Everyone raves about the Palácio da Pena. Spectacular for sure, but endless crowds & high ticket prices make visiting the palace little more than an exercise in patience. Zero fun. Go to Sintra for natural beauty, but a better glimpse of royal family life can be found without the crowds on the same train line halfway between Lisboa & Sintra. Twenty years had passed since my first visit to the Palácio de Queluz, & strolling through its well-kept grounds made for a gorgeous, crowd-free morning.Read More »queluz: what a palácio!
Porto may have never been the official home of the royal family, never the capital of Portugal or never the seat of an archdiocese. However, Porto has long been homebase for the Portuguese bourgeoisie: a vibrant class of businessmen, merchants & all the wealth they generated. No wonder one of the most visited sights in Porto is a monument to trade & a way of life that continues to define the city’s entrepreneurial character.Read More »porto: palácio da bolsa
Ahhhh, the new & modern Lisbon of the mid-20th century… a period tainted by the Salazar dictatorship, but construction during this era gave the capital city much of its iconic look. Fortunately two brothers made a business out of documenting this epic growth spurt that visitors flock to today.Read More »found: estúdio novaes
At the risk of adding yet another cod recipe to this blog, I couldn’t let Holy Week pass without presenting another of my favorites from Portugal: bolinhos de bacalhau. This traditional petisco (snack or appetizer) is great with beer when you’re feeling peckish, at the beginning of a meal to ease an eager appetite, or several accompanied by a salad makes a meal. While traditionally fried, my version is baked but just as tasty… maybe that means you can indulge in an extra!Read More »recipe: codfish cakes
No one expected second son José to inherit the throne of Portugal, but his older brother died the year of his birth & José moved to the top spot. He married Mariana Victoria of Spain at the age of 15 who shared his love for hunting & opera… but she never cared much for his affairs! Crowned king in 1750, José I continued to enjoy a carefree life; most administrative decisions fell to Prime Minister Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo. Later granted the title of Marquês de Pombal, Carvalho e Melo rebuilt the city of Lisbon after a devastating earthquake-fire-tsunami combo destroyed the capital in 1755.Read More »lisboa: igreja da memória
Surprisingly versatile, bacalhau deserves its spotlight in Portuguese cuisine… although I’ve grown tired of the cliché that there are 365 salt cod recipes, one for each day of the year. Why be so trite about such an amazing & versatile ingredient? This cod recipe has a more dignified beginning than most: a royal crowdpleaser based on the French brandade de morue spread. A rich, creamy bechamel combined with the sweetness of onions & carrots tastes divine, so the dish lives up to its heavenly name.Read More »recipe: bacalhau espiritual
Oh, what could have been. After the Rick Steves reunion in January, the book department & I began working on my research schedule for this year. I’d expressed a desire to do more book work in 2020… although not as well paid as guiding tours, I love the flexibility + the opportunity to add my own text (when approved!). Rick has the final say in all his guidebooks, but the collaborative publishing effort every year is great fun. COVID-19 put an end to those plans. However, I’m not one to break tradition, so I thought I’d share what might have been an incredible research year.Read More »guidebook research 2020?
As a tour guide, I’m interested in how the destinations I teach others about were marketed or imagined before I came around. What identifies these places to locals as well as to visitors? Travel posters from Argentina, Spain & Portugal during the mid-20th century revealed part of the story; however, one particular image stands out because of its absence today… the women who sold fish in Lisbon: as varinas.Read More »lisboa: as varinas
The estado de alarma & subsequent quarantine due to COVID-19 gave me time to return to an old hobby: making vector reproductions of Portuguese tile panels. While I’ve never been much of an artist, copying has always come easy… perhaps a result of how I visualize the world & see detail. Whatever the reason, immersing myself in azulejos for a few hours each week gave me some much-needed distraction from what was happening in the world.Read More »portugal: tile reproductions