There are 5 things (and maybe more) that you just discover being already living in Portugal and – I think – you should know right now for have a better travel or living experience in this country. Senhoras e senhores, go ahead!
1.- No coffee price list, at least not very visible.
For a real portuguese experience – and even if you don’t drink coffee – you have to enter in a coffee house. Some of them are named “Padaria” (bakery) because they also bake and buy all kind of breads and sweet pastries. They could be very simple places easily identified by a white awnings with some of the most popular portuguese brand’s coffee as Delta, Nicolo, Tropical, Sical or Buondi. Most of them are quite humble&simple, and don’t expect to see too many portugueses seated or working online. What you should expect is a stand up people at the bar. But the most amazing thing it is not this. Wait.
The most surprising fact is that the coffees in Portugal don’t have prize list at all. So how can we order any coffee without mistake? Aha! You HAVE to ask, to start a conversation with the owner or the locals who are – by the way – very willing to help. Beeing 100% honest, after one month drinking coffee in Portugal, I discover that yes, they HAVE a prize list, but is so hide and use to be a simple piece of paper, that you don’t easily see it.
How much to pay? Espresso start at €0.60 and can cost 2 maximum in a fancy hotel. So expect to pay not more than 1 euro in Portugal. About latte or “pingos”, prices start at €0.60, normally you can also pay €1 / €1.50 in a “specially coffee; and can reach until €4.5 in a hotel as Sheraton Lisbon (as i pay in the lobby bar and was a Nespresso one). And don’t worry! At Portugal you never gonna pay as much as you pay for a coffee in a cities as Viena; Paris, Miami or Santiago – Chile.
Expresso or pingo? That’s the question.
General portuguese coffee guide start with espresso, “bicha”, carioca and “abatanado” (no milk) and continue with all the diversity that more milk or more coffee bring to your imagination: from pingo (machiatto) to “meia de leite”.
2. They are not fighting, they are just “talking”.
If – by chance – you are in a public place like a restaurant, market or coffee, and suddenly you listen some voices, then those voices increase they’re volume and became a sort of screams. Well, don’t worry! They are just 2 portugueses talking as usual and about any crucial issue as last soccer game. The issue is not important at all! Portugueses – man or females – talk with passionate intensity and energy, moving they’re hands as Italian do. My advise is take a seat and enjoy the moment.
3. Transportation ticket don’t always works in combination.
When you travel you use to move in public transportation? So I have some little things to say to you, specially if you go to Porto or Lisbon.
In many cities of the world right now you buy a ticket that allow you to combine all kind of public transportation for a period of time as 1 or 2 hours. Not the case of Porto or Braga, Aveiro, and others medium side cities. That exist, at least for 1 hour in Lisbon, capital of Portugal, but you have to pay attention and ask very well to discover why not all the “Viva Viagem” (www.portalviva.pt www.portalviva.pt) ticket allow you to combine tram, subway, ferry or buses. Is a mistery that can be solve if you take your time asking or looking very well the ticket were you gonna see the signals of Carris and M (big M is Metro = subway). Carris represent buses (yellows) and “eletricos “ or trolleys (those old but useful tramways that exist only in Lisbon, Sintra and Porto) and you can use the same card for all.
The mistery for me was why sometimes they take me €1,30 and others €1.45. Mistery! I make this advice because I don’t want that you finish your journey with 3 cards: 2 whites and a thirth on blue green. And I’m still wondering were are the difference. So if you go to self service machines, please, choose Zapping option. First charge have to be minimum €2 and €15 maximum. Cards are for individual use, not for share. Sorry!
Anyway, been fair, I have to say that is very easy to move in public transportation in any small or “big city” of Portugal. The stops are clean, visibles and you often (specially Lisbon and Porto) have many alternatives to go to your destination. The same happen with train system, called “comboios”: Check here: http://www.cp.pt.www.cp.pt
Talking about good things, at least in Lisbon, all Carris system (eletrico and buses) have free wifi. Even if you are in a stop, you can connect to the open net “Carris”.
Final advises about transportation:
1. keep the subway tickets with you until the end of your trip because you also need to validate them when you leave the subway (as in Paris, for example).
2. Ferry boats used for cross the Tejo river also works with (white) Viva Viagem cards combines with buses but I’m not sure if they combine with Metro.
3. You always have the opportunity to buy a “single” ticket to driver. But is gonna be more expensive and not combinated.
4.Eletrico are not just a postal card, they are part of the public transport. So at 16 pm you gonna be surrounded by schoolchildren and very often by old people. You always gonna look as a tourist so don’t try to look as a local. You are a guest, they are the owners.
5. Dreaming with trains crossing the eternal sands or mountains of Portugal? Please, go but before, if you want to be seat in a window side, you have to let it know to the buyer at the ticket office because in this country they just expend tickets and never ask for your special choices. And just for the record: janela means window.
6. If you take the trolley in Porto, Sintra or Lisbon, beside looking by the windows, pay attention to the driver and how he play with controls, switches and rings all at the same time. Is impressive.
Get almost the same article in Spanish version here: 6 cosas que debes saber antes de viajar a Portugal (y que nadie te advertirá)
4. Take care where you walk and where you fix your feet.
Portugal is well known by their amazing “azulejos”, marbles and stones. And their streets honored this image and history. That’s beautiful, who can denied? The bad and dangerous thing is the portugueses streets are very slippery and if you don’t look the floor very- very well and you look where you put every step, you can slip or finish on the floor. So, please, take care of your steps and (ladies) prefer basquets, confortable shoes and not hills. An accident is not the souvenir that you deserve from Portugal. Not!
5.Portugal, “little” country?
You think that Portugal is a tiny country? Don’t answer right now. Please, go and then answer my question. In my opinion, we are wrong if we want to discover the human landscape beside the geographical one. I mean, the “real” Portugal is surprisingly big and exist beyond big cities as Lisbon or Porto, and beyond those “early birds places” as Faro, Lagos or any Algarve village. Of course, I admit that Portugal is nothing compare with Australia or Rusia, but i invite you to discover the “portuguese human scale”. That’s where you gonna find the secret and charm of this country: people are so gentle, genuine and helpful that you fulfill your hard in a very unique way.
So, as azulejos walls are full of little pieces that built images just when you observe from certain distance, this country is an special mix of little pieces and flashbacks from windy sunsets, guitar notes, whites churches and baroque altars; surf guesthouses; countryside family farms; kitsch windows; several kinds of cabbages or couves; amazing lemons, fishes as carapau and broas; imperial history; local markets, soft linen and cotton, gardenias parfums and trendy concept stores shapes by the very best portuguese handicraft tradition.
Fast Click to…
.Trains of Portugal
.Viva Viagem Card (also named 7 colinas card) Lisbon Public transportation http://www.vivaviagem.pt
.Portugal Tourism Office: Visit Portugal
.Lisbon Tourism Office
.Porto Tourism Office