Portugal: Food for Thought


Wonder if what is the portuguese cuisine? I have sampled a few and these are the ones that turned out to be photogenic and delicious too! This are some of the food that we had tried while we were in Lisbon and Porto, Portugal.


Pastéis de Bacalhau – (literally “codfish pastries”) are typically made from a mixture of potatoes, bacalhau (codfish), eggs, parsley, and onion.


They are also commonly referred to as “salt cod fritters” or “salt cod croquettes”.


Bacalhau à Brás – (Cod à la Brás) is made from shreds of salted cod (bacalhau), onions and thinly chopped (matchstick sized) fried potatoes in a bound of scrambled eggs. It is usually garnished with black olives and sprinkled with fresh parsley. The origin of the recipe is uncertain, but it is said to have originated in Bairro Alto, an old quarter of Lisbon. The noun “Brás” (or sometimes Braz) is supposedly the surname of its creator. 


Bacalhau Fresco – Found this food in the food court at Armazens do Chiado. 

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Polvo ‘à lagareiro’ (octopus with potatoes in the oven)

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Tripas à moda do Porto !  The dish is made with various types of  meat,  gut , sausages and white beans.

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Francesinha – Porto sandwich, made with bread, wet-cured ham, linguiça, fresh sausage like chipolata, steak or roast meat and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce served with french fries. I was not able to finish my plate. 

Pastéis de Belém! Don’t leave Lisbon without trying it. 


In 1837, the baking of the “Pastéis de Belém” began in the buildings attached to the refinery, following the ancient ‘secret recipe` from the monastery. Passed on and known exclusively to the master confectioners who hand-crafted the pastries in the ‘secret room’, this recipe remained unchanged to the present day. Enjoy the queue!

Tip! Although Lisbon and Porto are full of restaurants we have been declined entry in one because the restaurant is full . So if you are planning a meal in one of the restaurant better do a reservation. 

Tip Porto! Try eating at  Stall No. 40 in Mercado do Bolhão (Bolhao Market).

PORTO: Best European Destination 2017!


Porto was elected Best European Destination for 2017. It is the third time for Porto. It has already won this title in 2012 and 2014.  Aside for having some of the most beautiful places in the world (in my previous post). Porto also boasts of 3 UNESCO world heritage sites and more.


Dom Luis 1 Bridge – UNESCO World Heritage Site, An Ironwork Showpiece. This iconic bridge opened in 1886, when it held the record for the longest iron arch in the world, with a span of 172 metres (564 ft) and a height of 44.6 metres (146 ft) this was a great feat of engineering.


Dom Luis 1 Bridge – The designer Téophile Seyrig, had been Gustavo Eiffel’s (of Eiffel tower in Paris) partner on the previous project,  and showed himself to be a more than able engineer with this bridge. It is worth making the crossing on the upper level, although being 60 metres (190 ft) above the waters of the Douro, it might not be for everyone! I did cross it, but I think it was the longest bridge crossing of my life!


Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar – The convent built in the 16th century belonged to the Order of Saint Augustine. Part of the area classified by UNESCO as World Heritage in December 1996, the Monastery of Serra do Pilar is the architectural landmark of Gaia.

It’s historical centre or I should say OLD TOWN of Porto is a UNESCO world heritage site.


I thought I was able to get away with the 7 hills of Lisbon when we went to Porto. Only to realize that the city of Porto is built along the “hillsides” overlooking the mouth of the Douro river.


 The central area of the city is outlined with a traverse of slight ascent and descent paths. But I am not complaining. You can find several old Churches in the Historical Centre.


The Igreja de Santo Ildefonso situated close to Batalha Square, dates back to the 18th century. The church was completed in 1739 and includes a framed altarpiece by the prolific Italian architect, Nicolau Nasoni. It has a striking façade of over 11,000 classic blue and white azulejos, added in 1932 by Jorge Colaço (he also did the azulejos at Sao Bento Train Station).

The Twin Churches

The Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas are twin churches built between 1756 and 1768. Igreja do Carmo has an azulejo-covered exterior with the church done in the rococo style. The two churches are separated by a very narrow (1m wide) house that was inhabited until the 1980’s. The house was built so that the two churches would not share a common wall and to prevent any relations between the nuns of Igreja dos Carmelitas and the monks of Igreja do Carmo.



The Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto) – It is one of the city’s oldest monuments and one of the most important local Romanesque monuments. The current Cathedral of Porto underwent construction around 1110 under the patronage of Bishop Hugo and was completed in the 13th century, but there is evidence that the city has been a bishopric seat since the Suevi domination in the 5th-6th centuries.



The Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace)- inspired by the Neopalladian architecture. Building work began in 1842 and the general structure of the Palácio was completed by 1850.



Cais da Ribeira – The alluring district of Ribeira is made up of medieval streets and seedy alleyways. It is a crumbling but fascinating place, ending at a riverfront square (“Praça da Ribeira”).


With photogenic traditional boats floating at the quayside overlooked by colorful ancient houses, this is the most picturesque spot in the city and the place everyone loves — UNESCO did too, and declared it a World Heritage Site.


Don’t  forget to cap your tour listening to Fado (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈfaðu]; “destiny, fate”) is a music genre which can be traced to the 1820s in Lisbon, Portugal, but probably with much earlier origins. On 27 November 2011, fado was inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.


You can have a free Fado show at Porto Cálem wine cellar. The only wine cellar that offers this treat. It is on every 6pm after the port wine tour. It is nice experience listening to fado while sipping your red and white port wine at the end of the day.




I never expected Porto to be as beautiful as it is. I only knew a few things about Porto prior to my trip. One of them is  that it is constantly featured as one of the affordable places to go in Europe.  That is true, Porto is a beautiful city without the expensive price tag, well maybe that’s why it’s the winner for Best European Destination 2017!

Facts grabbed from Wikipedia, portugalvisitor.com, and other websites I can’t remember.

PORTO, a city of some of the World’s Most Beautiful Places.

     The highlight of my visit to Porto was seeing some of the world’s most beautiful places. It is a city with one of worlds most beautiful train station, one of the ten most beautiful bookstore in the world, one of the ten most beautiful cafe in the world and the most beautiful McDonald’s outlet in the world. Yes! McDonald’s!

     Here are some of the Photo’s that I have taken in my recent trip to Porto and some bits of story I grabbed from Wikipedia and Atlas Obscura.



The Eagle on the facade as well as the original art deco interior design made it different from the rest of the McDonald’s outlet. It is regarded by many as the most beautiful Mcdonald’s outlet in the world.

The Inside interior is a beautiful example of Art Nouveau. One of the world’s most beautiful cafe.  “The Majestic Café is a wonderful place, where muses, thinkers and artists can get together to live the best moments life has to offer: simply sharing communication through words and gestures,glances smiles and even a few tears sometimes.” – Gloria Montenegro (President of the Paris Academy of Coffeeology)


Porto, Sao Bento Train Station – One of the world’s most beautiful train station. The most notable aspect of São Bento Station is the large, magnificent tile panels in the vestibule.


The French Beaux-Arts structure holds within 20,000 magnificent azulejo tin-glazed ceramic tiles depicting Portugal’s past – its royalty, its wars, and its transportation history. The blue and white tiles were placed over a period of 11 years (1905–1916) by artist Jorge Colaço.


Livraria Lello, also known as Livraria Lello & Irmão or Livraria Chardron, is a bookstore located in central Porto, Portugal. It is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal. It is frequently rated among the top bookstores in the world, placing third in lists by the Lonely Planet and The Guardian.



The bookstore was frequented by JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, when she taught English in Porto and is reported to be an inspiration for her writing. Elements of the facade and much of the interior are decorated in Art Nouveau, with some features of the Gothic Revival.

Next time Porto the world heritage site!

Visually attractive SINTRA

     If you take the tourists away from this town, it would be quiet. This one hour away by train town from Lisbon was once the residence of Portugal’s most affluent people. One thing have I noticed in this town is that even in the middle of winter it is still very green.

     We visited the three main attractions by taking tour bus 434 just outside the train station of Sinta.  It’s NOT an all day hop on hop off but let me call it “one circuit hop on hop off”. This bus route is designed for day trip tour.  Here are the places or palaces that the bus took us to.

     The Gothic Style National Palace of Sintra was extensively used by the nobility of Portugal between the 15th and 19th centuries and born witness to the growth of the country. We did not have time to go inside this Palace as we are running out of time. 




Castelo dos Mouros – The castle was constructed during the 8th and 9th centuries. It is situated on the top of the Sintra Mountains, where it has a panoramic view of the municipality of Sintra.  You have to pay to get inside but just walking around outside the castle walls is already good enough. moorish-castlep2020138-ap2020170-ap2020130-ap2020117-ap2020174-ap2020139-a


Palácio da Pena –  is a Romanticist castle. The castle stands on the top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains above the town of Sintra, and on a clear day it can be easily seen from Lisbon and much of its metropolitan area. It is a national monument and constitutes one of the major expressions of 19th-century Romanticism in the world. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. It is also used for state occasions by the President of the Portuguese Republic and other government officials. This place is the highlight of our Sintra trip. This is the only place that agreed to pay to get in. 


The Arch of Triton 



The Chapel – Pena Palace
The craftsmanship in some of the rooms is very exquisite!
The ceilings and the walls in one of the rooms are decorated with this design. The craftsmanship of the past could easily outdo the present. 
I was the last person walking out of the palace. The staff are so nice that they let me take photos before turning off the lights when I am done with a section of the floor. 

LISBON in PHOTOS and a “bite” of HISTORY.

The photo cover is taken underneath the Rua Augusta Arch.  Here are some of the photos of  places that I have visited in Lisbon and few bites of history that I grabbed from Wikipedia. 


Mosteiro dos Jerónimos – The construction of the monastery and church began on 6 January 1501, and was completed 100 years later. Architectural style – Manueline. In 1983, UNESCO formally designated the Monastery of the Hieronymites as a World Heritage Site. 



Avenida da Liberdade – It is a 90 metre-wide boulevard, 1100 m long, with ten lanes divided by pedestrian pavements decorated with gardens. You can find the most expensive brands on this slightly ascending street. 



 Elevador de Santa Justa –  it connects the lower streets of the Baixa with the higher Largo do Carmo (Carmo Square). Engineer Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, Style Neo-Gothic, Materials Iron, Wood, Glass, Cement Origin c. 1874, – Initiated 2 June 1900- Completion c. 1902



Praça do Comércio – On 1 February 1908, the square was the scene of the assassination of Carlos I, the penultimate King of Portugal.  Tip! During Saturdays and Sundays the hallway of that building behind the statue is having a quality artisans market.  



Cais das Colunas (The Pier of Columns) – has a set of marble stairs, which lead down to the waters edge. These steps were installed so that royal dignitaries could receive a grand entrance to Lisbon. The origins for these steps date from before the 1755 earthquake when the steps would lead straight into the royal palace. Tip! best area to have a photo like Queen Elizabeth II of England visiting Lisbon. 



Castelo de São Jorge – is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the Portuguese city of Lisbon and Tagus River. There are two lift’s that would lead you near the castle avoiding the uphill walk and the pickpockets on tram 28 then walk your way from Alfama going down the hill for the view.



Padrão dos Descobrimentos – located along the river where ships departed to explore and trade with India and Orient, the monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery (or Age of Exploration) during the 15th and 16th centuries.



Eduardo VII Park –  The park occupies an area of 26 hectares. Its name pays homage to Edward VII of the United Kingdom who visited Portugal in 1902.



Estação de Caminhos de Ferro do Rossio (Rossio Railway Station)  -The Neo-Manueline façade dominates the northwest side of the square and is a Romantic recreation of the exuberant Manueline style, typical of early 16th century Portugal. If you are dying for a Starbucks there is one inside. 


Torre de Belém. – built on the northern bank of the Tagus river between 1514 and 1520 as part of the Tagus estuary defence system. In 1983,  it was classified by UNESCO as  “Cultural Heritage of Humanity”



Trams in Lisbon –  In operation since 1873, it presently comprises five urban lines. Despite the relevant tourist attraction, those lines are still very important because of sections of the city’s topography that can only be crossed by small trams.  Oh by the way, the one in photo is not a tram it’s a Funicular.

First Stop Lisbon, Portugal

I have just gone back from Portugal a few  days ago and my mind is still in a state of dream about this country.   Our first stop was Lisbon (Lisboa). It is Portugal’s capital and largest city. The oldest City in Western Europe, older than London, Paris and Rome. The only city along the Atlantic Coast.

This city has so much to offer on what you can see and do, day and night. This city has been given different referential names. I am actually thinking of another one that I can add to the list.

Lisbon is famously called the City of Seven Hills (it’s a myth, there are more or less). No matter what the actual number of hills are it is indeed a hilly city. Be ready with those comfortable shoes when you are going around to see the sights and even when you go for a night out.

It is also called the  City of Tiles (Azulejos), if you walk around Lisbon you will see the art of Portuguese ceramic tiles in almost every corner of the city particularly on train and metro stations.

It was once the City of Spies, no I did not meet them, it happened during World War II.

It is also referred by some as a City of  Contrasts, when referring the architecture of the city as the old blends with contemporary erections.

It is also called the real City of Lights, it is not because of artificial light like New York or Paris but because of the sunlight reflected from the Tagus river to the city in the evening.

Today, Lisbon is promoting itself as a City of Tolerance. A welcoming haven for all cultures and ethnicities.

I am definitely charmed by the vibe of  Lisbon. It is a city where you don’t expect much when you go but when you leave the place you have the mind set that you would come back.

On my next blog, Lisbon in photos!