Tipping – how much?

    Doesn’t matter where you go, tipping is always an issue, or at least a question. Is it included in the bill? Wen shall you tip? How much and to whom?

    In Portugal tips are welcomed but are not mandatory. Tipping is a reward for a special / remarkable service and not a customer’s obligation. We tip about 10% of the bill or more when the service was extraordinarily good.

    Since it’s not mandatory, it will never be charged together with your whole bill. In case you’d like to pay the tip together with the check, on your credit card, ask the waiter if that’s possible as normally we pay with credit card and then tip in cash.

    Last question: who shall you tip? We tip mostly waiters and doormen (when they help us with luggage). In the case of taxi drivers we normally round up the bill a little bit.

    And if this post helped you, feel free to leave a tip… a comment, I mean ;)

From the airport to the city center by subway

From today everyone who arrives to Lisbon’s International Airport has a new way to reach the city center: subway!

After arriving to Lisbon’s Airport you just have to follow the signs (they’re not so good right now, that that will be fixed soon) and go to the ticket machine. Once you’re there (like I said before) buy a “Zapping” card. It costs 0.50€ for the card itself and then you can choose the amount that you want to put in the card. Each time you travel by public transportation it will deduct its cost automatically. In this case, it will take 1,15€, which is the price of each journey.

If you just want to take one trip, then buy “single fare” and the cost will be 1,25€ for the journey + 0,50€ for the green card. Don’t forget that you can return the card after the trip and recover your 0,50€, just keep the white receipt.

How to reach the airport by subway? Easy. Take it in the subway station that is more convenient to you and head towards “São Sebastião”, “Saldanha” or “Alameda (blue, yellow and green lines). There you can change subway and get on the red line, which takes you directly to the airport. To give you an idea, now you can go from “Saldanha” to the “Airport” in 16 minutes.  Isn’t that something?

Just like all the other subway stations, this one is also decorated with tiles. These were designed by a cartoonist, António, and has caricatures of important Portuguese personalities such as the Fado singer Amália or the writer Fernando Pessoa, among many others.

One last info: subway runs from 6.30 am to 1.30am and it’s generally safe. Toddlers, suitcases and other volumes are allowed, just look for the larger gates before passing your ticket. What are you waiting for? Try it and tell us how it was.

Or see the full subway map here. 

5 dishes that you should try

    We all know that one of the best ways to get to know a country is taste its traditional dishes and flavors. Portugal is not an exception and despite its small dimension, traditional dishes vary a lot from the south to the north. While the south prefers lighter meals, the coast has mostly fish and the north eats mostly meat.

    Bacalhau: codfish is considered our most famous and traditionaldish and can be served in 365 different ways, one per each day of the year. Bacalhau com Natas (with milk cream), Bacalhau à Brás (smashed with smashed french fries and onions) and Bacalhau com Broa (roasted with corn bread on top) are the best choices.

    Grilled fish: a great option for those summer lunches when you don’t want to feel stuffed and too lazy to walk around. Normally is grilled on the coal, which gives it a special flavor, and comes with boiled potatoes and vegetables. May sound too simple but together with some green wine will be unforgettable.

    Carne de Porco à alentejana: is a traditional dish from the south. Consists of fried pork cubes accompanied with fried potatoes and clams. The combination may look strange but definitely tastes good. Lemon and persely are perfect to add more flavours.

    Alheira: a sort of sausage invented by the Jews to pretend they were eating pork, includes different meats, bread and herbs. Comes with french fries and an egg on top.

    Arroz de marisco: a rice stew with lots of different sea food, clams and crab. In a good one you should have a bad time to find some rice on it. Normally one portion is enough to feed one family.


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!

“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!