portugal

recipe: codfish cakes

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

lisboa: igreja da memória

Portugal, Lisboa, Lisbon, Ayuda, Igreja da Memória, Baroque

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

recipe: bacalhau espiritual

recipe, Portugal, cod, bacalhau espiritual

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

guidebook research 2020

atención, coronavirus, Sevilla

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

lisboa: as varinas

Portugal, Lisboa, Lisbon, varinas, poster

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

portugal: tile reproductions

Azulejos, tiles, vector

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

lisboa: cais das colunas

Casi das Colunas, 1950s

One of Lisbon’s most iconic viewpoints, not even the 1755 earthquake could destroy this majestic point of entry into the capital of Portugal. The royal palace disappeared forever, but the public square retained its shape during reconstruction… although sporting a new name. Recently the columns returned with “Salazar” cleaned up for all to see. That polemic decision allows visitors & residents alike to engage in a dialogue with Portugal’s recent history.

Read More »lisboa: cais das colunas

road trip: borders

borders, road trip, map, Spain, Portugal
● See enlargement below…
borders, road trip, map, Spain, Portugal

Whether you call it a national border or la raya, this trip had a several motivations: spend time in places Rafa & I had been individually but not together (awwww), visit new spots that are best accessed by car & see how permeable —or not— the Portugal/Spain border has been over time. We beat the heat until the last couple of days of the trip, but overall we were very lucky with weather considering the time of year. Join us for a crazy week on both sides of the border…

Read More »road trip: borders

elvas: forte da graça

Portugal, Elvas, Forte da Graça, SIPA

Elvas not only boasts a massive wall around the entire city that dates from the great age of fortress construction in the 1700s, but the nearby Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça also impresses from its commanding location. As a modified 400-meter (1,300 ft) mountain, the fortress could easily defend Elvas & see any invasion force coming from Spain next door. Most of the fort sits submerged into the mountaintop, making this a fantastic feat of engineering. I have no drone, but this gives you an idea of the scale:

Read More »elvas: forte da graça