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Best Small Hotels in the North and Douro

Portugal was born in the North. And arriving in Porto, it feels like taking a step back in time. Red roof tiles tumble from hilltops to the riverfront, the cries of gulls wheel above the river and out to the sea, ancient streets tangle around buildings covered in tile that that saw new lands discovered, kings and queens come into power, and the creation of some of the finest wines on the planet. But make no mistake – Porto may have an ancient soul, but its pulse is every bit modern with some of the best small hotels in Europe.

Porto is often called Portugal’s second city, second in size to Lisbon. But where Lisbon is graceful and full of light, Porto is darker, faster, and an assault to the senses. You can feel the energy – the collision of old and new – in the streets. For me, the best way to explore Porto is to wander. Take time to explore the back streets, visit the Port wine houses, sample the distinct and delicious cuisine of Porto in the tascas, market and specialty stores, and spend the night in one of the best small hotels, historic and charming.

After a few days in Porto, head out of town to the Douro Valley. The rest of the world is just starting to catch on to what the Portuguese have always known – they make great wine. And much of the country’s best wine is made here, in the Douro Valley. The Douro Valley is the world’s first officially designated wine region. It’s known internationally of course for its Port wine, but some spectacular table wines are being made here as well. The scenery is breathtaking with […]

Award winning travel blogger who dedicates his work to the soul and sense of place of the locations he has visited, the people he has met and the food he has tasted.
June 13, 2016|

Best Small Hotels for a Spring Getaway

Best Small Hotels for a Spring Getaway

Spring has arrived here in Portugal, making it the perfect time for a getaway. The sun is shining, flowers are in bloom and the beaches and cities are yours for exploring.

Check out our suggestions on where to stay (and what to do!) for a Spring getaway in Portugal.
Porto
Solar Egas Moniz
Rising from the banks of the Douro passing through it, Porto is a hilly, historic mix of bridges, Baroque churches and narrow mediaeval alleys. Portugal’s second city comes alive in spring. After the rains of winter, there is a renewal – a freshness and greenness – to the city as cafes and restaurants that line the River Douro fill with locals and visitors alike. A recent article in Vogue described Porto as Europe’s next Hot Spot. For visitors who want to wander outside of the city, the Douro Valley is close by, home to Portugal’s most renowned and picturesque vineyards.

And where better to explore the architectural, gastronomic and design delights of Porto than from the nearby Solar Egas Moniz. Housed in a beautifully restored 120-year old house, the Solar has a wine cellar (perfect for tasting the local Vinho Verde), a library and a swimming pool. The 10 guest rooms offer a choice of themes, popular art or history, and each is decorated with modern amenities while keeping an eye on tradition.
Lisbon
Brown’s Boutique Hotel & Apartments
Once the stomping ground of Romans, Moors and Crusaders, this historic hillside city has culture, cobblestones, cafés, cable cars and castles. There has never been a better time to visit Lisbon. The capital is in the midst of a major renaissance. The classic beauty of Lisbon, evident in the gracious architecture, beautiful parks and […]

Award winning travel blogger who dedicates his work to the soul and sense of place of the locations he has visited, the people he has met and the food he has tasted.
April 12, 2016|

The Best Portuguese Easter Foods

Portugal is a country rich in history and heritage, and steeped in religious ritual and tradition. Its culture represents layer upon layer of different civilizations that lived in and ruled Europe’s westernmost country during past millennia — from prehistoric cultures to the Phoenicians and the Romans, spanning Germanic invasions, the Sephardic Jewish migration and finally the Moorish conquest and subsequent expulsion. Today, Portugal is largely Roman Catholic but pieces of these ancient civilizations can still be found, in museums and monuments – yes — but also in small villages and abandoned churches; in the language with its mix of Latin and Arabic influences; and of course on the table.

Here are five of the best Portuguese Easter foods, the holiest holiday in Portugal, all of them full of flavor and history.
Bacalhau

If food is a religion in Portugal, then codfish is its most holy dish. It’s said that there are 365 different ways to prepare bacalhau, the Portuguese national dish of salted, dried codfish — one for each day of the year. True or not, one thing is for sure – on Good Friday, bacalhau will be consumed by Portuguese families across the country in keeping with the tradition of abstaining from meat until Easter Sunday.

Lamb or Baby Goat
A holiday tradition in many parts of the world, roast lamb is often the centerpiece of the Portuguese table on Easter Sunday. Harking back to the Jewish tradition, lamb represents the sacrifice during the Hebrew exodus from Egypt. In the northern part of the country, cabrito, or baby goat, is often served in place of lamb. Whether lamb or goat, the meat is seasoned with the Portuguese trinity of garlic, bay leaves and white wine, and roasted […]

March 16, 2016|
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