Beautiful Stories: Fernanda Noval
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Fernanda and her husband Júlio left their corporate jobs in Rio de Janeiro in hopes of finding a more peaceful way of life. That entailed a few big changes and ultimately brought them to Cascais, where they opened Cria Artesanal Bakery. Their first success was to regularly supply sourdough bread to dozens of cafes and restaurants. But, when the pandemic started, word got out that these baked goodies were delicious and that they could make the lockdown a tad bit better for everyone. Thus, Cria became our neighborhood bakery and today we ask Fernanda about her ties to Cascais.
Why did you choose Cascais?
On one of our several trips to Portugal, my husband and I stayed in Cascais and fell in love. Later, we decided to move to Portugal. But still, we were still unsure whether to settle in Lisbon or Cascais. We ended up choosing Cascais because it has a lot more to do with our lifestyle. Back in Brazil, we used to live in Rio de Janeiro and we made the choice to move out of the city to Petrópolis, the mountains. We lived there for two years, so we weren’t used to the bustling city life anymore. Cascais seemed closer to what we had in Brazil — a peaceful life. That's why we chose this town and it’s already been five years since then.
Was it a cultural shock to move to Cascais? If yes, why?
It wasn’t the first time we were in contact with the Portuguese culture — my great-grandparents were from Portugal and we had friends living here. What surprised us the most was the quality of life compared to Brazil. Another important difference is that we have a lot more contact with foreigners here than we did there. There’s a big cultural exchange and I feel that it has enriched me a lot.
Is living close to the ocean as dreamy as it sounds?
Absolutely. As someone coming from Rio de Janeiro, I've always had a huge passion for the sea. I don’t even mind the cold water. I mean, of course a warm temperature would be nicer (smile), but my love for the sea is bigger than that. When I go to the beach, I dive in several times. For a carioca [native of Rio de Janeiro], it’s great to live near the beach (laughs).
What are your favorite things to do in Cascais?
I love walking through the streets in the center. I live in Bairro da Assunção and I’m happy I’m not car-dependent. I can just walk to the center and along Paredão.
What do you struggle with in Cascais?
Can I talk about dog poop on the street (laughs)? It's what bothers me the most in Cascais.
Brazilian and European Portuguese seem like different languages at times. Do you have any embarrassing or funny language moments?
Millions. As a Brazilian, I swore I would never say ‘mais pequeno’ (‘more small’) instead of ‘menor’ (‘smaller’) because where I come from it’s plain wrong — just like in Portugal you wouldn’t say ‘mais grande’ (‘more big’), you say ‘maior’ (‘bigger’). But at the bakery, I hear myself say it when I ask customers if they’d like the smaller bread, I can’t help it (laughs).
What advice would you give to foreign residents in Cascais?
From my experience, the Portuguese are extremely welcoming and open to Brazilians. My advice to Brazilians (and other foreigners) would be that they try to understand the local culture and not impose theirs. They should accept that they’re no longer in their home country and that people eat and live differently around here. Life is much easier when you stop trying to reproduce the life you had back home. It doesn’t mean it’ll be bad, you’ll learn new things, potentially even better than the old ones.
Now having experienced Portugal, do you envisage living anywhere else?
No. I love my life in Cascais, and for the time being, can't imagine moving anywhere else.
You’ll likely see Fernanda behind the counter at Cria Artesanal Bakery in Cascais, where there is a wide selection of sourdough breads, including loaves, baguettes, focaccias, and gluten-free options. Follow Cria on social media (Facebook and Instagram) to learn about their daily batches and novelties.