Highway toll payment

They say it ensures greater speed of circulation. Sure. But in my humble opinion the actual Portuguese toll system on highways is complicated and a nuisance for drivers with a foreign license plate or a rented car. Some roads become a electronic toll road without the possibility of changing our itinerary. Friends keep asking me: Can I pay…

Lisbon: foodcourt in market halls

In former market halls near Tagus river there is  a huge foodcourt these days. Part of the Mercado da Ribeira is transformed in a culinary hot spot, called Time Out Market. On a December evening we travel by metro to this place opposite the metro/trainstation Cais do Sodré. It’s around eight o’clock when we arrive and there is…

Lisbon: Hotel Real Palácio

We didn’t expect to get a Downton Abbey-feeling when I booked a hotel in Lisbon. But room 135 in the old part of  Hotel Real Palácio unexpectedly provides us one. The hotel is divided in a recent and old building. Our room for tonight is room 135, in the old part. Luckily this ancient city palace, with a…

Roasted apple (maçã assada) recipe

  A traditional Portuguese dessert is ‘Maçã assada’, roasted apple. It’s not difficult to make yourself! And it can be served cold, but I personally prefer a ‘roasted apple’ when it is still a bit warm. The basic ingredients are always the same: apples, sugar, cinnamon. My recipe of maçã assada has a personal touch:…

Why don’t you go to Mafra for a chance?

Everybody goes to Sintra. But why don’t you visit Mafra? From Lisbon Airport it’s only a bit more than a half an hour drive. And by the way, Mafra is close to Sintra. So go to this little town! Mafra welcomes you with a breathtaking view of a huge palace. Besides that, in Sintra it’s overloaded with…

Where to eat near Caldas da Rainha and Foz do Arelho?

People keep asking me all the time: “Do you know a good restaurant?”. As a matter of fact, I do. We spend a lot of time in restaurants, so we know quite a few nice places where they serve a decent meal for a reasonable price near Caldas da Rainha and Foz do Arelho in the Silver…

Butter more expensive than codfish during world war II

Luckily we don’t like to throw stuff away in this family. That’s why we still have  pricelists of 1943, 1944 and 1945. My greatgrandfather was a farmer with a small grocery shop in the Silvercoast area. During world war II food was rationed in Portugal, as well. In the years of severe fighting throughout Europe…

Holy Week in Portugal

In the “Semana Santa” before Easter many processions take place. Between the castle walls of ancien Obidos hundreds of people witnessed the burial of Christ on Holy Friday night. . At Easter people offer eachother sugared almonds. This year the almonds were delicious: not only covered with sugar but with chocolate, as well. Besides almonds…

Hotels in Lisbon

“Do you know a nice place to stay in Lisbon?” I’m  frequently asked. As a matter of fact, I do. Depending on what purpose I am in Lisbon, I choose to stay in the old city centre or in the new and trendy Expo-area, also called Parque das Nações, the area where in 1998 the…

Forget Port, start drinking Ginja!

About an hour by car north of Lisbon you find one of Portugal’s pearls: Óbidos. An old town surrounded by castle walls. And within: many romantic white houses with yellow, blue and red coloured stripes. Of course, nowadays many tourist invade pittoresque Óbidos in summer and during festivals. Don’t worry: keep away from the main…

Real Bordallo Pinheiro pottery you buy in Caldas da Rainha

I grew up with Bordallo Pinheiro ceramics. In the old city centre of Caldas da Rainha, nameplates of streets are made by this ceramic company of late nineteen hundreds. And if you wonder why many houses around the thermal area have tiles in Jugendstil colours, the answer is: thanks to Bordallo Pinheiro! Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro…

Olives again next year?

“My father used to have a lot of work in the first months of the year”, João said. Meanwhile he is busy with a saw in his hands. It’s the end of February and it’s time to cut back the ancient olive trees. Our harvest has failed tremendously. Not one olive was saved from the new…