My basic guide to planing a Portugal tour!

New Year new resolutions! If you are going to vacations, you should start planning it today, even if you just have some days off in six or more months. This is my small guide to a tour in Portugal!

Firsts of all, think about the weather!

Portugal is famous for the beautiful weather but unfortunately we are not Brasil. Usually you can get better days to travel in south and center of Portugal, than in the north, but if you are planning to come to visit us in summer you don’t have any problems because is always hot everywhere! Tip : in summer take fresh and light cloth but in winter, come with everything you can because it rains a lot and it can be windy!

Do you have a few days, or a few months ?

If you never came to my country and you have just 2 or 3 days, I recommend a big city! But if you are a “city person” and have more time, try to visit 2 or 3 cities. In this case, why visit the same Porto or Lisbon that every travel shop wants to sell? Start with Porto, than go to Braga, to Guimarães or even Viana do Castelo! They are all north cities and you can sleep and eat there cheaper and better than almost any city in Europe.

Now, to visit the interior, or some historic village, would be better to have a few more days than 2. In this case, start with a big city and then go to the interior. We have so small beautiful villages for you to visit and enjoy that you’ll not be disappointed. For this it would be better renting a car. If the weather is fine choose a beach too, at least one portuguese historic beach like Nazaré.

Choose you prefered landscape!

We have all type of landscapes for you to choose. We have snow for skiing, river for relax, beach for surfing and taking long sun baths, we have forest and countryside  and of course beautifully historic cities! You have just to choose and go!

 

The Portuguese hours!

As they say, “in Rome be a roman!” Usually we wake up early to go to start working around 9. The lunch starts at 12.30 to 13.30. Although you’ll have restaurants that can serve you a nice meal almost all day. If you are staying in a Portuguese family home you will be invited to dinner between 19 and 20.30. But is fine if you go dinner later, around 21 or even 21.30. Remember we like to eat well for a few coins, so you’ll be surprise what we can eat for a small amount of money.

The most important…

We are kind and happy to help you in anything you need, just ask or try to show what you want. One of the things that we have proud is the low crime rate compared to other European countries. Usually you are safe to go everywhere you want. Just relax and enjoy!

See you soon…

Yes, it’s 25 December

Christmas Day is here! With it comes family, friends, biscuits, gifts, cod (if you are in Ou from Portugal!) And all you can remember! I love the Christmas spirit, but today I was thinking of a tradition that I used to see when I was a child. The north of the country is very religious, so there are many traditions related to religious figures. In many villages and small towns there is a statue or figure or the sacred family that goes from house to house. This tradition intends to bring these saints to familiar homes to be worshiped. From the perspective of some people, you can see it as a kind of blessing to receive the figure. Usually, the day after receiving the figure, you must bring it to the next house to keep the chain. This type of tradition is very old and the same figure surrounds the village houses for many generations. Another interesting thing is that it forces people to get to know their neighbors and there is a kind of community around this ancient tradition.

Today is Christmas day and it was the day to receive the religious figure as well. In this case it was the Holy Family. The statuettes are very old, and are the same for many generations. Tomorrow is the day to go to the neighbor.

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Leça da Palmeira: Sea, swiming pool and Sushi!

So you are coming to Porto for your vacations! Perhaps you didn’t knew that yet but is almost impossible not come to one of the most fantastic cities in Europe! And if you are coming to this city, you really need to go to Leça da Palmeira. Why? Just because is near the sea, it has a lighthouse, it has one of the most beautiful public swimming pools called “Piscina das marés”, at night it looks like New York and, because you can eat the most tasteful fusion Sushi around here!

 

 

Let’s start with the dinner!

Sushiaria is a beautiful project that started with a small restaurant and now evolved into a great place to eat sushi, to drink some Gin and to be with friends. The service is real nice, everyone gives you a smile and try to keep your heart warm.


We start with Gyosas and, they were right on the spot very smooth and tasty. They have Gyosas stuffed with vegetables or pork and we ate both. The first one was very light and the second one was full of flavor with the chives giving the right balance.

For the main course, we choose, of course twenty-four beautiful and full of color fusion sushi pieces!

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So what can i say ? If your eyes don’t eat this, your mouth will! The freshness of the fish is one of the main things here, even if you eat a small piece you’ll notice right away the flavours that are involved. The eyes do not deceive in this case and the color of the dish will go right away put a rainbow on your mouth! Be careful with that wasabi! I love the spicy flavour of the wasabi and usually i use it a lot when eating sushi but this wasabi was specially hot! (Red face with a smile here!)

We didn’t ate dessert but I was told they were very tasty, maybe next time…

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Yes we need to disconnect. Put your phone on silence and start a walk between Sushiaria and Farol de Leça. It isn’t a small walk but I suggest you go near the sea, hearing the waves at night and watching the lighthouse growing until you get there. If you feel tired you can always seat and stop a bit or you can enter in one of the bars and drink something. There are many stories about the famous Farol de Leça manly because it is a hot spot for lovers…

By the end, and if you have car, (hope so!) go behind the lighthouse down the road, you’ll see New York right in front of you…

Going to Sushiaria is a great experience. In an early post I asked, if the sushi we eat is the real thing. In Sushiaria we can choose between fusion sushi or traditional sushi maybe this approach is bit more clearer to bring us the real Japanese flavours because you have a choice.


(Photos from Leça da Palmeira from “Depois Falamos” and “Filipe Oliveira”)

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SUMMARY

  • Great Sushi
  • It’s good for couples or groups, for lunch and dinner
  • The price is average
  • Great choice to go at night, but please make a reservation!
  • It’s a 4,5/5 
  • It’s A 24half first choice award!

Small size, big heart ! :)

Perhaps it’s true when people say that great things come in small doses. Portugal is small in size but the people have big hearts. If you go out and meet some Portuguese guys and girls you’ll notice that our social relations are more about heart than head. So for me it’s easy to think that many times we have the same type of relation with other things, like music, objects or food. Think about it, “Fado” is about soul, about love, about feelings, have you tried to translate some Fado lyrics? Yep, you should…

And the food…

The food is something visceral for the portuguese people. Many things are made around a food table. If you have some negotiation to do for your business the first thing you think of is about a dinner or a good lunch to talk. If you want to be with your friends maybe the first thing you will think is to eat something somewhere. Even if you are in love, you’ll go out to eat something nice.

When you travel to Portugal, if you can understand these connections I assure you will get an even better stay. The experience will be complete if you try to be a portuguese guy in Portugal, even If you just can say “Obrigado” in our language. Try to enjoy the country and know the people, because one is the mirror of the other. (Ending with a happy face!)

Once upon a time in Vila Nova de Cerveira!

Once upon a time there was a small village in north of Portugal, in the region that today we call Minho. The houses were made of stone and painted in white. The plazas were bright and beautifully old. The summer is hot and the winter is very cold.

Years and years passed and the stones are the same, the sun rays are still warm in the summer and the houses are still beautiful and full of color. This beautiful little village was born near the Minho River and it has more than five hundred years. Many battles were fought here to defend the portuguese frontier and you can still see some of those marks in the old castle of the village.

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Vila Nova de Cerveira is special. The Village itself is called “Vila das Artes”-  Village of the arts. Since the 70’s until today, this place became an important meeting point for artists all over the world, where they meet several times over the year to show their art. The cultural importance is huge for a small village like this.

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Last year they dress up the houses and the buildings with crochet. This year they did it again! The village was transformed into a marvelous dream, as if you were in a fairy tale, with old houses made of crochet, trees with crochet juicy fruits and some mysterious characters standing around the village. Art everywhere for everyone to see.

In a village of fantasy, magic and fairy tales there is a legend, of course…

Once upon a time there was a hart witch the gods of Olympus wanted him to be king. He choose these lands to held his colony of harts. Many years ran. Fights and strikes, calamities that were decimating the colony, until only King Cervo remained.

Legend has it that in the Reconquest when the Tassel and Tidal Lords descended from the Asturian hills to the conquest of what would later be the “Condado Portucalense”, a young nobleman challenged King Cervo for a front fight.

And the old King accepted. The fight would be fought between groves and weeds and in a place where there were small ditches in the place of “Valinha”.

Tell us the “story”, that King Hart won!

He remained with the tribute of the nobleman, and from there, his coat of arms was the flag conquered.

But the Gods deceived the old King. He would not be immortal …

Tired of life, sick, in the loneliness, the old Lord died. And with him disappeared for ever the “Terra da Cervaria” (…).

Even today, in order that the “story” might not be lost, the arms of Vila Nova de Cerveira have a hart in a green field, gold-colored, armed with silver, containing between the stems a blue gusset loaded with five silver. At the top of the mounts of this Municipality, King Cervo was ordered to be built “in memoriam”, which in a remarkable iron sculpture by José Rodrigues testifies to the longevity of the “Lands of Cervaria”.

(Hart pic by “all about Portugal”)


 

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Everybody knows “Zé das Letras”!

How many times you passed near a local store or a local restaurant and you know they were always there, you know exactly what it sells but you never get in or bought anything there. I guess is there at least one of these places in every city in the world. Today I went for dinner in “Zé das Letras”, a well-known local restaurant in Póvoa de Varzim that everybody knows. These type of places are icons that mark generations for years and years. Before we step in, we already knew what to expect: nice Portuguese food.

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The discovery experience starts once you step in. The big wood balcony welcomes everybody and you will notice right away that this place is much more than a simple local restaurant. The wood is everywhere, even the big old photo of Povoa de Varzim in the wall is surrounded of parts of wood from wine boxes.

You’ll be surprise with the space of this place. It’s awesome to come here with a group of friends, you can bring them all even if you got more than fifty ( perhaps I’m exaggerating, but this place is huge!).

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This is a family restaurant, the type of place that have various generations working and this is like their home, you will feel it if you observe the way they work and talk to each other. Everybody knows what to eat here even if you never entered. The menu is all about Portuguese food, you have various codfish dishes, various types of meats and of course some famous Portuguese desserts.

We choose “Bacalhau à Zé das letras” – when you see a dish in a Portuguese restaurant with their own name, usually is a speciality of the restaurant.  In this case, it’s fried codfish with a bit of saffron, red pepper, garlic, fried onion and fried potatoes.

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The flavours are intense in this dish. You will notice the saffron right away, and then all the other flavours will appear, the caramelized onion, the pepper and the codfish. You will feel different textures in every bite. As usually in these type of places, the amount of food they deliver is very big, so you will not be with hungry at the end.

“Rabanada” for dessert (I couldn’t wait to taste it so this is just half!)

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Rabanada is a dessert usually associated with Christmas. It is one of the many Portuguese Christmas desserts and every family eats it in that part of the year. In Póvoa de Varzim this not just a Christmas sweet but It’s a dish that is typical of the city, so you can eat it every year and every day! The recipe is almost identical in every Portuguese home but then, there are some small differences, in “Zé das Letras” for example, they serve the Rabanada with a warm sauce of sugar and cinnamon and almonds. More traditional than this is difficult !

Zé das Letras is a traditional restaurant, with tradicional food. If you want to taste some local food in Póvoa de Varzim this is one of the places you need to go. Try to go there at dinner in a weekend, for you to see the restaurant full with laughs, groups of friends and families eating tradicional Portuguese food.


 LOCATIONS

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SUMMARY

  • Tradicional Portuguese food
  • It’s good for couples or groups, for lunch and dinner
  • The price is cheap for what you get
  • Great choice to eat between tours and visits
  • It’s a 4/5 

Light,cheap and tasty ?

If you are like me, even if you plan your visits and tours when travelling, you will need to eat something light between those experiences. Usually, we take some sandwiches with us or we choose some fast food! Between hamburgers, hotdogs and pizzas, if you need to choose one of these, you want to choose the best!

“Ristorante Pizzeria Arlecchino” – Yes, you are right, It’s Italian, and it’s awesome!

The restaurant is very simple and cozy. You will feel as if you were entering in someones dinning room. The colors are light and the air is beautifully perfumed by the pizza oven!


The menu is simple, but you have a bit of everything you can remember from italian cousine. Pastas and pizzas are my favourite dishes and I can happily tell you that they are VERY GOOD! (Smile face!) After some discussion, we choose two pizzas : Emilia Romagna and Norvegia. During this, they kindly presented us with a little italian bruschetta – free of charge! ( My big thank you, here! )

The two girls have arrived! 

This is Emilia Romana. Have you ever been in Italy? This is exactly that: a little piece of Italy in every bite you take! The tastefully pizza dough, the sweet salty ham, the fresh arugula with tiny drops of olive oil and the freshly scarped parmesan cheese, Italy is here for you to taste!

Norvegia was the next one. The same tastefully pizza dough, but with salmon instead of ham. Those two were very similar, and you’ll feel the same sensation when chewing however, Norvegia is lighter and more delicate.

A few days ago, I posted about how authentic you can get, eating foreign food on your country. Perhaps “Ristorante Pizzeria Arlecchino” is the answer. The owner and his family came from Italy to Póvoa de Varzim, and they choose this city to show us how they eat and drink in their country. I have to thank to Andrea, Cristina, Laura, Matthew, Mark and Massimiliano to make me feel has if I was in Italy even if I just wanted something to eat between tours and visits.


 

LOCATIONS

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SUMMARY

  • The food is real Italian
  • It’s good for couples or groups, for lunch and dinner
  • The price is cheap for what you get, and it has take-away too!
  • Great choice to eat between tours and visits
  • It’s a 4,5/5 
  • It’s a 24half first choice award!