Last weekend I was in Portugual. A country I have been putting off for quite sometime now, simply because it’s so close to Spain. Before I went I thought the Spanish and the Portugese had similar cultures, which is also why I wasn’t eager to visit. If the cultures are similar why do I need to go?
I was wrong, as usual. The flights from Madrid to Porto are usually pretty cheap. A roundtrip ticket can be about 50 euros or less. To Lisbon, it’s more expensive but not obnoxiously. I booked my flight while I was still on Semana Santa, so I’m still quite broke. However it was a four day weekend for me and a one-way flight to Porto was 30 euros, a direct flight from Porto to Lisbon was 10 euros and from Lisbon back to Madrid was another 30. All around it was cheaper than round trip to Porto, I’m not sure how that worked out but it did in my favor.
I only spent two days in Porto and a day and a half in Lisbon. The vibes in Lisbon were different than Porto so it’s harder to compare them. However, I wish I had more time in Lisbon because there are historical towns like Sintra and Belem that are an easy day trip. The best part of being in each city was comparing the prices. Portugal’s economy is similar to Spain and it basically survives on tourism.
I met many people who said they preferred Porto over Lisbon or Lisbon over Porto. Porto was more condensed and everything was close to the center. Plus my favorite part was the theory that Porto had inspired J.K Rowling to write all of her Harry Potter books. She used to be an English teacher at the university and would sit at one of the local libraries and work on a children’s book. The best example to see her inspiration is the university students. There are always students walking around in uniforms with a black cape, initially I thought they were massive Harry Potter fans but in fact, it’s Portuguese tradition that university students wear them. Nowadays students wear their capes on more traditional events or sometimes when they go out. Tradition has it that someone is supposed to give you the cape, and if you lose it you will do whatever it takes to get it back. If you buy a new one it loses its value.
Now let’s talk about the food! To this day Italy still has the best food I could have ever tasted. Since both Lisbon and Porto are on the sea a lot of their dishes include fish, however, the most famous dish is a sandwich called francesinha. No idea how to pronounce it either but it was fantastic, Traditionally its made with bread, wet-cured ham, linguiça, fresh sausage like chipolata, steak or roast meat and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce served with french fries. I had to vegetarian version and it was still the best thing I’ve ever eaten.
The most famous pastry is called pastel de nata which is a Portuguese egg tart pastry,
originally from Portugal which can also be found in Brazil and other countries with significant Portuguese immigrant populations. Small and mighty this can be found in every single cafe or restaurant in Portugal. They say that with all the uphill walking people in Portugal have to do, the calories they eat even out. I’m not sure if that’s true but I’ll take it.
I’ve gotta get back to Portugal soon! Any more suggestions for me?
P.S more photos from my trip below!