Things That I Have Learned In Porto, Portugal

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Things That  I Have Learned In Porto, Portugal

“Any Portuguese town looks like bride’s finery –  something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.” Mary McCarthy

Portugal actually got its name from the city of Porto which was originally named Portus Cale in Latin.

Porto is more commonly known as Oporto, however this is only due to the fact that foreigners misinterpreted locals saying “o Porto” which means “the port” and this eventually led to it being called Oporto.

it is Portugal’s second largest city.

Citizens of Porto are informally known as “Tripeiros” which literally translates to “animal guts”. According to a well-known legend of the 15th century Henry the Navigator needed a lot of supplies for his Conquest of Ceuta. As a result, the city and its citizens gave up all the supplies they had, including all their food. All they had left were the animal “guts” or “tripas”.. As a result, a now-famous dish came along called “Tripas à Moda do Porto.” Because of this dish, the citizens of Porto got the nickname of “Tripeiros.”

Porto is Portuguese for port. The Port wine cellars are in Gaia which is across the river and the seaport is in the fishing village of Matosinhos. Both are  very close and municipalities. Maybe it should have been called near the port. 

The view from the Yeatman hotel (in Gaia) is spectacular.

So is the spa and the breakfast.

Most prisons are hidden away from a city. Porto’s 18th-century Cadeia de Relação was not.

After two centuries as prison, it closed its doors in 1974 and reopened as the Center for Photography.

There was a new traveling exhibition of Frieda Kahlo’s collection of photographs.

I was fascinated by this building as well.

We explored and on the top floor  is the former cell of Camilo Castelo Branco.The famed 19th-century writer was locked up (with his married lover, the writer Ana Plácido) for adultery. His 12 months behind bars inspired several books, as well as a fine bronze sculpture of the couple in the museum’s paved entrance square.

There was also a collection of old cameras  used to take the prison photos.

Portuguese people seem to be great at the English language. Portuguese  is very difficult.

Porto is a city of bridges. It has six iconic bridges.

Two were started by Gustav Eiffel (of the tower) and finished by his apprentice  Theophile Seyrig. It is probably easier to walk across the bridges when it isn’t pouring.

The Francesinha (Frenchy) is a typical dish in Porto. It is not for the weak of stomach. Thick white bread housing several layers of cooked meats (including ham, steak and pork) are topped with a beer sauce and finished with a fried egg.It is usually accompanied by a huge dish of fries and multiple beers. I’m all for a curious local combo but this was not for me.

Bacalhau is fresh dry salt cod. The Portuguese are obsessed with bacalhau. It is eaten baked, roasted, barbecued, canned,  in codfish cakes, with potatoes, rice, eggs, cheese, cream and so many other ways. As the Portuguese would say: “There are more than 365 ways to cook bacalhau, one for every day of the year!”

One of my favorite dishes to eat anywhere is octopus but it is especially good and cheap in Portugal. Octopus is rubbery so it is hard to cook. It was always fresh and cooked to perfection in Portugal.

The São João Festival in Porto takes place between the 23rd and the 24th of June each year.. Some silly traditions that happen while you’re out partying on the streets include hitting others on the head with huge (not painful) loud plastic hammers, releasing hot air balloons up into the sky, and waving garlic in front of people’s faces. Might not sound appealing, but it is a lot of fun. The most symbolic item however is a round potted basil plant  and usually comes with a little poem stuck on it.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Things I Have Learned In Lisbon, Portugal

Things I Have Learned In Lisbon, Portugal

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

Lisbon is known to be built on seven hills: Castelo, Graca, Monte, Penha de Franca, S.Pedro de Alcantara, Santa Catarina and Estrela. It makes the capital of Portugal similar to such cities as Rome, Istanbul and Moscow.

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The views are crazy good from different parts of the city. My hotel was at the top of one of the hills because I was always walking up the wrong street to get there and having to walk down and up again. Walking the streets of Lisbon is a definite workout.

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Lisbon’s superb natural setting, spread across seven hills facing the Tagus River, offers a network of terraces from which to contemplate the beauty of the city. They are called “miradouros” or viewpoints, they’re usually located at the highest points of each hill, and all have spaces to sit and rest. Some even have cafes serving snacks and light refreshments.

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I’m usually not a fan of getting lost but I didn’t mind in Lisbon. There are interesting streets that I would have missed.

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The Barcelos Rooster is considered to be the unofficial symbol of Portugal. The story varies but it has to do with a roasted rooster getting up from the table and declaring a falsely accused religious pilgrim innocent. It is carried for good luck. I buy every country’s good luck charms.

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In Lisbon, there  exists one of the oldest bakeries that makes Pastel de Nata.  It’s located in the neighborhood of Belem. The Antiga Confeitaria de Belém is a favorite of locals and tourists alike.

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The tarts here are called Pastéis de Belem and served plain with cinnamon and sugar toppings.

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Lisbon has its own Cristo Rei (Christ the King statue) – a Catholic monument overlooking the city, standing on the left bank of the river. It was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The statue commemorates Portugal’s survival of WWII.

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The Jerónimos Monastery was constructed in the Portuguese Manueline style. The Monastery was commissioned by King Manuel in 1501 and took 100 years to finish. The monks role was to pray for the King’s eternal soul and give spiritual help to navigators and sailors leaving to explore the world.

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Vasco de Gama who is buried here left from this site in 1497. There are no advance tickets so come early or be prepared to wait up to an hour. The cloisters and architecture are magnificent and worth the admission. The Church of Belem is free.

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Tower of Belem is Lisbon’s iconic landmark.  The Tower is located on the Tagus River a twenty-minute walk from the Monastery. It was built in the Manueline style the sixteenth century as part of a defense wall which was never finished.

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Manueline style is a very specific interpretation of Gothic architectural structure and decoration only found in Portugal.The style emerged during the reign of King Manuel I (1495-1521) but the name was not adopted until the 19th century.

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Buying gloves at the tiny Ulisses glove shop in Lisbon is a serious experience. They have made unique and high quality gloves in the same way since 1928. Place your elbow on a  cushion and have the special opportunity of getting gloves fit to your hand. They are guaranteed for life and you don’t need a receipt as they know which are their gloves.

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The Vasco da Gama Bridge over the Tagus River is the longest bridge in Europe – 17, 2 km (10.7 miles) long.

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Fiera de la Ladra (thieves market) is a flea market in the Alfama district every Tuesday and Thursday. A market has been in this place since the twelfth century. It is one of the oldest areas in Lisbon and so beautiful to walk around in.

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Lisbon was the first city in the world to import Guinness from the UK.

Sardines are a typical Portuguese meal . I can live without them but they weren’t that bad served fresh and much larger than the canned variety.

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Canned fish seems to be a common staple in Portugal and there is a lot to choose from.

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Right up there with sardines, octopus is the most fished species in Portugal.  It is one of my favorite dishes and I had it a lot.

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Eating grilled fish in Portugal (Peixe Grelhado) is an amazing experience.

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Museu Berardo is a wonderful space for modern and contemporary art in Belem.The collection owes its existence to the Portuguese businessman Joe Berardo who, in his lifetime, amassed a great number of works of contemporary art. The space houses the permanent collection and changing contemporary exhibitions.

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The Gulbenkian Museum is located in a modern complex with beautiful gardens and ducks, an extensive library and a Modern Art Center.The Gulbenkian collection was mostly collected by Calouste Gulbenkian during his lifetime.

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The Modern Art Center(CAM) has an extensive collection of twentieth and twenty-first century modern Portuguese art. Temporary exhibits are scheduled throughout the year of Portuguese and international artists.

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Lisbon was a love at first sight city for me. It is beautiful, colorful, full of layers and character. People are so friendly and helpful and many speak English or Spanish. The city is relatively inexpensive. Portuguese seafood is a reason alone to come here. It is very easy to get around by walking, taxi, boat or public transportation. I want to return soon.

Bom Viagem
JAZ