Geo and Medieval tour in the Northern Portugal – day 2
After the first day of our Geo and Medieval tour in the Northern Portugal when we stayed in Hotel Solverde Spa & Wellness for the night, we also could have delicious breakfast in the same hotel. As I really cannot survive without food for longer than 3 hours, I woke up at 8am (way too early again) just to enjoy breakfast.
Breakfast room had the view of the beach and the outdoor swimming pool which woke me up immedately. I tried a bit of everything, a lot of fruit, cereals and even scrambled eggs with fresh bread and cheese. The offer of the hotel was surprisingly big and yummy. I had my morning green tea when chatting to J who also woke up early.
We still had some time so we checked out the indoor swimming pool but as you need a cap there, we went to the outdoor one. It had salt water which made it super easy to swim in. The weather was not in our favour very much as we could see only the clouds above our heads and breeze playing with the hair. Katja and Cheryl also came for a swim but went to take some shots of the beach first.
The colder weather that day caused my visit to the sauna just after swimming. And I was not complaining at all. Thankfully, the Hotel Solverde offers free sauna to its clients and I tried all of them. The saunas are divided into female and male parts and there is fresh water with cups for you, and also steam sauna, cold sauna and regular Finnish dry sauna. Me, such a sauna bum, I tried it all and then got ready to start our adventure that day.
Then the bus took us to Praiagolfe Spa Hotel at the beach of Espinho town (situated just 15 minutes by car of Porto). There we had a long delicious lunch with the general manager Helder Couto.
Yet another 3-hour lunch!
And later, we were shown different parts of the hotel. I was amazed by those romantic rooms with a bathtub in the room as I always wanted to stay in one of those. We also had a look at the spa and the swimming pool of the the hotel where I wished we stayed longer.
Our visit ended taking photos of the beach as they were waiting for us already in the Paper Museum.
Paper Museum instead of a spa and beach on a hot day??? (yes, now it was sunny and warm!) Who made those plans for us, we were asking.
But then Paper Museum Terras de Santa Maria (located in Paços de Brandão) visit turned out to be more interesting than we thought. I took a bunch of photos, videos and notes of everything the director Antonio Luis Marques di Selva told us. The museum is nowadays in the old mill from 1822 on Liz River. To be honest I did not know what to expect from that museum. But after the first couple of minutes I started to listen with my mouth open.
We walked around the ancient Engenho da Lourenca and Casa da Máquina.
”Yes, it is 300 years of history of paper production in this area” Antonio started.
It all began seriously when the Italians came here to produce paper without any knowledge in the 19th century.With time, there used to be 5 paper mills in here, each belonging to a different owner. The first remains of old walls and a mill we passed at the entrance was owned by a rich artistocratic family. The second paper mill where all the presentations of the Paper Museum take place now is the ancient building of Lourenca. Yes, the mill was run by a single woman with 2 kids which was not corrent at the time, but they made a good quality paper.
”One man produced in one day 500 sheets of paper.”
from coloured fabrics and tapistery -> you get coloured paper
white fabrics and tapistery -> white paper
newspapers -> grey coloured paper
brown paper boxes -> brown coloured paper
Antonio showed us the exact way of making paper – the way they used to make it until the 20th century when the press was released. It was then when the paper factories started to recycle the paper using both electric and hydraulic power. The same paper can be recycled 7 or 8 times and after that you have to put a new fiber into it (i.e. cut trees to make new fiber).
We continued to see the big paper machines that replaced the human power. It was 8 m long and 1,6 m wide of paper! And it is still nothing comparing to the biggest paper machine in Portugal which nowadays is 800 m long and 11 m wide!
We could also get a better image of how the paper was dried in the past. Usually 2 women grabbed 1 or 2 heavy wet paper rolls and put them to dry.
The paper that used to be made in here was so called papel pardo – it is a paper of not regular colour but let’s say that weird brownish colour. It was used for packaging mostly (paper boxes and paper bags for presents or meat for example). Those paper bags were made mainly by women always somewhere close by to the paper mill.
In one hour a person made 1,000 paper bags!
Check out the video to understand paper making a bit more:
Unfortunately, in the 60’s and 70’s the plastic industry came to Portugal which caused the decadence of the paper industry. They stopped making paper in this area in the beginning of 1990’s, hence the Paper Museum originated in here for investigation and educational purporses. They are also preparing another exhibition room to show the visitors how paper is made nowadays.
Please remember that the Paper Museum is closed on Mondays. For more information (so far in Portuguese only, but English coming soon) please visit Museu do Papel website.
After this interesting visit of the Paper Museum, we ended our day visiting the Convent, the Museum and the Castle of Santa Maria da Feira which was the real medieval part of the whole trip.
This trip was a press trip. All the thoughts in this article are my own as usual. For more information, please visit Turismo de Portugal – Porto e Norte website and Porto and Northern Portugal Tourism Board.