We set off on a short ride, expecting to see a classic car show. Instead, we found ourselves in an old farmhouse, visiting a private collection of toys and train-sets. Certainly not what we were expecting, but an interesting visit nonetheless.
A facebook events ad referred to a Nostalgia Classic Day, hosted by the Nostalgia Carocha Clube & Clássicos Vintage (a local classic car club) at the Quinta Casa da Aldeia. Ethan and I rode the short distance to the quinta but found it to be closed. I made some enquiries within and was told that the classic cars had not arrived yet. But we were invited to enter the premises to wait. When the cars finally arrived, there were only two of them! Both Volkswagen Beetles. The car show was a bust but we were able to enjoy a tour of the quinta along with a dozen or so others who had arrived for a visit.
The Casa da Aldeia (Village House) is home to a family that has lived there for several generations. It also does double-duty as a railway park and rural museum, but is certainly off the beaten track as far as tourists are concerned. It is only open on Saturday afternoons or by prior appointment.
The patriarch of the family is 92 years old and most of the museum items are his own personal collections. He conducts the tours himself, along with his son-in-law (who graciously gave Ethan and I a tour in English).
The first room that we visited house the old man’s toy collection that included many model airplanes. Ethan was very impressed with a glass-encased model airport that the old man built himself. Additionally, there was a nice collection of old toy cars. Some were old clockwork cars, but there was also a lovely old fire engine that was steam-powered. A whole wall was taken up by glass cases displaying dolls from around the world and there were some family heirlooms on display, including baby crib that four generations of babies have slept in.
The next room was set up as a classroom, complete with old desks, chalk tablets, textbooks and a teacher mannequin. On the opposite side of the room was a collection of phones, radios, typewriters and a barber-shop.
Another room was full of implements used for textile production, including looms, spinning wheels, etc.
Next up was a room full of household items, including pots, pans, dishes and baskets. But my favourite piece was an old shower made from a galvanised bucket, with a pull handle that would release water when you were standing beneath it.
Ethan was getting bored after looking at housewares, but his eyes lit up when we got to the next room. A Marklin HO scale model electric train set took up almost the entirety of the floor space, with just enough room to walk around it. Display cabinets on the walls contained a variety of trains. Ethan loved watching the trains run around the tracks and began dreaming of having his own train set at home. In case that wasn’t enough, there was another room with another large train set – this time a 1/G scale model.
The final room that we visited contained an assortment of railway memorabilia – most notably a partial interior of an old railway dining carriage.
In addition to the various collections displayed inside rooms, the grounds of the house also display an assortment of antique items related to agriculture and wine-making.
The final attraction is a model railway built in the garden of the house, complete with a ride-on train and a small railway station.
Whilst Ethan would have liked to ride on the train, he didn’t want to wait any longer. And the rest of the visitors were still touring the collections, so we headed back to the bike and rode home.
Had it not been for the advertised classic car event, I may never have visited this private museum. The initial disappointment turned into an enjoyable visit.