obidos is easily one of my favorite towns in portugal. white washed buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, shots on ginja in chocolate cups. its an old medieval town still surrounded by the old castle-like walls that you can walk along the top of. touristy but in my opinion worth the visit!
i have a deep love for old european cities and porto is right up my alley. the old part of the city in absolutely breathtaking and i could honestly spend days just wandering through the streets staring in awe.
we spent a day in porto, along the douro river, strolling and tasting some port along the way. climbed up the hill first to taylor’s for some really delicious port (best we had), and also had lunch at their restaurant (okay food, really nice view). on our way back down the hill were lured into quevedo which didn’t seem very put together and the port was not good, at all. and finally had a taste at vasconcellos, right on the waterfront, where we each bought a bottle to take home.
crossed the bridge to the old part of the city and walked along the douro where we stopped at peter’s cafe sport for an afternoon drink, and had a decent dinner (with awful service) at one of the touristy waterfront restaurants, chez lapin.
finally spent some time in lisbon by choice and loved it. cobblestone streets, cafes and restaurants with sidewalk seating, tram cars, street art, hanging laundry and old castles.
stayed at the hotel avenida palace (an old palace converted to a hotel), which is perfectly located in the center of the city. we were able to walk everywhere. we rode the #28 trolley car which takes you all around the old part of lisbon. an incredible way to see all the architecture, old buildings and narrow streets, and get a sense of the area. had bicas (espresso) at several famous lisbon cafes: pastelaria suica, a brasileira, and cafe nicola. gelato at a historic spot called santini. spent an evening at the incredible clube de fado. and enjoyed dinner on our last night at a sidewalk table on calcada do duque in the bario alto.
the nightlife is like nothing i’ve ever seen before. seriously. chiado and the bario alto are the heart of the party and the bars serve drinks in plastic containers so you can spill into the streets going bar to bar, or just taking it all in. the small cobblestone side streets are completely filled with people, laughing, dancing and drinking. i can’t wait until my next trip to portugal so i can spend more time exploring lisbon.
i had always taken it for granted that a portuguese espresso is called a bica. the term is most popular in lisbon but is widely understood through the rest of portugal. in porto its known as a “cimbalino,” which came from the brand of the first espresso machines in portugal, “la cimbali.” if ever in doubt, just order a “cafe” and you should be alright.
apparently the term bica isn’t an actual portuguese word but an acronym, although i’ve ready two versions of what it stands for. one is that its based on the 1905 catchphrase of the famous cafe a brasileira in lisbon; “bebe isto com acucar” (drink this with sugar). the second is that it comes from directions that accompanied the first espresso machines to portugal, reading: “beba isto chavena aquesida” (drink in a warm cup). the word itself, translated, means tap or spout.
whatever you may it call, and whatever the name’s origin, a bica really can’t be beat–and it always comes with a packet of sugar on the side!
some of my dad’s cousin’s had us over for dinner and it was really great to eat a home cooked meal in portugal again. when my grandparents were still alive we’d eat at home every night, i definitely miss my grandma’s cooking so it was amazing to get this close.
they prepared rabbit (the same way my grandma used to), with fries and a salad. i’m pretty sure the rabbit was from one of their (or a neighbor’s farm) and had been killed that day, it was incredible. the heads were the only thing freaking us out (my grandma used to spare us and leave them out,) and my cousin’s diplomatically divvied their favorite organs amongst themselves.
peniche is definitely the town to go to for fresh, delicious seafood. located in the heartland of portugal just north of lisbon, it remains an active fishing port and has become very popular for surfing.
we go there at least twice on each trip to portugal and have our two favorite restaurants: restaurante popular and katekero II. any of the grilled fish are delicious, particularly the sardines! arroz de marisco (seafood rice) or caldeirada (seafood stew with potatoes) are also a must try. and remember, no meal is complete without a bowl of soup, bottle of wine, and a bica…
av do mar 68-70
foz vehla is a contemporary portuguese, fine dining restaurant and the ambiance really makes the place.
food wasn’t bad but wasn’t out of this world, and the service was off (our waiter was chewing gum, and didn’t finished the bottle of wine topping two of us off so we had to buy a second bottle for everyone to get a refill.)
we each had a tasting menu and the chef makes his own everything — wine, olive oil, jams.
overall experience was okay. don’t know that i’d go back. next time would stay to eat at shis where we stopped for a pre-dinner drink.overall experience was okay. don’t know that i’d go back. next time would stay to eat at shis where we stopped for a pre-dinner drink.
esplanada do castelo 141