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Portugal

Stunning village built into gigantic stone

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Stunning village built into gigantic stone

Living beneath a roof that weighs more than the average cruise ship may make some people a little nervous. 

But it is commonplace for the residents in the Portuguese village of Monsanto, who adapted their homes around the environment filled with gigantic granite stones.

In the mountaintop village, homes are sandwiched between, under and even in the 200-tonne rocks. 

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Watch your head! The enormous rocks have been utilised as walls, floors, and most astoundingly, as roofs for houses that date back to the 16th century.

In 1938, Monsanto was named 'the most Portuguese village in Portugal', though its jaw-dropping land forms make it anything but regular.

Located in the municipality of Idanha-a-Nova, in eastern Portugal near the Spanish border, Monsanto sits at 2,486 feet above sea level and has spectacular views.

Donkey is the preferred form of transport for Monsanto's 800 residents, who have managed to maintain the village's medieval character.

The lush green land with homes built into the landscape looks like something out of Lord of the Rings

The lush green land with homes built into the landscape looks like something out of Lord of the Rings

Villagers have formed their homes around the existing rocks, rather than attempt to move them

Villagers have formed their homes around the existing rocks, rather than attempt to move them

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The cliffs surrounding the village are strewn with enormous rocks

The cliffs surrounding the village are strewn with enormous rocks

Monsanto is perched at 2,486 feet above sea level

Monsanto is perched at 2,486 feet above sea level

Source: Dailymail

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Best European country to visit

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Best European country to visit

Portugal won first place at the USA Today “10Best Readers’ Choice” contest for ‘Best European Country” to travel.

According to the editors, “Portugal is less iconic than other well-known countries, but it offers a wealth of opportunities to travelers: charming villages, great food, fascinating regional music, cultural opportunities, a beautiful coastline and even world-class surfing.”

They also wrote, “Much underrated Portugal has all the trappings of a pretty European country: cobbled villages beneath the shadows of medieval castles, sun-kissed beaches, a delectable culinary tradition and plenty of history to explore. Whether swimming in the turquoise waters of the Algarve, sipping a glass of port at a Porto cafe or listening to the melancholy lament of a fadista in Lisbon, Portugal’s understated beauty becomes obvious.”

The other countries that made the top 10 list include Italy, Austria, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Ireland, France, Iceland and Switzerland. All nominees were chosen by experts in the Travel Industry.

The USA Today “10Best” provides its users with original, unbiased, and experiential travel content on top attractions, things to do, and restaurants for top destinations in the US and around the world.

Source: Portuguese American Journal

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TOP 10 LISBON RESTAURANTS

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TOP 10 LISBON RESTAURANTS

BELCANTO

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Many have traveled to Lisbon just to dine at this restaurant. It opened in 1958, and was awarded a Michelin star in 2013, recognizing the talent of chef José Avillez, who revived the space in 2012. Avillez has other restaurants in town, but it's here that he presents his signature cutting-edge Portuguese cuisine.

FEITORIA

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Being located at the starting point of many of the Portuguese explorers' voyages, this restaurant distinguished with a Michelin star adds a touch of the exotic to Portuguese cuisine. The East is everywhere, starting with the décor, which includes an image of the Portuguese arriving in Japan. The menu changes twice a year so that only seasonal ingredients are used, and there's a wide selection of wines.

ELEVEN

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This restaurant with panoramic city views at the top of Edward VII Park is another of Lisbon's Michelin stars. It presents Mediterranean cuisine by the talented chef Joachim Koerper in an elegant dining room.

100 MANEIRAS

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Chef Ljubomir Stanisic mixes innovation and humor in his tasting menus, using products found at the Ribeira Market. That's how he guarantees freshness and surprise in every dish, without forgetting his signature creation, the "Estendal do Bairro," -- cod hanging by clothespins.

TAVARES

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Times change and so do the chefs, but what always remains is one of the grandest dining spaces in the city, and excellence in the kitchen. It's the oldest restaurant in Lisbon (and one of the oldest in the world), having opened, closed and reopened several times since 1784. Contemporary Portuguese cuisine is served surrounded by mirrors in a gilded room.

VARANDA

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This is probably the most expensive restaurant in town. It's the restaurant of the Ritz Four Seasons Hotel, with a Parisian touch in the décor and cuisine. Lunches are served in a varied buffet, while dinner is a la carte, offering international dishes with a strong French influence.

BICA DO SAPATO

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It's one of the trendiest spots in the city, and not just because it's actor John Malkovich's restaurant. It has been a "school" for many young chefs, some of whom are now some of the most promising talents in the city. It serves contemporary Portuguese cuisine at tables facing the waterfront in a stylish space.

ASSINATURA

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This restaurant follows the traditions of Portuguese cuisine, but updates them to modern tastes, and reinvents them with the chef's signature. It has maintained the excellence after the departure of the original chef, and the dining room keeps the mixture of the classic and the modern, which is also reflected in the kitchen.

ALMA

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Henrique Sá Pessoa is one of the best-known chefs in the country, and it's here that he presents his interpretations of Portuguese cuisine. Traditional dishes such as cod or suckling pig are transformed into original creations by mixing ingredients and seasonal products.

PANORAMA

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It's at the top of one of Lisbon's tallest buildings (theSheraton Hotel), so it offers a panoramic view over the city. The regularly-changing menu offers creative cuisine and a good wine selection.

Source: Lisbon Lux

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The most picturesque towns in the world

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The most picturesque towns in the world

There is a Portuguese town among the most picturesque towns in the world.

Ericeira, located about 35 kilometers away from Lisbon, is on the list and is therefore a place for you to visit. The portuguese Meca of Surf stands out, for example, for the houses perched over the sea. 

This list prepared by the San Francisco Globe, elected the most beautiful local photos. See, below, which towns are part of this same list.

Annecy: France

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Colmar: France

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Sidi Bou Said: Tunisia

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Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Germany

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Dinan: France

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Himalayas: Tibet

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Reine: Norway

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Gasadalur: Faroe Islands

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Camden: EUA

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Tenby: Wales

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Tasiilaq: Greenland

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Shirakawa: Japan

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Hallstatt: Austria

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Estrunfes (Smurfs): Spain

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Albarracin: Spain

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Chefchaouen: Marroco

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Ericeira: Portugal

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You want to visit this beautiful town? We have a holiday rental in Ericeira.

Ha Long Bay: Vietnam

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Leavenworth: EUA

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Burano: Italy

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Bled: Slovenia

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Putre: Chile

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Bibury: England

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Source: Idealista

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What do I love about Portugal?

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What do I love about Portugal?

By Nelson Carvalheiro

“What do I love about Portugal?” is a question that I get asked over and over again, and to which I give a different answer over and over again. As a Travel and Food Blogger, who spends his time visiting foreign countries, tasting all kinds of different cuisine and listening to people saying what makes their own country the greatest, I need to be very creative when it is my turn to say what I love about Portugal.  What I have written bellow is the answer I gave, when asked this very question at a recent Travel conference. 

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So, I was asked to speak about “What do I love about Portugal ?” …Well…This is what I could come up with…

I love to dream that I was once a great Portuguese Discover and that the whole world was under my command, to think that my sail ship is still outside waiting for me, to know that Portugal is not Spain neither a province of Spain, to wake up to 300 days of bright sunlight and think that I will have an espresso and a Nata for breakfast, to come out of bed and put my comfy slippers on (the ones that my grandmother handmade for me), to come to the window and say hello to the baker who has just delivered a bag fresh bread to the neighbour, to play some Amália on the radio and sing out loud “É uma casa Portuguesa com certeza”, to look at an Azulejo panel and think that Fernão Mendes Pinto was the first European to make contact with the Japan, to read a poem of Pessoa and think that “normal” is such an overrated word, to walk down the wooden stairs of a XVIII century building in Lisbon knowing that once upon a time Marquis and Dukes made the same journey every morning, to admire the unique patterns of the Portuguese Calçada boardwalks, to meet the old-timers for a quick Ginginha, to read the football newspaper and argue with the old-timers over a couple more Ginginhas, to think which fish am I going to eat for lunch, to discard that thought and recon that I will have Bacalhau instead, to walk the streets of Alfama and realizing that this is where real Lisboners live, to think that it was the Portuguese who introduced chillies to India, thus enabling the Indians to invent curry, to look at the red corrugated roof tops of the inland Portuguese villages and think that they resemble the waves the Atlantic Ocean, to know that half of the Europeans wears shoes made in Portugal,  to say hello to the Mayor and tell him that the needs to fix the leaking fire hydrant in my street, to know that the Portuguese are known for being able to resolve any complicated situation using the simplest and cheapest of methods possible, to hear the sounds of the bell tools and the screeching yellow trams, to kiss the sunshine of the southern planes every time I drink red wine of the Alentejo, to know that we are the only country in the world that catches bulls by their face and by their horns, to remind myself how cheap and cheerful Green Wine (Vinho Verde) really is, to explain to a Englishman that it was a Portuguese Queen by the name of Catherine of Braganza that introduced the noble art of tea drinking to the British, to know that Portugal has more seashore then inland borders with Spain, to go for dinner at a Tasca and have a seafood dinner with wine for under 10 Euros, to speak Insha’Allah as did the Moorish or to use Latin just to make my case stronger, that onion, garlic and olive oil are present in almost every Portuguese dish, to cry when I hear the melancholic tunes of late night Fado and think that there is no translation for the word “Saudade”,   to open a bottle of the finest Irish or Scottish whiskeys and knowing that the cork on the cap is Portuguese, to know that in the summer I can eat street  in charcoal every day, to go to bed knowing that I can do all this tomorrow again…And again…

Source: nelsoncarvalheiro.com

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Portugal voted top destination once again

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Portugal voted top destination once again

For the second consecutive year Portugal has been chosen as the best country in the world to visit by one of the world’s most prestigious travel magazines, Condé Nast Traveller. 

Online voters of the luxury travel publication chose Portugal for its winning combination of culture, gastronomy, excellent wines, beaches, history, golf courses, and for its friendly, open and very sincere people. Readers also described Portugal as having an impressive variety of landscapes.

This distinction comes a month after Portugal’s capital city scooped another accolade when the Post Office City Costs Barometer 2014 revealed a trip to Lisbon is the best for value in the Eurozone, being half the price of a visit to Paris, Amsterdam or Rome.

While a three-course evening meal for two with a bottle of wine in Lisbon would set visitors back £34.48, a similar meal would cost twice the price in Paris, at £68.97, £89.35 in Stockholm (Sweden), or £99.06 in Copenhagen, Denmark, it said.

Thirsty travellers can expect to pay an average of £1.12 for a bottle of beer in Lisbon, with the same costing £3.80 in Belfast, £4.31 in Dublin, and £6.73 in Moscow, Russia.

These latest reports and awards serve to substantiate Portugal’s excellent showing at the most recent World Travel Awards. The Algarve was chosen as Europe’s best beach destination and also scooped the top prize for best boutique resort (Vila Joya, Albufeira), best luxury resort (Conrad Hotel), best golf resort (Hotel Quinta do Lago), and best villa resort (Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel, Sagres).

On a national level, a further six awards were given to the Algarve. The Ria Park Hotel & Spa took the title of Portugal’s best business hotel and best hotel for conferences; the Martinhal was voted Portugal’s best family resort, while the best golf resort in the country went to the Hilton Vilamoura.

Hotel Quinta do Lago emerged as Portugal’s best overall resort, while the Blue&Green Vilalara Thalassa Resort took best spa resort.

The rest of the country also made a good impression, with Lisbon taking the title of Europe’s Leading City Break Destination and Madeira taking the title of Europe’s Leading Island Destination.

The Vine Hotel, also in Madeira, was voted Europe’s Leading Design Hotel, while the country as a whole was chosen as Europe’s leading golf destination.

Source: The Portugal News

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Braga, the loveliest city in Portugal

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Braga, the loveliest city in Portugal

It's a sleepy, ancient city, but also brimming with a modern, youthful energy. Check out Braga, the loveliest city in Portugal you've never heard of

Morning at the Cathedral in Braga. Photograph: Alamy

Morning at the Cathedral in Braga. Photograph: Alamy

Given that Braga has almost four dozen places of worship, it's easy to see why the Baroque city, one of Portugal's oldest, has a reputation as a staid, ecclesiastical destination. Each Easter, pious throngs flock here for the city's Semana Santa, and most visitors who end up in a place that barely registers on the global radar are here to tour the churches on a day trip from Porto, an hour away.

I made the journey because I was intrigued to discover why this ancient city – a former stronghold of the Roman empire – was selected as the 2012 European Capital of Youth. Clearly something was going on beyond the obvious. And it wasn't long before I realised that there is another side to this unassuming city in the country's northiwest corner.

Thanks to a large student population and a steady influx of young Portuguese, Braga has some lively cultural offerings, an eclectic vibe, a mellow – mostly underground – bar scene, and the bonus of outdoor adventure on the doorstep thanks to its close proximity to Peneda-Gerês national park.

The small-town warmth of the place is immediately apparent at the Braga Pop Hostel where owner Helena Gomes likes her guests to feel like friends rather than tourists. Her idiosyncratic touches start with a wink in the form of a sign on the second floor stairwell bearing the words: "We're sorry... but you still have one more floor to climb", and on the third-floor: "Hard stairs, aren't they? But, on the other hand, you're welcome."

Modern design at the Chapel Tree of Life, Braga, Portugal. Photograph: Nelson Garrido

Modern design at the Chapel Tree of Life, Braga, Portugal. Photograph: Nelson Garrido

There's contemporary photography in the Museu da Imagem, which spans two historic buildings: one from the 19th century and a tower from the 14th that was part of the original city wall, and innovative design at the Chapel Tree of Life (open to the public Fridays at 5pm) within the centuries-old seminary of São Pedro and São Paulo. This slatted structure, constructed solely of wood (with no nails or hinges), is suffused with light and evokes the serenity of the nearby forests while providing a singular example of the power of modern architecture.

Another hub of art and cultural activities is Livraria Centésima Página, a popular bookshop behind an 18th-century facade, with a lush garden that seems to have attracted most of the pushchair-wielding mothers of the city. Like many venues in Braga, it multi-tasks – as a coffee bar, exhibition space, workshop and art gallery. I'd expected to hear readings from authors but not to be able to fill my bags with Portuguese wines, jams and other gourmet goodies.

In fact, it was hard to keep my focus on Braga's cultural offerings when my taste buds were constantly being tempted. A lovely old mansion with iron and stone balconies is home to Spirito, a popular cafe serving Oreo and Guylian chocolate cupcakes on an outdoor patio strewn with oversized lamps, comfy day beds, couches and throw pillows.

The lingering clientele are mostly young, but there are some perky over-4os sipping icy mango-passionfruit frappés, though they are all missing out on the main event. "People go mad for our gelato," says co-owner Nuno Freitas. "Recently a group of Americans and Canadians ordered 34 ounces of ice-cream daily."

Centésima Página

Centésima Página

Braga's noticeably unhurried pace of life accelerates after dark, especially in the downtown area. The city's sense of intimacy and compact size make it easy to bar hop – and it offers a more inviting prospect than trying to negotiate Porto's vast urban sprawl.

Even here, among the modish Braga haunts, history is everywhere. At Restaurante Brac, you can sip crafted cocktails beneath contemporary paintings with a view of medieval ruins. The menu focuses on classic Portuguese ingredients, but nudges them into the 21st century with dishes such as octopus carpaccio with olive-caper vinaigrette.

A 10-minute stroll away, Quatorze transforms from a daytime, by-appointment art gallery into a night-time bar and music venue, often with themed events fusing music, food and film from a specific destination. In many towns this would be the preserve of the millenials but here people of all ages, from twentysomethings to over-50s, mingle easily. Like many university towns, Braga has a creative energy that that brings together all sorts of people, transcending age, class and lifestyle. Rather than being stuck in the past, it continues to adapt and thrive, looking to the future with a new-found sense of optimism.

Spirito, Braga

Spirito, Braga

Source: The Guardian by Jeanine Barone

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Tourism technology: How to enjoy a roaming holiday

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Tourism technology: How to enjoy a roaming holiday

This summer, data charges get cheaper for travellers within the the EU – and that means a chance to discover just how far tourism technology has come. Simon Usborne explores Lisbon with a smartphone as his guide

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You are probably familiar with the sense of foreboding that arrives with a post-holiday phone bill. If, like me, you have the pleasure of forwarding a significant portion of your salary to O2, you may also be able to picture the string of texts you fire from your smartphone while emailing or sharing not very good photos abroad, repeatedly shouting the request for "MOREDATA".

No more! Or at least, not so much. Our friends in Brussels have responded to growing disquiet about the prohibitive cost of data while travelling – or "roaming", as it's known in telecoms circles – by demanding a change to the law. In July, just in time for the summer holiday rush, charges for being online in the EU will drop by more than half. From December next year, mobile data use should cost you no more than it does at home.

Great news for tourists. According to a European Commission survey, a quarter of us go so far as to switch off our phones entirely when leaving Britain, such is our fear of being done for data. The rest of us tend to dive straight into our settings to disable roaming, effectively taking the smart out of our smartphones. Those who dare can expect to be told, as I have been, that our "daily" data allowance has run out after half an hour. "MOREDATA," you text – again.

Europe's mobile-phone companies seem to do pretty well, financially, but warn that they might increase all our bills to cover the cost of obeying the new law. Competition may keep any such hikes to a minimum. In the meantime, cheap data is a boon for the tech companies, who would like us to keep our phones on, so that they can carry on with the lucrative business of organising our lives.

Step forward Google, which earlier this month invited 50 journalists from across Europe to experience a digital life without fear, where connected tourists roam free. Each would be equipped with a Google Nexus 5 smartphone stocked with Google apps and (because the law hasn't changed yet) a bottomless SIM card. We would be joined in almost equal number by an army of chipper Googlers, as the company's 50,000 employees are known.

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The laboratory for this experiment: Lisbon, a city I had never visited. I had no idea what to do, how to get around, or how to speak a word of Portuguese; I would need all the assistance I could get. Google gives me a head start by booking flights and a hotel (the sleek and central Figueira, on the square of the same name). Emails confirming both reservations arrive in my Gmail inbox. This is where things got clever.

Google Now is the company's newish digital personal assistant. It draws on your inbox, your use of maps and your search habits to tell you what it thinks you need to know, when you need to know it. It can be a bit alarming at first. So, for example, on the day of my flight to Lisbon, an alert pops up telling me to go to the airport and how to get there, with regular updates of the flight's status. I never told Google I was going to Lisbon, but it found those relevant emails and extracted the relevant details.

When I land two hours later, my phone knows I'm in Lisbon. But it also knows where I'm staying (from the email, again) and tells me how to get there. I click on the Now "card" that has flashed up with the journey information, and switch from driving directions to public transport. And on I go down to the Metro. Nine stops on the red line to Alameda, then nine stops on the green line to Rossio for a three-minute, guided walk to my hotel. Transfers were never this easy.

If you don't mind looking and sounding a bit silly in public, you use your voice to search for anything you might otherwise type, but Google is also multilingual. At the Cervejaria Trindade restaurant, which I find very easily using Maps, I use my phone to take a picture of the menu via its translate app. I then stroke my finger over the screen, across the words I don't understand – torta de cenoura – and immediately get a translation – "carrot pie" (I guess it means cake).

I skip the carrot course and go it alone, in search of an ice-cream shop, where I test a different translate function. Still using the translate app, I employ my phone as translator and tell it, "I would like a cone, please, with chocolate and coffee ice cream." Immediately my phone speaks to the man behind the counter in his language: "Eu gostaria que o cone satisfeito com chocolate e sorvete de cafe." I still have no idea whether this is good Portuguese, although Google, translated the other way later, suggests I have said: "I would like the cone satisfied with chocolate and ice-cream café." Close enough? He could reply in Portuguese, but instead, having heard my initial, English request, he fixes my ice cream with a third scoop of bemusement and packs me on my way.

What's striking about all this is the refreshing absence of paper. No telltale Lonely Planet, no tatty hotel city map – just me and a phone, like at home. To take this approach further, Google is trying to digitise and educate the guidebook. Its Field Trip app draws on material from publishers to tell me where to go and what I'm looking at. As I walk through the delightful Carmo Square to the top of the lift, I feel a buzz in my pocket. My phone wants to tell me about Carmo Convent, a ruined church on the corner. A note pops up from a very enthusiastic man called Claudio, who contributes to a website called Spotted by Locals, telling me, among other things, that, "Once you enter, you will be enchanted by the view of the nave of the church. I always am!"

I also don't hold back in using my phone to capture Lisbon on a beautiful day. With the device set to back up my photos to my Google+ account, each image goes straight to my own little cloud as I snap, which means I could lose the phone without losing my photos. I later discover that the "auto awesome" function has stitched pictures I took of the city's skyline into a panorama. Clever (don't tell the Googlers, but I'm still working out how to share the images on Facebook, as I don't know anyone who uses Google+).

I could go on, such is the daunting breadth of Google's offerings. I'm ultimately impressed, but there are things to consider, even for technophiles who welcome the new freedom to roam. Smartphones should make it easier for us to look up on holiday rather than at a screen, which I certainly do enough of at home. Also, battery life only seems to get worse (I had to rely on charging packs to keep things going). My advice: embrace the new laws, but don't ditch your guidebook just yet.

Source: The Independent by Simon Usborne

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Portugal’s love affair with canned fish

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Portugal’s love affair with canned fish

Canned fish: poor people’s food, gourmet cuisine, souvenir or just healthy fast food?

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It was late when I arrived home, tired and starving. I opened the kitchen cupboard looking for some late-night lazy-man food, and there, they were: my friendly and colorful fish cans.

My oldest memory of canned fish brings me back to primary school when both children and teachers were asked to bring basic food that could be packed in boxes to send to starving people in the south of Nigeria during the Biafra war in the late sixties. I had not seen that many cans of fish together in my life since that day, until I visited a factory.

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Canned fish was always a part of my family picnics along the Tagus river or on the seacoast beaches. I also discovered them later on, included in my army survival kit. It was like a piece of home amid that hostile environment.

In Portugal, fish (canned or otherwise) are as popular as burgers in the U.S. or bratwursts in Germany.

Regina Ferreira says canned fish is one of the oldest and healthiest fast foods in the world. She runs an 83-year-old family business selling canned fish in downtown Lisbon, one that is recommended by most tourist guide books. The Conserveira of Lisbon is one of the few shops in Lisbon preserved in its original form and fashion and where grandmother, mom, son and grandsons work together.

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Nearby, at the Comercio square a new restaurant and bar, Can & Can, recently opened serving canned “gourmet” fish in a modern design atmosphere. Ferreira hates the word “gourmet”, saying canned fish is just simple, basic and cheap food for everyone.

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Fernando Machado agrees. He is the director of Ramirez canned fish factory in Leca da Palmeira in Northern Portugal. Ramirez was created in 1853 and is one of 20 factories. The industry has more than 3,500 workers and produces more than 250 million cans of fish, of which 70 percent are exported to 70 countries around the world.

Only half of the factories survived the crisis in the seventies and eighties. The harbor of the fishing city of Setubal has no factory today. The only remnants of those cans are those painted on the doors of homes in the old downtown area.

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More demanding labor laws after the Portuguese 1974 revolution made the industry less profitable and many factories shut down. But the use of tinplate, often plagued by corrosion, has since been abolished and the belief that canned fish raises cholesterol levels is an idea left in the past.

Today, we know that fish and olive oil lowers cholesterol, cans are made in varnished aluminum and, with the help of industrial fridges, factories can work on a regular basis and not depend on how lucky fishermen are with their catch. The declining industry of the past has found success.

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The old can designs are displayed together with new ones in groceries and souvenir shops. Tourists buy cans almost as they buy postcards, taking with them not only the image but also a bit of the Portuguese flavor.

Grocery shop Loja Portugueza in Lisbon is an example of such a store. Half the costumers are foreigners, absorbing the diversity of canned fish and taking them with them as souvenirs. The cans include sardine, tuna, squid, mackerel, eel, clam, fish eggs, horse mackerel, codfish, anchovy, in salty water, olive oil, tomato, lemon, hot spicy, garlic or onion sauces.

Source: blogs reuters by Jose Manuel Ribeiro

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The horses of Portugal

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The horses of Portugal

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They look like the last aristocrats.

They are treated with the most respect and tenderness.

They have the best diets and food.

They have fancy shampoo baths before showing up.

They have the best shoemakers.

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They have healthcare 24/7.

They dress the way their forefathers did in the 18th century.

They have gentlemen’s hairdressers.

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They are all males living at the Royal Palace of Queluz, 20 kms (12 miles) north of Lisbon, the same palace that received past Kings, Queens and Presidents during their state visits to Portugal.

They have care takers and horsemen all around, proud to be a part of the Equestrian Art Portuguese School.

They are the Lusitano horses, descended from the family of Iberian wild horses that were tamed by the stud farm of Alter do Chao in southern Portugal in the 18th century. The Royal Equestrian School closed in the 19th century but due to the Portuguese tradition of bullfighting on horseback the art, the skills and culture survive until today.

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The Lusitano horse has been developed as a horse for bullfights, academics and training making them some of the most desired in the world. Portugal, the ancestral home for Lusitano horses has now been surpassed by Brazil with their fast-growing horse farms.

Twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays the horses appear on the baroque gardens of the Queluz palace. With epoch music playing along for fourteen minutes viewers feel like they are being transported to the past.

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Source: blogs.reuters by Jose Manuel Ribeiro

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48 Hours In: Lisbon

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48 Hours In: Lisbon

This charming capital, which combines sea views, steep hills and old-world manners with a vibrant nightlife, is a joy to visit, says Mary Lussiana.

TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Lisbon's Portela Airport (ana.pt) is an easy 7km journey to the capital. TAP Portugal (0845 601 0932; flytap.com) flies from Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester; easyJet (0843 104 5000; easyjet.com) from Gatwick, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Bristol and Luton; Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com) from Stansted and Manchester; and BA (0844 493 0787;ba.com) from Heathrow.

Metro trains (www.metrolisboa.pt) run from the airport to Saldanha station (2), 6.30am-1am (€1.40). Aerobus (carris.pt) shuttles to Cais do Sodre station (3) every 20 minutes, with stops at the city's train and bus stations, including central Avenida da Liberdade (4). Buses run 7am-11pm; tickets (€3.50) are valid for 24 hours. TAP Portugal air passengers travel free with a boarding pass.

Taxis take around 15 minutes to the city and cost around €10.

Get your bearings

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After the 1755 earthquake, Lisbon was rebuilt by the Marques de Pombal, on a grid of parallel streets linking Rossio Square (5) to the Tagus river. A triumphal arch stands on Praca do Comercio (6), near the Tourist Office (7) at Rua do Arsenal 15 (9am-8pm;askmelisboa.com). You can buy a Lisbon Card here for 24 (€18.50), 48 (€31.50) or 72 hours (€39). It entitles you to limitless free rides on city transport (including the city lifts such as the Santa Justa) and free or discounted admission to many cultural attractions.

The city centre, known as Baixa, remains elegantly 18th-century. Rising into the hills to the east is the original Moorish quarter of Alfama, where the fortified Sao Jorge Castle (8) stands above narrow streets (castelodesaojorge.pt); further afield, near the mouth of the Tagus, is Belem, from where explorers set sail in Portugal's golden age.

DAY ONE

Take a hike

Start in the Praca do Comercio (6), for the first view of the city that 16th-century visiting dignitaries would have had as they alighted from their boats on the Tagus and walked up the marble steps to the Royal Palace, which was destroyed in the earthquake. With your back to the river, Lisbon's oldest café, the Martinho da Arcada (12), which dates to 1782, is on the square's right-hand side and is the place to stop for a bica (the local version of an espresso), under the arcades which became the new Royal Palace in the 18th century.

Walk under the triumphal arch into Rua Augusta (13) – a pedestrianised street lined with mosaic pavements and bordered by boutiques – and continue until you meet Rua de Santa Justa. Here, turn left to the Santa Justa lift (14) (7am-9pm; €5 return), which was built in 1902 and is still used. Made of iron and embellished with filigree, it raises you 13 metres to Largo do Carmo and the elegant Chiado district.

Lunch on the run

Head left down Rua do Carmo and into Rua Garrett, where Café a Brasileira (15) offers the perfect pause. Enjoy the pasteis de bacalhau, delicious cod fish cakes with a local wine or a Portuguese beer for under €10. Inside the 1920s café, a favourite haunt of Fernando Pessoa, all is gilded mirrors; outside is a bronze statue of the nation's famous poet.

Window shopping

Across the road is Paris em Lisboa (16) at Rua Garrett 77 (parisemlisboa.pt) a 19th-century family-owned store, which sells attractive tablecloths and napkins.

For the artisanal crafts Portugal excels in, head down Rua Anchieta to A Vida Portuguesa (17) at Rua Anchieta 11 (avidaportuguesa.com) with its Claus Porto soaps, olive oils and hand-woven rugs from the Alentejo.

Loop back to Largo do Chiado for a dip into Vista Alegre (18) at Largo do Chiado 20-23 (myvistaalegre.com), which makes Portugal's most beautiful porcelain and where you can also find striking Atlantis glassware.

An aperitif

To learn more about premium Portuguese wines and enjoy the patio designed by Portugal's greatest architect, Alvaro Siza Vieira, head to the new Wine Spot Chiado (19) at Rua Garrett 19 (00 351 213 460 032; winespotchiado.pt) to explore the different regions with wines by the glass accompanied by plates of cured ham and cheese for around €15 for two people.

Dining with the locals

Traditional flavours with oriental influences is how chef Joao Rodrigues describes his style of cuisine at the riverside restaurant, Feitoria (20) at Doca do Bom Sucesso (00 351 210 400 200;restaurantefeitoria.com), which delivers superb dishes such as lobster and wild seabass with Alcacer do Sal rice, lime and coriander (€37).

The service, setting and sensational tastes make this a favourite with Lisbon's in-crowd, so book early.

DAY TWO

Sunday morning: go to church

The Church of Sao Roque (21) on Largo Trindade Coelho (00 351 213 235 824; open Tuesday-Sunday 9am-6pm) has a plain exterior that belies an opulent interior with ornate hand-painted tiles and beautiful side chapels, particularly that of St John the Baptist, wrought with gold and silver, ivory and lapis lazuli. Sunday mass is held at 11.30am.

In Belem, don't miss the opportunity of mass – or a wander around – in the magnificent Monastery of Jeronimos (22) on Praca do Imperio (open daily 10am-6pm; Sunday mass at 9am, 10.30am and 12pm; otherwise tickets €7; mosteirojeronimos.pt). Built in the 16th century, on wealth from the spices, precious stones and gold that explorer, Vasco da Gama, had returned with, it is a fitting tribute to Portugal's era of discovery. Appropriately, Vasco da Gama is buried here.

Walk in the park

Just across the road from the monastery lies the little-known Jardim Botanico Tropical (23) on Largo dos Jeronimos (00 351 213 921 800; weekends 11am-6pm, Tuesday-Friday 10am-5pm; tickets €2). It is a haven of peace with peacocks and ponds among the rich collection of trees from the old Portuguese colonies such as Brazil, Angola and Mozambique.

Out to brunch

At the Varanda Restaurant in the elegant Four Seasons Hotel Ritz (24), Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca 88 (00 351 213 811 400;fourseasons.com/lisbon), the brunch is legendary. From the sweetest of oysters from nearby Setubal to octopus ceviche, huge joints of beef to tiny lemon tarts and runny cheese from the Serra da Estrela, it is a feast fit for the gods; €59pp.

Cultural afternoon

Download the Four Seasons Hotel's free Art Collection app (bit.ly/LisbonAC) to use as your guide to the eclectic mix of contemporary Portuguese artwork found there. Then walk to the Gulbenkian Museum (25) at Avenida de Berna 45 (00 351 217 823 000; gulbenkian.pt; open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5.45pm; €5, free on Sundays). Inaugurated in 1969, this important museum contains collections that span 4,000 years, from ancient Egyptian figurines to Lalique's Art Nouveau jewellery.

Icing on the cake The Hills Tramcar Tour lasts 80 minutes and departs from Praca do Comercio (6) every 20 minutes from 9.20am to 7pm (€8) and follows a similar route to the famous yellow No 28 tram around the old quarter of Lisbon, but with less risk of pickpockets and the inclusion of an audio guide.

Source: www.independent.co.uk

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Five Essential Portuguese Words and Phrases

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Five Essential Portuguese Words and Phrases

English is widely spoken in Portugal, especially in the tourist mecca of the Algarve. However, it’s always respected and appreciated if you at least have a go at speaking the native language.

A surprising number of expats make no attempt at all to speak Portuguese, so by learning the following simple phrases you can stand out from the crowd—and will probably find you get more friendly and helpful service as a result.

1. Obrigada / Obrigado

“Obrigado” and “obrigada” both mean “thank you” in Portuguese, and the rule is that men should always say “obrigado,” while women should always say “obrigada.”

Which word you use has nothing to do with the gender of the person you are addressing, despite what some people may tell you! If you want to go a little more advanced, you can say “obrigadinha,” which is a friendly “little thanks” that you would usually address to children. Beware of saying this to another adult, as it can come across as flirtatious!

2. Posso…?

“Posso?” (pronounced “possoo”) is a really handy little word that essentially means “may I?” You can use it to confirm you can taste a sample at a food festival, pick something up from a display, or take a vacant chair from a neighbouring table.

3. Bom dia / Boa tarde / Boa noite

Portugal is a friendly country, and it’s not unusual for complete strangers to greet passers by with a polite “good morning” or “good afternoon.”

There are no firm boundaries regarding when one greeting starts and another begins each day, but the general rule is “bom dia” in the morning, “boa tarde” after lunch, and “boa noite” after darkness falls.

4. Queria isto

“Queria isto…” means “I would like this.” This simple phrase makes trips to shops and markets a whole lot easier. All you need is the phrase, and a point of the finger to make it clear what you want to buy or order.

5. A conta, se faz favor…

This means, “can I have the bill please?” and allows you to demonstrate that you know enough Portuguese to avoid the universal “writing on the palm” hand gesture when you conclude your meal!

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Porto: Best European Destination 2014

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Porto: Best European Destination 2014

Porto, the second Portuguese largest city, was elected for the second time “Best European Destination” of the year, by the European Consumers Choice.

Porto was first awarded the honor in 2012. In 2013 the title was won by Istanbul.

Porto won with 14.8% of the votes, followed by Zagreb, Vienna, Nicosia, Budapest, the island of Madeira, Milan, Madrid, Berlin and Rome the other destinations in the top ten. The voting was carried online involving multiple social networks

According to the European Consumers Choice, “The fact that Porto has once more been selected reflects well its fame, attractiveness and excellence as a tourist destination, as well as the dynamism of this sector with the greatest growth potential and which contributes most to national GDP.”

For three weeks, from 22 January to 12 February, travelers from all over the world voted online on their favorite destination among the 20 shortlisted to participate on the competition.

Porto, population 237,559 (2011), offers a variety of resources and historic authenticity to its visitors. Discovering Porto means discovering what makes it different: the famous Port Wine, the Historical Center designated World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, Museums, enchanting parks and gardens.

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The city has undergone a remarkable renaissance in the last two decades. At the mouth of the Rio Douro, the hilly city presents a diversity of styles from narrow medieval alleyways to extravagant baroque churches, romantic little squares and wide modern boulevards.

The European Consumers Choice is an independent non-profit-making organization based in Brussels created to recognize companies skilled in producing innovative and intelligent designs for easy to use products. European Consumer Choice in partnership with tourism offices also rewards the best holiday destinations in Europe.

Using Eurostat’s annual tourism data and experts’ professional advice, a central jury selects 20 towns to compete for the “European Best Destination” title.

Source: http://portuguese-american-journal.com/

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10 of the most beautiful places to visit in Portugal

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10 of the most beautiful places to visit in Portugal

With its cities fast becoming chic hotspots and gorgeous coastline where you still can escape the crowds, Portugal is entering a new era of cool. So what are you waiting for? Here are ten of the most beautiful places to visit in Portugal:

Lisbon

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Being the capital of Portugal, Lisbon is an obvious place to start. It receives around half the fuss of other European capitals, but can easily equal them in beauty and charm. A lot of its attraction probably lies in its deep-rooted history, coming second only to Athens in the oldest European capital stakes. It’s actually a beautiful mix of old and new, and alongside the city’s endearing old-fashioned qualities, there is also plenty to please the boutique crowds. Visit the Gothic cathedrals, historic cafes, vintage trams and narrow lanes of Lisbon’s lovely backstreets and don’t forget the vibrant coffee bars and fabulous restaurants. The city is built on a series of hills, meaning that everywhere you venture within Lisbon you are practically guaranteed to have a gorgeous view.

Sintra

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Lord Byron’s favourite Portuguese haunt is this exceptional village, ripe with richly coloured buildings and breathtaking architecture. Palaces, turrets, a romantic Moorish castle and a misty dense forest are all part of this sweet little place. The vegetation is lush and exotic due to the microclimate. There are a host of historic buildings to take a look at, as well as clusters of leafy mansions with immaculate lawns and stunningly decorative features.

Porto

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With its 14th century walls, medieval winding streets, colourfully picturesque houses, bell tower and ornate tiles there is much to see in the newly fashionable city of Porto. Sit under the arches at Placa da Ribeira (the riverfront square) and watch the boats float past. Most apartments in the area have terraces that overlook the tranquil waters. Declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, it’s a combination of old worldly charm and bustling metropolitan culture, making it a very intriguing travel destination.

Douro Valley

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The river Douro winds through Spain and Northern Portugal. It was once a wild turbulent river, but the clever introduction of eight vast dams has tamed its spirit and it is now is very tranquil and peaceful. The beauty of the area isn’t limited to these still and shimmering waters, though. Bordered by stunning sweeping hills and expanses of delicate almond blossoms, it really is a beautiful part of the world. The area remains, for the most part, unspoilt, with roads zigzagging through the mountains and cruise boats softly pressing through the water. The Douro Valley is famed for supplying grapes to the best Port companies. In fact, you can see all of the major names proudly displayed on the hillside vineyards, which change colour through the seasons as the vines mature.

Óbidos

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This is an ancient fortified town located in the Estremadura Province. In the 13th century, Portuguese Queen Isabel was so enchanted by the village of Obidos that her husband, King Denis I, gave it to her as a present. This prompted a tradition of Portuguese kings buying this picturesque village for their queens, which lasted for many centuries. When you visit this beautiful spot, you’ll understand exactly why Isabel fell in love with it.

Cascais

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Once a sleepy little fishing village, Cascais is now a chic coastal resort famed for its glorious beaches, sophisticated nightlife, water sports and adventure pursuits. Always popular with artisans, writers and artists, due to its exquisite scenery, it boasts a remarkable selection of art, proudly displayed in The Conde de Castro Guimares Museum. Another of the town’s attractions is the smart new marina filled with yachts which shimmer and glisten in the bright sunshine.

Praia da Marinha

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Because of its proximity to the overly touristy Algarve region, many dismiss the beautiful beach at Praia da Marinha. It is certainly worth visiting though, as it is considered by many to be the best beach in Portugal and is classed as one of the Top 100 beaches of the world. Ideal for snorkelling and striking rocky cliff faces, it’s no wonder that this destination is so popular for luxury 5* holidays in Portugal.

Marvão

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Marvao is a beautiful medieval mountainside town in Alentejo that still has its original 13th century walls. The streets wind seductively between the surrounding walls, making Marvao a very beautiful place to visit. As you can imagine, the views from across the town are not to be missed. The lovely hotel Pousada do Marvao, Santa Maria, is the ideal place to stay. It consists of two of the village houses that have been converted, ensuring it is in keeping with the rest of the town.

Salema

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Situated three hours South of the capital, near Cape Sagres, Salema is a beautifully tranquil beach. Although located in the package holiday favorite the Algarve, this pretty village remains comparatively untouched by the ravages of tourism, offering just a scattering of eating places, a traditional outdoor market, one small main street and clusters of pretty white stucco houses. This peaceful fishing village is located between two sharp cliffs with a glorious sandy beach rolling between.

Évora

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Évora is a Portuguese city in the municipality of Évora. The beautifully preserved historic town has been classed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and when you visit, you’ll soon discover why. It’s home to a 2000 year old Templo Romano, a 16th century aqueduct that can be followed by foot for five miles and the incredible Capela da Ossos – a sinister crypt – which displays the full skeletons of over 5000 Evora residents.

Source: www.globalgrasshopper.com

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This is Portugal: Grutas de Mira de Aire

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This is Portugal: Grutas de Mira de Aire

The caves of Mira de Aire, located on the county of Porto de Mós, were discovered in 1947. Are 11 km long but only 600 meters are flyable.

Considered one of the wonders of Portugal, these beautiful caves are open to the public since 1974 and receive daily a large number of tourists.

One more place in Portugal that is worth visiting!

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Beautiful don't you agree?

Source: vilas3.com

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Minimalist Small Resort House in Portugal

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Minimalist Small Resort House in Portugal

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Casa Areia is pure nakedness and muteness. The platonic suggestion—a sea cottage with sandy floors—is a serene search for simplicity. Sandy ground and wooden frames are an apparently simple attempt at making the space a reciprocal relationship with the beach landscape. The design begins with the conditions of the materials, according to their potential habitability.

Each masonry building was adapted to individual rooms, while one of the two wooden volumes was converted into a two-bedroom pavilion and the other a common area. The exterior and interior wall partitions of the common space have been created with bamboo, and a natural roof tops off each of the constructions on site.

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Source: http://designdautore.blogspot.pt/

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Living With a Portuguese Women

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Living With a Portuguese Women

I am your average Canadian young adult spending a year abroad living with two Portuguese women in Iceland. I can say I’ve learned a few things from my faithful Portuguese at some point or another.

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1. Every recipe should contain onions at some point

Making rice? Fry some onions first. Pasta? Same deal. If you want to eat it for dinner, you better throw in some onions.

2. Your shoes are ugly and cost less in Portugal

Seriously. Your shoes probably smell like rubber. That means they are bad quality. Your shoes aren’t sexy with that outfit. Don’t wear those. They don’t make your calves look nice. I could buy those for 5 euros in Portugal.

3. They actually conquered lots of shit or something like that

Portugal was an empire! A big one. We discovered more than Brazil – we promise! Those British just stole our glory from us.

4. If you want to go to the beach, go to Portugal

We have 3 of the best beaches in the world. In the world. Why don’t they teach you these things in school.

5. Portuguese is the 6th most spoken language in the world

We understand Italian, French, and Spanish. It is just because they are all like Portuguese. Brazilians – they speak cute Portuguese. It is only funny if you speak Portuguese.

6. Walking too fast is rude

You are walking too fast. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Slow down. It is rude to walk in front of me, walk beside me.

7. The play-by-play is required

Where are you going? What are you doing? Who are you texting? What are you cooking?

8. Hair Conditioner and Air Conditioner are pronounced the same

We just don’t pronounce the “H”. The author would here like to point out that if you say you bought “air” conditioner and you mean hair conditioner, English native speakers will be very very confused.

9. It’s Lisboa

Not Lisbon. Lish-bow-ah. Say the city properly.

10. Pastries are better and more proliferous in Portugal

You will walk into a shop and the walls will be lined with pastries and they all cost like 50 cents. O you get a coffee with this too and not like this North American watered down thing, real coffee.

Author:  Kayla Baretta

Published on Oct. 8, 2013 on "Thought Catalog" blog

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