Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Portuguese Cuisine, Shopping, and Etcetera

Surprising things in Portugal:

1. The Portuguese speak good English. Even the waiters and shop girls will speak English to you which is an amazing thing since if you head eastward to big neighbor, Spain, you won't survive there without mastering a few Spanish phrases.

The only Portuguese word I knew was: OBRIGADA/OBRIGADO which means Thank You.

2. They have great coffee. I didn't expect it but the coffee there even in those tiny cafes were pretty good. I was impressed.

3. The region of Algarve is pretty much organized. And clean too. Dutchman noticed it and had to make a remark. Now that is something coming from the obsessive organized Dutch.

4. Everyone thinks I am Portuguese! So naturally they all speak Portuguese to me and I always end up saying, NO I AM NOT PORTUGUESE! They apologize and say they thought I was a local. Though a few Portuguese guys asked me if I am Portuguese or not. They were unsure. Funny.

5. Algarve is windy. Ack, just like Holland, but surely the weather is much much better.

6. The region of Algarve was more expensive than expected. You can smell the money there. It is twice or three times the price of Greece, and more expensive than Spain too. For example, you can eat for EUR 2 to EUR 3 (US$ 3.50 to US$ 4.50) English Breakfast in Greece. In Portugal they usually start at EUR 6 to EUR 7 (US$ 7.50 to US$ 8.50) and that is still without coffee or tea.

7. Real Estate too was relatively expensive. A 2 room flat (apartment/condo) in Algarve is worth EUR 120,000 - EUR 150,000 (US$ 144,500 - US$ 180,700). A free standing house starts at EUR 350,000 (US$ 421,6000). Many northern Europeans have 2nd homes in Algarve. But I didn't expect real estate prices will be that close to the market prices here in NL.

Samples of Portugues Cuisine:

'Bolo de Arroz', Portuguese Rice Muffin but they don’t taste anything like rice!

Very typical Portuguese, 'Sardinhas' (Sardines), usually eaten by the locals for lunch or as an afternoon snack. The best I have tasted in Portugal. This sardine plate was ordered from a café in Lisbon.

A fresh breath of change: PIZZA for dinner. This is taken in Praia da Rocha near Alvor in the western part of Algarve.

The 'Cataplana', a real Portuguese seafood specialty cooked in a copper pan. I missed this one because they are usually served for 2 pax in restaurants. The Dutchman doesn’t eat anything from the sea! *Cry*

Appetizers: Stuffed Mussels but I ate them as my main course meal in a cafe by the beach.

Having dinner here with shrimp in Portuguese HOT Piri-Piri sauce, unfortunately it is hardly seen due to the light.

We just need to have our usual Tomato ration...

Here are some SHOPPING Scenes in the country, in Algarve:

The 'Gypsy Market' at Quarteira. I didn’t buy anything here.

This is a typical tourist souvenir shop in Praia da Oura.

Shopping in Praia da Oura’s THE STRIP. This is the main highway or crossing that slices the THE STRIP.

And more scenes around the region...

How can we forget the Olives? This was taken in the mountains of Algarve near Alte`.

Slow train ride in Praia da Oura to Albufeira old town. This mini-train is very high-tech, fully equipped with a computerized cash register, and is the only public transport available other than the taxi cabs.

We passed through this town called “Purgatorio” which means PURGATORY in English!

How cool their ATM's in Praia da Oura, Albufeira.

Mix of OLD and NEW traffic directions.

Coming Next: Gorgeous Lisbon and lovely Albufeira

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