Shame on us! We had doubts at first- despite the warm friendly contact from Helder and the detailed information pack and website. It all seemed too good to be true. But it was true and we needn't have worried.
The very first reaction on catching a glimpse through the imposing gates was "OMG!" For the price of a basic apartment you get a luxury villa. Set in lush, well tended gardens, you immediately pack away the world and its cares, and settle down into an oasis of tranquility.
There are lots of lovely nooks and crannies to read a book in- or just to sit and stare. Undoubtedly, the centre-piece for us was the pool. Situated (no joke) just beyond the villa's front doors. You almost can roll out of the house straight into the pool.
Inside the house, the furniture is special and personal and chosen so as to provide comfort but yet be unobtrusive. My favourite is the golden antique telephone in the master bedroom. There are several pieces like that- but you'd have to work hard to harass one of these "Objets d'art".
It's as if the owners have anticipated your path beforehand. You don't have to constantly watch the kids as you do in some more formal places. Your every need seems anticipated. Think beach towels- there's a whole bag full. Crockery- enough for a busload of guests. "Lilos" for the pool. Televisions in every room (as if you'll be watching much TV- though it was great to catch a bit of the US Open).
For extra entertainment, there's a billiards table inside and full-sized tennis court outdoors. Helder's lovely parents are across the beautiful courtyard- available if you need them which adds extra security. It's tempting to stay confined to such luxurious, relaxing surroundings.
By all means book 2 weeks- as we did and do venture out after a while.
Discover Alfena, the local neighbourhood. The people are friendly- in a real sincere genuine way. The local cafes- we drank loads of "cafes-con-leite"! The Supajo bakery!- best to go in at the week-end like the locals for breakfast. The meat counter at the local mini-preco supermarket!- (think poolside barbecue). The local restaurants- authentic, traditional, welcoming!
In 2 weeks we lazed around so much- we didn't do enough of the touristy things to do in Porto. We managed the Old Town, Bom Jesus in Braga, and FC Porto, but kept rushing back "home" to relax. Our 4 year old summed up the experience well. "I'd like to live in this holiday". We suspect you will too.