31 things you’ll find in Brighton that will never make you want to leave!

Hello Wanderers! I had a lovely weekend in Brighton (you can find my little video-diary here) and I have prepared a special list (full of pictures and clickable links!) of 31 things you’ll find in this lovely seaside destination and they’ll never make you want to leave!

Are you ready? Here we go! 🙂

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1. The Brighton Palace Pier! 

Probably the most iconic and awesome landmark in Brighton, the first structure of this pier was originally built in 1823, and it soon developed into a collection of stalls of artists, souvenirs and confectionary sellers, as well as fortune tellers and entertaining attractions. Because of storms and war damages the pier was rebuilt and retouched several times… Now it’s a fantastic place where to stroll, enjoy a meal and a glass of wine, watch movies al fresco, enjoy live music events and much more! Like, for example…

2. …A huge videogame arcade!

Who doesn’t like the 80’s playful, noisy and tacky atmosphere of videogame arcades? …Well, I’m sure it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m a child of the 80’s and I LOVE IT! The Palace Of Fun, right in the middle of the Pier, will delight you with pinballs, slot machines and videogames… just remember to gamble responsibly and don’t burn all your money on it!

3. Attractions for kids and adults! 

Turbo Coaster, Horror Hotel, Cup&Saucers, Dragon Fly… Whether with your family or with a group of friends, the rides and attractions on the pier are definitely something to try, even just for the fun of taking silly pictures and having a laugh. Buy a wristband on the website, it will give you a special discount!

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4. Brighton Rocks, cotton candy and lots of sugary things your dentist will thank you for!

Let’s face it, Brighton Rocks are the kind of sweets that you buy impulsively when you have a sugar crave and regret it straight after. They are the sweets that your friends bring you from Brighton and you forget them in the cupboard for months, then one night you find them, you start eating them and then you realise they passed their expiration date a year before. But anyway, a trip to Brighton can’t do without a little sugar overdose, and along the Palace Pier there’s plenty of choice for sugary treats, just go for it and diet tomorrow.

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5. Seagulls that will steal your food!                               

Everyone loves the idea of strolling along the seaside savouring a crepe with Nutella or whatever, just be aware of the seagulls: these naughty mothercluckers have mastered a real art in stealing food from naive tourists and fly away at the speed of light. But if you know it they sense it and they leave you alone. But it’s a fun thing when it happens to others and you have the fortune to witness the whole action, I’m not gonna lie!

6. Bikes for rent! 

If you’re up for a bike ride along the beach you can either use the BTN BykeShare service (their bikes are a beautiful aqua green colour!) or choose one of the independent bike rental kiosks on the seaside and in the city. Prices are very reasonable and there’s a bike lane all along the beach that will allow you to cycle without killing pedestrians.

7. Iconic white & blue striped beach chairs!

All lined up along the beach, they are just a beautiful sight… Super photographable, not super comfy to relax upon if I have to be honest, but surely one of the most iconic things in Brighton. In some areas they are free (on a first come / first served basis), in others they are for rent by the hour or for the whole day.

8. A merry-go-round on the beach!   

More than one actually! But I’m not gonna tell you how many, just have a stroll, count them and write your answer in the comments below, you can win a Brighton rock to forget in your cupboard for a year.

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9. Awesome oysters and tasty seafood in small cups! 

If you, like me, absolutely love to indulge in fresh daily catches of shellfish, mussels, lobster, oysters etc…, Brighton is your place. At the little kiosks on the beach on the right hand side of the Palace Pier (my favourite one is The Brighton Shellfish And Oyster Bar) you’ll feel spoiled for choice: from little pots of seafood salad, plump prawns, stuffed olives wrapped in anchovies, lobster tails, to soft bread rolls with crab and mayo, to luxurious Jersey and Carlingford oysters… Bring your own ice cold prosecco, buy a few of these gorgeous goods from the ocean and have an awesome aperitivo watching the sunset on the beach. Heaven.

10. A burnt pier!

Another one of the most photographed things in Brighton. As for the Palace Pier, the history of the West Pier is made of fires, storms, attempts to renovation, war damages… The skeleton of this burnt pier is nowadays a striking silhouette against the sky, somehow captivating in all seasons.

11. Independent coffee shops for your caffeine fix!

Coffee and cake anyone? Plenty of choice here, from the most hipster to the minimalistic ones. My favourites are Small Batch on Jubilee St. and Bond Street Coffee, but there are really so many of them with such good quality roasts that it would be a shame to settle for a Starbucks. Trust an Italian 😉

12. The Royal Pavillion and the gardens! 

If you want to lay down on the grass to rest a bit after lunch you can enjoy the gardens of the Royal Pavillion, with their luxuriant nature. It tends to get a bit crowded in the afternoon, but it’s still a lovely green oasis right in the centre of the city. And the museum is a nice place to visit in case of bad weather (or good weather if you are into museums, of course).

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13. Vintage vynil stores!

While Cult Hero looks like the perfect geeky vynil record store (it reminds me of Stuart’s comic books store in The Big Bang Theory!), if you want to rummage through piles and piles of new and second hand vintage vynils I suggest you to head to the North Laines area, for the best rare finds and bargains!

14. The most delicious Fish & Chips!   

If you went to Brighton and you haven’t scoffed a bowl of fish & chips from the chippy outside the Palace Pier sitting on a bench and wiping your grubby hands on your t-shirt you simply haven’t lived, there you go. That said, there are many other good places in Brighton where to taste delicious battered cod in a more posh condition. The Regency is absolutely my go-to place, but if it’s too busy (like it often happens) then Wolfies of Hove is another very popular spot, or The Fisherman’s (another one of my favourites!).

15. A mojito kiosk!

You can find it most of the times on New Road, right near a side entrance to the Royal Pavillion Gardens, and it offers refreshing and boozy version of the renowned cocktail, to tipple up your day. It’s always five o’clock, peeps.

16. Quirky and stylish homeware stores! 

Berts, Dowse and Workshop are only three of the many homeware and lifestyle stores in Brighton where you can spend hours choosing pieces to dress up your living space, from the quirkiest to the more streamlined design.

17. The Lanes! (aka the Maze…)

This popular area takes the name from the maze of narrow streets and alleyways that compose it. It’s one of my favourite areas especially for coffee & cake (stop at Sugardough and The Flour Pot Bakery!) and brunch, but in The Lanes you can also find restaurants, pubs, craft stores and above all…

18. Jewellery shops for your engagement ring!

…yes, The Lanes are literally packed with gold, silver and jewellery stores! So, if you get the sudden urge of proposing to your partner while you’re having your oysters and prosecco on the beach, you know where to go to get a bling bling.

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19. Traditional pubs for when it’s time for a pint!

The Pump House is one of the most famous ones, but there’s plenty of awesome pubs in Brighton if you like ales and awesome hearty food.

20. Cakes, ice cream and cupcakes at colourful Cloud 9!

Cloud 9 is the most colourful and dreamy bakery and ice cream store you can possibly want! A triumph of rainbow cupcakes, unicorn goodies, pastel colours and delicious sugary creations that make this place absolutely irresistible! Take a look at their Instagram to see what I’m talking about 😉

21. A comedy club!

It’s called Komedia and it’s in the North Laine’s area, offering you an impressive programme of stand up comedy, cabaret and music shows. Definitely a place to check if you’re up for an evening of fun!

22. An amazing Fringe Festival!

For ‘stagey’ people like me Brighton Fringe Festival is every year an event to look forward to, being one of the largest fringe festivals in the world (if you’re not familiar with the definition, ‘fringe theatre’ is a kind of performance that experiments in style, format or subject, usually taking place in small-scale theatres or unusual venues). For an entire month the city hosts hundreds of shows in many different locations, and you can often see promos and previews on the street in the afternoon! Check the website for news and programme for the next season!

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23. Veggie and vegan heaven!

In the last few years Brighton embraced brilliantly vegetarianism and veganism, with many restaurants and cafes that focus on organic and plant based recipes. Check this list  to have an idea of what’s on offer 🙂

24. An upside down house!

It’s on the beach! It’s upside down! And it’s my favourite colour, mint/aqua green! For just 5£ you can visit it inside and take all the pictures you want, playing with the inverted perspective. Fun times!

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25. A vibrant LGBTQ nightlife and daylife!

Brighton Pride is considered the biggest Pride parade in the UK, with great headliners every year (Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Paloma Faith, to name a few) and fantastic events. The city of Brighton has become the LGBTQ capital of the UK (you can read a bit of the history here), with pubs, clubs, events and vital services mainly concentrated in the area of Kemp Town.

26. Street art that will blow your mind!

Keep your cameras ready at all times when you walk in Brighton! Murales and street art at every turn, often incorporated in the decor of streets and shops. Stunning!

27. Lots of people riding a bike naked!

Every year since 2006, Brighton has joined World Naked Bike Rides around the world to celebrate cycling and the human body. Born as a protest against car culture, it became year after year a great platform to affirm body positivity. So every year around June the city gets full of naked people cycling. Get your birth suit on and join this awesome event (wear sunscreen though)!

28. Live music, gigs and festivals!

Brighton is a very lively city for concerts and festivals, from small venues to big stages. check What’s On to be always updated!

29. Colourful walls and doors for your Instagram selfies!

Blaker Street is only one of the many streets in Brighton where you can find an array of houses and doors painted with different bright colours (a bit like Bruges, or Notting Hill in London), from the bold to the pastel ones. A joy to watch!

30. Vintage markets and shops for rummagers!

If you like to rummage through thrift stores, vintage markets and junk shops, Brighton is great! Snoopers Paradise is a huge flea market where you can find literally anything. Don’t forget to also check Vine Street Vintage, Brighton Flea Market and The Open Market (click on the links to know opening times).

31. Striped vintage beach huts!

And last but not least, your trip to Brighton can’t be complete without a treasure hunt (believe me, it is!) to find the famous coloured beach huts, perfect element for your Instagram pictures. I will not tell you where they are (no one actually will, tradition wants you to walk your way to find them), but you can check this hashtag for a few tips 😉

I hope you enjoyed this list of awesome things in Brighton! Of course there’s more and more I could have included, and if you have more tips and ideas please feel free to add a comment below! Let’s make this the ultimate list about this fantastic city!

See you soon, people!

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A weekend in Bruges

 

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Oh, Bruges.

Definitely one of those cities that you can’t help reminisce about with a little sigh, a comma and its name. Oh, Bruges… (yes, feel free to add an ellipsis as well, for extra drama.)

Romantic European getaway, relaxing and unusual hen-do destination, family friendly location or lone traveller’s mind-clearing retreat, this Belgian gem of a city needs to be experienced at least once in a lifetime. First of all, it’s the perfect city to see in a two-days weekend (even better if you have three days, of course). Really, you don’t need more time than that to soak up all Bruges’ beauty. Choose springtime, because of the good weather and because it tends to be packed with tourists in high season.

Bruges oozes with character. Think of Venice meets Siena, with bold brushes of colour and a lot of chocolate. Tons of chocolate.

From London St. Pancras, Eurostar trains take you to Brussels (so, if you have time, you can combine these two very different cities in the same holiday and it’ll be totally worth it!); from there you can continue your journey on a national train and it’s only 40 minutes more. Although Bruges is not exactly cheap, visiting on a budget is still possible, taking advantage of the Ibis Budget Hotel (located just outside the station, a short walk to the city centre and a good abundant morning breakfast!) or opting for an Air BnB dig.

What to see –  Everything! Just walk and lose yourself, you’ll always find your way to beautiful views. One of the two main squares is Markt (Market Square), famous for its unique and colourful pointy roofed buildings and for the Historium, museum that offers virtual historical tours and a wonderful view from its rooftop. Burg, the other one, is more tucked away, but it’s home to the magnificent gothic City Town Hall. You probably have seen a place called Rozenhoedkaai in the pictures of all your friends who visited Bruges before: this famous photo-spot overlooking the canal, with a suggestive weeping willow and typical architecture as background, is the main area for cafes and restaurants, you are really spoilt for choice. You can also visit Saint-Janshospital, which is one of the oldest hospitals in Europe, with its own museum of artifacts not for the faint hearted. In the late afternoon (or at any time, really) don’t forget to have a long and relaxing stroll across Minnewater Park: expanding around what is known as the “Lake of Love”, this beautiful park will soothe your eyes and make you want to kiss a stranger on a bridge. Well, don’t. (Joking, follow your heart, sweetie).

What to eat  – You definitely should try the Flemish Stew (or Carbonnade Flamande), a stew of succulent beef chops slow cooked in dark beer and onions, served with crispy fries. Oh, so good. Or the famous Moules-Frites, delicious mussels cooked in wine, beer or cream and paired again with a rich side of fries. Fries and potatoes in general are massively present in Belgian cuisine, and you can try different kinds of mash as well as an alternative to the crispy sticks. Of course, being in Belgium, you have to indulge in the wonderful chocolate creations that this country provides. Go to Neuhaus (or to Elisabeth if you have time to kill when you’re in Brussels) and stock on the gorgeous assortment of lush pralines, truffles and bonbons that combine the finest Belgian chocolate with creams, fruit and nuts beyond your imagination. It’s pure sex. Another unmissable dessert in Bruges is Belgian waffles, fresh from the iron cast and topped with voluptuous mountains of cream, ice cream, fruit and/or flooded with thick melted chocolate. Delicious and quite filling. You can’t leave the Belgian border without having experienced a food baby from waffles. And of course be adventurous with the selection of crafted Belgian beers from the many beer bars in Bruges. I went for wine. I know: “Italians”.

What activities to do – Visit the many museums that Bruges offers! At the moment two big exhibitions of Picasso and Salvador Dali are snatching all the attention, but if you’re bored with Art you can find an Archeological Museum, a Chocolate Museum and even a Fries Museum! Pay a visit to the Brugs Biermuseum if you are fascinated by the whole process of creation of beer (and go wild on the sample tasting area!). Boat tours along the many canals in Bruges are another option that allow you to embrace the spirit of this lovely city. Or you can venture just outside the city centre and visit the windmills of Bruges, some of them still working and open to the public after three centuries.

What’s Instagrammable – Basically the whole city. But if we want to point out some highlights from Bruges let’s say that your Instagram feed can’t do without

  • the doors and the houses (with infinite colour combinations and quirky decorations);
  • weeping willows (really, they are so poetic);
  • strawberries dipped in chocolate;
  • the thousand small statues that you can spot on corners of buildings;
  • Tintin memorabilia;
  • waffles, waffles, waffles like there’s no tomorrow;
  • you on a bridge. And of course you and your loved one with the backdrop of Rozenhoedkaai (not going to share that one with you, hope you don’t mind 😀

I hope this post and my photodiary enticed you into visiting and discovering this precious city, that surely will stay in your heart much, much longer after the chocolate praline box from Neuhaus is finished. (Which usually happens on the way back to the hotel, it rarely survives one day. Mine didn’t, ça va sans dire.)

Have you been to Bruges? What did you love the most?

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Yoga, wellness and healthy food at LEVELSIX Peckham!

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London has a brand new place for those who love body and mind wellness, yoga practice and healthy living. It’s for those who want to join a friendly and caring environment with an artistic edge, made by people who absolutely love what they do and offer a full experience that goes beyond the simple ‘hour of yoga class in a crowded gym’. A place to leave the stress of the city life behind, nourish our spirit and reconnect with ourselves in the best way possible. This place is called LEVELSIX Peckham.

The brand new yoga studio was founded by the combined forces of yoga teacher Will Wheeler (read his lovely interview for Wandertalks here), with lawyer Ben Rose, project manager Tania Eber and chef Woody Pike. The four decided to make their vision come to life by joining the vibrant and interesting hub of Peckham Levels, a beautiful project to transform an unused multi-storey car park into a creative space for artists, new businesses and for the community to come together, in a new and organic exchange of energy, art, good vibes and… good food! “It took a year and a half to go from concept to the official opening” says Will Wheeler, while we sit at the big table in the warm and cosy café area at LEVELSIX, “and it was so exciting to see the project come alive bit by bit, month after month: it required – and still requires – a deep commitment and a lot of energy, listening and engaging with what people want and look for, to be sure we are shaping our project in the right direction… But when we finally launched LEVELSIX back in December we were amazed and happy with the great response we got”.

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What makes LEVELSIX different from the other yoga studios in London?

The answer is pretty simple: LEVELSIX offers a wholesome experience of yoga, wellness and healthy food for EVERYBODY. It’s an inclusive environment, familiar and accessible, with a timetable that collects the finest yoga teachers in London. “Everyone is nice!”, Will says with a smile, and I can confirm it after attending a lovely class of Vinyasa Flow with the extraordinary Mischa Varmuza, who shared with us her passion and knowledge of mantras and yoga culture. There’s a clean and incredibly bright atmosphere at LEVELSIX, and you breathe it as soon as you walk in. The two studios, spacious and open, offer the perfect dimension for practice, whereas many other yoga places in London tend to fill up their timetables with tons of classes, crammed in minuscule rooms, missing the point of yoga entirely. There’s also a room for wellness treatments, such as acupuncture, sport massage, therapeutic massage and energy healing, that will be launched this week.

The experience at LEVELSIX is enriched even more by the partnership with some of the best brands in the sector: you practice on yoga mats by Lululemon, shower with a fresh and voluptuous bergamot shower gel by Malin+Goetz and sip on the hot premium teas of Rare Tea Company.

Another important factor that contributes to the success of LEVELSIX is the beautiful café and the healthy food offering. And we are not talking about pre-packed protein bars and bottled juices here: at LEVELSIX, chef Woody Pyke combines the best seasonal, fresh and organic ingredients (as local and km zero possible) creating a varied and brilliant vegetarian and vegan menu that nourishes your body and spirit. Breakfasts, soups, lunch bowls, smoothies… all prepared with art and care in front of your eyes. The café area has an industrial vibe, made homely and eclectic by colourful printed cushions, candles and yellow daffodils, and it really invites you to take your time before and after attending the class: you can sit down anytime and indulge in one of the heartwarming bowls of gorgeous food (I highly recommend the chickpea tagine with quinoa, labneh and rich creamy yoghurt, and the turmeric latte, which is the tastiest I’ve ever tried) and relax your mind (or nose around the big jars of sauerkraut, kombucha and yoghurt that chef Woody prepares and ferments in-house).

Attention to the yoga practice is the strong backbone around which LEVELSIX is structured. The studio offers Vinyasa Flow (gentle & dynamic) classes, Pilates, Restorative, Kundalini, Hatha and Yoga Nidra. Every Friday evening yoga teacher David Kam teaches an unmissable Candle Lit Vinyasa Flow class, and more events, Yoga Brunches, workshop and day-retreats are on the schedule for the near future. We talked about ‘inclusivity’ as a key element of LEVELSIX, and this translates practically into the aim of shaping up their classes around the needs of all levels (beginners, intermediate, experienced), offering a community programme with deals and promotions, and classes especially designed (yoga for kids, classes for sight impaired, and more).

On the 16th of March, LEVELSIX will host a delightful event, a Mythical Flow Workshop and Dinner with Tanja Mickwitz. Incorporating storytelling into the asana practice, mentor and teacher Tanja will take you for a journey through Indian mythology, mantra and mudra, providing you with a deeper understanding of yoga, as well as yourself. After the workshop, you will be served a freshly prepared organic seasonal supper in the LEVELSIX café. For more information you can visit the event section on the LEVELSIX website or call 020 39411950.

I’m already looking forward to my next visit to this gem of a place. I recommend you to take advantage of the great introductory offer for newcomers at LEVELSIX: 2 weeks of unlimited yoga (14 calendar days) for only 20 £, a price that is lower than a dinner out in London, to enjoy the City’s latest and hippest yoga place to the fullest.

See you all at LEVELSIX Peckham!

[LEVELSIX Floor 6, Multistorey Car Park, 95a Rye Lane, Peckham, London SE15 4TG]

 

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Photodiary of a weekend in Bath

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Some weeks ago I had the pleasure to spend a lovely weekend (despite the weather, it basically rained the whole freaking time) with friends in Bath, in the countryside region of Somerset (UK). It’s the perfect weekend getaway from London! Easily reachable via train (but we went by car, which is cheaper and gives you more freedom of course), Bath is famous for its natural hot springs and it still preserves a bath system built by the Romans in the 2nd Century! And every thing that the city has to offer is within walking distance from the station and from the main street. This is a photo-diary of those two days, enjoy and… go visit Bath!

The river Avon, which crosses the city and has a walkable promenade.

Parade Gardens, with a beautiful flower sculpture dedicated to the novelist Jane Austen, who spent in Bath five important years of her life and career. At 40 Gay Street you can even visit the Jane Austen Centre, a picturesque permanent exhibition where you can go back in time to the beginning of the 19th Century.

IMG_20170725_075549_831If you like whiskey you can’t miss this place called The Hideout, a stone-walled bar for real connoisseurs, with a warm and friendly atmosphere!

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Bath Abbey and the Pump Room, where you can have a good afternoon tea right next the Roman Baths.

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The experience of the Roman Baths is a must-do, especially in the evening when the torch lights enhance the magic of that place. The path describes very well the everyday life of the Romans, and you can see perfectly preserved objects and architectural structures. A company of actors recreate scenes from the Roman age and accompany the tourists on their walk.

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We stopped at Boston Tea Party for cakes, coffee and herbal tea, and it was very nice!

More views of the city, walking towards The Circus. The umbrellas installation is located just inside Southgate Shopping Center (Southgate St, Bath BA1 1AQ).

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Dinner time! Probably because of the Roman origin, Bath is full of Italian restaurants 😀 We chose Nonna’s Cucina Italiana, very stylish place and delicious food! I had Insalata di Mare (seafood salad) as starter, and a rich mushroom risotto, all accompanied by an Apulian wine called Primitivo. Highly recommended if you fancy an Italian dinner!

The morning after we had a good breakfast at Rosarios, and then we visited the Victoria Art Gallery . We crossed Pulteney Bridge and we went exploring the other side.

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We stumbled upon a rugby field! I thought it was a croquet field. I’ve never been too good at sports.

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What a great surprise was The Holburne Museum! Full of art and antiques, with a gorgeous park attached. We had a nice wander through the building and enjoyed the green surroundings… and we got caught in the rain again!

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I definitely want to visit Bath again soon. Probably in springtime, hoping to find a drier weather 🙂 On my bucket list for next Bath weekend:

  • Experience the open-air rooftop pool at Thermae Bath Spa
  • Visit Alexandra Park for more spectacular views
  • Have a traditional full afternoon tea

and….

…visit Stonehenge on the way back to London (this time it wasn’t possible due to limited time)!

Have you been in Bath? What are your favourite spots? And what do you suggest for my next trip?

 

Oh, you’ll love cozinha portuguesa, com certeza!

If anyone hasn’t noticed yet, everytime I talk about travelling I talk about food. It’s kind of an automatic reflex, I guess it comes from the fat kid trapped in my body. So, after talking about the magical Lisbon and before I dedicate another post to the stunning coast of Portugal, let me start a brief insight into Portuguese food. Fasten your seatbelts, these are my suggestions:

Lunch and dinner

Meals in Portugal usually start putting on the table various petiscossmall bites to open up your appetite. Usually it’s a basket of sliced bread along with butter and spreadable pâtés of tuna, sardines and/or cheese, accompanied by a pot of good olives. Often you can find quejo fresco (fresh firm cheese with a very delicate flavour) or other kinds of cheese (I’m a big fan of the cow and sheep milk one, which is still soft but cured and creamy).

As a starter I suggest you to try the appetising croquetes made with chicken or pork meat (or the gorgeous version with codfish), or the rissóis de camarão, deep fried satchels stuffed with creamy shrimps… an absolute delight.

The typical Portuguese dish is bacalhau (salted codfish) cooked in many ways. My favourite recipes are bacalhau com natas (baked with potatoes, onions and a delicious cream, with a layer of cheese gratin on top… My tastebuds just had an orgasm. A multiple one) and bacalhau à brás (prepared in a casserole with eggs, onion, a fine julienne of potato fries, olive and parsley).

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If you are visiting the coast of Portugal don’t forget to try cataplana de mariscos (a casserole with yummy seafood in tomato and garlic sauce) and the already mentioned (in my previous post) grilled sardines, and especially if you are in Portimão I suggest you the zapateira (a giant crab with a tender and juicy meat).

As an option for those who don’t like fish and seafood (really? why? have you tried to seek professional help?) there’s a very simple and rustic dish that I like to order, called bitoque: it’s basically a pan fried steak of beef or pork with an egg on top, served with chips, rice and salad. A full meal in one plate that will keep you going all day!

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Originary from the area of Porto is the francesinha, a cube shaped club sandwich with ham, meat and cheese, all coated in cheese and sitting proudly in a beef gravy. They certainly know how to make a sandwich sexy.

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Street food 

Portugal has a nice selection of street food that you can devour during celebrations, city fairs or summer seasons. If you’re particularly hungry try the bifana, a soft bread bun filled with grilled pork meat, or the appetising pão com chouriço, a roll of bread dough wrapped around the good Portuguese spicy salami: during the baking process, the chouriço releases juice that infuses the bread, maximising the flavour.

Sweet treats

My favourite paragraph! Portugal is famous worldwide for its pasteis de nata, custard tarts of crunchy puff pastry with a caramelised sugar layer on top, served sprinkled with cinnamon. It’s tradition, when in Portugal,to have at least one pastel de nata per day (it’s my tradition, to be specific). But the country has a whole rich array of pastries that are absolutely gorgeous. Bolas de Berlim are big balls of fried donut dough filled with doce de ovo (a custard made mainly with egg yolks and sugar) or chocolate, or, in some heavenly occasions, with doce de leite. Travesseiro is a puff pastry cilinder with icing sugar on top, typical of the Sintra region, and queijada is a baked little milk cake (also available in a version infused with orange juice, called queijada de laranja). Speaking of proper cakes, my favourite is undoubtedly pudim, a light flan made with eggs, sugar and milk, cooked in bain-marie or oven baked, in a caramel sauce. Ok, I need to have my glycaemia levels checked now.

Drinks

In Portugal, sangria seems to be the refreshing drink of choice, available in various versions (try the muscatel one!) all over the territory. Of course you can’t leave the country without having tried Porto, the characteristic fortified wine, or the Vinho Verde (young and lightly bubbly). But above all, what I strongly recommend you is to enter the seductive and magic world of Ginjinha. It’s a sour cherry liquor, sweet and voluptuous, served in little cups made of dark chocolate: you drink the shot and you eat the cup straight after. It’s pure sex. Tradition wants that everytime you see the word “ginjinha” written outside a bar you must enter and have one (again, it’s my tradition, of course).

I hope this little smattering of Portuguese food was helpful! Tell me about your experience, what are your favourite things to order when you’re in Portugal?

 

[Note about the pictures: the images in this post are pictures I took during my stay in Portugal, along with some other ones I found on Pinterest. If you own any of the latter please let me know and I’ll credit you properly, or remove them if you don’t want them to feature in my post 😉 ]

Greek food: a story of love and lust

I’m not only writing a post, I’m actually baring my heart with this and I hope my other half doesn’t mind if I say that I’m desperately in love with Greece. Like I passionately want to make love with her islands, one by one. And send them flowers and open the car door for them and spoon with them at night. Ok stop, weirdo.

Before writing about my two favourite Greek islands, Rhodes and Santorini, the food lover in me wants to dedicate a special post to the Greek cuisine, because no travel experience can overlook the importance of the food component. I’m Italian, and I know it might sound cliché but I love good genuine food and all the memories I have of the places I’ve been are tightly intertwined with my gastronomic experiences.
I don’t how many of you are familiar with Greek food… so, before exploring the wonders of the two pearls of the Aegean Sea I’ve mentioned earlier, here is a quick gastronomic guide which includes some of the dishes I madly stuffed my face with during my Greek days.

Tzatziki. It’s an entree dip, usually served with pita bread or sourdough bread, prepared with Greek yogurt, grated cucumber, garlic, extravirgin olive oil, mint and dill. I’m literally salivating like Pavlov’s dog while writing this, I think I might have to wipe dry my laptop keyboard. Anyway, tzatziki is delicious and sexy. Even though it gives you a garlic breath that can linger for days, compromising your social interactions, but it’s a risk worth taking.
Taramosalata. A pink (but the colour can be paler, it depends on the type of ingredients used) paste made of fish eggs (carp or codfish, usually), lemon, olive, garlic and onions. Another one of my favourites. This kind of appetizers in Greece are called “mezze“, and you can often find restaurants that serve a mix of mezze including tzatziki, taramosalata and other dips like hummus, aubergines paste, feta and peppers paste, etc..
Talking about appetizers and small bites, make sure you try Saganaki (a slice of gruyere cheese battered and fried, often finished with honey and sesame seeds. Holy Mary mother of Christ.) and Tomatokeftedes (tomato fritters with a delicate taste of origan and mint, that will literally serenade your tastebuds before disappearing and leaving you heartbroken like your best Tinder date).

Main dishes. Definitely the Moussakà (the stress is on the second ‘a’ if you want to pronounce it correctly) is a must: a bake of layered sliced eggplant and potatoes, a rich tomato sauce, pork minced meat and bechamel sauce. You can even choose to indulge in any kind of Souvlaki (marinated and grilled meat on skewers) or try the Stifado, a beef stew with shallots and wine. If you are on the go or you’re looking for a filling snack, the Pita Gyros is the answer: a rolled pita bread filled with pork or chicken meat, tzatziki, onions, tomatoes and french fries. It’s highly addictive. No joking, I once had three in a day. ‘Cause I’m worth it.
Of course you always have the light option of a traditional Greek salad, made with feta cheese, black olives, tomato, cucumber and onion, which drizzled with a robust cold-pressed Greek olive oil is simply heavenly.
While in Greece, make sure you don’t miss the amazing seafood, even just some simple fried calamari sprinkled with black pepper and a few drops of lemon juice. So good.

Dessertwise, you can’t end a meal without a taste of the house’s Baklava or Halva (both desserts are originally from Turkey)… and make sure that all your meal is accompanied by several glasses of Retsina, a delicious white wine flavoured with natural pine resin. (I don’t want to be the one who encourages alcohol consumption, but may I suggest a sip of Ouzo or Metaxa as well, at the end of the meal? There’s even a version of both spirits blended with coffee, what more can you ask for?)

Ok, now I’m hungry like a fasting sumo wrestler, so I’d better stop. Hope I made you curious to try this gorgeous cuisine, keep watching this space for my travel experiences and tips about Rhodes and Santorini!