Esteva - brave pioneer with unexpected beauty

February 22, 2022
                                picture by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

In the hills that connect the Algarve with Alentejo, you will find great biodiversity. Everywhere you see sobreiros (cork oaks), azinheiras (holm oaks), eucalyptus, medronheiros (strawberry trees), wild herbs such as rosemary, mint and lavender and heather. The Esteva (sometimes called xara) can also be found there in large numbers. In the spring, nature puts on a remarkable show here, transforming hills into a festival of colors and scents, in which the Esteva plays a leading role.

The "Esteva" (Cistus ladanifer, gum rock rose or cistus rose) covers the mountains and valleys in spring with millions of beautiful, sweet-smelling white flowers. The flower itself is delicate and beautiful, but the evergreen it grows on is tough and shaggy with sticky branches and leaves. It is a plant from the rock rose family (Cistaceae) that grows in dry, rocky places where nothing else wants to grow and can grow up to 2 meters high. The sticky resin is labdanum, a highly aromatic resin. This resin protects the plant from the harsh and dry climate and it also inhibits the growth of competing plants in its environment. Because of this last characteristic you often find entire hills overgrown with Esteva.

Esteva grows on acidic, non-calcareous soils, made of shale, granite and quartz. It is a very fast-growing pioneer plant that is a good biological indicator of soil degradation due to, for example, overgrazing or constant fires, as it is one of the first plants to appear in the space where oaks once grew.

In the past, charcoal was extracted from the root of the Esteva, which is extremely hard and woody. This wood was also traditionally used to fire bread ovens. It is still wood to start a hot fire with. In moist soil it is not so difficult to pry the plants root and all out of the soil. Because this plant is full of resin and oil, it's best to make sure it doesn't grow within at least 50 meters of your home and other buildings.


Esteva essential oils are known for their antiseptic, astringent, antiviral, toning, purifying and restorative properties. They also boost the immune system and are used in aromatherapy to combat stress.

Labdanum used to be used in analgesic patches, to treat hernias, rheumatism, ulcers and gastritis. It has also been attributed with sedative properties and it is used in herbal medicine to treat respiratory problems (cough and bronchitis).

Labdanum and Esteva essential oils are also used in perfumery, they are used in perfumes, soaps and detergents, as well as in cosmetics and beauty treatment products, which act as a tissue regenerator to slow down skin aging and fight acne.

Hunting in the rural Algarve

January 5, 2020


Many dog owners in the Algarve give their dog the name of Diana, the patron saint of the hunters. Hunting is an ancient tradition in Portugal and today still practised by many men and a few women. The shooting of birds and game was always a welcome opportunity to feed the family with something else than pork or chicken. Nowadays, rules are more strict and nature preservation is high on the agenda. The organisation of a hunt is taken very seriously.

Hunting may be an annoiance to many, but for the caçadores, hunting also means enjoying nature, walking across the countryside and besides that, it is a very social happening. After the morning hunt, there usually is a lunch in the club house or in a local restaurant, where the hunters meet, eat, drink and talk about their experiences.  

The hunting season runs from 15 August till 28 February. The hunters are in general active on Thursdays, Sundays and there will be hunting on public holidays. 

To hunt in Portugal you need to pass a theory exam and acquire an arm´s license from the PSP police. For the Algarve the authority is the Federação de Caçadores do Algarve ( The liçense does not come easy and there are quite a lot of obligations en fees for the hunters. 

The law

It clearly states in the law that hunting is NOT allowed within:

• 100 metres of highways, national roads (EN) and railway tracks
• 250 metres of garden walls, barns, roads and houses
• 500 metres (increased from 250 metres) of Beaches; Schools; Hospitals; Prisons; Orphanages; Retirement homes; Military Installations; Nursing Homes (kindergarten); Electric facilities; Lighthouses; River Harbours; Airports; Tourist complexes; Camp sites; Sports halls; Industrial Complexes and Animal Shelters. 

If there are occasional hunters that do not stick to the law, you are entitled to call upon the GNR for assistance. 

If you own a large rural property and wish to keep hunters off your land completely, then you can apply for a licence to put “no hunting” signs on the borders of your land. Ask for more information at your local Camara.

The signs

If you walk through the countryside you will certainly notice the red and white signs. This is what they mean:


                                                                  Designated hunting area

                                                          No hunting without consent of owners
                                                                    hunting prohibited


Algarve welcomes campervans in 7 new parks

April 17, 2019

Campervans are very increasingly popular as a means to discover the Algarve and at the same time they contribute to the economy of the region. To better serve these tourists and to discourage illegal camping, the Algarve now announced several extra parks to accommodate motorhomes.

The one in São Bartolomeu de Messines is almost ready and the one in São Marcos da Serra is under construction and will be ready in approximately 4 months.
Furthermore there is one realized in Portimão near the N125, one in Vila do Bispo near the fortress of Sagres and another one on the west coast between Aljezur and Lagos. Then there is a new one near Tavira (Cachopa).
More information may be found on, the website of the Algarve Motorhome Support Network.


Daytrip to Lisbon

October 26, 2017

A daytrip to Lisbon is a popular city trip destination for tourists in Portugal.  Discover the diverse districts of this beautiful city, take a trip around the sights and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere. Have a look at the Castelo de São Jorge, go surfing in Cascais or go shopping in the big shopping streets. Here you find some tips for a daytrip to Lisbon:
  • Castelo de São Jorge. The Castelo de São Jorge has eighteen towers, all of which overlooking the city. It is one of the most famous sights in Lisbon. The history of the tower dates back to the sixth century. In the centuries that followed, the Castelo de São Jorge survived earthquakes and wars. There is also a museum where everything will be explained about the history of this area. In the evenings the tower is lit, which certainly is a beautiful sight. 
  • Casino Lisboa.  If you are looking for some fun in the evening, then the beautiful Casino Lisboa is a good tip. Also in architecture this is an interesting casino. It was designed by Stanley Ho and we can call it a real eye-catcher. Especially in the dark, it is amazing. Inside it is cozy and one can try his luck with a card game or a spin on the roulette wheel. The opening hours of Casino Lisboa are nice and it is located centrally. 
  • Belém.  Belém district has become a tourist attraction in Lisbon. In this area there are two famous sights to visit, namely the Monasteiro dos Jeronimos and the Torre de Belém. Both sites are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List dating back to 1500. In Belém, it is also worth visiting the 'Antiga Confeiteria de Belém', where you can try one of the best pastries in Portugal. 
  • Tram 28.  Every visitor must have taken at least one ride with tram 28 in Lisbon. This world-famous and vintage tram line makes a long route through the city and is an ideal way to get to know Lisbon in a short period of time. A ticket for tram 28 costs no more than three euros and trams leave almost every ten minutes. 
  • Cascais.  If you want to rest and enjoy the beautiful nature of the city of Lisbon, then visiting the island of Cascais is highly recommended. This island is a walhalla for the surfers and the rest seekers. Enjoy the beautiful beaches, visit the cozy center or go for a walk. From Lisbon, it is only an hour to reach Cascais by train.

25 x Enjoy the Algarve!

June 8, 2017

The Ria Formosa is home to the largest population of sea horses in the world. The yearly Bike Meeting in Faro attracts about 35.000 bikers. In Silves, they make wine out of oranges. With coasteering in the Costa Vicentina Nature Reserve, you jump off 12m cliffs into the Atlantic Ocean. The Algarve’s cuisine isn’t only about sea food, but also includes locally farmed porco preto. Mountain bikers from all over the world train in the hills of São Brás area. In Castro Marim, you can take a mud bath in a traditional salt pan.

Long story short: the Algarve is more than just a place with beautiful beaches. To show the variety of this region, journalist Yayeri van Baarsen and photographer Kyle Rodriguez have made the monthly online Enjoy the Algarve magazine (the first issue came out in June 2015). With articles about the local cork industry, the coffee culture, the varied nature, and the forgotten villages where people still use donkeys to plough their land. But above all the magazine is about, quite simply, enjoying the Algarve.

Van Baarsen & Rodriguez: “Nothing wrong with floating around in the swimming pool of your all-inclusive hotel, but there’s so much more to discover. Explore the countryside, jump into rivers, taste that Medronho. With Enjoy the Algarve we want to inspire people to get off their sunbeds and try something new, whether it’s canoeing to Ilha da Culatra or buying honey from a local beekeeper. So that during your holiday in the south of Portugal you experience more than just drinking vinho verde in the hotel bar and lounging on the beach.”


Currently Enjoy the Algarve exists two years. Time for the 25th issue: ‘Made by hand’, which focuses on traditional handicrafts. Some previous themed issues: ‘Get dirty’, ‘Island style’, ‘No fear’, ‘Into the wild’, and ‘Don’t worry, be hippie’. Also in every edition: features, activity reviews, city guides, photography tips, expat interviews and Portugal trivia. The fully responsive digital magazine features stories from Aljezur to Alcoutim and from Sagres to Vila Real de Santo António.

What are you waiting for? Visit and read all the issues of Enjoy the Algarve magazine for free. Enjoy!

Directly to the most recent issue:

The Best Beer of Portugal

May 5, 2017

Although the Portuguese drink a lot more wine than beer, they still consume an average of 49 liters of beer per person per year. In general most people drink their cerveja straight from the bottle, and that is the way it tastes best, preferably freezing cold! If you prefer a draft beer, you have to ask for an Imperial (regular size glass) or a Caneca (large glass mug). 

There are bottles of 20 ml (mini) and 33 ml (media).  Most Portuguese drink the mini´s, a success among consumers because of it small size and constant freshness. What is the best beer of Portugal?  Ask this question in the north of the country and most people will tell you that is Super Bock.  But if you ask the same question in the south, most people will vote for Sagres.  The best advise is to try both of them and make up your own mind.

Super Bock is made north of Porto by Unicer Bebidas. Unicer also produces Cristal beer as well as Carlsberg and Tuborg. The first Super Bock beer left the brewery in 1927! Super Bock proudly holds the leading position in the market. It is the sponsor of music events such as the Super Bock Super Rock. It also sponsors the football clubs of Sporting and Porto.

Sagres beer was born in 1940 as a prestige beer and was the first beer to be exported. The brewery is near Lissabon. In 2007 Heiniken took over control of the Sociedade Central de Cervejas e Bebidas. They also produce Luso and Heinkiken. Sagres has a long term sponsorship deal with the Liga Portuguese Futebol and also sponsors the football clubs of Benfica, Braga, Olhanense and Académica Coimbra, plus the Portuguese national team.

The "normal" Sagres and Super Bock beer is a so called Pale Lager. But both breweries also have a dark beer (Stout with Super Bock and Preta with Sagres), a low-alcoholic fresh beer for summer (Green for Super Bock and Radler for Sagres) and also some special beers (Abadia with Super Bock and Bohemia with Sagres). They also both have a non-alcoholic beer. So more than enough to choose from! And for the price you don´t have to leave it be. A media beer you can get for as little asf €0,90 and a mini for €0,70.

Cheers! or as the Portuguese say: A Nossa! And if you want more, just ask for "mais uma, por favor" (another one please)


Football, more than just a game in Portugal

May 1, 2017

Football is omnipresent in Portugal, you might even speak of "footballization" of the Portuguese society. Here, in the Algarve, the football-a-holics are often divided between the clubs of Benfica and Sporting (or should I say Sporting and Benfica?). Anyway, the third important national club, Porto, is out of the picture here.

A little bit of history 
Football was brought to Portugal in the late 19th century by Portuguese students who returned from England. The first match on the mainland was in 1889 on the spot where now the Campo Pequeno is situated. Portugal won by 2-1 from England then.

Later the game spread through colleges and lead to the foundation of clubs all over the country. "Clube Internacional de Futebol" (1902) was the first Portuguese team to play abroad, defeating Madrid Fútbol Clube in 1907 in Madrid. The main domestic football competition is the Primeira Liga. Besides Porto, there are two other important clubs in Portugal: Sporting Clube de Portugal was founded in 1906 and Sport Lisboa e Benfica was born in 1904.

Football in everyday life 
People in this country are so fond of this game that there are 3 different daily newspapers on the subject. In every café you will find a copy of "O Record" next to the daily newspaper. It is the national sport of Portugal and most people take it very seriously. On TV you can hear and see the latest news on football right after the most important national news and the topic takes up a lot of time. Only after the subject of football is finished, the rest of the world news is being discussed briefly. As far as games are concerned in which the national team plays: these are only big news if Portugal wins!
The most important celebrities of Portugal are football players or trainers, such as Ronaldo and Mourinho. They are celebrated like half-Gods.  Football is being discussed on a daily basis at home, at work, in the café and on the street. My village (São Marcos da Serra) is roughly divided into 2 parts. Half of the people are fan of Benfica and the other half loves Sporting and the only thing that matters is that "the right" club wins.

Most games are shown on television and are watched at home or in the local café. Hardly anybody goes to see a match life in the stadium, mostly due to the high prices of tickets, the long distance and the late hour of the games on working days. 


Making the Move to Portugal

March 19, 2017

When it comes to moving to a new country, there is a lot that must be done. There is probably a lot that you’re moving for, as well. Portugal is home to many activities, events, beautiful places and friendly people. Moving here can be a great step for anyone who wants a new life in a country where people are friendly and there is plenty to do day or night. 

Why Move to Portugal

Portugal is, simply put, one of the most fascinating countries to live in. Whether you are looking for a home near the coast or maybe in more rural areas, there are homes ranging from simple and affordable to luxury. This means that whatever your budget may be, there is ample opportunity to find the perfect home to live in.  With a wide array of housing choice and many things to do around the country, you will find a great deal of fun can be had when you want to step out and relax or get to know the local area.

Those that have an adventurous side to them can make use of the hiking trails in the wild south-west of Portugal, a beautiful and rather unknown region where visitors enjoy nature in many ways. Relaxing on a beautiful beach with the wind in your hair and the sand between your toes is another ideal reason to move, as Portugal has some of the best shoreline you may ever see. While swimming or surfing are surely popular pastimes, many also enjoy stand up paddle boarding as well as exploring coastal caves and many other fun activities. Whatever strikes your fancy, you can find within Portugal. When you commit to a long-term move, you can take time to enjoy these great things for years to come. 

How to Get Your Items There

While some expats move with little more than a backpack and a dream of a more relaxed lifestyle, others choose to bring along household goods and other personal property. When you hire an international moving company, it can help cut down the overall stress involved with such a large move. While most visitors to Portugal don’t have a dire need for a personal car during their stay, there are a few who opt to have a car shipped over for their use when they plan to stay long-term or don’t necessarily enjoy taking public transit. Public transportation is however, affordable and easy to find in most major cities and large towns throughout Portugal. Due to shipping expenses, it is often advised to sell or donate items to cut back on what must be shipped. If you plan to have your items shipped, you will need to have the following documents ready for customs. 

Declaration of Goods - In Portuguese 
Permit or Home Ownership Deed
Valued Amount of Goods
Serial Numbers of All Major Electrical Appliances

When it comes time to move to Portugal be sure to take a little time getting to know the area you are interested in so you can find a great home that fits your budget as well as your lifestyle. Try to get out and meet some of the locals when you move so you won’t feel isolated or homesick. Learning the language is going to be important. While at many places English is spoken, you may be at a loss for conversation if you can’t understand Portuguese. This is a big move to make, and it can be one of the best you may ever make, especially once you get to know people and find your way to and from the many places of interest in your new local area. 

The Top Cheeses of Portugal

December 16, 2016
Every country has its own special cheeses and so does Portugal. They taste very different from the Dutch Gouda or the British Cheddar, but once you have tried some, you will soon find one that fits your taste. 

When you go shopping for cheese in Portugal there are a few words you should know:

- Fresco means fresh, young
- curado means cured, aged
- velho means old, aged for at least 90 days
- leite means milk
- cabra means goat
- ovelha means sheep
- vaca means cow
- amanteigado means creamy, buttery. Good for spreading on bread.
- cru means raw
- Picante is spicy
- Queijo em barra - block cheese
- queijo em fatias - sliced cheese
- DOP - like DOC in wine - designated to cheeses produced in their traditional area

Here are some of the highest rated cheeses made in Portugal:


Queijo da Serra da Estrela - Also know as the "king of Portuguese cheeses". A smooth creamy cheese with a a rich taste made from sheep´s milk, cured with cardoon flowers in stead of animal rennet (so suitable for vegetarians too). The DOP variety comes from the region of the Serra da Estrela, the high hills in the centre of Portugal. It tastes a bit like ripe Brie. You should cut the top off the cheese and spoon the cheese out. Use the top to close again.  Once the shell is empty, you can still use it once with fresh, hot pasta. Just fill it in and toss it around to get the last bit of this lovely cheese. There are nearby producers which make similar non-DOP cheeses in the Serra style, such as the Queijo de Seia.


Queijo de Serpa - Very popular traditional cheese from south Portugal made from sheep´s milk and vegetable rennet. The cheese is wrapped in cloth to mature in cellars. The rind is brushed with olive oil and paprika, which gives it a strong, spicy aroma and flavor. The inside is firm, creamy with tiny holes.


Queijo de Azeitão - Creamy sheep´s cheese made with thistle flowers in stead of animal rennet. It has a nice earthy aroma and can be scooped out of its shell. Spicy but not too strong in taste. This appears the most palatable of the so called "stinky" cheeses for most people.


Queijo de Cabra Transmontano - Hard white and very tasty cheese from goat milk, made in the north of Portugal. Great for grating or slicing.


Queijo de Evora - Semi-hard to hard cheese from raw sheep´s milk which tastes a bit salty and spicy once it ages. 


Queijo de Nisa - Light-yellow firm cheese made from raw sheep´s milk and vegetable rennet. The earthy, herby taste combines very well with a glass of red wine.


Queijo do Pico - Soft cheese with a strong smell made from cow´s milk, sometimes mixed with goat´s milk, from the Açores. Used as a dessert cheese. 


Queijo do Rabaçal - Semi-hard to hard cheese, made from goat´s and sheep´s milk. Originates in central Portugal. 


Queijo de São Jorge - Produced on the Açores. A hard, dry and spicy cheese made from cow´s milk. This is the largest of the Portuguese cheeses. 


Queijo Terrincho - Semi-soft mild cheese from unpasteurized sheep´s milk, made in the Tras-os-Montes region. This cheese is cured in rye and covered with paprika.


Queijo de Castelo Branco - Intense and spicy flavour and smell. Made from goat and sheep milk. This cheese is only produced in the fall.


Queijo Requeijão - Very fresh, creamy and wet cheese. Milk is added to whey, which gets heated and then is drained in baskets. It is often sold in pastic, soaking in a clear liquid.


Locally made fresh goat cheeses - lovely with some pepper and salt or honey.


Queijo Flamengo - Portugal’s "everyday cheese" used for tosta and sandwiches. Flamengo means Flemish in Portuguese, and has nothing to do with the Flamingo birds. It is a copy of the Dutch Edam cheese and the most popular style bought in supermarkets around the country. It is usually sold "em barra" - as a block cheese.

This is a small selection of the many different cheeses you can buy in Portugal. There is one for every occasion, price and taste. What is your favourite?


Do You Know These Remarkable Facts About Portugal?

June 21, 2016

Some of these facts about Portugal you may have heard about before, but you probably do not know all of them......

  1. Cape St. Vincent is the most southwestern part of Europe´s main land. In its fortress was a seafaring school during the golden era of exploration. 
  2. Portugal was the first global maritime power during the 15th and 16th century. Henry the Navigator and Vasco da Gama are some of the best known names of that time.
  3. Portugal is a surfers´paradise. It is famous for the best and the highest waves.
  4. Macon in China was a Portuguese colony until 1999 !
  5. Drugs are "decriminalized" here since 2001. Since then the number of drug addicts has been halved!
  6. The first prepaid telephone card was produced in Portugal - in 1995.
  7. Fado - the beautiful soulful ballads from Portugal - are on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list.
  8. Including the maritime area, 95% of Portugal is water!
  9. Portugal has the oldest borders from Europe. They exist since 1139 !
  10. Portugal and England have the oldest diplomatic relationship of the world! It dates back to 1373 and is called the Aliança Luso-Britânica
  11. Portugal is the largest producer of cork. It accounts for more than 50% of the world´s cork production.
  12. Lisbon is older than Rome (4 centuries older!). 
  13. The English tea ceremony was introduced to England by Catarina de Bragança, who married King Charles II of England. T.E.A. = Transporte de Ervas Aromáticas! That is the name impressed on those boxes that Portuguese used to trade tea. Chá (Portuguese for tea) is one Portuguese word based on the Cantonese word tchá.
  14. Portuguese is the 6th world language. More than 261.000.000 people speak it and it is the official language in 9 countries.
  15. Algarve is considered the golf capital of Europe.

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About Me

Marianne Hoesen Born in the deep south of The Netherlands, I moved to the central Algarve in 2007, together with my partner and 2 dogs. In the meantime we added some goats and chickens and are living a peaceful life in the rolling hills of the rural south of Portugal. I invite you to read a bit in my blog and to leave a comment afterwards. Also check out the holiday accommodations mentioned elsewhere in this website.


Algarve Portugal
café Portugal, bica
Esteva, rock rose, Algarve
sun, beach, Algarve
real cork real wine
beach Algarve
folklore dance Algarve
chicken piri piri