What is Portuguese food anyways?
This was the question I asked myself almost immediately after we booked our plane tickets for Porto. I was intimately familiar with Spanish, Italian, even French food, but for some reason Portuguese food was big old blank.
I’m not sure why Portuguese food doesn’t get the same sort of fanfare as other western european cuisines, because everything we ate during our week in Portugal was exceptionally tasty. I learned that Portuguese food is rich and varied, with a few constants mixed in. I couldn’t sum it up in a single article, no matter how hard I tried, so instead I decided to tell you about 7 iconic and delicious dishes you absolutely must try if you visit Portugal:Bacalhau
I never knew how important a single fish could be to a countrie’s cuisine until I learned about bacalhau. Salted cod forms the basis for hundreds of different Portuguese dishes, and its ubiquitous in both supermarkets and restaurants.
Not being a huge fish fan, I was a bit intimidated to try bacalhau for myself, so I went for these bacalhau fritters (I mean, anything is good if you fry it enough) and they were quite tasty!Alheira and Morcilla
Two kinds of sausage that are common appetizers in Portugal. Alheira is very unique and was invented by the Jews during the Portuguese Inquisition (which I’m guessing was just as ugly as the Spanish version). It’s made with any meat that’s not pork, sometimes several different kinds mixed together along with bread crumbs. As such the texture is a bit different than traditional sausages. It’s a bit crumbly and nutty tasting, and usually served fried.
Morcilla you may be more familiar with. It’s essentially blood sausage (an obsession of mine). In Portugal they typically slice it thin and fry it up so that it’s both crunchy and juicy. Even if you don’t think you like blood sausage, it’s worth a try.Queijo
Portuguese cheese is super delicious, but not well known outside of the country, so you will of course want to try it at every opportunity. It’s usually served as an appetizer or side, not integrated with the main meal.
Most cheese in Portugal is made with sheep or goats milk which gives it a rich, nutty flavor. There are 15 official varieties, usually coming from specific regions of the country like in Italy.Prego no Pao
Mike and I got hungry while watching a football game at the local bar one night, and the only item on the menu was this simple steak sandwich. It was absurdly delicious: thin steak pounded with garlic and served with onions on a crusty bun. Best of all: unlike literally any meat I have ever had in Europe, this steak was served rare! I later found out a popular bar snack around the country.Francesinha
Another popular sandwich option is the Francesinha. Unlike the sandwich above, this one is extravagant as hell, and best served in the city that invented it- Porto.
Each restaurant makes theirs a little differently but the basics are a sandwich made of ham, steak or sausage (or some combination), covered with melted cheese and a tomato-beer sauce. Usually fries come alongside for sopping up the mess. It’s a monster, messy, food challenge kind of thing, best taken when you are super-duper hungry. Mike and I split the one above which was served in a soup bowl.Arroz de Pato
A lot of Portuguese main meals are very meat and potato centric, but duck rice is also popular and common. It’s simply fragrant rice cooked with shredded roast duck and chorizo. It’s similar to Chinese fried rice in it’s consistency and appeal, but the flavors are more rustic. Portuguese comfort food I imagine.
When I ordered this at a restaurant a humongous serving dish was brought out and the food was scooped directly onto my plate.Pastéis de Nata
Portugal is a country with excellent pastries (trust me, I would know), but none stand out quite as much as their national pastry, the pastél de nata. A small tart made mainly with egg yolk custard, sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Biting into one is a revelation: the top is crispy, the inside is creamy and the crust is chewy. Their rich, but small, simple but obsession forming.
I could write a love letter to these little egg tarts. Over the course of our time in Portugal Mike and I became absolutely obsessed with them, seeking them out 2, even 3 times a day. It’s a good thing we left when we did, otherwise I’d probably be surviving on nothing but pastéis de nata now.
Camera NIKON D300S
Focal Length 200mm
Exposure Time 1/400
In addition to being very remote, St. Helena is also very rugged. It is not uncommon for people to have a commute to work which travels as much vertically as it does horizontally.
The capital of the island, Jamestown, is located at the bottom of a valley which ends at the sea. However, the largest residential area is in a flat area on top of one of the cliffs above Jamestown called Halftree Hollow. While there is a (winding) road you take to the top, you can also walk up steep flight of stairs called Jacob’s Ladder.
The record for climbing all 699 steps is held by Graham Doig who climbed the stairs in 5 minutes, 16.78 seconds. He used his feet and hands to achieve the record.
I have to confess, I am nearing the end of my rope. The past couple months have been extremely travel heavy. While it’s been so much fun running around Portugal, London and Vancouver among other places, I am well worn out. It’s been such a busy (but wonderful) couple of months for Mike and I personally and professionally. I’ve never been so excited to head home.
Fortunately, I have the entire month of July to enjoy Seattle’s glorious summertime. I’ve got local adventures planned, friends coming to visit, and plenty of work to keep me busy before my mom and I go to Alaska the first week of August. Plus a LOT of photo editing and writing to catch up on.How are your summer travel plans coming along? My Work
What I do when I’m not here and not gorging on poutine.
A Guide to the San Diego Beer Scene– Trivago
The Foodie Guide to Jasper, Alberta– RoamRight
Girlfriend’s Getaway to Maui- RoamRight
Must read content from around the web:
No I Do Not Need My Husband’s Permission to Travel Alone– To Europe & Beyond– Preach it Marie.
Why I Don’t Carry on My Luggage- Adventurous Kate- Preach it Kate
You Don’t Have to be a Privileged White Girl to Travel– This American Girl– Sometimes I worry that the travel blogging sphere isn’t diverse enough, so this is a great resource for hearing some alternate voices.
Confessions of an Overweight Female Traveler- Savoir Fair Abroad– Speaking of alternate voices…
How to Work Full-tim and Still Travel the World– Megano Travels– I never get tired of hearing how people make this work.
A Few Tips for Successful Cooking in Vacation Rental Kitchens– The Kitchn– Just got back from a rental apartment in Vancouver and these are spot on.
10 Rubbish Travel Tips you Should Ignore– The Globe Wanderers– and finally a little reminder not to believe everything you hear.What’s the Best Thing You’ve Read This Month?
Camera NIKON D300S
Focal Length 80mm
Exposure Time 1/800
On my 2014 photo trip with G Adventures we visited South Africa and spent 2 days in Kruger National Park photographic wildlife. On our second day we say the Big 5 before lunch!
I could spend a week just photographing wildlife in Africa. It is one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done as a photographer and I can’t wait to go back and explore more of the continent.
Looking for advice about how to act or what to do during your upcoming trip to Paris? The amount of “advice” online can be daunting, with endless lists about how to act like a “real” Parisian (whoever they are!).
The truth is, there isn’t just one type of Parisian, nor is there one way to act when visiting the city.
But you know us—we couldn’t resist creating a jumbo list of our own. However, we’re listing only friendly do’s and don’ts that will help you make the most of your trip and your budget. Do… keep reading!Basics
1. Do say “Bonjour” when engaging with another person. This includes all salespeople, servers, front desk, etc. Bonus points for adding a “Monsieur” or “Madame”.
2. Don’t worry about not speaking French beyond the basics. However, do learn a couple of words. Bonjour. Au revoir. Merci. Monsieur. Madame. Oui. Non. Voila — you’ve got it. (Want more? Here are 10 French phrases that can help you save money.)
3. Do seek out locals, or at least try to talk to them at a picnic or in a bar. But try to drop a couple of words in French. It’s a good conversation starter.
4. Don’t expect the French to be rude. They’re just humans. (And you’re far less likely to find yourself in a rude situation if you stick to rule #1 above.)
5. Do learn how to use an “inside voice”. Parisians in general are a lot quieter in public places than we’re used to being in the US. You will notice this tout de suite in the Metro, restaurants, in line at the bakery, etc.Clothing and Packing
6. Do wear comfortable shoes (no stilettos) and clothes that can easily be layered. Pack a nice outfit for special occasions, but don’t go overboard here. You’re mostly going to be walking, and walking, and walking…
7. Don’t come unprepared for the weather. Research the weather before you go and pack accordingly, when possible. Pack an umbrella and a light rain jacket.
8. Do wear a scarf in the winter and fall. It might seem like a cliché, but it’ll keep you warm and Parisians wear them all the time. Wrap yourself up — you’ll fit right in.Eating and drinking
9. Don’t buy bottled water in a restaurant unless you like or need bubbly water. Otherwise, stick to a “carafe d’eau”. It’s delicious–and free.
10. Do spend at least an hour at a café terrace at some point during your trip sipping something. Bring the journal, notepad, book, or postcards, and have the whole experience.
11. Do refill your water bottle at any of the city’s outdoor water fountains. It’s the same delicious water Parisians drink daily. Eco-friendly! Free! Photo-op!
12. Don’t buy a baguette “ordinaire”. Stick to the “tradition”. Trust us on this one.
13. Don’t fuss over eating like you eat back home. This is not home, so breakfast options and coffee choices are not the same. (Sorry. But not really.)
14. Do eat things that you have never tasted before. This is Paris and we like to eat. (And we like to eat things that might seem rather unusual to you at first. Go for it!)
15. Do order a carafe of wine at lunch to share… or for yourself. You’re on vacation, right?
16. Do eat as much as you can. Once you’re home, you won’t get any more baguettes. Well, maybe you can buy one at Whole Foods, but it won’t taste the same.
17. Don’t go to McDonald’s. I mean, it’s fine for a bathroom break (and for emergency free Wi-Fi), but the experience isn’t really that different or more exciting than you’d have at the Golden Arches back home. Try a local burger joint instead. (Quick is a Belgium-based option.)
20. Don’t tip needlessly in restaurants. Please don’t. We’ve talked about this already.
21. Don’t eat anywhere within a beret’s toss of a major tourist destination, especially Sacre Coeur, Eiffel Tower, or Notre Dame. Push a bit farther afield and look for something more authentic without “tourist pricing”.
22. Do consider restaurants that aren’t listed on TripAdvisor. The site isn’t the final word on dining in Paris — and, actually, it can be quite an echo chamber, sending more and more tourists to the same restaurants, while smaller establishments remain ignored. Head off on your own… follow your nose and your own instincts.Hotel
23. Don’t pay for breakfast in a hotel or hostel if you don’t have to. It will probably cost you about €9-14 for something that you get (fresher!) at the corner bakery for about €3-4.
24. Do book a hotel that’s as central as possible to avoid wasting time in transit. You might have to pay a few more euros per night, but you’ll save a lot of time and money.
25. Don’t touch those items in the minibar. Head to the nearest supermarket to pick up water, drinks, snacks, champagne, fruit, etc.Money and Safety
26. Don’t carry your passport and all of your credit cards with you. Leave your passport and some of your plastic in a safe back in the hotel. (Also, do make a copy of the passport and keep it with your travel documents.)
27. Don’t fall for street scams (aggressive petitioners, “charity” collectors, bracelet/ring scam artists, three-card monte dealers, shell game hucksters, etc.). But don’t be freaked out by normal people. Simply avoid anyone who approaches you in an unusual manner. If it feels odd, keep on walking.
28. Don’t let your guard down. Petty crime exists here. Just because Paris can seem like a movie set doesn’t mean pickpockets don’t lurk in the shadows. When sitting at a cafe, keep your purse safe and valuables (including that smartphone!) off the table. Things can disappear from your table between sips…Shopping
29. Don’t take pictures of people in shops. They tend not to like it that much. It’s going to get awkward.
30. Do go to Paris’s famous flea markets to find something totally unique to bring home. We promise you’ll find something more special than an Eiffel Tower snow globe. (Well, you might find a cool vintage Eiffel Tower snow globe.)
31. Don’t be entirely cheap. Sometimes a few extra euros can go a long way.Sightseeing
32. Do visit all of the touristy sights that you’ve been eager to visit, even if there’s someone in your group moaning and groaning about it. Don’t leave with regrets about not having visited (fill-in-the-blank).
33. However, don’t feel you have to go to Versailles, even though it’s famous and big and glorious. It won’t change your life unless you’re completely obsessed with Louis XIV.
34. Do buy a travel guide. Much of the information listed is evergreen and will be useful. Plus, it doesn’t run out of batteries and it’s a lot less costly to lose (or spill a glass of wine onto) than an iPad.
35. Do read a few websites and travel blogs before visiting. (As you’re reading this post right now, you’ve already mastered this one. Well done!) Often websites have more offbeat and more recently updated information than guidebooks and magazines.
36. Don’t bring a selfie stick. No one will like you, and many museums look down on them. Take your photo the old fashioned way–ask that guy from Minnesota walking past you to take it.
37. Do take a boat ride along the Seine. It’s breezy and romantic–well, unless you get stuck with a group of 100 teenagers who are literally going bonkers.
38. Don’t come with a padlock and leave it locked to one of our monuments. Please just don’t.
39. Do take advantage of the city’s many free museums, festivals, and concerts. Paris is full of amazing free attractions, especially during the summer.
40. Don’t just see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. Try to find something else that resonates with you–and that you don’t have to fight to get close to.
41. Do keep your expectations realistic and remain flexible, with a sense of humor, if possible. Paris is not perfect and sometimes things don’t go as planned. (The Eiffel Tower workers go on strike the day you visit? Take a photo — you’ve got a story!)
42. Don’t plan too many day trips from Paris. I’ve lived here for years and have yet to discover all of Paris. If you have a week, you might not want to spend five days day tripping…
43. Don’t walk around with your headphones on while visiting. Why should your ears miss out while your other senses get to enjoy Paris?
44. Do know the hours and opening times of major sights in advance. Go early or late to avoid the big crowds. And know if you can book major tickets in advance (you can at the Musée d’Orsay and Eiffel Tower, among others).
45. Don’t scorn other tourists – we’re all in this together.Transportation
46. Do use the Metro to get around town when you have more than 4-5 stations between you and a destination. Is it closer? You can easily walk that.
47. Don’t be shy in the Metro. Say “pardon” and shove gently when needed.
48. Don’t ride a Vélib public bike if you do not feel safe cycling in a city. It seems fun (and it is!), but it can also be dangerous, especially if you’re unfamiliar with Paris’s streets and traffic patterns.
49. Do do some pre-trip research on how Paris works, even if it’s very basic. Know how to get to and from the airport, for example.Wi-Fi
50. Don’t try to connect to free Wi-Fi every chance you get. Yes, it’s tempting, especially if you’re used to being constantly connected back home. But you’re on vacation–Instagram and Facebook when you get back to the hotel at night. You have the power to put away your phone! (Your traveling companions will thank you for this one.)One last thought
Do resign yourself to the fact that you can’t see it all during your visit. You’ll just have to come back. Paris is a life-long love affair, and it only gets better with each visit.
The post Paris: 50 Do’s and Don’ts guaranteed to improve your trip appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.