A lot of expats are also digital nomad or slow travelers and use one place as a base to come back to after several shorter trips. I believe Portugal would be a great base for an expat / slow travel family that would love to explore Europe and the north of Africa and all around the Mediterranean.
We visited Portugal for 10 days this month and if you would ask me what the best first impressions of the place were, I would give you this list. Yes, most of it is food because well, who doesn’t love good food?
The Portuguese cheese is a classic European stinker that keeps your fingers cheesy for hours and goes really well with Bellota Ham. Creamy Portuguese cheese comes encased in a waxy coating, when it’s time to eat you slice off the top and dip your pieces of bread or scoop out the semi liquid cheesy goodness.
The south-east area of Portugal, El Alentejo is the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. Cork trees, olive groves, and wild flowers intermixed with huge rocks organized around trees to keep them warm in the winter. There are Medieval castles and small towns with whitewashed houses surrounded by orange trees with oranges you can pick and eat on the spot.
There are plenty of places to stay and spend a few days with the family, to explore the countryside, the groves and the hidden monoliths hiding behind trees and surrounded by dandelions.
Portuguese wine is so good that they don’t even export it! Just think about that for a second. Have you ever seen Portuguese wine in the usual wine lists at the restaurants? Ok, you might have but it’s quite uncommon. The availability of wine is unbelievable, not only is it delicious it is also really inexpensive.
Then there is Port wine; the only kind of wine that really is known the world over and it’s only better when you have it in Portugal. It is produced in the northern Portugese vineyards, and is a delicious sweet elixir that you will remember forever.
Did you notice I mentioned earlier about Menhirs hiding in between olive and cork trees? A Menhir is a huge (actually quite humungous) stone standing straight up from the ground, usually from neolithic times. Well, apart from the Menhirs showing up on your forest walks there is also a pretty important stone circle called El Cromeleque.
Quite a lot older than Stonehenge, El Cromeleque sits atop a hill in the Alentejo region of southern Portugal. An oval shape arrangement of large free-standing stones inside a cork and oak grove that will take your breath away. Spending time in silence inbetween those rocks picking pine cones and acorns will give you more peace than even a glass of port wine.
The cobbled streets of Lisbon:
Like a lot of European cities, the streets and sidewalks are cobbled instead of paved. This means that when you walk, your shoes make a little bit of stepping noise and if it has been raining you might slip down the slopes of old cobbles. When cars drive by, the sound the tires make on the roads is unforgettable. You will know what I’m talking about when you hear it.
The streets aren’t only cobbled, they are also not straight or even flat. Lisbon has hills in it so the streets go up and down and there aren’t straight lines set up in squares. Streets and avenues branch out from plazas, parks and large double avenues into wonderful mazes of cobbled goodness.
I personally am not into seafood at all but my husband and son are huge fans. Wherever we go, they find the best seafood restaurant in the are and dive into it. In Lisbon, they visited a couple seafood places and came back to the hotel raving about how amazing it all was.
Oysters, goose barnacles, prawns, crabs, sea snails, clams, all things except fish. Butter, garlic, olive oil and bread to dip in the leftover sauce is like dessert.
There is one dish that my husband tried that had seafood and pork in a tomato stew. Now this dish I really loved, it didn’t taste like fish at all and it was delicious and I wanted to faint over it.
Prego – The Portuguese meat sandwich
Last but not least, my husband likes to eat this as dessert after a seafood feast, is the Prego. A loaf of wonderfully baked bread loaded with a perfectly grilled thin slice of steak seasoned with garlic and sea salt. The easiest, the fastest, the most inexpensive treat you can have in Lisbon and pretty much the rest of Portugal.
Sure, you can have a not so very nice Prego just like you can find some horrid hamburgers but once you find the perfect Prego, your life is changed forever. Given that you aren’t a vegetarian of course.