A Travellerspoint blog

Dos de Mayo in Sevilla

Onward to Sevilla, Spain!

Today, we were off to Sevilla via train.

We woke up and ate some leftovers prior to catching our 2.5 hour Renfe train (book on renfe’s website) to Sevilla. The ride was smooth and not super crowded but the train is definitely older than the Portugal Alfa Pendular and the bathrooms are to be avoided if possible.

The enormity of the Sevilla Santa Justa Train Station

We arrived at the Sevilla Santa Justa Train Station and quickly realized that the only real way to get around Sevilla is either Taxicab or walking. We hopped in a cab towards our Airbnb and soaked in the beauty of our Airbnb balcony! It had a lovely view of the Plaza de la Magdalena so we decided to finish our cured meats from Mercado de La Paz and made a cheeseboard with wine bottles that we bought from a market near by. It was a very lovely lunch to be able to sit on our private patio, enjoying the best ham one can eat.

While we were washing up and taking our afternoon siesta, it started to pour heavily. The rain came out of nowhere and left just as quickly but not before giving us a beautiful complete rainbow. It was a majestic way to start our brief trip in Sevilla.
Rainbow over the Plaza de la Magdalena

After the rain settled, we walked around the airbnb for a bit prior to heading to dinner. We went with a recommendation from our airbnb host called Dos de Mayo. So we actually accidentally ate at a restaurant called Dos de Mayo ON Dos de Mayo (or May 2nd). Lol.
On our walk over
Dos de Mayo Restaurant

(For the history buffs, Dos de Mayo is a Spanish national holiday to commemorate an impressive Spanish uprising to Napoleon rule. So most everything was also closed this day.)

There was about a 15-20 minute wait as this place is really popular with tourists and locals alike. Overwhelmed by all the different tapas, we settled on olives (cause now we have an olive addiction), Jamon on artichokes (tapa portion), fried baby squids, grilled eel (tapa portion), hake clams (their coastal clams), scallops, and a SUPER DELICIOUS oxtail over potatoes (bull’s tail on the menu, tapa portion). I love the tapa portion because it allows you to try a variety of dishes but we easily wanted a regular portion of that oxtail. Everything was super tasty and the clams were cooked in a delicious garlicky broth that went well with the bread they give you (or rather you pay for). We obviously washed this all down with wine and Spanish wine continues to not disappoint!

Posted by E.M.N 01:57 Archived in Spain Tagged seville rainbow de sevilla dos mayo Comments (0)

Wandering Madrid during Labor Day

Temple of Debo’s (templo de debod), Real Palace (Palacio Real), Paella (Mejor arrocería: Marina Ventura Madrid), Platea

We have been embracing the Spanish culture and waking up late, having a late lunch, and taking a nap prior to adventuring. It’s been quite lovely.

We have been craving more Asian food so we decided to wander over to Zen Noodle for lunch (Noodle shop at Calle de Lagasca, 80 on google maps). They have a 15 euro bento that is WELL worth the price. I would however stick to the noodles as we shared 2 noodle bento boxes AND a sushi/sashimi bento box. This was obviously insanely way too much food but the noodles really satisfied our cravings. The sushi itself was abundant but just okay and covered in a lot of toppings like spicy mayo. The beef noodle soup was not like any typical Taiwanese beef noodle soup but the broth was light and tasty and was helpful for digesting all the cured meat we have been eating. The spicy dan dan noodles were tasty but do have a mild spicy kick (you could ask for spicier). I really enjoyed the pickled vegetables that also came with it. All in all for the price and our craving, it was a good lunch.

Having filled our bellies excessively, we passed out for a nap before heading to the Templo de Debod, these are Egyptian ruins. Unfortunately, everything was slow and closed today because it was Labor Day so we were unable to venture inside but we did enjoy the exterior as well as the super shady park FILLED with tons of locals and tourists alike. There is an amazing view of the Palacio Real and the city at the back of this ruin and I highly recommend going to see it. We then sat and people watched briefly before heading to see the Palacio Real.

We went to see the Palace which up close is super huge but again was closed due to the holiday so mainly enjoyed looking at all the people hustling for money including a couple of old couples that were dancing Flamenco!

Afterward, we headed back to city center by foot but not before stopping at Mercado de San Miguel for more oysters, a glass of champagne, and roast pork. The roast pork skin was super crispy! But the meat itself was slightly hard and dry. Worth a try though! We then continued our Asian food day by stopping by T4 (a brand from Taiwan) near the Plaza Mayor for boba. I got the specialty (which is not a milk tea) and Nick got a milk tea. The boba was really soft and had good texture and tasted great.

We then walked all the way over to where we had reservations for dinner in the hopes of walking off a few of the extra calories. Lol. We ate at Mejor arrocería: Marina Ventura Madrid but you ABSOLUTELY need reservations if you are planning on coming here. (We had tried to eat here yesterday but settled for next day reservations). Also, plan for the paella to take about 40 minutes to come out. We ordered olives and a tuna salad for appetizer while we waited and drank a pitcher of white sangria. You HAVE to get these olives (they were Malaga olives that were definitely the best ones we had all trip). The white sangria was light and refreshing and was super easy to drink. We got Paella de Mariscos and marveled at the enormity of it as we dug in and enjoyed the flavorful rice and abundant seafood. I wish the bottom of the rice had been slightly crispier but it was definitely a paella worth waiting for.
Delicious white sangria
Paella de Mariscos
Finished strong!

View from the Metro stop

At this point, we were absolutely stuffed but wanted to end our last night in Madrid with a bang and headed over to a place called Platea. Platea Madrid is located inside the Platea mall and we arrived at around midnight. Unfortunately for us, the nighttime entertainment (which ranges from a DJ to other acts) was done for the night. But we got to enjoy our well made cocktails in this gorgeous bar that was previously a theatre. (They also had food earlier that was closed by the time we made it.). We definitely vowed to come back to enjoy the entertainment on a future trip as the bar was closing and headed home.
Vibes 10/10

We ended the night with a trial of our 0.75 euro wine, which was terrible tasting, but was a mandatory tasting.

Posted by E.M.N 01:48 Archived in Spain Tagged marina temple of madrid de real noodle paella palacio ventura zen debod templo platea Comments (0)

Flight over to Madrid

Prado museum and Mercado de San Miguel

We booked an early flight out of Porto to head to Madrid via plane. We regretted this decision because it meant a 3am wake up time but it was necessary for logistics and money purposes. We were able to schedule an Uber that came promptly at the scheduled time. The airport recommends 3 hours prior to your flight but I think we could’ve gotten away with 1.5 hours as the line to check in wasn’t too long and neither was security given it was an inter-Europe trip. They also don’t post your gate until about 1 hour prior to departure but make sure you get close to the gate because they move fast and we didn’t even notice our gate had switched to our flight.

We flew Ryanair for convenience sake and paid extra to have a guaranteed check bag. This was still one of the cheapest options and you definitely can tell when you are on the plane. It feels much dirtier and less comfortable than other airlines. We were able to check our rolling luggage and walked onto the plane with our large backpacks without issue.

We landed in Madrid and had no issues grabbing our bags and did not even need passport control given our origin country was Portugal. We hopped on to the metro which is ~7.50 euros just to go to city center and only 8.50 euros for a whole day pass (this is what we bought). It was easy to take the airport metro to the line we needed for our airbnb and finally made it to Salamanca to check in early. Walking around Salamanca and the metro, you could immediately tell how much bigger and metropolitan Madrid was than where we went in Portugal. The sidewalks are larger and wider and so were the streets.

We popped some laundry into the washer and headed to Mercado de La Paz, as it was a 5 min walk away. There we opted to buy meat, cheese, and some bread for a quick charcuterie board and stopped at the grocery store below our airbnb for a nice red wine and a 0.75 Euro wine (that I just had to try out of principle and was gross…lol). We bought entirely way too much food because unlike the mercado in Porto, the merchants didn’t really help us with showing us how much 100g or whatever amount is, so we ordered like 100g of each 3 different meats and like 1 lb of 2 cheeses. It was all delicious and my favorite slice was definitely the lomo but I think the ibérico jamon was tastier at Bolhao market in Porto.

After lunch, we headed to explore the Prado Museum. We had no problem buying tickets there but given how quickly we were able to walk through the museum we probably should’ve waited until 6p since entry fee is free for the last 2 hours of operation. We finished in about 2 hours, admiring the Goya, Velasquez, Rembrandt paintings. (Pro tip: don’t try to take a picture in here because it is apparently not allowed…)
Puerta De Alcalá
Outside Prado museum

Afterwards, we went to Vicens, a Spanish chocolate shop with many locations, and tried their hot chocolate (DO NOT get this) and this chocolate sold by grams (we had pistachio and salt and IT WAS DELICIOUS).

After resting our feet for a bit, we decided to go seeking for food and landed at Mercado de San Miguel. This market was probably my most favorite market of the trip. My aunt had said everything here is good and she was not wrong. The hard part is fighting off strangers for a free table. I held down a table while Nick went to forage for food. We had a plethora of things including fresh uni, barnacle clams (which are so good and worth trying), razor clams, oysters from Normandy, France, an olive/anchovy tapa, a mixed plate of fried seafood (only get the octopus and the anchovy here). We also had an aperol spritz and a Campari to wash it all down. I HIGHLY recommend the oysters at Daniel Sorlut because they were super tasty with some briney taste and a sweet after taste. The uni was also super fresh and buttery and didn’t cost that much for 5 small ones.

We then walked next door to Plaza Mayor and found a random restaurant to drink some sangria and a delicious pina colada so that we could people watch and enjoy the nightlife. After the drinks, we decided to try the McDonald’s chicken wings and Mcshaker fries prior to slumbering. The wings were yummy but I think I like my fries better plain (it was like a ranch Parmesan powder that you shake onto your fries.)
Plaza Mayor
McChicken Wings (Alites)
Mcshaker Fries

Posted by E.M.N 22:13 Archived in Spain Tagged museum san prado madrid de plaza mercado miguel mayor Comments (0)

Douro Valley and all the Wine

Wine and more wine and PORT wine

We decided to book a tour of the Douro Valley. We used Get Your Guide and it was about $90/person. The whole tour took about 9.5 hours.

We met at the meeting point and were picked up by a coach bus alongside numerous other strangers. Initially, the bus was perfect as we had extra empty rows but another tour group from our tour’s company had broke down on the side of the road and we had to make room for 18 more people. I think overall the tour would’ve been much better and less crowded and less feeling like cattle if we hadn’t had to accommodate the extra people.

Our first stop was a gas station to pick up some breakfast and use the bathroom. Then we headed straight to the Douro Valley about 3 hours away from Porto. We started the tour on a boat along the Douro River looking at the stunning and jaw-dropping landscape and terraces of the Douro Valley wineries. Napa Valley really can’t compare….

After about a 45 minute boat ride, we headed to the first winery, Croft! This winery had an awesome terrace view of the valley and river with a beautiful trellis covered in wisteria. If we had traveled here on our own, this would’ve been the perfect spot to enjoy a nice charcuterie board and sip wine. A Croft worker explained to us the origin of Port wines as well as the grapes used in the Douro Valley and he also showed us where they mash the grapes with their feet for 6 weeks out of the year. After the tour, we got to try 3 port wines: a rose port, a regular port, and a tawny (10 year old) port. Ports, in general, are pretty potent (19-22% ABV) because of the mixture with brandy (or what the Portuguese call fire water) so I preferred the softer rose and the aged tawny. But having not had real lunch, I definitely felt these 3 tastings as we headed back to the bus.

We drove then to lunch and more wine tasting at Vintage Theory.
We had lunch with the tour group on an outdoor patio that overlooked their vineyard (not as picturesque as it wasn’t over the river but nice nonetheless) with salad, bread, pork/fish (I had pork and Nick had fish), and a orange/chocolate cake meal. During the meal, the table wine was flowing. They provided us with 2 bottles of red wine and 2 bottles of white wine and offered more if we had wanted it. The table wines were very light and refreshing and went well with our meal (wines were called Julinha). We got to sit next to 2 girls who had gone to my high school but were 11 years younger than me….and boy did we feel old in comparison but happy they were traveling at such a young age.

After the lunch portion, we moved inside to try the aged port wines, tawny. We started with the 10 year old tawny, then the 20 year old, and ended with the 30 year old tawny. They explained how much golden the tawny becomes as it ages (from red orange to gold) and how the 30 year old should not sting the under of your tongue as the alcohol kick is less strong. We loved the 30 year old tawny (I’m pretty sure the whole tour group did) and were not hesitant to get seconds when they were offered.
30 yo Tawny!

Slightly buzzed and very tired, we napped all the way home in the bus. We walked home and decided to try a local Portuguese restaurant called Adega Do Carregal. We shared a flaming chorizo sausage, a caldo verde (a cabbage soup), the soup of the day (another Portuguese soup), stewed octopus, and a grilled steak. The food was delicious and I really enjoyed the steak and the crispy chorizo as well as replenishing our electrolytes and fluids with the soup. It was a good way to end our eating adventures in Portugal.

Pro tip: All in all, it would be completely feasible to visit the Douro Valley on your own without a tour as there was a station right near where all the boats cruise down the river (which were all super easily bookable it appeared) and the Croft winery was literally a short walk around the corner with many more wineries near by. This would allow you to take your time at the wineries and at the view points while saving money.

Posted by E.M.N 22:09 Archived in Portugal Tagged river port douro wine porto tawny Comments (0)

Porto - O How a Porto You Are

Porto - home to the Port Wine and sweeping views

First day in Porto! I love how central our Airbnb was to a lot of the sites we were interested in seeing.
Pro tip: plan to walk down the hills of Porto and end the night taking a cab or Uber back…you won’t regret it. It was super easy to get around everywhere by walking down but the trek back up is unreal. The walk let’s you enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of every crooked cobblestone street and the people on them.

We walked over to Bolhao Market, which is currently under renovation but has a temporary market underneath a shopping mall near by. I wish we had markets like this in the USA because it would be an amazing place to come grocery shop. There were a couple restaurants, a bakery, a cheese monger, a ton of produce stands, wine stands, fish mongers, dried fruit/olives stands, canned seafood stands, and most importantly butchers. We loved walking around trying to decide what we wanted for lunch. We ultimately were convinced to create a charcuterie board because of this smaller butcher who was generous enough to let us try slices of all his Ibérico jamon. After the first slice, we were already sold. You could tell how passionate he was about his cured meats and was excited to have us try all different types. He was also super nice about slicing essential 3-5 slices of each meat we ordered. We settled on a regular ibérico jamon, a pata negra, and a chorizo/sausage like one. They were ALL SO GOOD.

We then set out to find cheese and bread to complete our board. We settled on some cow cheeses that were natural but somehow not as good as ones from the US that we are used to. We also bought a slice and one roll from the bakery (which costed only 0.45 euros…..so cheap). We also found a lady selling multiple kinds of olives and bought 0.50 euros worth. We gathered our goods and found tables near the wine stands and also bought a 4 euro glass of sangria to wash it all down. (The lady who sold us the wine was extremely proud of her sangria and expectantly asked for our stamp of approval…..mostly because she made this sangria HELLA STRONG….I think she added ginja, a Portuguese cherry liqueur).

We ended our meal with a fruit cup and some dried fruit and left happy to have met and broken bread with such generous and lovely shopkeepers. We then walked around the Decathlon store in the mall before heading out.

We walked from the market over to the Torre Clerigos to climb the 245 steps to the top. (Word of caution: if you have large backpack, they will not allow you to carry it into the tower because it narrows LIKE A LOT as you climb. They were kind enough to let us leave our back pack but we were nervous about the safety of our stuff.) The climb starts with a mini museum of artifacts and a cool view into the church below. You then head into the staircase where people are going both up and down and you constantly have to be patient with strangers going the opposite way. There is a first lookout that is way less crowded and offers similar views if you don’t want to finish the climb or don’t want to battle other tourists for photos. At the top, it is super windy but you get a 360 view of all of Portos, which is just jaw dropping as it is surrounded by the Douro River and stunning bridges and architecture. We squeezed our way back down and got our backpack back and left to seek hydration!
View mid way
View from the top!

We walked a little further up the street to a Cafe Cristina (super popular chain in Porto) for a mango/vanilla ice cream popsicle and a delicious custard filled pastry.

Having rehydrated, we wandered over to the Livraria Lello (Lello Bookstore), the most famous and beautiful bookstore in Portugal and quite honestly probably one of the most beautiful bookstores I have ever been to. I HIGHLY recommend visiting if you are at all a bibliophile. (Pro tip: Order tickets online, it is not only 1 euro cheaper per person, but you also get to SKIP the LINE.). We ended up waiting in a super long line that took about 30-45 minutes to make it to the front and happily headed in. There were TONS of tourists but it didn’t detract from the GORGEOUS and stunning red painted staircase in the center. The walls are covered with books upon books and the view is best from the 2nd floor. We wandered around for about 45 minutes to get closer to closing time where there were MUCH less people but also I was struggling deciding which Lello gold leafed books I wanted to limit myself to. I could easily spend all day in a place like this, reading books and people watching. At the cashier, they also subtract the entrance ticket price from your receipt if you buy a book!

We stopped by our airbnb to drop off our goods and then headed out for dinner. We fortunately strolled upon the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, a gorgeous viewpoint of Porto which is amazing at night!

After admiring the view, we continued climbing down the hill to the riverside where we went to eat at Bacalhau. We got to sit right alongside the river while enjoying the delicious food. We ordered olives/bread (couvert), “Alentejana” soup with cod (sopa alentejana de bacalhau), codfish skin crackers (chips de pele de bacalhau), and corvine and shrimp (corvina e camarao). I would skip the olives/bread here but the soup and the corvine and shrimp are 2 dishes you CANNOT miss. The soup was light and refreshing but not super hot. The corvine and shrimp were served over this bread stew that was PACKED with umami. I’m still not sure what was in the bread stew but it was so tasty and had the consistency of thick mashed potatoes. The codfish skin chips were also delicious and fried well but needed a touch of salt. We also really enjoyed this meal with our glasses of white wine (get one with verde grapes…it’ll be worth it.)
Fanciest/biggest McDonald’s I’ve ever seen!

Posted by E.M.N 09:26 Archived in Portugal Tagged tower market porto bookstore torre oporto bacalhau bolhão clérigos livraria lello Comments (0)

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