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Are you looking for an extra special gift for your loved ones and you find yourself stuck for ideas? Well, why not combine your next stay with Blue Sky Villas this autumn with a fun shopping spree? When it comes to thoughtful and unique gifts, you can’t go wrong with a traditional hand-crafted gift, or one made from local products, with love, care and attention to detail. Here are a few ideas that might just hit the spot.
Imagine a soap that transports you back to a place you’ve visited - just through its fragrance… This is what you can experience when you use portuguese soaps. Portugal has been producing soap since 1887 and nowadays these little bars of scented wonderfulness have become popular among celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Nicholas Cage, with Oprah describing them as ‘a labour of love’.
These soaps are normally made using traditional recipes that include ingredients from organically grown plants, wild portuguese flora or local ingredients, such as olive oil or milk from regional cattle. The packaging is also generally made to reflect portuguese culture and its origins. A fantastic gift that not only gives you a sense of history, but also the scents of Portugal.
Our pick: “Banho Citron Verbena” from Claus Porto
One of the things that screams ‘Portugal’ whenever you see it are portuguese “Azulejos” (tiles). The name ‘azulejo’ comes from the arabic ‘small polished stone’ and has become a symbol of our heritage since it was first brought to Portugal by the arabs in the 13th century.
These portuguese ceramics come in all different shapes and colours but when they were first introduced, they were typically blue and white. Nowadays you can buy portuguese tiles in many souvenir shops in an impressive range of designs and colours.
As well as being sold as wall hanging decorative pieces, you can also buy tiles made into coasters, surface protectors and even more elaborate items - such as vases or plant potholders.
Our pick: “Pack of 6 coasters AZULEJO” from Companhia Atlântica
Another popular gift option is Portuguese pottery – an ancient artform that dates back to prehistoric times and is still going strong today. Ceramic styles vary in different areas of the country, with the north favouring more floral designs, such as the famous colourful cockerel ‘Galo de Barcelos’ – an unmistakable symbol of Portugal. In the central region, you will come across dishware in the shape of birds or cabbages - distinctive, quirky and sure to be a talking piece!
The Algarve on the other hand is famous for its magnificent chimneys - used in the past to represent the wealth of the families that lived in these houses. You can buy miniature versions of these beautifully intricate chimneys, as well as other unique handmade and hand painted pieces in pottery and souvenir shops across the Algarve.
Our pick: “Couve” from Bordallo Pinheiro
Now let’s get your taste buds going… If you’re looking for a food related gift, a great option is the traditional Cataplana pan – an item of cookware that is very popular in the Algarve. This is not only the name of the cookware itself, but also the name of the dish that is cooked within it.
The great thing about the cataplana is that it is so easy to use, most people with little or no cooking experience can follow one of the many recipes available and end up producing a delicious dish. All you need to do is fill it with your chosen ingredients, close it and put it on heat. After that, it basically takes care of itself!
Our pick: “Cataplana” from A Vida Portuguesa
Cork is one of Portugal’s most lucrative natural products. Not only is it used to produce corks for bottles worldwide, but it is also used to produce a multitude of products such as wallets, purses and bags.
Because it is such a fantastic representation of everything that is portuguese they are a wonderful souvenir for your friends and family. Buying cork products in Portugal has become so widespread that in recent years, we have seen many shops opening across the country that sell only these items.
Our pick: “Cork Coasters” from Sobri
A comfortable pair of shoes can make such a difference to our wellbeing and happiness. In the footwear industry, portuguese shoes are considered to be among the highest in quality worldwide.
Leather boots and leather shoes for men, women and children can be seen in shops all around the world and are synonymous of durability and top-class craftsmanship.
When people see ‘Made in Portugal’ stamped on footwear, they know they are in possession of a luxury item. So, why not invest in a lovely pair of Portuguese made shoes as a special gift for a loved one? Show them you really care!
Our pick: “Derby 40606/00” from Centenário
For those who like a tipple, another of our finest products is, of course, portuguese wine. Due to our fantastic sunny climate, the quality of our grapes is second to none – resulting in amazing wine. In the north, specifically the Porto region, the speciality is port.
Among the most popular are Ruby Port, Tawny Port & Taylor Port wine. There’s nothing better to finish off a great dinner than a lovely drop of port wine. Other than port, we are also very well known for our wine production as a whole.
Portugal boasts a wide number of vineyards, all producing amazing quality wine, both for national consumption as well as export. Here in the Algarve, we are blessed with a wide selection of vineyards that you can visit, and with Blue Sky Villas we can plan a vineyard tour for you where you can learn about the wine-making process, have a taste of the local produce and then purchase your favourites. Try before you buy – the best and most fun way to shop!
Our pick: “Porto Fine Tawny” from Sandeman
Now that we have given you so many wonderful ideas, the only thing left to do is to plan your trip and start putting together your shopping list!