Sunday, September 25, 2011


Lisbon – a city of seven hills with white winding roads that are so narrow you can barely tell they exist, as you wind up and down them discovering the city one hill at a time. Almost all the buildings have colorful tiles on the outside that make each one of them look majestic; specially when glistening in the sunlight. We spent most of our time roaming the city taking it all in; visiting castles, monasteries and monuments. Sampling Portuguese food was on top of our list. We ate our first exquisite (10 course) meal at 100 Maneiras. We were fed cod on a clothes line among other strange but delicious delicacies. Another hotspot I would recommend is  A Travessa – a restaurant that is situated inside an absolutely breathtaking old monastery. One thing we noticed about Portugal was the lack of people. No place was ever crowded and come afternoon the streets were deserted no matter where you were. We visited near by towns of Belém and Sintra the former has the best pastel de nata at Café Pastéis de Belém. Pastel de nata is a traditional creamy custard pie that is sinful ! Lisbon has many area’s (Bairro Alto, The Alfama, Chiado, The Baixa) that you can walk up and down endlessly. The city is full of white cobble stone roads, monuments, fado music and amazing food ! Stop one on our Portuguese journey was delightful.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quin·quen·ni·um /kwinˈkwenēəm/: (Noun) A specified period of five years

My mother and I do "mommy - daughter" trip every five years. It is not something we planned on doing – it just happened. Ten years ago the destination was Italy, five years ago Eastern Europe and then this year we decided to take on Portugal. Of course much planning was done in advance (mainly by mom); and nothing could keep us away. Not Hurricane Irene in New York who hit the weekend I was leaving and not the Portuguese Embassy in India who could not issue a visa for my mom because their systems were down. After much drama she got a hand written visa the day before she was to leave! It was touch and go – we had Scotland as our back-up plan just in case the visa did not come through; but it would not have been the same. 

We spent fourteen days, driving one thousand eight hundred and ninety four kilometers from one end of Portugal to the other. I highly recommend driving through a country – it is the best way to see all of its nooks, crannies & idiosyncrasies. The highlight of our trip was the food. We (I mean .. mom) had done some serious research on restaurants and chefs. Our gastronomical experience spanned "hole in the wall" establishments to simply sinful tasting menu's at much acclaimed Michelin star restaurants. The hotels we stayed at were varied and added to the entire experience. In Lisbon and Porto we wanted to be in the center of it all and stayed at a typical city hotel; while in Condexia a Nova we chose an old traditional Portuguese house. We stayed at the best bed and breakfast I have ever been to in Evora; and in Pinhao it was a farm house (Quinta) that made amazing Port Wine. Finally, we ended our holiday in the Algarve at a Spa Resort right by the beach. Complete relaxation before getting back to reality. Driving, eating, drinking, taking it all in - It was quite a trip. Below is a glimpse of what is to come as I take you through my Portuguese journey in pictures and words.