celebrating with baloons

Summer break report (week 4) – Smashed it!

pastel_de_nata76 Bilingualism, Blog, Family, Life, Portuguese, Travel 2 Comments



After the unbearable heatwave of last week we finally set off on our road trip adventure in Portugal.


The Road Trip

Actually, it was more of a mini road trip. We had intended to cover more geographic areas and to visit family around Portugal but as this was our last week, time was limited. We had intended to depart a few days earlier but it was so hot, near 50 degrees Celsius in Portugal that we decided to delay our trip.

Below is a brief account of our trip, I aim to share more details of each town in the future.



Óbidos is absolutely charming. A small medieval village within a castle. There are plentiful craft and souvenir shops, and every other door sells the renown Ginjinha de Óbidos, a special sherry from that region.


In Obidos castle


In one of the charming street of Obidos


After a quick stop in São Martinho do Porto, where we stopped for dinner and a play on the beach, we headed to Porto.



Porto is gorgeous. The girls were mesmerised by the river (zona Ribeirinha) and all the street artists around the baixa (downtown), like this one:

A street artist in Porto, Portugal

A street artist in the Ribeira area, Porto


We could not leave without going to Casa de Serralves – an art centre with world-class exhibitions and gardens. It had various exhibitions, including ‘Anish Kapoor: Works, Thoughts, Experiments’. This work was in the gardens and the girls, of course, could not help but explore and play within and around it.


Anish Kapoor: Works, Thoughts, Experiments at Casa Serralves in Porto

Anish Kapoor in Casa Serralves, Porto


Playing inside a Anish Kapoor installation in Casa Serralves, Porto, Portugal

Playing inside an Anish Kapoor installation in Casa Serralves, Porto, Portugal



Sometimes called the Venice of Portugal because of its network of canals, Aveiro is also known for its art deco houses like the one below, and for colourful beach houses.


Art Deco house in Aveiro Portugal

Art Deco house in Aveiro Portugal


We did the obligatory Moliceiro boat trip around the canals which delighted the girls.


A moliceiro boat in Aveiro

A moliceiro boat in Aveiro


We also visited a crafts festival that was happening at the time of pour visit in mid-August. It was a great opportunity for the children to get a feel for Portuguese crafts and traditions.


A craftsman at a crafts festival in Aveiro

A craftsman at a crafts festival in Aveiro


It was a short, superficial trip. We didn’t do as much as I would have liked but it this was the first such trip with the girls and they are still small. I hope in a couple of years we can do a bigger more in-depth trip. There’s so much to do and see!

My original plan was a lot more ambitious. I wanted to give the girls an intense tour of Portugal. There’s just so much I’d like them to see and experience! But the reality is, they are only 3 and 5 years old. This was a gentle introduction and there will be plenty more opportunities.

My little Portuguese speakers

By the end this week, the fourth in our summer trip to Portugal, Sophia was speaking Portuguese 99% of the time. Her confidence in speaking to everyone, even with strangers and other children is impressive. She even corrected some grown ups! She’s always been one to call things by the right names and we should know better than simplify things in her presence!

Amelia is also speaking the occasional sentence but needs more praising and encouraging. Her favourite sentences at the moment are: “Nao e justo!” (“It’s not fair!”) and “Eu gosto disto” (“I like this”)!


Emotional connection

In a recent post, I mentioned the importance of the children having their own emotional connection to the home country of their parents. I think that has also been achieved. They loved the beaches and Sophia pronounced herself Queen of the Seas:


Queen of the seas

Sophia, Queen of the Seas, summoning the sea in a ritual dance


They loved playing with the counsins and other friends and that connection will also stay. I will make sure it endures in a holiday photo book to keep the memories alive


Mission accomplished?

Most definitely yes. I stated my ambitions for this trip in this post. I wanted to visit more places and create even more magical memories but illness and the heatwave put a stop to it. We all still had a great time and collected great memories. Both the girls’ minority language improved substantially since they arrived. In that sense, we smashed it! But it doesn’t end here…

Importantly, they will need to continue to have great exposure when back to the UK. That’s my next challenge – to come up with a foolproof way to keep at it and not lose the great gains from this trip. It’s a very simple equation:


without exposure and the need to speak the minority language, the children will lose what they acquired so far.


Missed the first 3 weeks of this trip? Read reports from week 1, week 2 and week 3.


First time here? Find our what Mother Tongue Notes is all about.




Comments 2

  1. Sounds like a great few days in Obidos and Porto. We visited Obidos last week and it’s an amazing little town. Loved every minute of our time there. We’ve been practising our Portuguese this summer as much as we can so our son keeps it fresh for school. I also set up an account for him on our Netflix in Portuguese for him to watch cartoons in the language and it’s even helping me recognise words and simple sentences. Maybe you could do the same for the girls?

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