Portugal is a small country with nice beaches in west coast and well reserved forest and national parks in the east side with the Spanish border.
Just within a month I cycled from the north to the south and discovered several interesting typical Portuguese cultures that I would like to share with you.
Tiles and Mosaic paved roads
Inherited from the Muslim who conquered Portugal and Spain in the 10th century, you can see many buildings in Portugal decorated by tiles. They are a bit different from the mosaic tiles in Andalusia, the Portuguese draw pictures on the tiles. Usually they represent a story or like puzzle pieces. I truly appreciate the delicate art work of each tile, it must take a long time to draw them one by one.
Apart from the wall, the floor in Portugal is also a piece of art. They use small stones to build some of the roads and plazas. It must be a tedious work to put the stones pieces by pieces. Although it looks spectacular, I have to say that the mosaic roads are very bumpy in terms of riding bikes. By the way, you can find the same architecture style in Macau China, thanks to its 100 colonial years of Portugal.
Francesinha and Bacalhau
Have you tried a hamburger or sandwich soaked with tomato soup and a cheese and egg on top? That is basically a Francesinha look and taste like. It seems like fast food but it has good reputation in Porto area. It is made with bread, ham, sausage, steak, cheese, egg and a thick tomato sauce served with French fries, it is very filling. there is vegetarian version but you have to search for it.
Another food you cannot miss in Portugal is the seafood, the Atlantic coast provides the whole country delicious fish, squid and shells. The one thing you particular have to try is the Bacalhau fish (cod fish), the Portuguese said there are more than 365 ways to cook this fish, so each day you can have a different dish with this pungent smelling fish.
You can find fresh Bacalhau almost throughout the year, but the Portuguese prefer the preserved one, which is doused in large quantities of salt and dried under the Mediterranean sun. Then to prepare for consumption, you have to soak it in freshwater for at least a day to salty taste.
I only tried 2 Bacalhau dishes, one is in a soup and one is slightly fried. They are both super delicious!
Fado and BOOM festival
Portuguese folk music, also named as Fado was deeply influenced by the Celtics style, that’s why when I first listened to it, I thought it was Irish or Scottish music.
Fado is usually sung by a solo performers, and accompanied by Portuguese guitar, and sometimes transmontana bagpipes.
I really like this band Berroguetto, let’s listen to one of their songs:
If you are lucky enough to visit Portugal in August, and even more lucky that falls on the year they organize BOOM festival, you have no excuse not to go there. Sadly BOOM only holds every two years, the next one is in 2016. It is a week-long environmental friendly music festival which aims at deliver the message of sustainability. There are cultural events like movies and talks about environmentalism, natural living solutions, therapeutical use of medicine plants etc., as well as healing areas for people to experiencing yoga and other types of energy healing. You can also see a lot of art and dance performance, of course there will be music all day long.
Imagine yourself surround by all those positive energy that make you more conscious of how do we become responsible Earth citizens.
If you don’t want to pay for the entry fee of the festival, be a volunteer!! I am sure you will not regret spending a week there.
Here is the official website in 2014:
Although Portugal is generally still affected by the economic crisis, I can still feel how friendly and helpful this nation is. Besides, you will be amazed by how affordable everything is.
Do not worry too much about the safety, if you are not too silly to wander around with golden rings and necklaces, it should be fine.
Do you have wonderful experience traveling in Portugal? Share with us!