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All tourists are crazy (about authenticity)

All in the same line, going to the same city, seeing the same things, and then posting it all on Facebook or Insta. Lisbon is choking with tourists. You stumble upon them at the Torre de Belém, at the famous elevator to the upper town, at all the tiled churches, recommended fado evenings, hip restaurants, “hidden” cafes.

Tourists are fairly predictable but prefer an authentic experience

(Quite understandable.) The same applies to Aveiro, Coimbra and Porto, although the center of Porto still houses humanity’s cultural heritage, and Coimbra has a lot of nice alleys, lovely corners and typical tascas, thanks to the students. And thanks to fado, because the three most important trends in fado come from Lisbon, Porto and the provincial city of Coimbra.

But authentic fado dates back a long time, like when these boys were young.

We don’t experience things this original anymore. As long as we don’t have a TeleTimeMachine yet, we will have to make do with the Now. And in this Now there are a lot of non-native speakers wandering around the big cities of the world. What do tourists generally like most?

A Real Experience. If you end up at a market or a village festival that only hosts natives, if by chance or luck you come into contact with the locals. If you are so very fortunate to be invited to someone’s home.

That, or all piled on top of each other in a place that has favorable conditions for tourists. The Algarve for example. The beaches, the beautiful rocks carved by the sea and the beautiful weather have ensured that part of that province is filled with apartment complexes and asphalt roads, and it’s even possible to buy a frikandel with sauerkraut or fish & chips.

There are also a lot of golf resorts there. The middle of the Algarve coast is for the common people and noisy fun-makers; On the Atlantic side come the more adventurous dreamers, and on the Spanish side you will mainly find expensive villages with golf courses and dream palaces with a swimming pool.

Tourism usually doesn’t do much good for authenticity

If you walk around in one of the big cities, you’ll immediately notice the difference in approach. Now, city people all over the world are different from country folk – logical, because city life is a lot more anonymous than in a village. You can hardly wish good morning to everyone you meet in a city, while you certainly do that in a village, otherwise you are considered a boor.

Portuguese people are generally still well educated, very polite, and honest and really friendly. Also the younger generations. I’m still sometimes amazed at how sweet people are. Patient and friendly – the two basic words that best describe the Portuguese people.

But mass tourism is too much even for the friendly Portuguese here and there

There is a group of citizens calling for measures. Portugal is full, they say (they also say it’s corrupt, but that’s for another time). These measures have already been partly taken: in Lisbon you are no longer allowed to just buy a house if you are not a resident, and you can no longer buy yourself into the country via a Golden Visa. AirBnB rental has been restricted. If residents are already going crazy from those rolling suitcases on the sidewalks of Amsterdam, then you can imagine how murderous people can become from that sound on those bumpy cobblestones of the beautiful mosaic sidewalks of Lisbon!

Especially if you know that that noise means that you can no longer live as pleasantly or affordably.

I recently went for a walk in Alqueidão, a village near us. Plenty of living space, and there is plenty to see. An enormous church with cathedral pretensions, a sweet medieval church, the Casa do Povo – with a bit of luck there will be a bench full of very authentic old men – and a bust of a local benefactor. Murals of harvest scenes with the original division of roles between man and woman and child and donkey.

A cute newly painted bandstand, a market area where some fitness equipment has now been installed, and where the village festivals are held in the summer. A shelter next to it that looks like a watering hole for horses or donkeys, three (!) little grocery stores, one more authentic than the other, a cafe that is still completely in the old style, and a few old country houses. There is even a small museum next to the post office and the retirement home, with a playground and football field in front.

If you visit on the right day, the entire center (which I describe above) is decorated because it is a saint’s birthday. You’re welcome to join the party.

No one comes round to look at it. But you won’t get anything more authentic than this.


We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal.

A big step, especially with two small children.

We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday houses, rooms and a campsite.

You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

Each week a little blog about what is happening around us. An easy read. A few minutes in another world. A little about what it going on in Portugal. If you plan your holiday to Portugal, it might be a nice preparation

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