Looked after children and Anjo Holidays will hopefully become a match made in - need. Kids in care need holidays and Anjo Holidays need kids in care. Hopefully, in the future, kids from the UK will have been to Portugal and experienced a holiday that they'll both benefit from and carry with them as a memory.
Looked After Children & Anjo Holidays
Going back to when I worked with looked after children, I can remember the frustration of trying to source suitable holiday accommodation. That is the single biggest reason as to why Anjo Holidays was birthed. Several seasons of trawling the net, picking up the phone - the end result always being that there was nowhere available that would provide the two key ingredients for kids in care: accommodation that would meet need and a destination that was close enough not to be considered long haul yet foreign enough to provide kids with a cultural experience.
I remember Portugal being mooted as a possible destination. It's at most a two and a half hour flight away, is serviced by cheap flight carriers, and it's a country that is both beautiful and steeped in history. Architecturally, it's inspiring and aesthetically, it's stunning. Plus - even better - it's host to some of the most beautiful beaches in continental Europe.
What's more, despite the fact that the nation is full of native speakers, many have the ability to speak a common language - English. That's always a plus whenever you visit a foreign language speaking country. That's not to say that every single Portuguese resident can speak fluent English, they can't. But many speak it well enough to hold a basic conversation.
It's certainly helpful when you need help and/or information. something that I've come up against many times.
After more than a year here, I can understand the language fairly well and can speak it with a low-level of fluency - i.e. I can make myself understood. One thing I will be doing is asking our web designer to add a section on basic language - greetings, polite phrases and so on.
I would hope that those that do visit will at least learn a few words, as the Portuguese are friendly towards the British and are always delighted when you attempt a few words in their language. As a nation, they're very proud of who and what they are, where they've come from and where they hope to steer their country in the future.
Portugal remains influenced by other cultures, even today. They have been host to (willingly or not) the Romans and the Moors in times long past. There is still a little Arabic influence threaded through their language, as well as in much of their architecture. Scattered around the country are Roman ruins, evidence of their occupation of Portugal.
It may interest you to know that Portugal was once one of the most powerful seafaring countries in the world and that they share the oldest alliance (between two countries) with the UK. But for the Lisbon Earthquake in 1755, Portugal may well have continued it's growth to the point that it would now have been one of the richest nations in the world.
Unfortunately, the rebuilding of it's capital city, Lisbon, reduced the countries coffers almost to zero - a devastating event that the country never really recovered from, at least financially.
Now, contemporary Portugal is a wonderful mix of modern living and old world charm. The site of the villa is a little hamlet called Murteira, which is adjoined to a town called Cadaval - which happens to be one of my favourite places in the country. Much of the country remains unspoiled by modern living. That's not to say it's under-developed, more that it's not been developed at all.
The cities are cultural melting pots and rich in architecture, modern urbanisation and wonderful visitor attractions. One of my favourite parts of Lisbon, however, is the old district, predominantly found downtown and in the Alfama district.
The easiest way for looked after children to experience the Portuguese culture is to come for a week and participate in the deliciously, unhurried pace that's found around Cadaval, take a trip to Lisbon to see the city sights and spend some time at the local beaches, soaking up the wonderful, almost Mediterranean sun!