to a variety of wildlife.
Overall it was a delightful weekend. We came away feeling refreshed and reinvigorated, which is exactly how a holiday is supposed to leave you feeling. The combination of the local attractions and the village itself, with its hidden nooks and crannies for curling up with a book in the sun, makes the perfect break – it’s definitely somewhere we will be heading back to next time we take a mini holiday in Portugal to escape the stresses of modern life.
In the interests of full disclosure we were invited to spend the weekend at this resort. However, be assured that all views are our own and that our opinions cannot be bought!
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