Archive for the 'Portuguese travel' Category

Portugal’s Best Beaches

In a country known for it’s beaches it’s hard to choose just a few. But in the spirit of summer, my family and I have put together our recommendations for Portugal’s best oceanside retreats.

Guincho Beach

Guincho This gorgeous beach just north of Lisbon is our sentimental family favorite because it’s where both my husband and children grew up. The North Atlantic water is freezing cold and the shore is wild and rocky. But it has the best windsurfing in Europe and is the epitome of raw beauty. Because of the wind, you have to pick your Guincho outings carefully. But if you wait for a calm spell, you will be richly rewarded.

Head to nearby Adraga Beach for lunch at the Restaurante da Adraga. Stay in Sintra

Praia de S. Joao Caparica

Praia de S. Joao  Known in English as St. John’s Beach, this is an area of over ten different beaches just across the Red Bridge that connects Lisbon to Caparica. The beaches stretch on forever and each has a lively bar scene. But because they are so close to Lisbon they are also very crowded on the weekends. So enjoy these gems during the week.  The spectacular beaches of Alfarim are less than 20 kilometers away.


Comporta  One hour south of Lisbon is a hidden paradise that is starting to get attention outside of Portugal, including a glowing article in the New York Times. This is where we shot most of our Spring/Summer 2011 catalogs. In addition to stunning beaches, the area is known for its distinctive thatched cottages.

Quinto do Lago

Quinto do Lago and Ancao These are our two favorite beaches on the Algarve, Portugal’s southern coast. It’s easy to see why the entire area is a holiday destination for Europeans. The beaches on Ria Formosa Nature Park are also a must see. 

I hope you get a chance to enjoy your favorite beaches this summer.  To help get you in the spirit, selected boy’s and girl’s swimsuits are now on sale.

Have a relaxing summer filled with happy family memories.



Travel Insider: Catherine’s Favorite Lisbon Restaurant


Rua das Portas de Santo Antão 23


Telephone: +351 21 342 14 66

Four generations of my husband’s family—including our four children—have been regulars at this restaurant behind the famous “Rossio” square In the heart of Lisbon. With dark wooden interiors, very little natural light, an all-male staff, and graying clientele, Gambrinus could be mistaken for a men’s club.

So what could a 45-year-old American woman find so alluring about a place like this? No longer in need of a room full of young bright things to validate my evenings out, I am drawn to Gambrinus for the same reasons I am drawn to most things: a huge nostaligia for the past, old fashioned attention to detail, and painstaking efforts to maintain quality.

Among Gambrinus’ many charms: white starched tablecloths, immaculately set tables, abundant waiters who actually understand service. And how could they not?  They have been serving tables at Gambrinus for their entire lifetimes.

The other evening when I was there, I finally asked them how is it that they never move on to other restaurants and other careers. They all responded in unison that they love their work and they love their “team,” that to leave has never crossed their minds.  I could not help but envy them and did not suppress the urge to imagine myself in their shoes–secure in their work, total professionals at their trade, proud to be of service.

Gambrinus serves the best seafood and shellfish in Lisbon. Crab, langoustines, lobster, barnacles, clams: shellfish lovers arrive in paradise upon entering the doors of this Portuguese institution.

My favorite Portuguese dish is Ameijoas a Bulhao Pato–clams in a coriander, garlic, and butter olive oil bisque.  Be sure to dip the toasted buttered bread Gambrinus is also famous for in the bisque to absorb every last drop of this “soup” that the clams are served in.

I recommend a cold bottle of Planalto to round out the whole clam experience. Planalto and Joao Pires are my two favorite Portuguese white wines.

Gambrinus also specializes in grilled fish of every kind imaginable–fresh and prepared with the simplicity that leaves no doubt as to who are the world masters when it comes to fish.

The Gambrinus menu also caters beautifully to red meat lovers and its chefs pride themselves on a huge selection of typical Portuguese game dishes.

Be sure not to leave without ordering the restaurant’s piece de resistance: Crepes Suzette. This is lovingly prepared with much fanfare by one of the head waiters at your table and will cure any sweet tooth for a decade.  During each of my four pregnancies, I craved this dessert– making the Gambrinus experience synonymous with a sort of physical addiction–one that even today I find very hard to kick.


Holy Week in Portugal

It’s Holy Week, which is Portugal means church processions through the streets. This video was taken in Obidos, a gorgeous Medieval town just over an hour north of Lisbon. I’ve shot many Papo catalogs against the town’s whitewashed walls and think this procession tells you everything you need to know about its unpretentious charm and love and respect for tradition.

If you are still looking for special Easter outfits for your children, we can ship them until Thursday for a Friday delivery. My favorite Easter dress this season is the Smocked Dress  in a pastel floral Liberty print. It matches the V-Back Sundress (perfect for older sisters) and coordinates beautifully with the Button Down Collar Shirt and Little Boy’s Shirt in rose and yellow grid checked.

I also want to wish a very happy Easter to Papo’s finance director Vera D’Orey and her husband Bernardo on the birth of their baby, also name Bernardo. Congratulations!! Enjoy your first Easter with your new little one.

Papo d’Anjo Models: Meet Ritinha

Now that my own children are too old to model for Papo d’Anjo, I’ve loved getting to know a new group of kids. One of my favorite models is Ritinha, an adorable 7-year-old from Monte Estoril, a coastal suburb of Lisbon.

Ritinha isn’t a professional model. She is the daughter of a good friend of Sara Alves, who manages our Lisbon store and who insisted that Ritinha go to one of our casting calls. “It’s very important to carefully choose the brands she represents,” says her mother, Rita. “We don’t want modeling to be a hard job for her.”

Like many girls her age, Ritinha is a fan of “Hannah Montana” and “Phineas and Pherb.”  She loves to dance, play with friends, and go body boarding.

Living in Portugal, she can take that board to her pick of beautiful beaches. She and her family particularly enjoy Guincho Beach, which is near their home. Other favorites include Praia Grande, and Malhao on the Alentenjo Coast.

Ritinha also loves special outings to Badoca Safari Park, an African-themed amusement and adventure park. She and her brother Antonio also enjoy the Pavilhao do Conhecimento, an interactive science and technology museum in Lisbon. The Museu do Brinquedo, or toy museum, in Sintra rounds out her list.

Casa da Agrela

For special family holidays, Ritinha and her family drive to the northwest corner of Portugal to explore the Peneda-Geres National Park. They stay at the charming Casa da Agrela and recommend the Restaurante A Carvalheira in nearby Ponte de Lima.

Casa da Agrela

Happy Birthday: Papo d’Anjo’s 15th Anniversary

I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since I went to my first children’s clothing trade fair and sold several dresses under the Papo d’Anjo label.  Like the growth of my children, it’s all happened so fast and has often felt like a blur.

But there are a few special moments that truly stand out, including the one captured in this photo, which sits on my desk in the Lisbon office. My husband Pascal and I were in Monsaraz, a tiny hillside Medieval village in the country’s pristine Alentejo region. We love this town–perhaps one of the most peacefully rustic and authentic places in Europe–and were looking for photo opportunities for the invitation to Papo d’Anjo’s first trunk show.

We dressed our oldest daughter, Camilla, in the first dress I ever made–the style is still one of my most popular designs. As we walked through the town, which was bathed in the Portuguese winter light, Camilla explored in the way that toddlers do. All of a sudden an older townswoman sat down and started having a conversation with Camilla. Pascal snapped the camera.

In that instant, something crystallized about what makes Papo d’Anjo unique that until then neither Pascal nor I had been able to articulate. The moment was completely unscripted and yet the image was perfect in every way. Seeing Camilla with this kind older woman made us realize that the essence of Papo d’Anjo combines the innocence of childhood with the authentic traditions of Portuguese culture and craftsmanship.

Camilla modeling another Papo classic for the Winter 1999 catalog.

Camilla is now applying to colleges. And as I watch her embarking on a new chapter of her life, I also can see that my company has grown up, too. This past year we moved into Bergdorf Goodman, which was a huge honor for me and the culmination of years of hard work. And we also experienced so much demand for our Fall catalog that we sold out of some of our most popular items.

Today, the pace of my life is very different from these tranquil images. But I hope that they represent the best of the unhurried childhood that I have tried to give my children. Papo d’Anjo is at its core about celebrating a childhood unfettered by trends or commercialism. Thank you so much for your continued support of what we do.

Discover the Golega Horse Fair

This week, Portugal’s National Horse Fair gets underway in the lovely valley town of Golega. This event was founded in the 18th Century to coincide with St. Martin’s Day on November 11.  The weather during this time of year is particularly gorgeous, much like an American Indian Summer.

Photo by Aurelio Grillo

Golega is located on the Tagus River floodplain, which is a rich agricultural delta. The fair showcases Lusitano horses, a Portuguese breed that has roamed the region since before the Romans and was part of the same herd as the Spanish Andalusian. These beautiful and powerful animals are used throughout the country for dressage and bullfighting.

Prized for centuries, the Lusitano has a storied history.  When Catherine of Braganza was married to Charles II of England in the 17th Century, her dowry included over 50 Lusitano mares.

The highlight of the Golega fair is the hundreds of horses prancing through the streets. My children love this event and I have photographs of my husband sitting on his father’s shoulders, fascinated by the horses.

Everyone in my family—except me—rides Lusitanos in classical dressage and many of our friends are breeders with their own “brands.” During the fair they congregate in their casetas on the main square and entertain friends and family as the stallions and broodmares parade past the crowds.

The horse fair is steeped in tradition and is great fun for families. The streets are packed with vendors selling roasted chestnuts and Agua Pe, or foot water, which is the light and refreshing runoff from making wine. The festivities go all day and all night.

Like many European rituals, Golega’s traditions extend to the way people dress. People get decked out in traditional riding capes, boots, and leather hats.

Naturally, the event has had a great influence on some of my designs for Papo d’Anjo—most notably the Monteria Boots, which closely resemble traditional Portuguese riding boots. They look great paired with the Tweed Drill Coat, Tartan Trench Coat, and Quilted Jacket, which my own children wear to the Fair.

The entire scene is one of the most authentic events in all of Europe.  Of course it’s a must for horse lovers. But Golega is also about having fun with your family and friends and repeating the same rituals each year. Even my teenage daughters love to go and hang out with their friends.

Travel Insider: The Misty Magic of Sintra and Colares

Palacio da Vila in Sintra

One one of my favorite places in all of Portugal is Sintra, an amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site just outside of Lisbon. The town has its own microclimate, where the cold Atlantic winds hit the hot Portuguese plains to create clouds, even in summer. It is said “Sintra is where the winter goes to spend the summer.”

Before King D. Carlos  made swimming and the beach the fashion at the turn of the century, the Portuguese elite used to spend their summers in the cool hills of Sintra. That’s why there are so many magical palaces of every possible architectural type. While the landmark neoromantic Pena Palace is not my cup of tea, I adore the Palacio da Vila with its very romantic late medieval rooms, patios, kitchens, and Portuguese tiles.

The palace is in the main center of town, where you can walk to see the sites and have a delicious “travesseiro” pastry at the Cafe a Periquita, which is a timeless tradition.  My husband took me straight there the first time we visited Portugal together in 1987.

Casa Branca sells some of the finest linens in all of Portugal.

Also in the center of town, I love the linens at Casa Branca and have had all my metal tables and garden furniture made by Sr. Antonio, a talented metal artisan whose shop is nearby. The restored Lawrence’s Hotel is where Lord Byron stayed when he was in Portugal.

The beautiful grounds of the Palacio de Seteais Hotel are the perfect setting for our Fall catalog.

Just outside of town, on the lovely road to Colares, is the Hotel Palacio de Seteais, where we photographed the current catalog. I have pictures of my husband there as a boy wearing handmade Portuguese sweaters. The Seteais (seven sighs) is named after a rock where legend has it that a woman lept to her death and her cries  reverberated seven times.

The Quinta da Capela Hotel.

Drive from there to the picturesque town of Colares, and pass by the Quinta da Capela hotel with the most beautiful small chapel in this part of Portugal. It’s where my son Patrick was baptized (as was the grandfather of his Godfather, over 100 years before).   Quinta da Capela is one of three  exquisite houses that belong to the same family. It is my idea of heaven.

In Old Colares, make sure to see the lovely church, bandstand, and square. The restaurant Colares Velho is in an old pharmacy that still has the original apothecary bookcases in lovely yellow Portuguese pine. Visit Francoise Baudry and her antique shop in her house, then on to Almocageme, with its impeccable weekends-only roadside market, where we used to go every week to purchase all of our  produce,  jams, bread, fruit, vegetables, and eggs.

From Almocageme, it’s a lovely drive down to the little gem of Adraga Beach nestled in the cliffs. My entire family loves its fantastically simple seafood restaurant. Then  drive to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in Europe, and the delicious Refugio da Roca, which is particularly cozy in winter when they hang monkfish on long metal skewers above your table and a fire is burning in the background.

From Cabo da Roca, drive back torward Guincho beach, a paradise for surfers and winsurfers and the place my husband and children learned to swin in the freezing Atlantic waves.

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