Written by catsholiday on 08 Jun, 2013
Food in PortugalWhen my family travel one of the things we enjoy is to try the local cuisine. Sometimes we have the most delicious food and other times the food or dish is 'interesting but not one we will be trying again'.When we were in…Read More
Food in PortugalWhen my family travel one of the things we enjoy is to try the local cuisine. Sometimes we have the most delicious food and other times the food or dish is 'interesting but not one we will be trying again'.When we were in Portugal we made an effort to try local dishes whenever we could and this tells a bit about our experiences with these Portuguese dishes tried.We drove to a town in the Algarve called Ponta da Piedade and in a lovely little restaurant there we had a bowl of CATAPLANA . Now a little confusingly A Cataplana is a traditional Portuguese dish crafted in copper and lined with tin but it is also the name of the pan it is cooked in. The dish we had was a kind of seafood and pork stew with lots of clams, pork, other seafood,chorizo, wine, a bit of chilli and vegetables. Some we had were creamier than others which were more tomato based. Whichever recipe we ate they were all really tasty and the dish allowed the flavours to develop and blend beautifully.Seafood of course is very popular and one favourite is SARDINES. I am not a huge fan as I am not keen on fish with heads still one. I also don't like fiddling with skin and bones so after one I had had enough and this was not something I ordered a second time. They tasted good but needed too much fiddling for me.I do love the clams, especially the razor clams and another favourite is squid or octopus which is something we eat rarely in this country but I do enjoy when in Spain or Portugal.Another dish we enjoyed while in the Algarve was "carne de porco a alentejana",which is a sort of minced and marinated pork dish with red peppers and clams and was one I would happily come back for a second time.PIRI PIRI is of course linked with Africa and Portugal and these hot little peppers add their kick to lots of meals beyond the famous 'Nandos' restaurants. You will often find a bottle of piri piri on restaurant tables and you can add it to a variety of dishes while cooking or after to your personal taste.A dish that my husband ordered in Lisbon was Salt cod or BACALHAU and this is a food found across Portugal. It reminds me of Jamaican saltfish and is not something I especially like but I do like trying things so tried my husband's dish. It was actually quite tasty but not a dish I would want to eat all of. According to various Portuguese websites the Portuguese are said to have "365 different preparations for it, including fritters, croquettes or poached with tomato sauce and vegetables."Portugal make a variety of cheeses and one of their most famous is a really delicious really soft cheese that comes wrapped in a special linen called 'Queijo Serra da Estrela' It taste a bit like a soft Brie it is made of ewe's milk and you sort of spoon it onto bread.Of course olives and olive oil are something that is found across the Med but still always great to eat the different kinds.Moving on to sweet stuff and while we were in Lisbon we had to try the unique 'pastéis de Belém'. This is a really delicious creamy sweet custard tart that was originally made in a monastery in the 19th century. My husband is a huge fan of custard pies so when he saw the pastel de nata he had to try them. I am not a fan of egg custards so I did have a bite but although I love sweet things anything that tastes of egg is a nono for me. My husband really liked it though and had several more while we were there. I have to say the Belem pastry was pretty darned similar to these.Naturally Port is something Portugal is well known for but as a more easily drinkable drink I enjoyed a glass or two of Vinho Verde which was a light and refreshing white wine with a slight spritz.There it is my little culinary journey in Portugal. Close
Written by Slug on 13 May, 2009
I soon established there wasn’t a lot in Albufeira, so wondered what there was for a boy to do. Considering the train station is about 5 miles out of town, and local busses appeared a little scarce, it seemed like too much hassle to hightail…Read More
I soon established there wasn’t a lot in Albufeira, so wondered what there was for a boy to do. Considering the train station is about 5 miles out of town, and local busses appeared a little scarce, it seemed like too much hassle to hightail it out of there for the day. I soon concluded a little time spent chilling in one of the towns many bars was the only way to go: when in Rome and all that…We focussed upon the strip on "old town" as the couple of mid-20-year-olds in our party said the "new strip" was far too brash and exciting for them. Considering they both work for a bank, perhaps I should have looked for myself. However, I decided that as long as the place had chairs and sold alcohol then I wouldn’t be too fussy.As I keep on typing "strip", the name for the bars and restaurants in Albufeira, the more I dislike the term. It signifies exposing yourself bare, and to be honest, we found it a good place to people watch, and discovered many of the visitors pretty stripped bare. I soon felt skinny, as it seems Albufeira attracts particularly fat visitors. I suppose as the town caters for the stomach more than anything else, then it is a logical outcome. You rarely see skinny customers in the queue for Kentucky Fried Chicken after all. Likewise, I also felt a little stylish, as umpteen men strolled by in sandals, with grey or black work socks pulled up as far as humanly possible. As Albufeira is a golf town, it also didn’t take long for me to spot the lemon pullover, draped unattractively across shoulders, with the sleeves forming a loose "V" across extended stomachs. By contrast, I was quite the bobby dazzler in my lime and orange swimming shorts and white Che Guevara T-shirt! As we were going native, we wandered across to the tackiest part of the strip, a long series of sports bars and restaurants, all showing the same UK soccer match on the same outdoor TV. At one point, I must have got the impact and point of quadraphonic as speakers up and down the street blasted out the same broadcast. In the whole line, only about two of the places catered for the German tourist; it was almost like a lone dissenting voice. While Portugal produces some reasonable lager, and some beautiful wines, these British bars served the familiar to people who obviously wanted to simply visit Britain in the sun. So, most of these places offered Fosters (which is Australian in any case) and John Smith’s bitter (a brew most bitter drinkers won’t easily touch). Food of course, was of the greasy and gut expanding kind: everything with chips, apart from the traditional British Sunday Roast. From this little part of town, you would hardly ever know that Albufeira was a fishing town, or that it was in Portugal.Fortunately, the Albufeira strip wasn’t all like this, and away from that particular street, things were much more diverse. We passed by more traditional looking restaurants selling some of the Portuguese specialities like grilled sardines and cod in sauce. We stopped for a drink at Sir Harry’s British bar, which sold the local lager, and the inside was spick and span. I had opportunity to snigger and sneer at the local sign in the bathrooms, ignoring that my Portuguese is limited to "thank you". Alongside us, a group of about 20 British lads on a stag weekend were good-natured and lazily enjoying the sun and each other’s company. As the birthday girl in our party was from the Northeast of England, we also went to Suspenders Geordie Bar. This is a pub run by Newcastle people for Newcastle people. As such, I found it sadly depressing, that people actually thought this was a good idea (we only went in for a joke!). We ignored the other Geordie bar two doors up (and not because the owner of Suspenders sneeringly told us an Icelandic man ran it). We then tried a couple of bars, which sold cocktails. After the Geordie bar experience, I needed them for my sanity. While I’m not a cocktail kind of boy, I do have a weakness for a minty Mojito. I have to say the Portuguese versions aren’t particularly wonderful, and at 6.50 Euros a glass, not particularly cheap. However, they are strong and refreshing, so they slipped down nicely. In the first bar, a nicely furnished mock Moorish palace, we were ashamed to see a group of British men behaving very badly; being rude to the bar staff and so drunk they couldn’t finish off their £50 bottle of champagne. At the second bar, a more basic rock café, we hummed along to Robbie Williams on the screen, and slipped slowly into oblivion. While wandering along the strip isn’t really my kind of thing these days, I did discover it had more variation than I first thought, and that in general there was a relaxed and mixed attitude. Just ignore the obviously British places. Close
Written by Slug on 12 May, 2009
I must confess I wasn’t totally looking forward to our short stay in Albufeira in the Algarve. A good friend had very kindly invited us along to her 50th birthday celebrations, and while we so wanted to celebrate with her, we knew we looked for…Read More
I must confess I wasn’t totally looking forward to our short stay in Albufeira in the Algarve. A good friend had very kindly invited us along to her 50th birthday celebrations, and while we so wanted to celebrate with her, we knew we looked for very different experiences from a vacation. I anticipate exciting and different travel experiences, and the opportunity to write a good travel review. Our friend meanwhile is much more about having a leisurely doze on the sun bed around a pool, in between short bursts of Barbara Taylor Bradford and a gulp of rapidly warming wasp infested sweet Sangria. In the end, we decided to get the best of both worlds with a few days in Porto and then Caiscais (near Lisbon), before we braved the Algarve. Unfortunately, these first two places were so lovely; I held a heavy heart by the time it came time to meet up. The Algarve is an area deeply loved, and on the agenda of, many a traditional holidaymaker since the mid 60’s. I was fully expecting gangs of young British yobs and yobetts, interspersed with the more mature Brit looking for some idyllic sunnier vision of what they imagined Britain to be like 40 years ago. It is true, in part, that I discovered my personal nemesis. The main concentration of bars in Albufeira (tellingly and horrifyingly named "the strip") had its full share of soccer football TV screens, cheap beer offers, and roast Sunday dinners and fish and chips on the menu. The largest pile of British newspapers in the local supermarket was for the Daily Mail (disparagingly known as the "Hate Mail" by British liberals). However, before I cast the whole place into room 101, I didn’t find Albufeira to be as bad as the hell-on-sea that my mind envisaged. We enjoyed visiting some of the cocktail bars, and some of the restaurants were surprisingly upmarket and good (as my journal tells testament). I also found that scant parts of the old original town had survived, with old winding streets lined with little whitewashed fisher family cottages. I even spotted right in the centre of the old town "strip", an old farmer sitting in his living room with his front door open, as he must have done 60 years ago. Of course in those days, instead of ritzy bars and tatty kid’s toys shops, fields surrounded him. I was also surprised that Albufeira wasn’t quite as built up as I had imagined; none of the town is high-rise apartments, although I did spot some white wedding cake tier designed flats on some of the hills. Most apartments and villas were in fairly small groups or even separate plots, and I has to walk between the odd field to hop from bar to bar. The beach area itself is simply a series of very sandy bays, interspersed with rocky cliff headland. Again, this lent to the town giving itself breathing space. Unfortunately, Albufeira has had a couple of rocky years, as its reputation seems to precede it, and tourists have been moving on in search of resorts that are more sophisticated. The local newspaper was over optimistically shouting of hints of revival as the local hotels claimed towards 50% room occupancy for May. Albufeira has its fair share of bankrupt and closed down bars and restaurants, and the ones that survive have to be good to keep going. This is particularly true of the edge of town, where "passing trade" is much less. I passed the "Cock and Bull" a sadly peeling "English" bar, proudly proclaiming they were showing all the matches for "Euro 2006". I’m sure the soccer teams playing in the tournament weren’t the only ones with shattered dreams and battered egos. It made me sad, and made me want to like the place.The real problem I have with Albufeira was that there seemed so little to do. A stall was offering Segways for hire. We were tempted until we realised that all we could do was go round in mindless little circles in the concrete square at the back of the beach. I didn’t really see any serious art shops or museums to explore. I just saw cheap and expensive bars, cheap and expensive restaurants, and the piles pounding on as I staggered and wobbled between the two, and watched others doing likewise. Close
Written by Matapipi on 30 Sep, 2003
In the morning you will be picked up by your own tour guide in his/her jeep right from the front door of your hotel. You may have other guests sharing the jeep with you from other hotels as well, as usually a jeep can take…Read More
In the morning you will be picked up by your own tour guide in his/her jeep right from the front door of your hotel. You may have other guests sharing the jeep with you from other hotels as well, as usually a jeep can take up to eight guests plus the driver.
When the jeep is full the driver takes you to the meeting point to meet all the other jeeps and guests. After a short introduction to the days programme and all the drivers, you will be very anxious to start the tour.
The leading jeep shows the way to the country side and mountains, very bumpy off roads through the bushes and between the trees. Sometimes you climb up a steep hill and you will feel your heart pumping with excitement and almost stopping when the jeep starts slowly coming down a wall-like hill side right on the edge of a deep ravine. But don't worry though, the drivers are all professionals and do the same routes every day! Don't forget to take your camera with you, this is something worth showing back at home too.
After the nerveracking ride you may have a short break somewhere deep in the interior of the countryside and have a taste of the local farmer's fruits and vegetables. You might also stop somewhere else for fire water tasting or handicraft shopping. A delicious lunch is served also, normally being Chicken Piri-Piri, the spicy local dish.
In the afternoon sun you will start heading back to the city, all dusty and tanned, full of funny memories and experiences to share with everyone that stayed home that day. Your driver will bring you back to your hotel. If you liked the day with your driver, and you want to thank him, you are more than welcome to give a small tip.
You can book a safari at most of the hotel receptions or local travel agencies. It's hard to miss the publicity as the safaris are a very popular activity in the Algarve. There are several companies that make the tours all around the Algarve. You…Read More
You can book a safari at most of the hotel receptions or local travel agencies. It's hard to miss the publicity as the safaris are a very popular activity in the Algarve.
There are several companies that make the tours all around the Algarve. You can choose from Monchique to the rural Algarve, Sagres (the very eastern end of the Algarve) to Spain. Prices may vary according to the length of the tour. Normally they are one-day tours, but special night tours or three-day tours are also available.
Written by Bob Simpkins on 16 Feb, 2003
I explored all the rental possibilities before I left Canada. Most car rental companies give you an price that does not include the mandatory extras such as collision damage waiver, personal liability, and theft. These extras can add up to more than the price of…Read More
I explored all the rental possibilities before I left Canada. Most car rental companies give you an price that does not include the mandatory extras such as collision damage waiver, personal liability, and theft. These extras can add up to more than the price of the basic rental. Also, a lot of rental companies in Europe do not accept the Gold Card Collision damage waiver inherent in the card.
I ended up getting a car from a compay called carjet.com. This is a web only based company specializing in Spain and Portugal. One of their companies called All-Inclusive-Car-Hire.com rents cars where the rental price includes all the liabilities.
I rented a car for 18 days at a total cost of 300 Euros. The car comes with a gas tank almost empty and when you return it they expect it will be almost empty. The company representative will meet you at your destination with the car any time of the day or night. The car can be returned any time of day or night. When returning, there are no papers to sign, nothing. You pay up front for the total cost of the rental.
I had no problems whatsoever with the company or the rental car.