Top 10 Tips for Traveling Portugal – Ditch the High Heels! | Catavino
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Catavino’s Top 10 Tips for Traveling in Portugal: Ditch the High Heels!

high heels portugalI adore a stunning pair of high heels. I’m not talking about the mammoth spikes that can alternatively be used as an assault weapon, or block heels that make you walk like un-oiled stick figure; I’m referring to the elegant sensible heels that sculpt your legs into sumptuous, sleek delectables. That said, Portugal is not for the heel obsessed. Frankly, Portugal hates pumps, because no matter where you travel, you’ll inevitably hit slick cobblestone. These intricately designed death traps are stunning to look at but torturous to traverse. Either the heel will get caught in the spaces between the cobblestone, twisting your ankle into oblivion, or you’ll perpetually find yourself on your ass. Either way, your vacation will end short of fabulous, with you in a cast and your 600 euro laser cut Jimmy Choo’s abandoned in some roadside bin. My suggestion, let the natives climb medieval castles in 8 inch heels, while you lace up your hiking boots. (photo via Sharon Durthaler)

Now, let’s tackle a few other handy, a bit of tongue and cheek, tips for your next trip!


Half the population will be unperturbed by a bare bowl, but for those of you who enjoy a “sit down” experience, note this key travel tip when visiting Portugal – bring a seat! From hospitals to dive bars, get prepared for cold porcelain, because this is going to be your new reality! To date, I’m still unclear if toilet seats are considered an unnecessary extravagance in public spaces, or whether they’re swiped and resold on an the black market, but I can tell you that they’ve become my “Big Foot” of Portugal.

Suggestion: You can either tote an inflatable seat around, or use your visit to strengthen those quads as you hover precariously over the throne.


Allow me to set the record straight, you’ve never tasted soup until you’ve visited Portugal! Portuguese soup is not just a convenient starter, it’s the cornerstone of Portuguese cuisine. From rich and chunky Sopa Alentejana made with garlic, cilantro, eggs and bread to the ubiquitous Caldo Verde containing pureed potato with shredded kale and chunks of chouriço (chorizo) sausage, there’s a soup for everyone. Soup is so ingrained in Portuguese gastronomy that when I told friends that my toddler never encountered a bowl of soup in the USA over the holidays, their response was consistently, “Wait, what!? Then what did he possibly eat?”

Suggestion: Don’t let a meal pass in Portugal without ordering soup! Every region boasts of their own creation, so get out there and start tasting!

Night PortugalTHE DARK

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that the Portuguese must have strong ties to the bat family, because I’ve yet to enter a building that’s fully lit. No, even that’s generous. There’s simply no light! It’s not like they don’t have electricity, because they do. And it’s not as if they don’t appreciate a warm, cozy environment. They love a good fireplace! But after several decades of poverty and recession, light has been deemed an unnecessary expense reserved only for special occasions; hence, on a cloudy, overcast day, you’re screwed. It’s so bad that after having my son in the local hospital, I had to call for help after getting stuck inside the bathroom because I couldn’t locate the handle for the door. (photo by christian.parreira)

Suggestion: Channel your inner bat. Turn off the lights in your house, don a pair sunglasses, and practice maneuvering the space without killing yourself. For the practical among you, simply download a flashlight app to your phone and attach a small torch to your keychain. When in bind, these will save your life.


To me, European Portuguese sounds like a drunk Russian hooked up with a Spaniard! The easiest way to understand the sound is to place a large dollop of peanut butter in your mouth and say “shhh” intermittently, and voila, you’re a native speaker! When we first moved to Porto a few years ago, I naively believed that my Spanish would carry me through without a hitch. I was clearly ignorant and smoking crack because it’s not only one of the most difficult latin languages to master, but one of least sensual for me. The one redeeming characteristic is the people themselves. Because of who they are, the language transforms into a sound that ebbs and flows with the ocean. Not my favorite of all languages, but it has its redeeming aspects. Not only that, the majority of the country speaks several languages (including English), so you’re in good hands.

Suggestion: Just about every language tool in existence is geared toward Brazilian Portuguese, which is by no means the same language!! Consequently, I suggest you find a sexy Portuguese lover who can’t speak a lick of English. I’m not promising that the rest of your life will be drama free, but I guarantee that your Portuguese will go from zero to a novel’s worth of vocabulary in no time! Either that or check out this website for several language tools. 


Unlike Spain, where the zebra crossing is taken with the utmost seriousness, you might as well sign your will prior to leaving your home country, because the Portuguese have zero idea what a crosswalk is! Why we haven’t substituted the Italians for Portuguese as the most insane and ill equipped to be behind the wheel is beyond me, but I do know that there are ways to survive your trip unscathed. First, never cross the street until the car has come to a full stop. If you go all New York bravado on them, you’ll wind up in a full body cast. Don’t do it unless your 8 feet tall and built like a rugby player. Second, always be on the defensive. Assume that you’re completely invisible, because you are! Whether you’re in a car, or simply walking down the street, this is a mindset that will save your life. 

Suggestion: Either wrap yourself in blinking Christmas lights during your visit or simply remain attentive and alert when near traffic.

Children PortugalCHILDREN WELCOME!

How many times have you gone to a restaurant and either experienced, or watched, a server glance sideways at a child in a judgmental, critical manner? Unless your child is demon’s spawn, prone to fits of passionate fury, tantrums, theft or assault, you’ll never ever find that here. Portugal absolutely adores children of all ages. To give an example of how insanely obsessed they are with tiny humans, I’ve had my son welcomed in michelin starred restaurants, adopted by every grandmother in the country, entertained by medical staff during my routine check-ups, given priority in government offices and totally showered in hugs and kisses at school. When I say that Portugal is filled with some of the nicest people on Earth, I mean it, but this applies 1,000 fold to children. (photo by pedrosimoes7)

Suggestion: If your kid is needing some serious tender loving care, get your family to Portugal!

Custom Wine and Food Tours Portugal Spain


Despite Portugal’s snuggly relationship alongside Spain, and its ridiculously hot summers, do not expect a Mediterranean climate throughout the country! The famed warmth can be found on the interior of Portugal, far from the touristy areas, or south near the Straits of Gibraltar. If you’re north of Lisbon, along the 8,000 sq. plus miles of sandy beaches where Mother Nature is both schizophrenic and manic depressive, get prepared. Within a 24 hour period, you may experience gail force winds, gorgeous blue skies, torrential rain and freezing cold temperatures. On a good day, you’ll get two out of four…not bad!

Suggestion: Follow the lead of a Portuguese grandmother and always dress in layers…lots and lots of layers. Zip off pants, t-shirt, wool sweater, rain jacket, hat, etc, you get the idea. Prepare for the worst and expect the best!


Much like Spain, coffee is an integral part of the Portuguese culture. But if you’re envisioning a gargantuan bucket of half skim mocha layered in pixie dust, think again. The Portuguese are straight-shooters and want nothing more than a shot of espresso…period. At their most complicated, it’s an espresso with milk and sugar. Anything beyond this is not only considered blasphemous, but worthy of having your visa revoked. Seriously, don’t do it! Learn to love espresso, because you’ll be injecting it several times a day, alongside a stupidly delicious pastry! 

Suggestion: Keep your coffee simple. Here are a few tips. Otherwise, order fresh squeezed orange juice. It’s absolutely heavenly and won’t instigate caffeine induced seizures. 


“Hello juicy orbs of love! How nice that you’ve graced my table alongside a heap of freshly baked bread and a small terrine of pate. Did they know I adore enormous black olives marinated in rosemary olive oil? Did they have a premonition that I adore grilled chouriço? Does Portugal love me this much that they’re willing to give this away for free?!” Take a breath my friend, because that’s a big, fat NO! Granted, they’re cheap, but not free. Tasting those mouthwatering nibbles is equivalent to a stunning woman wearing Gucci; to ignore her is impossible, but to engage will surely cost you!

Suggestion: First ask yourself, am I really so hungry that I want to sacrifice my appetite for fillers? If the answer is yes, be sure to choose wisely because you should only pay for what you eat; and if that consists of freshly grilled chouriço or juicy canned sardines, rest assured you made a wise choice!


Looking for a country emanating in goodwill and kindness? Welcome to Portugal, a place where even the downtrodden go out of their way to shower you in kindness. Over the course of two years, I’ve been hugged by the homeless, given chocolate cakes by neighbours, blessed by addicts, offered free rides by taxi drivers, had my wallet returned to me intact…twice and have consistently been received with a smiley hello! I’ve even had a dapper man in his 70’s tip his beret, gently wink and say, “Lovely day Miss. I trust it will remain as beautiful as you.” It’s the one country where I’ve adopted the entire elderly population as my own grandparents. It’s that ridiculously loving!! But after decades of building a strong, thick wall of defense, I’ve had to let go of suspicion, ease my way into openness and generally take on a “shower me in love!” approach to life where strangers are simply friends I haven’t met.

Suggestion: Lap it up while you have it, because there aren’t many countries that will treat you so well!

So there you have it! From my short two years living in Portugal, and a decade of visits, this list is a compilation of the nitty gritty as I see it. However, life is subjective, and I am always open to feedback, suggestions, comments as you’ve experienced it. So please, share your story of traveling Portugal!!! And if you want to visit with people who know how to see the real Portugal, give us a ring!


Gabriella Opaz

Harvest Tour Portugal Porto Douro Vinhos Verdes

  • Paul Callaghan

    Mostly a load of old Tosh!!! REALLY!

  • JB

    Agree 🙂 but the dark and the toilet seat must be northern things. Toilets are generally grim though.

    • Straykitten

      Completely not a northern thing. I live in the North of Portugal and have not found this to be true!

      • JB

        I lived in Lisbon for over 18 years, still go back regularly, and have never had any problems with lack of lighting or missing toilet seats – although the latter may affect male toilets differently… 🙂

  • Juliana

    Brazilian Portuguese and Portuguese from Portugal ARE THE SAME LANGUAGE!!!! It’s like saying British english and American english aren’t the same.

    • American and England: divided by a common language.

      Same is true for Brazil and Portugal. They may be the same language but if you dare say that at our local coffee shop you’ll have an old man chew your ear off for an hour about how they are not.

      One of the things to love about life.

      • BGC

        That old man is right! 🙂 There are thousands of different words between European and Brazilian Portuguese (and also the several African variations.) And Oh God, so many tricky words that have a different meaning in Brazil and Portugal.

    • gabriellaopaz

      I’m with Ryan. Although they are 100% the same language, there are differences to be noted, accent being the most obvious. If you’re keen to sound and speak European Portuguese, you ideally want a tool that will help you learn that particular way of speaking.

    • Nuno Fonseca

      Oh really?? Thousands of words that don’t exist in the other language;
      reflexive pronouns in different places; definite articles omitted in
      Brazilian; completely different pronunciation; never “tu”, always
      “você”…OF COURSE IT’S THE SAME LANGUAGE!!! And, as that wasn’t enough,
      a lot of sites assume I’m Brazilian, forcing me to choose between
      English and something that feels as foreign to me as Spanish. If you didn’t get it by now, I’m Portuguese.

      • Well by a linguistic definition it is the same language, but yes, as we all know the Brasilians and Portuguese love to point out all the differences and difficulties between them. 🙂

        Language is a strange and ever evolving thing. It keeps you on your toes and never stops changing.

        • Patrícia Fernandes

          It’s not the *love* to point out the differences, f.e.: calling a girl by «rapariga» in portugal is pretty normal, in brazil you’re insulting someone (calling them a whore, basically); straw for us is «palha/palhinha», for them «canudo»; for bank we say «banco» they say «caixa»; to take a picture we say «tirar uma foto», they say «bater uma foto»…
          Suuuuure, same! Next thing we know, spanish and portuguese is the same thing! 🙂 Why don’t we just All learn and speak latin, and be over with it?
          ps.: there is a specific dialect in Brasil, check it out. Same in Portugal, were you the «mirandês».

          Enjoy your (new) research!

      • Straykitten

        Amen Nuno! Forget learning the online Brazilian Portuguese, it just isn’t the same!

      • Filipe Félix

        I don’t think we need to make a fight out of this, there are differences, but we don’t need to be so touchy about it. There is place for both kinds

        • Nuno Fonseca

          Of course there is. However, I’m sick and tired of having +90% of Wikipedia in Brazilian (including articles about Portugal) with no chance of changing it and site after site trying to get me to learn Brazilian even though I’m on the internet in Portugal and I am Portuguese. All of this because there seems to be this general assumption there’s only one language, Brazilian, when NO ONE speaks or writes that way outside that country.

          • Filipe Félix

            I agree absolutely with what you mean about Google, it can be VERY difficult to filter irrelevant information because it assumes that you are brazilian, when you’re looking for recipes or trying to find out more abo

          • BGC

            Welcome to the 21st century Portuguese language: spoken by almost 200 million Brazilians, and less than 11 million Portuguese.

    • Jimmy

      They are not the same. They should he two different languages. If they were the same then brazilian people should be abble to understand the portuguese without us having to spell every word. I have many brasilian friends and half of the time i have to speak with a brasilian accent so they cant understand half the things I say. So it is not the same.

      • John D.

        How would you know?????

      • luisa

        Sooooooo true. Im portuguese. Im prtuguese grammar teacher. A d officially there is one language with variants. But pleeeeease… voxabulary, ssintaxis, accent… everything is diferent. If i need to tranlaate my language to someone that means just one thing: we talk diferent languages. Its just an economical interest behingd this…. thats why it remakns officialy the same language. But… sorry… its not!!!!!

        • João F

          frankly, as a grammar teacher you should put more effort into what you write, even if it’s in a language you don’t master.

          • luisa

            Really??!?!? The question here is my english grammar?!?! So tipical from portuguese people: “I have nothing to say about her idea/opinion, so i’ll attack the grammar even if the issue is another complety diferent thing.” Sooooo…. ‘tuga’!!! (Yes, i know, tuga is not a word, but you will understand the meaning). I’m a portuguese grammar teacher, not an english grammar teacher. They are not even related!!! So… i’m truuuuuuuullllllyyyyyy sorry! (Or not!) Writing in my 4th or 5th language in a train it’s not so easy (no, i’m not high!! i wrote the oder posts in a train, and yes i can talk and write better another languages because i do it every single day and english… i don’t… the last time i wrote a post card in english was about one year ago).

          • luisa

            And now, as you can see, there are few edited things. Only the “missprint”. If you see a biiiig grammar problem, please, don’t bother telling me. I know i’m not goooood as you think you are, but i’m not soooooo bad as you want to try to prove… cheers!

          • João F

            I honestly never meant it as an offense.
            Just to help you keep your good name in future comments.
            Else what’s the point saying what you do for a living?

          • Luís Leal Pereira

            Surely you mean ‘otherwise’ rather than ‘else’…

          • João F

            Both are used by locals so no, not quite surely.

        • Maria Queiroga Rachiele

          It is mostly the accent that is different, not the actual language. Some words and meanings are unique to Brazilian Portuguese, others to mainland Portuguese – just a symptom of living so far apart for so long – the language has evolved in separate ways. Differences will appear over time. But, they originated in the same place, are still the same language, but with different accents, pronunciation and dialects.

      • Catarina

        Yes it is the very same language. Kids in brazilian schools have PORTUGUESE lessons and not brazillian ones.
        And the fact that brazillian don’t understand portuguese people speaking means nothhing. In that case we should assume that the language portuguese azorean (in São Miguel island) speak is not portuguese at all as most portuguese people don’t understand a word they say… but nonetheless its pure portuguese 😉

      • Luís Leal Pereira

        Totally agree. Having had to work in Sao Paulo recently for a month, and speaking with a Portuguese accent, most Brazilians will reply with a “huh?” or answer back in English or Spanish.

      • Guest

        it is mostly the accent that is different, not the actual language. Some words are unique to Brazilian Portuguese, others to mainland Portuguese – just a symptom of living so far apart. Differences will appear over time. But, they originated in the same place, are still the same language, but with different accents, pronunciation and dialects.

    • Constance Houck

      That’s not what my Brazilian friends who have moved here tell me.

    • Gwen

      i assume you don’t speak a single word of either then.

    • Filipe Félix

      In general it is the same, but both languages went different directions. You can’t say for example that sentences are built exacly the same way, there are grammatical differences, if you speak Portuguese Portuguese in Brasil, your friends will think you sound odd. If I had begun to speak Brazilian Portuguese in Portugal, many would start wondering if I had watched too many Brazilian soap operas. The vocabulary isn’t exactly the same either…

  • gabriellaopaz

    Fabulous you like it! Never been to your neck of the woods, but look forward to it one day soon!

  • gabriellaopaz

    We can’t wait to have you Patti!

  • gabriellaopaz

    If you’re suggesting that the Portuguese feel we should speak their language in Portugal, I think they’re 100% correct. For me, it’s a matter of respect. Regardless of how bad mine is, it’s the effort that matters.

    • Reg

      And it’s what counts most. Even those of us that speak english more fluently, we love that you like the country enough to make such an effort. If you ever have a lazy afternoon without much to do, sit down at an “esplanada” with your native friends, get some hot coffee and/or cold beer and ask them to help you learn a few (more) of our quirks and idioms. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to spend hours engaged in such conversations and how quick time flies. 🙂

  • Random root vegetable

    I’ve lived here 18 years and this article is utterly spot on ! Thank you for telling a story seldom told.

    • gabriellaopaz

      You’re very welcome! thanks for leaving such a warm comment!

  • pedro

    Excellent article. As Portuguese I feel proud you have enjoyed your stay in our, yours country. However I tend to disagree to your comment on the zebras and toilets. While it happens here and there we should not take it as a feature of the Portuguese society, at all. I am 39 years old still kissing my mum and dad on the cheek in public… that’s interesting have never though about it…

    • gabriellaopaz

      Hey Pedro, to be honest, the north tends to be worse than the south for driving IMHO, but driving as a whole here is challenging. It’s the one, and only one, negative comment we hear time and time again from natives as well. But hey, well done you Portugal for having only 1 complaint retold by tourists, that’s something to be seriously proud of 🙂 And for the record, I’m honored to have my son raised here, because men are soft and loving at all ages, not hardened and testosterone laden. It’s a huge plus for me!

  • jbernardo

    It is always nice to see my home country through the eyes of a foreigner who obviously enjoys it! Even more when living abroad…

    • gabriellaopaz

      Amazing country! Thanks for letting us hang out here 🙂

  • Carlos Completo

    The only thing I can say is that you had luck by having your wallet returned intact. That doesn’t happen in 99.99 % os the cases. I think that you giving an overrated impression about portuguese people. We are like all the other people in the world, or worse. We even have a prime-minister who didn’t paid his taxes and think that is completelly normal. Regarding the toillets: we don’t have seats because the majority of the population are pigs. I think that it is easier the clean and desinfect ceramics than cleaning the seats. I didn’t understand what were you talking about the dark.

    • gabriellaopaz

      Carlos, you are human like everyone else, but your culture is your own and tends to value other humans. Sure, you have your fair share of corruption, theft, etc, but as a foreigner living here, I’ve generally felt nothing but caring towards me. Having travelled and lived in several other places, this “base feeling” isn’t always present. Regarding toilets, I never felt that toilets are particularly dirty here, just that the seat is gone. If anything, cleanliness as a whole feels valued. Thanks for sharing!

    • Filipe Félix

      Proud to be a Portuguese, are you?

  • jbernardo

    The same in Belgium and before that in Italy. I was used in Lisbon to see cars stopping at zebra crossings, and it still amazes me how here they will frequently ignore them. Even worst near schools… 🙁

  • You don’t know what soup is? Caldo Verde? To name one, is as common as bottled water.

    Crosswalks are terrifying here…but we all have our own experience. That said, having been coming here for 13 years, and being a big guy, I regularly am almost hit.

    Atlantic not changing? I can see it from our house. We have seen all these and more in a 24 hour or less period. If not more. That is why we love it. It’s full of mystery and romance. Beautiful really.

  • I wish you comment on crosswalks was true. I’ve been in the middle of a crosswalk and had to run before not to be hit. I’m a very tall person and I was pushing a very large baby pram. But nope, that wasn’t important enough to stop for. Sadly.

    We love the atlantic in all it’s forms, but the north is indeed temperamental. Something that makes it extra special.

    All that said, Portugal is a small geographic space with a huge soul. We are not planning on leaving.

    • tigremtm

      I know the North is temperamental, but that just makes it better. I live in Porto and the city is like a living organism, with great things. I recommend everyone to come and see this beautiful and old city. And the rest of Portugal is like that too.

      Sadly, I have to agree with the comment about the crosswalks. It happens many times.

      I really am thankful to see such a great and loving description about our country, and let me say this: here you will be always at home.

    • mawkinha

      I do think the crosswalks thing gets a bit worst in the North, i leave in the south and people allways stop for me in the crosswalks…and i don’t think it is because i am a woman…at least i allways stop ! xD

  • Lisa

    I disagree with what you’ve said about the language. To me, portuguese portuguese it’s a very beautiful language. A language for poetry.

    • gabriellaopaz

      Hey Lisa, an incredible Fado song can bring me to tears as well, don’t get me wrong, but as an everyday language, it can sound very closed and muffled to a foreign ear. Every language is beautiful, but some take more time to ease into.

      • Filipe Félix

        “To me, European Portuguese sounds like a drunk Russian hooked up with a Spaniard! ”

        It almost sounds like you thought no Portuguese would read this (if that was the case, it is quite unfortunate that you do something thinking you can “get away with it”, so to speak). Wonder if you would have liked to see or hear Your language, the one you call Home, be scorned the way you did. We have a saying: “A minha Pátria é a Língua Portuguesa”. It means my country is Portuguese. I think it translates how, wherever you find yourself, your mother tongue is paramount. I dare say this saying has a meaning for everyone, especially those who might be living outside their own country. It is a part of what you are, and what you’re saying is that what it sounds like is a drunk Russian hooked up with a Spaniard.

        Why should your knowledge of Spanish be sufficient to communicate in Portugal? This isn’t Spain. This will never be Spain. With al due respect for the rich and wonderful Spanish culture. I appreciate theirs, but I have mine, and it is equally enticing and alluring. Being friendly and helpful doesn’t mean we have no self worth or no sense of identity. I have loads of it, actually, as you may have concluded already. And I think that’s how it should be.

        I am very sorry I am writing this. I really wish I was 100% in agreement with what you wrote, but I am not, and at times, it struck me as disrespectful. I can look past silly (e.g. portuguese cobbelstone), but exaggeration (our toilets) and disrespect is something else.

  • M

    Obrigado, Gabriella,
    As Portuguese native I feel proud !

    • gabriellaopaz

      I’m super happy you feel that way! Thanks for leaving a comment!

  • mawkinha

    Hey ! 🙂
    I would like to say that i am a 22 native portuguese girl and it was very interesting to read your article! There is just something i do not agree with, and that is the darkness part :), i have never been to the Northern parts of Portugal and i leave in the Algarve, but surely here were i leave (Quarteira, Southest of the South xD) we have the streets with a lot of light and we also keep our houses iluminated, at least my familly does :)! Contrarely to other countries where i have been (for example Germany) i found it very dark to!

    Still i am so glad that you enjoy my country, and i am very proud of being portuguese and that we can make other people happy, like you and your familly!


    • gabriellaopaz

      You are for sure givers! The best kind too!

  • Liliana Santos

    What is sad is that portuguese people show only disdain and can’t appreciate the good things we have… While all foreign people enjoy our country… It’s a nice article, that really captures well the portuguese essence… What I really don’t understand is all that talk about toilet seats. I’ve never noticed anything missing in them… Maybe just in the north of tthe country?

    • gabriellaopaz

      Glad you enjoyed it Liliana!

  • John D

    This article is completely stupid! Someone that went there but didn’t want to see! Ignorance! They say that Brazilian-Portuguese is a different language???? Any intelligent person that lived so long in Portugal and didn’t, at least, learn the basics of the language must be stupid!

    • Wow, stupid. Really? Have you heard of tongue in cheek humor? Living in Portugal is a funny thing, as most Portuguese themselves call Brazilian a different language, not literally but figuratively. Like the Americans and Brits tease each other about speaking a different language.

      And as for the basics of the language? Podemos falar português, se você quiser.

  • RF

    Really? Are you sure you’re Portuguese?

    • Gwen

      Yea, “Rick” is a really Portuguese name 😉

  • RF


  • luisa

    Where is this Portugal?!?! Because in my Portugal we have toilet seats. We have luminosity (have you ever been in Germany, thats a “””””dark””””country, we can see the stars in the midle of a city). Coffee is just espresso?!? Oh poor you. Café curto, italiana are 2 diferent kinds of espresso. With milk… galão, garoto, pingado. And its possible to drink capuccino or caffe latte or caffe grande almost every where, and im not talking about starbucks… if you cant read the names in portuguese… thats your problem. But next time try go talk with people and youll see they can speak english. Its not perfect? No problem, im sure its better than your portuguese…

    • I don’t think you read the post. Espresso drinks are the only type of coffee, there are no brewed or pour over coffees. Just espresso with milk, by itself or hot water. Thousands of combinations, but all espresso based.

      Also as we say in the article, almost everyone speaks english, a big bonus for tourists!

      • luisa

        If you say so… i dont know where you have been. Maybe its just in my hometown there are diferent ways of coffee preparation of mixing powder and so on. If we learn a bit about the names of the simple espresso… maybe we learn a bit about portuguese coffee… whatever. I think that this article doesnt represent portugal…

        • Thank you for your opinion. What is so interesting is that so many Portuguese love this article and so many hate it. Must be some truth in there somewhere. At the very least it’s an unbiased view of a person who loves Portugal very much!

          • luisa

            Yes, i saw it. And i keep questioning me where these people lives… i just pointed 3 small things but theres more to say about the text. And… im from a small village in north portugal, i lived in a small town in centre for years and for years i lived also in lisbon. So… small places and big places are not the issue, or north ans south, west or east, or somethig like that. And if we compare with other countries (lets stay just in europe)…. almost everything its a joke. I just can agree with soup and the the sidewalks, but please, who travels with high heels? Who goes to rome or bern (just to name 2 completely diferent cities of europe) as a tourist with high heels?

          • lot’s of women I know…odd yes, but they do.

  • Pedro van Zeller

    Interesting and fun article Gabriella and Ryan. As a portuguese living abroad for 22 years now I can only smile at the contents of your article. I am sure it was written with tenderness unlike what many people in this forum thinks. OMG how sensitive the portuguese can get!! Because I’ve been away for such a long time I can’t discuss the toilet seat and zebra crossing issues and frankly I don’t really care. There are things I don’t agree with but I still like to read other people’s views on my home country. I think your article represents your point of view and that’s it. I’ve travelled quite a bit and lived in other places and also have a point of view and it’s MY point of view. So thank you for sharing, I really enjoyed reading it and keep that sharp eye going!

    • gabriellaopaz

      Thanks for leaving such a lovely comment!

  • Gwen

    The only things true in this article are about the heals, the kids, and the kindness. Rest is 100% BS

    • A bit harsh, since it is based on our experience. So far we’ve been nearly hit by cars almost everyday(we don’t have a car, so we walk a lot). Also so far a lot of our PT friends seem to think we did pretty good summing up some of the lesser known items in Portugal. Thanks for your comment.

  • Luis

    Not really sure where you’ve been… But toilet seats are quite common in Portugal… Obviously, like any other place in the world, there are places that that don’t have them, but u can guarantee those are the exception, not the rule…
    Apart from that… Very good article…

    • gabriellaopaz

      Thanks Luis for the kind comment! I was just at the Children’s hospital here in Porto yesterday – brand new! – and they didn’t have seats. Again, maybe just my experience 🙂

  • Have a baby in a hospital! 🙂 Gabriella had no toilet seat for the 6 weeks she was stuck there, I think that left a strong impression on her.

    As for the crosswalks, they are a nightmare. Most people don’t realize since they drive so much, but we don’t have a car, so we walk everywhere. It’s true, they are scary!

  • gabriellaopaz

    Great points Sonia! Thanks for sharing.

  • gabriellaopaz

    Really appreciate your comment, thank you!

  • gabriellaopaz

    Funny enough, I find Castilian Spanish harsh as well, while South American Spanish sounds more musical to my ear. And fab to hear about Lisbon drivers! Great news 🙂

  • gabriellaopaz

    Thank you Sinhá!

  • gabriellaopaz

    Thanks Tiago!

  • Max

    Hello! I don’t think Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese are different languages. I am Italian and I’m focused on studying European Portuguese but listening and reading both forms easily. In my opinion, once you know the differences, you can understand them without problems. But the same thing happen with British English and American English. I have always studied the British form and I had a lot of difficulties the first time I saw an American TV series. But no one would state seriously that they are different languages!
    That been said I want to ask a question to the Portuguese people : why you, generally speaking, seems to have the urge to remark that Brazilian Portuguese is a completely different language? I think that it is also due to the Brazilian (as well as Angolan, Mozambican and the other Lusophone-African countries) that Portuguese is the fifth most spoken language in the World, isn’t it? If Portuguese language for absurd, were to lose the Brazilian form, it would became a language spoken by less than 40 million of people. Even behind Italian, that it isn’t such an important language around the world!
    P.S. I have nothing against Portuguese people, it’s not criticism, just curiosity! Besides I love Portugal, and European Portuguese, also how it sounds to me!

    • Natalia

      Well Max, lets put this way:..Languages have always changed throughout times, being Italian you know better than me that Dante’s Ittalian is not the same aa nowadays; so think brazilians stilll speak the same arcaic portuguese of the late XIX century when massive portuguese emigration and then got absorved by Italian accent and local languages like guarani…hence differences of vocabulary..Now, we just should get cross with the way they butch the grammar..some places in south the use “TU” second person of singular with a third person e.g “Tu sabe”and that is totally wrong- should be Tu sabes…and the rest uses Voce ( very old portuguese- no problem here, but using “NOS ” first person plural with Vamo!!! Doesn’t even exist..should be Nos vamos ( all plural).then you have words like Presidenta ( does not exist, it is always male word Presidente even if is a lady the President…Think about the level of non lliteracy still very high in Brazil…or if you turn to their TV, it is a load of rubbish..Soap Operas, Football and Dating really quite plane

    • Filipe Félix

      First of all, it’s a pleasure to be answering your question. I think it’s a quite sensible one. And while you say that Italian isn’t an “important” language (but

  • João F

    I agree with Sofia Joao.
    This article is seen through a foreigner’s lenses so comparisons with what they grew up with are inevitable, the text is mostly correct.
    We truly are horrible respecting people’s right to cross zebras.

  • Maria João

    I’m from Porto and I’m really glad to read all of this.
    Saying you love Porto it’s like saying you love each “Portuense” (Porto People)… And so, I must answer for all of us: We love you too, please be sure to come back anytime! 😀

  • RG

    Next time You travel go to Portugal… I’m sure you haven’t been there yet…

  • Isa Machado

    Hi Gabriella! Thank you so much for sharing this with the world! Me being Portuguese and living abroad, definitely felt emotional, happy and proud while reading your article. It’s a pleasure to see how outsiders who live in Portugal feel about the country and its people. I love my country! Enjoy your stay and let me know if you ever visit Madeira islands 🙂

    • Gabriella Opaz

      Thank you so much Isa for the lovely comment! Have a fabulous weekend.

  • acmfk

    i love this! Thanks so much for being so kind to my people. So many details that i have never thought about…
    But the toilet part…well i was tought that you should not seat on them! And so did almost everyone. So no toilet seats mean you should not sit on it 🙂 We learn an awckward position of being almost near the porcelain but never touching it. Good for your leg muscles! 🙂 So no ‘long-distance calls’ if you know what i mean LOL
    Thanks again for seeing us in such a kind, positive and interesting light. I hope you are always welcome!

  • Constança

    About the ”To me, European Portuguese sounds like a drunk Russian hooked up with a Spaniard!” if you have only been in Porto it’s normal that you think portuguese sounds weird, because they have a really deep accent compered to those of the center of the country, in the south there is also a really deep accent. I know that it’s your opinion but it’s not really true. And the light part i don’t get it….
    and yes I’m portuguese, so sorry for the poor english.

  • Nuno Fonseca

    I would enumerate them all just to prove to you I’m right, but alas, I have better things to do than to engage in smalltalk with ignorants who hide behind a username to insult others.

  • Straykitten

    I’m with you on most points – especially the high heels – DITCH THEM unless you want to break both legs! But the toilet seat?! Where are you living? I’ve lived in Porto for 5 years and during that time, I’ve always graced toilets with a full working seat! Thank goodness!
    As for the crosswalk thing – I have to agree and disagree. Portuguese drivers know the law, they just pretend it doesn’t apply to them. They know they’re supposed to stop, they just don’t want to. Zero patience. And if you don’t use some of that NY bravado, you’ll never get across that street. But also be prepared to have a shouting match with the idiot who tries to bully you out of their way by edging forward as you cross!

  • Straykitten

    Totally agree with m625!

  • Never ran into this. Everywhere I go the Portuguese are very accommodating. And most speak English very well.

  • António Bernardo

    spot on Joao. I think this girl went to Russia or Moldavia but thinks she’s in Portugal ahaha

    • Sorry but I speak Portuguese having learned many years ago, and when I first came to Portugal I remember thinking that the people were speaking russian. I’m a native english speaker, so I can’t comment on how english sounds to foreigners. Because I know it too well.

      In truth if you ask a series of non-portuguese Americans(our audience) they tend to say yes, it sounds a bit eastern european.

      • Anastasia

        Completely agree, and I’m Portuguese. Once I was even fooled by the accent: I was at a public toilet in Washington DC, and heard two women speaking in a stall near mine. I thought they were speaking Portuguese even though I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, it was just their accent… On a “closer inspection”, they were Russian.

  • Soup? are you Portuguese. Every meal has soup: Caldo Verde being one of the most common.
    Crosswalk. I’ve nearly been hit soooooooo many times. It’s truly scary.

    And as for the Atlantic, with our house looking out at the sea, I have zero idea why you don’t agree with this. I’ve read Portuguese poems about it. The Portuguese fisherman even claim this. And after 730+ days looking out at the sea from our home, I can say it’s very true and also the reason I love living near the sea. It’s truly amazing!

  • Lots to like in this article and certainly a few tips which we already pass on to our friends who have not visited before. On my first visit to Sao Martinho do Porto I could not believe the quality of the “free” food that was on the table and the bill was always so small it never crossed my mind we had paid for it. It was four days into our trip until I realised! Now I have a child and money is a lot tighter I try and skip the starters, but it is hard to resist anything with baby octopus in it.

  • Reg

    Obstinate regarding the language? Err… That may happen if you visit Portugal and assume we all speak spanish. Worse, if spanish is not even your mother tongue, you choose to speak spanish to us and then expect every single portuguese to defer to your choice. Sorry to be the one to bring you the news, but… not gonna happen.

    Unless you’re mixing up Portugal with Spain – which would be adding insult to the injury.

  • FM

    by far the best foreign analysis I’ve read about us .. and hilarious too 😉 thanks!!!

  • Ana Luísa

    Of course the language is the same in Portugal and Brazil but I don’t think that’s what the writer meant. At least I hope not! The accent makes it totally different. I’m pretty sure if I were a foreigner, had no knowledge of the language and heard it both ways I wouldn’t even think they were related. But yeah, for those in doubt, same language.

    I love soup, by the way. I don’t know if this is a portuguese thing or just something in my family but I eat soup for breakfast (makes my day!), as a snack, appetizer or it can replace an entire meal. EU GOSTO DE SOPA!

  • Maria Connie da Silva

    Ok .. I loved your article, and I thank you for loving my beautiful country yet I totally disagree on a few things…
    The Portuguese language is not beautiful? I guess it is a matter of taste, or lack of, but honestly you are the only person so far I have heard such a thing from.
    Nobody speaks English? Who are we kidding? Portugal speaks Portuguese not English, if you want everybody in a foreign land to cater to you in your language, maybe you should stay in your country. In your particular case, you embraced and respected the Portuguese sufficiently enough to attempt to learn it. It i indeed a very difficult language and if you want to learn it well, block your next 10 years off you personal calendar.
    What’s the story with the bathroom? Yes they can be pretty grim in some restaurants or public places, but I have never had to contemplate peeing in my pants on account of the state of the toilets in Portugal. the Continental Portuguese vs the Brazilian Portuguese issue. Totally absurd that so many called intelligent people think that Brazilian Portuguese is not Portuguese! Of course it is! The Brazilians don’t understand my Portuguese because tuntil very recently they were not exposed to Portuguese – they never watched Portuguese TV, very few read Portuguese books, and they speak as slow as molasses, so they drag their vowels which makes Brazilian Portuguese much more slower when spoken and much more sensual than our which is spoken at 80 miles an hour. Maybe it is because of all the “bicas” we drink, however that is no reason to now say they don’t speak Portuguese. Does the USA not speak English? Of course they do, and they construct sentences differently from UK as well. The English spoken in London is different from the one spoken in Jamaica, Bahamas….they have words that mean one thing here, another there? So does that mean they speak Jamaican or Bahamian? Does Australia not speak English? You bet you last dime they do. Do the Irish in Galway <<>>? ….I don;t think so….but they they speak English…and Gaelic too.
    I can’t stand this tense interchange on language and who speaks it “better” between Portugal and Brasil…I mean when are we going to get along ? Let’s not fool ourselves, there is good and bad everywhere, so instead of creating a wider rift by concentrating on the differences can we try to meet in the middle insted of creating a wider gap and concentrate on the similarities?
    Food for thought….

  • Catarina Ferreira

    Lovely article Gabriella! I was browsing through Facebook when I saw the title. Imagine my surprise when at the end I found your name! It’s always heart-warming to hear someone saying/writing good things about one’s country but when I found out you were the author, I was even happier. : )
    Kind regards to you and Ryan (and Micah, of course!)

  • Catarina Ferreira

    Lovely article Gabriella! I was browsing through Facebook when I saw the title. Imagine my surprise when at the end I found your name! It’s always heart-warming to hear someone saying/writing good things about one’s country but when I found out you were the author, I was even happier. : )
    Kind regards to you and Ryan (and Micah, of course!)

  • Filipe Félix

    Wasn’t influenced by Portugal? Portugal only discovered and founded Brasil :p I think there’s however kind of a snobish attitude towards portuguese people, like we are some kind of hillbillies (crazy, I know)

  • Filipe Félix

    I want Portugal to be recognized, I think that what is good should be free to appreciate for anyone!

  • Luís Leal Pereira

    As a Portuguese who lives abroad and loves every comment about Portugal, I found most of it very entertaining but other parts didn’t make any sense to me: the lack of toilet seats (whaaaat?!), the dark (I really don’t know which dark parts of the country you go to), and crosswalks – I found pedestrian were much less respected in the UK than I do in Portugal.

  • Inês

    Some of your tips are valid for Portugal as a whole but a few others are valid for Oporto only. The weather in southern Portugal is not as moody and drivers do know what a crosswalk is. However, natives in Lisbon are not as kind as in the North. Here in Lisbon we are more stressed out, busy and frequently on the run.
    On what concerns the toilet seat and the dark, I must admit I have no clue what you’re talking about.
    I would suggest you spend your next holiday in Lisbon, Alentejo and Algarve. It will give you a different point of view. Otherwise, you’re just giving tips for travelling to Portugal based on what you know about Oporto.

  • Antonio

    Half of this rambling is true. The other half is prejudice, misconception and plain ignorance.

  • Not really a novice traveler. We’ve been living here for 10 years(8 years in Spain and 2 in Portugal). So I think we know what we are talking about. Also as you can tell this is a “tongue in cheek” post. Meaning we’re having a little fun with some things that foreigners bring up when they visit.


  • BGC

    Simmo, the Portuguese are totally not obstinate regarding their language. Most people in Portugal go a long way before quitting on trying to understand a stranger or a tourist, even if they don’t speak the foreign language. And, as others have mentioned, most people in Portugal, especially the youth have an excellent level of English.

  • BGC

    There are Portuguese TV shows in Brazil?!? Maybe some Portuguese channel on cable.

  • Michael J. Mello

    Great article. However, I must say that I find Portuguese to be a most sensual language, comparable to French – and most especially in Portuguese fado and Brazilian popular song – bossa nova, tropicalismo.

  • It is soooo much true! We are living in Lisob and writing our blog about Portugal for quite some time but this is brilliant article and we agree in 90%. Only the language sounds much better than Spanish ;). And coffee is the best in the world :).

    Thanks and kisses!

    Kasia and Marek

  • Miguel Sepúlveda

    Dear Gab,
    Just love the way you write. Your article if full of irony and made me laugh a lot. You just captured a lot of our way of living. Bravo.
    Keep on writing.