Friday, August 28, 2015

Pelos caminhos de Portugal - pt3 - Braga

Hello again!! :-)

Shall we visit (revisit in my case) Braga together? I can guarantee you that it's a beautiful town, full with nice places to check out, historical or religious, good restaurants and pubs.
Braga is a very young city; you can feel it. Anywhere you go, you see young people. I like it! Gives me the impression that the city is alive.
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Monday, August 17, 2015

Pelos caminhos de Portugal - pt2 - LISBOA

Hello!!! :-)

The first stop of this little tour was Lisboa; my beautiful Lisboa.
I wrote about how much I love this city before (here and here), but the good thing about Lisboa is that it is constantly changing, with new places to check out, nice events popping here and there, and no matter how many times I will visit Lisboa, I know for sure that I will always love it.

So, I have heard from a friend, that on the day we had reserved for Lisbon there was a cool event happening down town, called "Tascas at Cais". 


Knowing that Mr.A did not know yet what a Tasca was, we agreed on having a crash course of "What is a Tasca?".

It was a success!!

A Tasca is basically a little tavern, where typical Portuguese snacks are served along with some cold drinks or even wine; the decor is not so important and kept very traditional.

At this site, with a privileged view over Tagus river, we could find several "tascas", serving all kind of snacks. The offer was so large and diverse that it made it veeeeery difficult to choose just a few. After all, we were not there to have dinner, but just to snack... sure....

In the end, these were the dishes we picked out:

Pataniscas de bacalhau / Codfish fritters.
 Salada de polvo / Octupus cold salad
Chicken saté (spicy!!!)

Unfortunately, we could not try all the other delicacies that were available, but damn.... These were really good!!! And of course, we had to eat them along with some good cold Portuguese beer; Super Bock was the sponsor of this event.

It was very difficult to leave the place, as the vibe, the food, the drinks and the view were just way too nice, but eventually it was time for us to go, but we will come back (as you will read in on of the last posts of this serie)!

So, as we say in Portuguese: 
Até breve, Lisboa!
The opposite side of Lisboa.
Just another beautiful sunset in Lisboa

All pictures taken with Samsung A3.

Up next: Braga!

See you soon!
xo
Miss B.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pelos caminhos de Portugal - pt1

Hi!!!

Before I get started, just a little side note on this new series called "Pelos caminhos de Portugal" which, for non-Portuguese speaking people, means "Through Portugal's roads".
Do you see where I am heading to?! Yep!! This will be about my/our summer vacation in Portugal.

Our vacation lasted for 1.5 weeks, but then I stayed 1 week longer in PT since Mr.A had business to take care of.

If you follow me through FB/Instagram, you may already know in a very broad view where did we go. What you do not know is all the other amazing sites/places we visied, where did we eat (or what we ate), how did we do this trip, why we did this kind of summer vacation, and many other things.

In this post, I will give you an overview of our trip. In future posts, I will talk about each location separately; it is easier this way since there is a LOT of info to share. 
Are you planning on visiting Portugal on your next holiday?! If so, come check out the blog in the future days/weeks! 

For now, let's get started!

Places we visited: A - Lisbon > B - Braga > C - Guimarães > D - Vila Real > E - Coimbra > F - Sesimbra.
Click to enlarge.

As you can see, we traveled a long distance but there is still soooooo much more to see/visit; perhaps in the future?! ;-)

How we traveled:
We landed in Lisbon for logistic and family/friends reasons, but if you don't need to and want to check out just the North side of the country, it is possible to fly directly to Porto.
There are several Low Cost/Fare airlines travelling to Lisbon/Porto. Of course, if you plan on doing such trip to Portugal and are on a budget, do not do it during Summer... Cheap flights is something very difficult to find, as Portugal is a touristic destination during summer time. 
An advice (and reminder for myself): book your flights ASAP!!
Now, on to the other small trips! :-) 

  • Lisbon > Braga (364km)
Took the fastest train available in Portugal called Alfa Pendular. This is a service provided by CP (Portuguese railway services) that connects some of the major cities in the country without many stops. Not a TGV kind of train, but faster than a regular Intercity.
Alfa train tickets are more expensive than Intercity ones, but if you buy them in advance, you can get a very nice discount! Travel with more comfort for a decent price.
The trip from Lisbon to Braga lasts about 3h15min. Unless you've got some delays like we had, and end up with a 4hr trip....

  • Braga > Guimarães (~25km):
With the express bus service provided by Rede Expressos, we got to Guimarães within 30min, on a sunny and warm day. These buses are equipped with Air Condition, free WiFi (slow most of the times...), seat belts (which are mandatory but hardly anyone uses them.... don't complain/blame anyone in case of an accident if you do not follow the rules) and very comfortable seats. 
They mainly drive on motorways, which means that the trip will be as fast as possible, and again, only stop a few times. Luckily for us, there were no stops between Braga and Guimarães! :-)
Oh, worth to mention that these buses are quite cheap for the service/comfort you get.

  • Guimarães > Vila Real (~94km):
We had once again a bus ride with Rede Expressos. The trip itself took about 1hr but it felt like forever. If you check the map, to go from Guimarães to Vila Real, we had to drive through a mountain called Serra do Marão, and lucky me, I had taken a stomach pill... If not, I don't know what would have happened in that bus!
So, a little tip: check in advance where you are travelling through and if necessary take some action to prevent getting sick in a bus! If I had to drive myself, I'm 200% sure I would have not felt sick.

  • Vila Real > Coimbra (~185km):
A long bus ride with Rede Expressos once again. This time, we did not have a direct connection and had to switch buses in beautiful Viseu. In total, it took us about 3h45min to complete our journey.

  • Coimbra > Lisboa (~203km):
We took Alfa train once again but the same bus service is available. The train was just more convenient for us (arrival location wise). Travel time was a bit over 2hrs.
The tickets were bought once again in advance so the trip did not cost us that much; equivalent to a bus ticket.


I totally recommend both services if you do not feel like renting a car; I didn't! As someone who drives so much, I appreciated the freedom of not being behind the steering wheel. Not to say that this way, you can really enjoy the marvelous views/landscapes that Portugal has to offer. 

For more info about prices and schedules, please check out CP's and Rede Expressos websites.

Don't forget to come and check out this blog in the upcoming days/weeks, as I will be posting more detailed information about each city we visited!
What we did on each of them, where we ate and so on....

Hope you find this interesting and helpful!

See you on pt2!
xo
Miss B.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

CrockPot review & Chicken in the tub recipe!!

Hi there!!

I said I would be back soon, so here I am with a new blog post! :)
Hope you will find this interesting and if so, please give me your feedback, either by leaving a comment below or on social media! Btw, there's a recipe for you at the very end of this article!! ;-)

Today, I would like to write about one of our kitchen appliances that has become a huge favorite (and lets be honest, a friend); the CrockPot.
If you are not familiar with what a CrockPot is, in a short description, it is a slow cooker, which allows you to cook your meal in a simmering way, meaning you can leave you meal cooking unattended for several hours.
In short terms, a slow cooker is great if you want to prepare meat and be sure you will have a super tender and juicy end result. One can choose between two methods:

  • Low & Slow - low heat and cooking time longer than 5 hours
  • High & Fast - high heat and cooking time of less than 4 hours
It is the combination that matters, and of course, depending on the recipe you are preparing, one method may give a better result over the other method. In the end, all you gotta do, is experiment with it and not be afraid!

There are TONS of different slow cookers, each of them with different capacities (volume wise) and specifications. Instead of describing all of them, just have a look at the CrockPot website.
For us, in particular, we decided to go for a "medium" size with timer and "keep warm" function. Let me introduce you our friend "Potje" (the nickname we came up with for the CrockPot hahaha):

source: Google.com

This is an appliance not so well know in Europe (as far as I know), but commonly used in the USA and Canada. 
You may wonder: why do I/we need such thing?!
Let me point out some reasons why we choose to invest on such appliance (yes, it's an investment because these babies aren't the cheapest pans in the shop!):

  • Ability to make big chunks of meat super tender
  • We've got a spare ribs fan in the house; the best spare ribs are the tenderest ones!
  • With the timer option, you can start cooking 6-8 hours prior your dinner time; no more stress about "when is the dinner ready?!". If you've got super long days at work, are a parent, or simply do not like to worry about the time your meal will be ready, this is for you!
  • If you are a planner and like to "pre-assemble" your meals on a weekly basis (prepare veggies/meat/sauce in a bag and freeze), all you got to do is, every morning before going to work, put the content of each bag in the pan, set the timer (depending on the recipe) and be sure that your dinner will be ready once you are back from work!
  • And as a plus, your kitchen will smell divine!!!

Of course there are a lot more reasons, and each person has his/hers, but these were the ones that convinced us to buy such appliance.

So far, we have tried a few recipes, but the internet is full with them! :-)

  • Beef stew 
  • Big chunk of lamb with potatoes and veggies
  • Spare ribs
  • Lasagna (yep! It tasted good!)
  • "Chicken in the pot".


Today, I bring you, my take on "Chicken in the Pot"!

Ingredients list:

Chicken thighs
2 medium size chopped potatoes
2 carrots in thin slices
2 small/medium sliced onions
1/4 chopped pumpkin
Peas (as much as you like)
1 garlic glove chopped in small bits
1/2 cup of chicken broth
Olive oil
thyme to taste
paprika powder to taste
black pepper powder to taste
Cayenne pepper powder to taste
Salt to taste

How to:

  1. Cover the bottom of your slow cooker with the onions. 
  2. Top it with all the veggies.
  3. Place the chicken thighs with the skin side up.
  4. In a bowl, mix all herbs, peppers, salt, olive oil with the chicken broth. Make sure you get a nice mixture. Pour it over the chicken and veggies.

CrockPot settings:
Low & Slow method - low heat + 5 hours cooking time.

Dinner is ready!!

Let's eat!!!! :-)

All photos are taken with my Samsung A3; no filters applied and I'm not a chef! If it does not look fancy; too bad! It tasted AMAZINGLY!!!! :-D

Hope you found this article interesting and if you try this recipe, let me know how it went. ;-)

See you soon!
xo
Miss B.

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Saturday, August 08, 2015

Knock,knock!

Hello blogging World!!

It's been ages since I last wrote something over here.
No reason not to write, except lack of time and inspiration. Nothing really significant happened that was worth to share. But that's about to change!
If there is still anyone out there who reads this blog, I have got some post planned for the upcoming weeks!! :-)

Subjects you can expect:

  • Travel: expect some information about my Summer vacation in my beautiful country; pictures, tips, places to visit and eat, will be featured in future posts
  • Cooking: new recipes coming your way!! :-) #yummie
  • Fitness: Yeah, I recently subscribed to a gym and I'm really thrilled to share this journey! 

On another note, I would really like to stick with the view that brought me to this blog: write about my experiences as a Portuguese living abroad. After all, that's what a Porty's diary should be.
So, if you are curious about what's coming up, please stay tuned and check this page in the upcoming days!

I will make big effort to post more frequently, but, in the end, blogging is just a hobby of mine; not my job! When time allows, inspiration or subject to share is there, I will share it. ;-)


source: Google.com


See you soon!
xo
Miss B


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