Lisbon Travels

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Next stop was Lisbon, Portugal! I was excited to visit Lisbon since it meant warmer weather even in December! Sure enough, the weather was beautiful. Getting from the airport to the city is also very easy by metro. We changed lines once and we were in the Baixa district. We got out of the metro and was at the Figueira Square. The Baixa district is the city center and actually relatively new as it was reconstructed after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. Today, they are known for their earthquake-resistant architecture. The city itself is actually one of the oldest in Western Europe

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Transport is relatively simple in Lisbon. Other than the metro, trams seem to be the most useful transportation. We only used the metro to go to and from the airport. The rest of the time, we walked or took a tram. The city itself is quite small, so you can get around by walking or taking a tram. The only precaution for walking is that the streets can get very steep! That’s when you want to take a tram. Lisbon really reminded me of a European San Francisco. Cable cars, steep streets, and sunny weather! We stayed at the Hostel4U in the Baixa district, which I highly recommend. My mom was worried when I told her we were staying at a hostel, but I had booked a 3 bed private room, and she was so happy with it! We had individual single beds, a private bathroom, and individual lockers. Each morning, we would also get a complimentary breakfast buffet, which had the basic bread, ham, cheese, yogurt, fruits, and cereal. It even had a coffee machine that made lattes and cappuccinos. The total for one night in a 3 bed private room was only 49 euros, so definitely not bad since you also cut the breakfast costs. Extremely new and clean hostel!

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Our hostel was located on Rua da Madalena, and I had asked the reception where to eat. He gave me three coupons to this restaurant 3 blocks down, saying we would get three drinks for free. Off we went, but we were surprised to see that the restaurant was completely empty. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant and I can’t seem to find it online either. Anyways, we went in since we were starving, and the man gave us an English menu. We went for two tourist set menus, and one main entree. The tourist set menus came with a salad, entree, dessert and a drink. After ordering, he placed a plate of Croquettes on our table. We were confused and thought they were complementary. I’ve had croquettes back in Barcelona, so I found these to be terrible compared to the ones in Spain. They were burnt and cold! And to top it off, they were added to our bill, and they weren’t cheap. Be aware!

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Fish is highly consumed in Portugal. We were recommended the Cod Fish Rice, which was the best dish at this restaurant. Cod or bacalhau is the main type of fish that’s eaten in Portugal. Basically, it was like fried rice with shredded cod mixed with egg. It was so good!

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My mom wanted to try the Portuguese Grilled Pork since it’s popular in Macau, and the cuisine in Macau really originates from Portugal. However, we were very disappointed in the pork. The pork was thin but so overcooked. It was tough and I felt like I was chewing on plastic. The fries were also sort of weird, although they looked fresh cut.

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Lastly, we had the Curry Chicken with Rice, which was decent. Portuguese curry reminds me of the curry we get at HK-style cafes. My mom loves her Asian food, so I found that the flavours of Portuguese cuisine to be very acceptable for her, compared to other European cuisines, which may be strong in dairy.

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For dessert, we had the choice of seasonal fruit or Creme Brulee. The seasonal fruit were literally cut up fruits that were in this mini fridge… I have no idea how fresh those were, so I went for the Creme Brulee. It was torched and I honestly thought it tasted disgusting… Didn’t finish it, but I was full from my meal already anyways. We even packed up some food for later. All in all, I wouldn’t recommend coming here. The service was decent even though we were the only diners and the man was pretty friendly. I couldn’t get over how he ripped us off on the croquettes though, but I hear this happens a lot in Europe anyways. Food was just average. We would soon find much better and cheaper food!

Pizzas L’avia – Barcelona

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There are always plenty of things to do in Barcelona, and one afternoon, we decided to visit Montjuic. Montjuic is a hill in Barcelona and very close to the city center. In fact, you can hike up to it just by walking up from Plaza Espanya. From the Palau Nacional, which houses the Museum of National Art of Catalunya, this is the beautiful view you get of the city. If you continue up the hill, or choose to take the bus, you will reach the top of Montjuic where you will find a fortress.

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After our mini hike, U took us to Pizzas L’avia. It’s in the El Ravel neighbourhood, which is sometimes known to be a little dangerous at night. Her brother said that the little shop is great for cheap local food, so we took the adventure to check it out before it got dark. The place doesn’t look the most amazing on the outside, but the food is great and cheap!

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I love how they actually make their paella in a giant pan. It was the first time I actually saw such a big paella pan in person.

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They also have a bunch of other dishes and desserts. Yes, the dishes are not exactly fresh, since they are pre- made, but freshness wasn’t really a big factor in making these dishes delicious.

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They are famous for their Empanadas. We chose the Honey Empanada and Spinach Empanada. They were warmed up in their oven and filled generously. A great value for only around 1,30 euros each!

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I guess someone also got a Salad… Typical salad, nothing difficult in making this one.

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We got the Prosciutto and Cheese Pizza. Their pizzas are quite interesting. They don’t really dig a hole in the middle to put the fillings in. Instead, they just place the toppings right on top, so you don’t exactly get a crust on the side. The pizza was really delicious though! Extremely fluffy and although the ingredients are basic, they really work well together.

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We also got two dishes of the Paella. It’s not the best paella I’ve had, but it tasted really local and I liked how it wasn’t too saucy. The rice was a little overcooked, but I actually liked it since I find that some of the other restaurants cook it too al dente. There was an abundant of seafood such as shrimp and mussels in it.

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U said that the Bacalao here is amazing. It’s a very common dish for the Spanish, and it’s basically cod fish topped with lots of tomato sauce. This one also had eggplants and other vegetables. I found the sauce to be very similar to a ratatouille. I really enjoyed this as the sauce was actually sort of sweet!

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Lastly, we had another fish dish, and I actually found this very similar to the Bacalao, but with less sauce. I couldn’t really tell the difference, other than the fact that it was more deep fried. Tasted like cod to me too…

Overall, Pizzas L’avia is a great place to check out if you want to try some local food and at a cheap price. You can also get some of the items to go.