A month ago today I was in very rainy São Paulo, eating a gigantic mortadella sandwich (more about this below) and marvelling at this grey city, which has so much to offer. Let me set something straight though: São Paulo is not exactly what one would call a beautiful city. Its buildings stretch towards the sky, as if trying to make a connection to a God that might have forsaken the many poor of the city. Bursts of colour appear here and there, but especially when one thinks of the other iconic Brazilian city – Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo pales. What the city does have plenty of though, is an impressive art scene, mouth-watering food and great restaurants, and music – lots of music. For the scope of this article though, I´ll focus on seven fun things to do in this enormous and intimidating city of contrasts.
Coimbra, the former capital of Portugal in the 12th and 13th century, is nowadays the most notorious university city in Portugal and a perfect weekend destination if you find yourself either in Lisbon or Porto. The city has an intriguing and tragic love story behind it, that of Infante Pedro and Inês de Castro (a Spanish lady in waiting to Pedro´s wife, Constança). You see, Pedro and Inês were in love, so after Pedro´s wife died, they stopped hiding their love affair, a thing that enraged Pedro´s father, the king. He was so angry, that he had Inês killed, a thing that in return turned Pedro incredibly angry. One thing led to another, an uprising against the king started, and Inês´ killers basically ended up with their hearts ripped out, earning Pedro the name of “the Cruel”. Had Shakespeare known about Coimbra, Romeo and Julia would have been an entirely different story.
I guess some skeptics among you might have read the title of this article and thought this would be a pamphlet. After all, the British are not particularly well known for their exquisite cuisine. True, but a real foodie will always find some yummy dishes, no matter the damp and rainy country she ends up in. So be ready to be immersed into the food universe I experience during my short weekend stay in Edinurgh. Read about the food I loved, but also the ones that were meh and the places I wouldn´t necessarily try again.
What do you do when you repeatedly find yourself in a city you hate? And moreover, when that city is the capital of the country you were born in? And your friends are divided about it as well – some love it and some hate it? I tried answering that question during my last two trips to Bucharest this summer. I met with people that see beauty in the city, I revisited the few places I loved and explored some new ones that took me by utter surprise. And I ended up fancying a city I had hated for over two decades. Here are the spots that made me change my mind.
After spending a week in Mallorca with a bunch of our friends, I came back struggling to answer the question “How were your holidays?!”. A lot of fun was had, but I have to say that despite all the regular research I usually do, Mallorca was not at all what I had expected. There were parts I loved, of course, but there were also parts I well … hated. So I thought that instead of writing an article with a week´s itinerary for the island, I´d write an honest review of what I loved, hated and I didn´t expect of Mallorca.
One of my favourite aspects about travelling is all the new food I get to try out. Revolutionary, I know. I´m sure many fellow bon vivants feel the same and as such I hope you´ll enjoy this new series on the blog #foodIlovedin . Through these series I´m hoping to document all the amazing food I eat in all the places I visit, and even dive a bit into the cultural and social aspect of food in said areas. We´re starting off with Amsterdam, and all the yummy food I ate there. As per usual, I went for local dishes and their stories, and kept my eyes wide open for the six days I spent in the city of over 160 canals, observing its restaurant and many brasseries (what´s with the million brasseries, Dutchies?!). Additionally to all my observations and recommendations, I´d suggest you check out Laura de Grave´s Amsterdam Cookbook – a fantastic collection of recipes as they are cooked in her favourite Amsterdam restaurants. From Pancakes from Gratine, to Oysters from Nam Kee and Advocaat from Kessens – you´ll find the most notorious dishes and where to have them as well as how to cook them yourself in her book.
My trip to Amsterdam is so fresh, that I haven´t even unpacked the cheese I brought back, but I really wanted to write about it asap, lest I forget all the powerful impression this wonderful city have left on me. Full disclaimer: this is my second time in Amsterdam, and I actually stayed for six days, but since I didn´t really take any time off, and worked for almost four of those days, I compressed an itinerary for three days, and adapted it to someone who´s never been there, touching upon all my favourite places. Now since I´m a huge foodie, I will reserve a whole other article to speak about all my favourite food places, but I´ll still mention them here in passing, so you know where to eat at least one fabulous meal a day. Let´s go? Or shall I say “Laten we gaan”?
A couple of weeks ago we went on a trip to the Douro region, which we ended with a couple of days spent in Porto. I am quite used to visiting Porto regularly for both work and leisure but on this trip we actually ended up visiting a part of the city I had never before explored – Foz do Douro. The day was sunny and air smelled like salt, so I kept stopping every couple of meters to snap a picture. I selected my favourite 10 to share with you here.
For many Portuguese people a yearly trip to the Algarve is an absolute must, and now with many country borders closed, it´s maybe more popular than ever. My own first Algarvian trip was like a rite of passage and I still remember the day I first got in a car to drive down South – it was the day of June 7th 2016. I absolutely loved the Algarve, but took my time to claim my favourite spot. That, dear reader, is the magical island of Tavira – a stretch of land 11km long, with a width varying from 150 m to 1 km at its widest. Other than last year which was pretty unusual, I´ve been going to Tavira every single year. I am currently typing this from our rented villa in the city of Luz de Tavira and I resolved to take some pictures on this trip to show you what this magical place is all about. Full disclosure: I had written about this area on an old blog and will be using some text from back then again. But let´s get to it.
Portugal´s South coast is a paradise of green waters, magnificent beaches and what seems like an endless supply of delicious sea food. The Algarve is a mere two and a half hours away from Lisbon, so lots of Portuguese vacation there at least once every summer. I, myself, albeit not Portuguese (yet), love driving down there and exploring all the different nooks and crannies of this wonderful coast line. This time, we stayed in the town of Luz de Tavira, and explored the East side of the Algarve. And while I won´t be writing much in this post, I´d like to share ten pictures from my camera, that I think could be actual postcards – four from the charming town of Vila Real de Santo António – the last town before reaching Spain, and six from the village of Cacela Velha, a nearby white village overlooking a most charming lagoon and beach.