Visiting Caldas da Rainha
Caldas da Rainha is a commercial town, quickly growing around the thermal hospital built centuries ago by queen D. Leonor.
With nothing very special to see, Caldas stays in the middle of several serious attractions, only a few minutes from Óbidos, Alcobaça, Nazaré or S. Martinho do Porto, being a good alternative for lodging.
Using its tradition in ceramics, some museums appeared deserving a visit.
Furthermore, if you have sense of humor, after buying a pack of “cavacas das Caldas”, a typical cake, enter one shop and ask for the most traditional piece of Caldas ceramic.
A warning – Leave the kids at the door and be prepared…
The greatest of Portuguese humorists, Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, inspired his son that opened a factory producing his father creations, and more.
The factory shop is also a museum that really deserves to be seen, on weekdays from 10 AM to 7 PM, at the street with the same name.
Also interesting in more classical ceramic works, is Museu da Cerâmica, in Rua dr Ilídio Amado, opened till 5 PM with a lunch break.
Last but not least Museu José Malhoa, in the park, shows sculpture, ceramics and paintings from XIX and XX centuries, with evidence to Jose Malhoa himself and… …forgive me, this is private – my grand uncle, Sousa Lopes.
Nossa Senhora do Pópulo
After 60 years living in the area I needed a friend marrying there to discover this small but wonderful church.
It was built in 1500 included in the thermal hospital, it mixes Gothic with Mudejar and Manueline styles.
The bell tower is fabulous.
Yes, shame on me!
I didn’t know that the thermal hospital had a museum, and was surprised by its yards and garden, during my friends’ marriage.
Nice area, putting me the question: what will they display inside?
If you manage to enter before me, please let me know!
Five jets fountain
In the 18th century, king João V ordered the construction of three fountains.
This one, located near the hospital, was the most important, in Baroque style.
Ceramics and fruit are the most significant products of Caldas da Rainha. If pottery is well represented in the various museums and in the many shops, fruit does not have the same evidence, except…
The beautiful central square of the city, is referred to by the population as the fruit square, because every morning it is occupied by a market where fruit reigns. See, and buy!
Integrated in a complex of the old factory of Bordallo Pinheiro, this restaurant is something easy to recommend.
It is not a cheap place, neither a gourmet place, but it is a restaurant betting in quality and presentation, with warm reception and very reasonable prices.
Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro is a must in Portuguese culture, and the father of the humorist ceramics that are the image of Caldas da Rainha.
The factory had many problems but the adjacent museum is still operational and may be visited by previous reserve. Booking a visit and a lunch will be a very interesting idea, eating in Caldas da Rainha.
Cheap, cheap, cheap
We were leaving Caldas da Rainha to have lunch in Foz do Arelho, when, thinking about the extreme heat, the trouble to park in August, and the crowded restaurants in the beach, we decided to eat in the first place with an acceptable look.
Near the exit to Foz, Fernanda saw a good looking esplanade and said that it could be the place.
It was easy to park across the street, and looking at the displayed menu we were frightened by the prices, with the dishes ranging from 3 to 5 euros. It was a risk, but the dish of the day was one of my favorites, pork with clams (“Carne de porco à alentejana”) , and Fernanda wanted a salad, with a couple of choices, so, we… risked.
We had a decent lunch, the food was well prepared and presented, tasty, and served in a short time.
We had no desert (they didn’t even suggest it), so we didn’t know if there was something besides ice cream, but with a small bottle of wine, two soft drinks and two coffees we paid… 12€.
A common and decent lunch at a very low price. Good!
Address: R Vitorino Frois 66, Caldas da Rainha
Right in the centre of town, near the fruit market, this restaurant managed (and maybe owned) by a middle age couple, is a reasonable solution. The food is not outstanding, but it is good, with a homemade touch. My steak was tender and tasty, and the grilled skids of Fernanda “knew the secret”, as she said, to a good sauce – the best olive oil. We paid 25 € for both meals, but the great surprise was the lady’s sympathy, treating the costumers as if they were… her grandsons. Clear and honest suggestions and explanations
Address: Rua do Parque, 17
Once upon a time I had a dinner in this restaurant, and… forgot it.
Later on, I heard that it had great reputation among locals. My fault?
Recently, I’ve been in a party, catered by this restaurant.
I was more careful observing everything, and could notice that they prepared a great performance, suitable to the garden and room where the party took place.
Imagination and design were everywhere, since the edible earth, to the explosive chocolate cake, passing by the hanging salads in the trees and the smoking vegetable ice cream.
Great show, indeed, but the tastes were not remarkable. Of course, everything was aimed to our eyes, more than the mouths, but the balance was far from perfection. I can’t imagine the price, but it couldn’t be cheap, and didn’t add much to my idea (or absence of it) about their food.
It was not exactly eating in Caldas da Rainha, and one day I went there for lunch. Modern food, cousin of fast-food, but… I’ve been back there!
Phone: +351 262 841 483
Just by the park
Very well located, by the park and the thermal complex, I didn’t know this restaurant. Yesterday, I was there… and entered, to a very positive experience: The food was good, the service was nice, and the price reasonable. A place deserving a second visit.
Favorite Dish: Shrimps with curry (usually done with rice, this time they used… tagliatelle, and the result was very interesting.
Grilled pork with coriander
Address: Rua Camões, 39
Phone: 351 262 877 911
A Capelinha do Monte
I must confess that I was trying to find another restaurant in the square, that was closed, and, being late, I decided not to search any more and try this discreet restaurant below a simple facade.
Well, it was what it seemed, a small familiar business. A middle aged woman in the kitchen, and a middle age man offering to the few costumers, a couple of common home made dishes. Not bad, nor remarkable – a simple and honest service, well done food, reasonably priced.
Address: Praça 5 Outubro 22, Caldas da Rainha
Phone: +351 262 832 031
For a calm drink, or a light snack, Mazagran is a good place, in the centre of the city.
Youth dominates, as expected, but the music is soft and the ambiance “civilized” enough to please customers of all ages.
It has a wide animation program, from art exhibitions to live music.
Dancing in the Museum
The Malhoa Museum is a respected museum well placed in the pleasant central park of Caldas da Rainha.
Visiting it has always been a pleasure, not only because it does justice to some of our modern art figures, but because one of my great uncles is among them.
One day we had an invitation to a dance performance in one of the halls.
The audience was small, but dancing under the gaze of those impressive figures on the walls was an unforgettable experience.
Dancing in Malhoa museum was fabulous… and we repeated it.