Experience the Silver Coast of Portugal, just like us!

About us

We are Sandra and Maurice, the proud parents of Robin and Rowan. We like to share our experiences about our trip with children to Portugal and creating our new live on the Silver Coast of Portugal.

15 years ago we started renting rooms in our house“Casa Cantiga” and slowly business grew into a small-scale and sustainable Quinta with 10 holiday accommodations.

This year, together with our guests, we are starting the next 15 years and we start with a new name:“Quinta das Cantigas“. Welcome!

The, Dutch born, owners of Quinta das Cantigas - Sandra van Kessel and Maurice Couwenberg
The, Dutch born, owners of Quinta das Cantigas – Sandra van Kessel and Maurice Couwenberg

We are from the south of the Netherland, the cozy province called Brabant. After several years of living in the Czech Republic and Hungary, we now are feeling home at the Silver Coast of Portugal, already for many years. We learned the language and know our way around. Handy for our guests!

With our personal approach and hospitality , you will quickly feel at home. Relax in ourcomfortable and fully equipped accommodations.
The many facilities at the holidaypark encourage both lazy and active moments for young and older!!!

Why we left and why the choice of the Silver Coast of Portugal?

Portugal’s silver coast, a beautiful region for a new start for a young family. Why? Because in Europe it’s just possible, amazing right!

From a couple, up through parents with child to a family with 2 children

1998 Our son is born in Prague, Czech Republic
Our son was born in Prague, Czech Republic (1998), our daughter next 3 years later in Budapest

First we were with just two, both working for our careers, the bigger house, the bigger car, busy, busy, busy…Then came 2 little kids in our life….. It took a few years but then the penny dropped that living with (small) children really should be possible in a different way. We wanted more time with our children, we wanted to live in a good climate and, being satisfied with less can’t hurt either.

Touring Spain and Portugal with small children

Portugal with children 2006-02-19_travel-to-portugal-first-stop-estella-above-porto
Warming up during first stop in northern Portugal (Feb 2006)
Portugal with children 2006-02-22_travel-to-portugal-porto-
The kids discover Porto (Feb 2006)
With kids to Portugal 2006-02-27_travel-to-portugal-tabua-serra-da-estralla
Snow fun for the whole family in Serra-da-Estralla (March 2006)

We then cancelled everything, took the kids out of school and travelled around for six months in a Ford Transit van with caravan, through Portugal and southern Spain, to see where we felt at home and how to make a living. The main reasons for choosing the Iberian island were the climate, relatively still cheap, still in Europe so safe and a short travel time from the family

Portugal with small children 2006-03-14_travel-to-portugal-coastline-lisbon-near-caba-da-roca
With lovely spring weather the kids almost step out of Europe (here the westernmost tip of mainland EU)
Discovering Portugal and Spain with children 2006-04-07-travel-in-spain-camping-near-murcia-homework-making
No school, but teaching yourself in the caravan (Jan – Sep 2006)
Discovering Portugal and Spain with kids 2006-04-22-travel-in-spain-beach-oliva-under-valencia
Traveling through Portugal and Spain, where are they taking us anyway?

Choosing Alcobaça on Portugal’s Silver Coast

It became Alcobaça! The Portuguese city of Love. Well, a city ….indeed very much history with a beautiful love story but it is by our standards a village among the hills, near the sea.

The Silver Coast of Portugal has a wonderful moderate climate, it is quiet and has good amenities without having to go far for them. It is close to the beach of Nazaré and within an hour’s drive there is a lot to discover in terms of nature, culture, nice towns, big cities and, of course, the Lisbon airport.

And very important for a young family, the kids can attend the local school until 18, there are several sports clubs and plenty of space to play. It matched our ideas exactly!

At the campsite of Alcobaca, we chose this child-friendly and small town on the silver coast of portugal (July 2006)

Living among the Portuguese and the choice for hospitality

During our trip, we had decided to start in tourism as own entrepreneur. Not a final choice but a new beginning to go on from there.

So we were looking for a campsite, a B&B, a small hotel…..and the choice became a big house that we could start renting out in rooms , and the house was located a few kilometers outside of Alcobaça

Our new home after an amazing tour of Portugal with children
Our new home after an amazing tour of Portugal with children

Then began the task of building a life among the Portuguese. Sandra supervised the kids’ settling in at school and Maurice almost immediately started working in his old international work field.

After all, we had learned on the tour that many newcomers think it is cheap in Portugal, but that living a live with little or no income, is no fun here either.

So work, work and work to put the first money earned into renovations for the upcoming rental business.

Getting used to school already playfully for our daughter_carnival 2007

Portuguese habits…….Weird or different?

Portuguese culture is different from what we are used to. The daily schedule, dealing with children, the feeling of it “happens to us, we can’t do anything about it,” social life takes place on the streets, lots of “friends” but it can take a while before you get to visit the home to your Portuguese friends.

In the beginning we found many things strange but soon understood that we had to explain it to our children as “it is different”. Because when you grow up here, you adapt. So also working hard to learn the language and spending extra energy and time in getting new contacts and find the way for …everything!

Taking children to Portugal’s Silver Coast, a good choice?

The Portuguese are great with children , family life is still central here. But just how get in there as a foreigner. Fortunately, on our tour we had learned a lot from the experiences of others, we worked hard for our integration and it was not easy.

More time for the kids and each other sounds nice, the round trip with the family was great but to succeed in a new country requirs working doubly as hard. Fortunately, we work for ourselves and can largely decide our own daily schedule to balance attention to each other, to the children and work. All in all, it was quite a bit different than initially thought, but it was a good choice!

Building up holiday park “Casa Cantiga”

First swimming pool under construction at Casa Cantiga, now vacation park Quinta das Cantiga
Pool under construction at Casa Cantiga, now vacation park Quinta das Cantiga (2007)
Start of renovation of first vacation home at casa cantiga, alcobaça, nazaré, silver coast, portugal
The start of the renovation of our first vacation home (2008)
Pool water filling by local farmer at the vacation accommodations of Casa Cantiga, now Quinta das Cantigas
Pool water filling by local farmer, giant interesting rides for our daughter (2007)

Through travelling, we noticed that there are already many places with beautiful, hip, quickly oversized and luxurious holiday accommodation or, on the contrary, too old-fashioned and often “Portuguese cold”. Yes, yes, not only the Silver Coast of Portugal but all of Portugal has many cold nights from fall to spring and many houses are not prepared for that. In addition, during our tour we experienced little real hospitality, privacy and a very limited focus on families with children.

“If the kids are having a good time, so are the parents!”

With this in mind, in 15 years we remodeled our house, bought and remodeled neighbors’ houses, worked on all kinds of amenities for a family holiday with tranquility, privacy, space and play fun in nature and swimming pools. Each year a little step further until recently we said “now it is enough.” Our guests had been satisfied for years, we are now satisfied and ready for the next 15 years!

child-friendly and small-scale glamping silver coast Portugal
Glamping under construction at child-friendly Quinta (2014)
Glamping under construction at quinta das cantigas, silver coast portugal
New ECO Glamping for our family guests (2017)
Vintage camper arrives for completion on vacation quinta das Cantigas
Vintage camper comes for finishing on vacation quinta (2017)

See you soon in Portugal at Quinta das Cantigas

Our kids have now left home. Portugal has given them a fine home base while we “foreigners” here always live a bit between two worlds. We take the best of where we come from and the best of where we live. We also like to give you that on your holiday in the Silver Coast of Portugal at Quinta das Cantigas.

We’ll see you soon!

Maurice and Sandra