Why was it a holiday on Wednesday, April the 25th?

This was a really busy week at Lisbon Stories and I’m really ashamed of writing this post only today! Anyway, I’d be even more ashamed of not talking about this at all, so, here it goes: Why was it a holiday on Wednesday?

April the 25th, of 1974, was the day of the Red Carnation Revolution. Until then Portugal was living in a fascist dictatorship, first led by Oliveira Salazar and then leaded by Marcelo Caetano when Salazar deceased in 1969.

During this time there was no freedom of speech. Everyone was afraid of talking as there could be members of the political police (“PIDE”) everywhere; newspapers, books radio and so would need to be approved by the censure police before they could be published; all those who were communists or simply against the regime could be arrested or tortured; and I could keep on with this list forever!

Finally in 1974 the “Armed Forces Movement” (MFA) organised a coup to put an end to the dictatorship. The crucial point happen in front of Carmo police station, when the MFA stood in front of the building where the government was. The name “Red Carnation Revolution” comes from the fact that the soldiers put red carnations in their guns to show that they didn’t want to shoot. Actually, they managed to put an end to 41 years of fascist dictatorship without making one single death. Isn’t that something?!

All the political prisoners were set free right away and the war with the colonies, which wanted the independence, finished right away too. Nowadays, every year, on the 25th of April, there’s a parade that crosses a major avenue in Lisbon. Everyone carries red carnations and sing revolutionary songs and slogans to remember the day of the revolution.

5 things that are different (on the table)

After all these posts about food I decided to clear some doubts and talk about 5 things that are different, on the table.

Appetizers: When you sit at a restaurant they’ll bring you immediately some bread, olives and butter. After you’ve order they may also bring you wonderful small appetizers to eat while you wait. Though they may seem a courtesy, they may cost you almost as much as the meal itself… and they also fill you almost as much as the meal itself!

If you don’t want any of those, just don’t touch them or tell the waiter that you don’t want them right away.

My fish wasn’t clean: in Portugal you can eat excellent fresh fish everywhere. The only thing that may look weird for you is that the fish never comes clean. Why? Portuguese people love to eat fish and also to know which kind of fish it is, and how fresh it is as well. This way, we like to clean it ourselves and refuse to eat just a fillet. At pricey restaurants they may clean it for you, but they’ll bring the cooked fish first, show it to you, and then clean it in front of you.

Eat without rushing: for us eating out is meeting with friends and talking about everything. We like to take our time during the meal and restaurant owners understand this. Don’t get surprised if the service isn’t really quick or if they don’t bring the check just after you finished to eat. If they would rush us out of the place no one would go back there.

Tipping: for us, tips are a reward for a good service and not part of the waiter’s wage. There’s no rule but we tip about 10% of the check, which may double when the service is outstanding. Since it’s not mandatory it’s never included in the bill.

Taxes included: In Portugal all prices MUST include taxes (vat, for instance) and when they don’t, they have to state that.

Read more about Eating habbits here.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with me and this article with your friends!

5 Meals a day and become Portuguese right away

Though you don’t see that many people in the streets, Portuguese people eat a lot: generally we eat 5 times per day. Here they go:

Breakfast: a caffèlatte and a sandwich or cereals with milk. Is eaten at home and quickly as everyone is always late for work.

Mid-morning snack: about 10.30 or 11am it’s time to stop what you’re doing and ask your colleagues if they’d like some coffee. It lasts about 15 minutes and is a moment of relax and socializing between working colleagues. Almost everyone drinks an espresso and eats one pastry.

Lunch: about 1pm everyone is already hungry and it’s time for lunch break. It lasts about one hour and is composed by some bread, vegetables soup, the main dish (rice and meat or fish and potatoes), desert or fruit and another expresso. This isn’t “the” big meal of the day: we have two big meals per day and love it this way.

“Lanche” or afternoon snack: is mandatory for kids but most adults eat something before dinner too. About 6pm it’s time to bite another sandwich and drink some tea, or have some milk with cookies.

Dinner: at the end of the day (8 or 9pm) the family spends some time together and sits for more than one hour by the dinner table. In terms of food, it’s just like lunch but since the day is over, everyone takes their time to eat and talk.

When we have a dinner out with friends it never starts before 9pm and lasts up to two hours.

Supper: not everyone, but since we never go to bed before midnight, some people still eat some crackers or a piece of fruit before going to sleep.

What do you think of our eating habits? How many times per day do you eat? Share your thoughts and share this post with your friends!

Read more about our gastronomy here.

 

And the oscar for the best custard goes to…

Remember that entry about Lisbon’s Fish Festival?

It’s still going on and yesterday there was a very special moment of it: the election of the best custard of the year.

All pastry shops claim to have the best one, so, it has been three years that a remarkable jury gathers, during this festival, and choose the best one of the year. This year there were 9 different pastry shops on the contest and after trying the 9 different custards (tough job) they chose “Pastelaria Aloma” in Campo de Ourique.

Curious about it? Book your tour today and ask our guide to take you there, to see if they deserve the prize.

Can’t understand what’s the big thing about the custards? I’ll explain that on my next post!

 

“A small death in Lisbon”

Don’t worry, Lisbon is a very safe city! This title comes from the book written by Robert Wilson and is the first post of “Books to Read” thread.

I’m not a great fan of crime novels myself, so, I was quite reluctant of reading one from an American author that I didn’t know. Once I finally started reading it, I couldn’t stop until I finished the book.

It all starts with the police investigation about a teen-age girl murdered in Lisbon, today, but suddenly goes back to the Nazi Germany, during the II World War and then to the North Interior of Portugal, also in the forties.  The action goes back and forward (lot’s of action) from today to the forties without a link, until it all starts to connect… and that’s when you can’t stop reading the book.

I can’t remember of another book that got me so crazy about it, forcing me to cancel personal appointments and sleep less hours in order to read more pages. The best thing: I turned the last page without knowing how the book would finish and who was the murder.

In general it’s very well written, really glues your hands to the book and talks a bit about Portugal. Robert Wilson certainly used a local and double checked his sources as all details are authentic. Here’s the author’s website with few more notes and the synopsis.

Boa leitura!

 

Just for a few hours in Lisbon? Don’t miss a thing!

Most Lisbon Stories customers have the same problem: they’d like to see everything, but they only have few hours or days in town.
If this is your case, here goes a set of posts with different itinerary suggestions, according to your available time.

5 hours in town:

Walk through the organised streets of “Baixa”, packed with shops and cafés, until you reach isbon’s Cathedral. Here you can visit one of the oldest buildings of Lisbon as well as the church where St Anthony (known as from Padua, Italy) was born. Keep walking up until you reach Sta Luzia belvedere, in Alfama. It’s a steep walk, but once you’re at the top and can enjoy the wide view over Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood and Tagus river, you’ll realise that it worth the climbing.
Your walking is going to be much easier now as you just have to walk down through the labyrinthine streets of Alfama, until you finally reach the river and after all, Comercio Square.  Tired? Relax on your way to Belém area, where once the Portuguese seafarers set sails on their way to Africa, Brazil, India, China and Japan.
Here you can visit St Jerome Monastery, built during the 16th century, in the Manueline style: a style that engraves on the stone all the different plants, fruits, animals and products that Europeans only got to know after the discoveries, as well as ropes, crosses, armilary spheres and other navigation tools that were used during this period. Visit only the church and if you have a sweet tooth, head to the famous pastry shop where you can try the custards once made by the monks from the monastery.
Walk or drive a bit more to visit Belém Tower (just the outside) and the Monument to the Discoveries with its map (doesn’t worth to get inside either).
You’re time is probably up and it’s time to leave, but don’t worry: I bet that you loved Lisbon so much that you’ll be back really soon.

 

To help you to do all this without missing anything and explain you everything, book this tour!

Fish, anyone?

Though you can eat excellent fresh fish all over the year, the next days are going to be specially tasty for those who love fish and are visiting Lisbon.

Turismo de Lisboa (the Official Tourism Board of Lisbon) is organising again the Fish Festival, from the 12th to the 22th of April.
All visitors who pass by the “Páteo da Galé”, attached to Comércio Square, can try fish dishes prepared by different restaurants, watch famous chefs preparing elaborate fish dishes, attend cooking classes, try other Portuguese traditional products and much more.

Detailed information, as well as the program, can be found here.

If you’re in Lisbon pay them a visit and… Bom Apetite!
(Enjoy your meal)

My Easter holidays

After such a long time of pause, it’s fair enough that I start telling you a little bit of my last-week holidays.

Though I love travelling abroad, this time I decided to stay in my own country, going to the north and enjoying Minho region. If there is something that I love about Portugal, is it’s variety. In the range of few kilometres the landscape can change a lot, just like if you were in a different country.

Minho region is not an exception and despite loving my whole vacation, my favourite part was the National Park of Peneda-Gerês. During the same day I visited a 13th century castle, a park with 50 granaries or so, walked by the river and found a 12th century monastery, crossed a Roman bridge, caressed wild horses and discovered an old village, submerged by a dam, in the 70s.

Great food at a ridiculous price was also a constant, and the wine… How could I miss the light, fresh and slightly sparkling green wine, exclusive to this region?!

I just love every minute that I spend in the North of Portugal. Just hope that one day a little dream that might come true (in one or two decades): to create a “Porto Stories”! Sshhh, it’s still a secret!