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Afurada, Portugal

Updated on April 12, 2018
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Mary and her husband work on international projects and have worked in the Maldives helping the government with skills development.

Afurada Is Living History

Living history is astonishing. You can still open the door to the magic kingdom. Sao Pedro da Afurada or just Afurada is one of these doors. It is a tiny fishing village on the edge of Porto in Portugal that seems to have let the world pass it by.

The Village of Afurada

Afurada in Portugal
Afurada in Portugal | Source

The Eternal Look of the Sea

Fishers and their spouses have the eternal look of the sea in their eyes and faces. Knowledge of the seas' hazards and the help needed to survive is in the spiritual tile art decorating most houses.

Being Portuguese, the tile covered houses give a sense of design and colour but the rectangular or square tile with images of the Protectors of fishers takes central significance.

Women of Afurada
Women of Afurada | Source

Older Women in Afurada Sharing News

Older women, often all in black, chat quietly to each other on the streets while keeping wise old eyes on village life. Being Portuguese, the tile covered houses give a sense of design and colour that must reflect some Moorish legacy.

Fishing villages have a common and timeless smell. The background odour is always the sea with the weed and refuse along its edge but on top of that is the pungent cut of a thousand years of fishing nets and wharves and old boats.

Finally, there's the smell of smokehouses and grilling fish on the market as lunch is prepared. Afurada has this pungency and it quickly supports a feeling that you're in Brigadoon or a past back at least a millennia.

Tiles Give Afurada Houses Its Distinct Character

Tiles of Protectors in an Afurada Home
Tiles of Protectors in an Afurada Home | Source

Distinct Character of Afurada Homes

Almost every house in Afurada is decorated with tiles in square or rectangle showing the adopted saint or other protectors to which the house is dedicated. It shows that such a protector has kept the members of the family safe. Often, this protector is shown with boats or fishing scenes, the major concern of the families in the area.

It is interesting to look at these tiles as often they tell stories of the residents there or of the village in general.

The Sharpest Building in Afurada Popular to the Locals

The Club House of the Porto Football Team
The Club House of the Porto Football Team | Source

The Tradition of Small Shops

The tradition of small shops is very much alive in Afurada. Pastry shops don't sell meat. Grocery shops don't sell pastry. Each small street has its own bar and the sharpest building in town is the club house for the Football team.

Groceries are sold from tiny shops each one knowing the needs not only of the street it services but the individual families in that street. If you go into any of these shops with a smile and a welcome face, the owners open to you and welcome a new experience. Wherever you're from, they have a nephew, uncle, grandson, any family member. If the central Church is the spirit of the village, the small shops are its heart.

The Panadeira, Bakery and Pastry Shop

Early in the morning, there's a flurry of activity around each of the panadeiros that do the village baking. All of the black clad grannies know the exact moment that the bread is ready for sale and, with their aprons on, they descend on their shop for purchase and news. Be warned. Do not get in their way.

Don't be intimidated, however, to get in these shops. When we walked into the bakery we've selected, faces were blank but with big smiles and a happy Bom Dia, they realized we were harmless tourists that could possibly give them a story to tell over lunch.

We pointed on different cakes and sweets and when it was clear we were there to shop, they happily shared pieces of cake and waited with grins for our reaction. These are the same small shop owners all over the world, big city or small village. By the time we left with our purchases, we did not require any further lunch.

Our New Afurada Friend

The Village Baker
The Village Baker | Source

Here's the Village Baker's Pastry Shop and Bakery

Pastry Shop and Bakery
Pastry Shop and Bakery | Source

The Grocery Shop

In the grocery, there was a stack of huge salted cod. One man spoke reasonable English and we told him the days when the Portuguese fishermen swarmed the Grand Banks of Eastern North America to bring the cod home to be salted in winter. One Canadian province bears a memory of this time being called Labrador from the Portuguese word for work.

He really enjoyed hearing the story and immediately retold it to everyone in the grocery and soon my husband was standing with a salted cod draped over his shoulder so memory pictures could be taken with the staff. The laughter brought in other shoppers.

As a reward, we got a fridge magnet of a smiling cod.

The Salted Cod Photo

The Grocery Shop Staff and Grumpy with the Salted Cod
The Grocery Shop Staff and Grumpy with the Salted Cod | Source

A Walk Along the Wharf

Afurada has working wharf parked on it are different fishing vessels with fishers working on their nets and telling stories to each other. Walking along this wharf by the fleet is a real experience. The boats are tough little vessels with high bows and deep drafts. They're a mix of traditional fishing gear and hydraulic systems to haul in the nets.

Where we stay on a beach, the next land is 3,000 kms. away in North America and, by the time the waves hit this fishing fleet, working on these boats is a hazardous experience. These are tough, gnarled seamen and their stories are told in small fishing villages all over the world but it's especially well told in the Interpretive Centre of Afurada.

The Fishing Boats on the Wharf

The Fishing Boats in the Afurtada Wharf
The Fishing Boats in the Afurtada Wharf | Source

The Centro Interpretativo do Patrimonio da Afurada

The Centre was our first introduction to the Village. We found parking in this area of the beach not knowing of the village of Afurada. As we walked inward, a red warehouse attracted our attention as it looked like a Museum. We hesitated but the lady in-charge invited us in as admission is free.

The Centre is an old warehouse beautifully converted into a combination of modern art, fishing history, the stories of the saints that protected the fishers and all the bits and pieces that make fishing and the life of people in fishing villages. Most of these pieces were donated by the fishers and their families.

What we found most interesting was the photo exhibition of the faces of the old residents of Afurada, men and women, fishers, fish mongers, crafters, and washers. Their faces talk of life in this village just as well as the displays.

The Centre is a great tribute not just to the life of the fishers and the villagers of Afurada but also that of the many other fishers and fishing villagers all over the world.

Display in the Centro Interpretivo do Patrimonio da Afurada

Creative Display in the Centre
Creative Display in the Centre | Source

Another Display in the Centro Interpretativo do Patrimonio

St. Peter on the Boat
St. Peter on the Boat | Source

Cafes and Restaurants

At midday, your nose will guide you to a local restaurant. There are several cafes and restaurants to choose from. Outdoor grilling of fish of all types, sardines, sea bass, is the standard and it's about as fast from boat to plate as you can make it. There are one or two standard menu restaurants with chicken and beef but why would you go to a fishing village to eat that staff?

Taberna do Sao Pedro

Restaurant in Afurada
Restaurant in Afurada | Source

Lavaduoro Publico da Afurada

This might be a surprise to you but these are ancient community washing tanks that people in the village still use today and many women prefer it even if they have washing machines at home. They claim that this is better for huge pieces like sheets, bed covers and carpets.

South of this place is called Praia dos Lavadoures where lived many of the washers who took in the laundry of the British families who lived in Porto then. Remember, almost all the Port houses here have British names. There must have been many community washing tanks around this area then. What is astonishing is to see one that is still used today. Isn't this enough to draw you to Afurada?

A Visit to Afurada

Is Afurada a place you would like to visit?

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Afurada Gives You a Feel of Portugal

Portugal's cities are wonderful but to have a feel for the country, a slow walk through a fishing village, taking time to smile at people, shop a little bit, and to say hello would be welcome. They'll have more to teach you than the common lessons taught by all European cities.

Where Abouts is Afurada?

A markerAfurada, Porto,Portugal -
São Pedro da Afurada, 4400 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
get directions

How to Go to Afurada from Porto

99.9% of fishing villages are on the water so just follow the water south of Porto. You can walk from Ponte Luis 1, just follow the river south but it's quite a long walk.

You can take the boat "Flor do Gas", a small taxi boat that transports people and bikes from the Lordelo do Ouro (Porto) side to Afurada (Gaia). It crosses the Douro River enabling you to enjoy the Arrábida bridge and also where the river flows into the Atlantic ocean.

It is fast and inexpensive and the boat runs every 15 minutes during these hours.

6 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday

8 a.m. - 9 p.m. Sunday

Has Afurada Struck a Responsive Chord in You?

Do you enjoy "living" history? In your family's history, are there any fishers? Did any of your ancestors come from a tiny fishing village?

© 2017 Mary Norton

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    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 13 days ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you, Anna. We loved the place so much we were happy we found it. The other time, we made Lisbon our home and explored the areas close to there like Sintra and Obidos. It's a beautiful country.

    • Global-Chica profile image

      Anna 13 days ago from New York, NY

      You have a way with words, Mary! I felt transplanted to Afurada reading this article. Having lived in Portugal for two years and marrying a Lisbonite, I feel proud to read your recollection of a small Portuguese fishing village. Obrigada!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      The first time we also went to Lisbon. This time, we went to Porto and Afurada is almost a part of it. Thanks for the visit.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 weeks ago from SW England

      A charming hub and a charming place, Mary. I'd love to go there.

      I have a Portuguese son-in-law and I've been to the Lisbon area but don't know much else about the country as a whole.

      What I do love are the local bakeries and cake makers which seem to go hand-in-hand with the cafés and the cakes are delicious, as you say!

      Thanks for the education.


    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 3 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      The reason exactly why we visit places like these now. The connection is there.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 3 months ago from Connecticut, USA

      Some of this reminds me of where I grew up in The Bronx. There was a grocery store, a meat market, a vegetable store, and a fish market. You would go from store to store. I would truly like to visit.

    • CYong74 profile image

      Kuan Leong Yong 4 months ago from Singapore

      Those tile designs are really gorgeous.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks Nell. I also love traditional villages. We're just here to get away from the snow in Canada but long enough to enjoy the place.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 months ago from England

      How lovely! I love the old traditional villages around the world. We seem to be so quick to jump into modern living everywhere, it seems all those places are the same. That's why traditional villages and towns are a must! Thank you for sharing this, and you are so lucky to be living there!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you Dora. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Well written and very interesting! Great pictures as well. Thanks for the tour around Afurada with all its unique features.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I don't know how long it will be able to do so given its closeness to Porto.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This sounds like a lovely village to explore. You've brought it alive with your description and photos. Thanks for the virtual tour, Mary.

    • Mariaelizabeth profile image

      Maria Elizabeth 4 months ago from Cheshire/Greater Manchester, UK

      Thanks for these lively descriptions. A fishing village continuing its traditions - a special place.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 4 months ago from Brazil

      Before moving to Brazil, we considered moving to Portugal. I loved it there, although I don't recall visiting, Afurada.

      I have some wonderful images of stout women pushing trolleys of fish after just buying them off the boat.

      It is wonderful to see some traditions are still going strong.

      It's said that the Portuguese women have 365 different recipes for salted cod. One for every day of the year.

      I only tried a couple of them but enjoyed them.

      When we leave Brazil, I will definitely put Afurada on my 'to visit' list.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      You are right Bill. You can imagine the American flag hanged in front. Thanks for the visit.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      It is indeed a gem of a place including the salted cod.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you Peggy. Am glad you are delighted. It was such for us.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      It is tiny but beside the big picturesque city of Porto so there are lots to do. Hope you visit it one day.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      It was a journey we would always appreciate. Thanks for taking it with us.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Pretty amazing, the things you've seen. The Club House looks like many buildings over in the States, like a general store you might find in the country.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 months ago from USA

      Thanks for sharing this. From the salted cod (yikes) to the grocery shops, this quaint place would be a great place to visit. Love it!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      What a delightful little fishing village you discovered in Portugal. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences with us along with your photos. I really enjoyed this!

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 4 months ago from Norfolk, England

      Afurada looks a beautiful place to visit. I've never been to Portugal before, but I would love to some day.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 months ago from sunny Florida

      thank you for taking me on this journey. I simply adore the small treasures where time seems to stand still. It would be my pleasure to visit there one day.

      Angels are on the way to you this evening ps