Today, we toured the Vatican. On our own. We visited the Vatican Museums, the Raphael Galleries and the Sistine Chapel with Raphael’s masterpiece ceiling frescoes. Three hours passed in a breeze. Then we took...
Koh Samui is the perfect island to take a break, relax and forget your worries. But even paradise island has its limits and with an influx of tourists, service may vary. We have tested...
I am going to spell out our well kept secrets on lodging, eateries and activities on our ever favourite island. Koh Samui. We have been at least four times to the island and stayed...
Alongside sushi, tempura is Japan’s most known speciality dish. Softly battered and instantly deep fried veggies or seafood are served on rice in a rice bowl (tendon), with soba noodles, or simply as a...
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Tourists got to eat. Like everyone else, yes, except that we are more dependant on good food outside our temporary homes. Tourist menus are designed for tourists and hence not the muito excelente of Portuguese cuisine. Which is why we tried one overly recommended local restaurant and another one, frequented by locals a lot and just opposite our doorstep in Porto. These two places are loved by locals. Actually a good sign. But unfortunately no guarantee, that service or food...Read More
Facing the Atlantic at Foz, Porto’s seaside and beach area, leaves a long lasting memory. There are various ways to get there but for me, riding the old tram was the greatest fun in Portugal. The number 1 tram in Porto took us all the way along the Douro river to Foz. How to get to Foz Electrico number 1 at the Infante Dom Henrique de Rua to the port of Foz (runs along the...Read More
Nata is a combination of a bar, café and pastry shop in Porto. This place gave us good quality food for very reasonable prices. We found it as we were looking for a café serving Portuguese Easter food but luck wasn’t on our side. Or was. While everything had closed during Easter, Nata served us a good lunch. Their flexible opening hours are another great feature. It is frequented by students and locals but tourists seem to pass it...Read More
If you are planning to go abroad and like to travel more independently, think about renting an apartment. We have been doing this a while now and it is the most comfortable way to get a home away from home. Two years on the road and we have hardly seen a hotel room! Our apartment rental in Porto We stayed 13 days and paid 65 Euros a night including airbnb fees (for the three of us...Read More
Porto gave Portugal its name. We are going to explore how this northern and second-biggest city after Lisbon has earned the honour. The journey to Porto from Lisbon began rather shaky. After being stood up by a taxi we had ordered the night before, The One had to hunt down a cab in the deserted neighbourhood. Miraculously, we made it well ahead of time. To the most intriguing train station I have seen. Entrecampos. It is so incredibly ugly,...Read More
Tiles, tiles, tiles, everywhere. Portugal’s unique decorative feature is the azulejo. Shiny ceramic plates that adorn about every building in Portugal. Azulejo is derived from the Arabic word azzelij or zuleycha, which means small polished stone and refers to a squared ceramic piece, with one side glazed. Tiles are used as decorations for everything, from the walls of halls, chambers, staircases or making up whole building façades to the lintels above doors or holy pictures at the entrance… they...Read More
Garden, panaderia, dinner, concert. Today was a great day. 1st THE GARDEN To escape the city bustle and see if our favourite garden in Lisbon could be matched, we took a walk to the Jardim Botanico Tropical. Location: Largo Jeronimos and Calçada do Galvão, Belem, Lisbon. Entrance: 2 Euros. Souvenir tip: You can buy very sweet miniature plants in pretty pots for less than 10 Euros at the entrance office. The garden is located close to the monumental Monasterio Jeronimos...Read More
Happy consumption is, apart from my personal motto, the exhibition of vintage advertisements at the Centro Cultural in Portugal’s capital. The Centro Cultural is a hard contemporary contrast to Lisbon’s ornate architecture. The complex is large with conflicting dynamics, a bit too big, too ugly, too empty, just one of those examples of EU spending. Set in the medieval-historic centre of Belem, in the western part of Lisbon, it is clashing with its more attractive neighbours, the Monastery of...Read More
Whilst visiting Queluz Palace, I was sure to have found the most opulent residence in Portugal. Today, I was proved wrong. Ajuda National Palace, just a stone’s throw away from our quarters in Belem, was the visualized definition of royal residence. All heavy drapes and an abundance of aristocratic imagery. If you have little time in Lisbon, I would recommend to focus on the historic centre in Lisbon’s western district. Most of all, on Ajuda Palace. Palácio Nacional da...Read More
A feast for nostalgic fashionistas are two sights in Lisbon. Especially if, like me, you love historic frock and fancy accessories of aristocracy. MUDE, the Museum for Design and Fashion in the centre of the capital and the Costume Museum, called Museu Nacional del Traje, did not disappoint. The latter is a real gem but located a bit on the outskirts, in Lumiar. If you have the time to travel around Lisbon, I highly recommend it. COSTUME MUSUEM –...Read More
Up next on our Sintra Hills tour was probably the most elaborate and funkiest fantasy-come-true. Quinta da Regaleira. Built between 1898 and 1912 by capitalist and philanthropist Carvalho Monteiro, also known as “Monteiro the Millionaire“. Money met a visionary. Italian architect Luigi Manini, who has also constructed the La Scala of Milan in Italy (where I cried to the dying swan from the Bolshoi), turned the vision of Monteiro into a private residence. It took 14 years of work....Read More
Just as you probably thought we were palaced out by Portugal’s fancy pancy palácios, we took on another round. On day two of our weekend tour, we drove down from Lisbon to the wonders of Sintra Hills, to see Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. PENA PALACE A sight nothing short of a Disney castle and a rival to the Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria, it is sitting more hidden than prominent, on top of Sintra mountain. The Park and Palace...Read More
Spoiler: Portuguese infernos are rather pleasant. Some are named inferno and dramatically describe incredible cliff formations on Portugal’s shores. The other infernos refer to the mental pain you are going through when 1) trying to limit yourself on Portuguese pastry and 2) choosing a decent restaurant serving seafood. We had all of that on our two day trip to Sintra. To get a break from Portuguese palacemania, we balanced out sightseeing with nature’s destructive forces and food. There were...Read More
MONSERRATE Location: Monserrate, 2710-405 Sintra. Admission: Our combined ticket for four palaces (Monserrate, Sintra, Queluz and Pena) was 32,50 Euros per person. Monserrate Palace was number three on the list, which was the final one on the day, and in my opinion the most original of the Sintra palace lot. The Monserrate estate once belonged to the Royal All Saints Hospital and got its name from the Chapel to Our Lady Of Monserrate in 1540 , however, the most...Read More
The picturesque landscape of Sintra is rightfully classified UNESCO Heritage and located in the Sintra Mountains, just a day trip away from Lisbon (30 km) and only about 15 km to the east of the Atlantic Ocean. The beauty of Sintra lies in its royal buildings and estates from early medieval times to the romanticism of the 19th century. The city of Sintra is an exquisite mountain village and if it wasn’t for us tourists, it would have been...Read More
A wonderful delight, the ultimate palacemania can be found in Portugal. For the most unusual noble residences I urge you to visit Sintra and its whereabouts. We started our one-day palaces tour from Belem, our home in Portugal’s capital, with a rented car, to see the National Palace in Sintra, the Palace of Monserrate and to make a stop over for the Palace in Queluz, on the way to Sintra. The distances are pleasantly manageable. Before we disembark for...Read More
One kind of a ride in hilly Lisbon is tram number 28. This tram is a tourists’ favourite and one of the most memorable mean of transportation in Lisbon. Number 28 has a pretty antiquated wooden look and is rattling up and down steep mini hills, edgy turns and narrow streets of the capital. It was going to take us up to Lisbon’s Castle, known as Castelo S Jorge, when the heavens above decided against a smooth ride and...Read More
Tempura are delicately battered and deep-fried vegetables and seafood. All around the world, tempura is known to be a Japanese dish. How surprised I was to hear that Japanese tempura comes from Portugal! What? Exactly. Whatever culinary crown Portugal was wearing once, it seems centuries ago, as apart from salt, sugar and cinnamon (the latter two, mainly in their pastry shops), I cannot see restaurants pushing culinary boundaries to catch up globally. Portugal once was a culinary forerunner. Maybe....Read More
To understand Lisbon’s musical vibes it is essential (for the Fado amateur) to visit the Fado Museum, conveniently located in the heart of Alfama – the district breathing Fado tradition. To feel Fado, you got to attend a live performance of black clothed Fado singers, creating an atmosphere of mystique and elegance. Here is our Fado know-how (for beginners). THE FADO MUSEUM Location: Largo do Chafariz de Dentro 1, Alfama district, Lisbon. At the Fado Museum, they have this...Read More
Today we dived into the exorbitant wealth of Lisbon’s past. When you walk the streets of the capital, the prosperous past oozes through the streets. And through holes of neglected walls. On every shabby corner of Lisbon you can see that it was a powerful empire, playing a first class role in the orders of the world. During the Age of Discovery Lisbon flourished with riches pouring into Portugal, which saw the construction of great monuments like the Tower...Read More
Easter is a big thing in Catholic and miracle-abuzzed Portugal. If you come to Portugal during Easter, like we did and like to try out some edible Portuguese traditions, like we would have liked to do… …but couldn’t because on Easter Sunday stores were closed, commemorating Jesus Christ’s resurrection from death, rather than filling the stomachs of those dying of hunger… …the traditional Portuguese Easter munchies are: pão de ló and folar de pascoa. Pão de ló is airy...Read More
Apart from fantastic pastelarias and (sometimes) fine tourist menus, here is my list of local delicacies, most of which we bought to cater for ourselves and most of which you can buy at a Portuguese supermarket. Gastronomic specialities of Portugal (a list of 12 foods to expand – feel free!) 1. CHEESE Portugal is batting high in the cheese department. The local cheese variety is delicious. The soft versions are to die for. My favourite cheese is the fresh...Read More
If you are planning to visit Portugal for not longer than a month, you can get a very good offer from Meo – the Portuguese brand name for telecommunications services provided by Portugal Telecom. Meo sells a SIM card for €10 – that includes 10 GB of internet traffic and a €5 credit which can be used for phone calls and is valid for one month. We found the offer in one of Meo‘s mobile phone and internet shops...Read More
From what we have seen and tasted so far, Lisbon’s highlights are not of culinary nature. Main tourist spots – in prime locations – may shock you with hamburgers, hot dogs and low key fast food dishes. They are by no means cheap and let’s not even get me started about quality or health benefits. But there are just as many cheap-good value options. Look for a high frequency of locals and you will find yourself in one of...Read More
The first day we arrived, we used public transport in Lisbon and bought tickets from the driver. We rode the bus, the train, tram and the old tram but if you buy single tickets on board you pay a lot more. We weren’t in the know. Locals were using the better alternative, a travel card which they scanned when boarding buses and trams. You can buy a travel card for 0,50 Euros, then top it up anytime at ticket...Read More
We saw many what I would call ‘unconventional sights’ in Lisbon today. Don’t-miss-dos are riding Lisboa’s old trams, the Santa Justa elevator, as well as finding one of those Portuguese miradouros. As a must-try I would add shredded bacalhau, the mazagran and awesome pastelarias to the list. The Elevador da Glória, is actually not an elevator but a funicular (an old tiny tram going up steep slopes) that has been taking passengers up and down the hill between Restauradores...Read More