It feels like only yesterday that we arrived back from our trip to Netherlands. Maybe because it was only a week and a half ago. At any rate, I could quite easily get used to being in and out of airports considering how much time I have been spending there recently.
For this latest mini-break I find myself returning to Portugal since I was last here 16 years ago. I don’t remember too much about the previous trip, but there are some things that feel familiar. Mainly the smell of the tree sap as we walked through the greener areas and the patterns of the tiles on the floors and walls.
The first day is always a bit odd, especially when you arrive in the mid-afternoon. Too much time to not do anything, but not enough time to do anything sizeable. So we just wandered around the nearby area.
The bus ride from the airport was already making me feel like this was a city I could fall for. A shop like this? Well that just sweetens the deal. We didn’t go inside because… well I’m not entirely sure if we’d make it out without buying a can of sardines with our birth year on it.
One thing I had never appreciated about Lisbon is that it is a coastal capital. But there it is, the estuary of the Tejo River as it enters the Atlantic Ocean. The smell of the sea is faint, but very much there as you head to the river’s edge. I guess that must be because this is brackish water rather than seawater.
We reach the river as the sun is going down and the view is beautiful. The light of the sun is so very red. The surrounding buildings are glowing as if they are facing a gigantic bonfire. The bank is very crowded as we all gather to watch the sun going down.
After some sun watching (and after turning down a vendor’s offer of cheap marijuana) we headed back up to the Rossio area where our hotel is.
On the way back we happened across a shop I was looking to go into tomorrow. A shop that specialises in food from the Azores. I had researched this and was ready to buy a pineapple for the food list with no plan of how I’d be able to eat the damned thing.
Luckily they had free samples of the pineapple on offer, so I was able to try it there and then without having to fruit wrestle. This tasted unlike any pineapple I has experienced before. The flavour just exploded in my mouth. It felt like a sweet and concentrated pineapple flavour that I would normally have in a sweet. So basically it’s the best pineapple I’ve ever had and I’ve bought some pineapple jam to try and recreate this experience at home.
Dinner was at a small place near the hotel. I’ve purposely been researching places to go that were Tripadvisor friendly and would not break the bank. We managed to get a meal for three here for 26€, so I think I did a good job.
I got myself the Alheiras De Mirandela and had the most cultured sausage, egg and chips that I have ever had. The sausage itself was mushy on the inside. As in it felt like it was very freshly made (rather than processed) where you could appreciate the textures of the meat and how the smokiness of the meat changed depending on the closeness of the texture.
The sausage itself has an interesting history and dates back to the days of the Portuguese Inquisition. Jews would make these sausages with chicken and hang them up in their smokehouses. By doing so it would like they were eating pork and, as such, had converted to Christianity. Such a clever, yet simple, idea.
Hub did me the favour by having the ‘dourada’ or gilthead bream. The skin looked a beautiful golden colour, I guess to match the name which comes from the Portuguese word for ‘gold’. My husband was a little bit taken aback with the toothy fish head that had been nestled underneath some green beans, but he made the best of it.
I lack the fish vocabulary to discuss this properly. It was close textured whitefish that tasted very fresh and still had remnants of the seas saltiness in its flesh. The taste was more on par with richness of trout and mackerel than something like cod.
We ended the day as I think we are going to end it whilst we are here – with a clutch of Portuguese egg custard tarts. I’m so looking forward the next few days and seeing more of this city