So here is our big news – we will be ready to open the Quinta Estrada Romana in the late spring of this year. Yahoo! Yep – the Beautiful Boot Project will take flight as we open the doors to walkers of the Camino de Santiago and the people of Cerdal and surrounding area. Our 15 bed hostel will accommodate 6 in our second floor bunk-bed room, 2 in the private pension room and 7 in the third floor loft. Our 28 seat dining room will offer simple walkers’ fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as will our outdoor cafe.
Our orchards, vineyard and fields will be tended to grow food for our restaurant’s consumption. Our pond, terraces, pastures, and dining areas will host festivals, dances, music gatherings and storytelling. Our reception room will host a jewelry shop thanks to the artistic talents of Donna Hiebert as well as any local fare that will sparkle the experience of our friends and guests.
All this said, we must be patient. We are at base camp 2 on the climb to the summit. We are slowly and gently building our community. If you are reading this page, you are now part of our circle of friends and supporters. We know that we will only reach the summit with your help. Whether this is as a commenter on this site, a WWOOFer (World Wide Organization On Organic Farms) willing to support our farm’s development, a volunteer helper or a guest, we are looking to you to join our circle.
The Beautiful Boot Project is after all a community-building experience. YOU are going to define our future. While Geof and I have committed to get this Project up and running, we are looking to YOU to GET INVOLVED. We have been extremely lucky already in assembling a little community to help us get to where we are today.
On December 21st 2012 Geof and I celebrated our commitment to each other, our adventure, the Beautiful Boot Project and the community that has helped us find our way. On the far right is Paulo, our architect, next to him is Vitor, our friend and real estate agent who has assisted us every step along the way. That’s Geof and I in the center and next to me are Manual and Liberia, our wonderful neighbours who have housed us in their cottage while we have been renovating the Quinta Estrada Romana. Our great friends Donald and Eleanor have been cut off – so here they are on the construction site. Donald is our honorary impresario. Our dedicated team of workers are standing in the second row. (Carlos is missing because he was our photographer!)The picture on the right is of Geof and I with Manual & Liberia. They had their marriage reception in the farmhouse and had their wedding picture taken at this very window in December 1969. Liberia actually grew up in the Quinta and has acted as our oral historian since our arrival. When you come to the Quinta Estrada Romana – you will see their wedding picture in our Reception area!
As we ready ourselves for our opening, and the building of this community of adventurers, let’s take a moment to look back over the past several months. What a ride we have been on! It was February 2011 when we returned to Portugal after our Camino trek from Lisboa to Santiago and then on to Finisterre. That was when we put in our offer to purchase our 8 acre farm and 200 year old stone farmhouse. We took possession on June 7 2011 and then it was time to rock and roll. While our vision of an albergue and restaurant on the Camino de Santiago, 9 km from Valenca and the Portuguese / Spanish border has continued to gain clarity, the journey from idea to realization has taught us a great deal about the country we now see as our home.
It has been a humbling experience to watch our work team manually make and haul cement, cart bricks, measure walls with string and sculpt massive pieces of granite into 2 feet thick stone walls. Coming from a country (Canada) that touts innovation and technology as our calling cards, it has been eye opening to watch five Portuguese men build our home by hand, showcasing the ancient traditions of stone masonry, cement making, and terracotta tile laying.
We found it quite ironic when we were taken to a number of homes using “new” North American wood framing construction. Replacing cement and ceramic tiles with wood and drywall, these new builds were touted as the latest in construction innovation. It blew our minds that such techniques would be so readily offered as superior methods in an environment so completely counter to our Canadian climate. In our minds – how could wood and drywall possibly hold up against the 6 week rainy season during which dampness is a constant inhabitant? While we could be accused of romanticizing the Iberian building techniques, our diligent homework clearly led us back to the traditional building techniques.
It was in November that we discovered the original name of the property -the Quinta Estrada Romana or the Farm on the Roman Way. This all made sense as we remembered the stunning Roman bridge just past our farm. In fact, the Portuguese Camino de Santiago includes many well preserved Roman pathways and ruins. It is truly an honour to become part of this historic way.
So here we are, counting down the days to our opening. And we couldn’t be more excited. So sign up, sign in, comment, send us emails, let us know if you are ready for our opening and when you are going to make your way to YOUR community. We can guarantee love, laughs and of course, adventure!