this is the archive for the ‘in portugal’ category:

dom rodrigo

yesterday at a restaurant over lunch, a british lady sitting with a group of friends on the table next to ours asked the waitress for a dessert recommendation, “something typical!“, she said. the waitress pointed to one of the few items on the menu that didn’t have a photo and said “try this — you’re going to like it. if you don’t, you don’t have to pay!“. she laughed and ordered it.

while we waited for our food to show up, i wondered what she had recommended… and then when she came over carrying a mysterious tinfoil pyramid, i knew she’d made a good choice. the group of friends ooooh’d and aaah’d at the contraption while she twisted and unwrapped the surprise package until an unappetising “nest” emerged. urged by the waitress, she hesitantly scooped a bit onto her fork… and then proceeded to gobble the whole thing in a flash! :)

dom rodrigo

dom rodrigo is a traditional sweet from the south of portugal, consisting of (what else!) egg yolks and sugar, sprinkled with a bit of almond. the yolks are turned into angel hair, delicate golden strands drenched in a syrupy concoction of almond and more yolks.

here’s the boy opening his:

it looks like a mess and would probably be a hard sell were it merely scooped onto a plate, but the fanciness of the package gives an almost dignified air to the whole thing.

not that it matters how it looks because the taste of it… goodness. those gooey strands are the thing of dreams! they melt in your mouth and leave nothing behind but sweetness, the faintest hint of cinnamon, and a crave for the next hit.

dom rodrigo

a couple of scoops later and it feels like it’s over before it even started. soon enough you’ll find yourself trying not to lick the paper!

walking on history, XI: a really old tree

when i started this walking on history series, i was inspired by all the sidewalk memorials we stumbled upon in berlin. but what about other kinds of history… like natural history?

there’s this olive tree a couple of towns over, in the middle of a touristic resort by the ria formosa. it’s huge and gnarly and falling apart a bit, the trunk wide and open enough to fit someone inside. and it’s also mind-blowing…

…because it’s one of the oldest trees in the world, with over 2200 years old. just let that sink in for a minute.

this tree was here before the visigoths invaded the peninsula from the north, before the moors took their place from the south, before the christians kicked them out. when portugal officially came to existence in the 12th century, this tree was already a thousand years old, bearing fruit and witness to it all. it “saw” the first sailors leaving towards the unknown a few centuries later, saw the empire rise and fall… and these days, it mostly sees tourists and hears their children’s laughter, splashing in the nearby pool.

it’s still here after all these years, like it’s always been, stretching our perspective of time and making us feel tiny in comparison. a few years ago, we planted a small olive tree on our backyard and now i wonder how long (hundreds of years? thousands?) it’ll live and what things it’ll see. i guess we’ll never know… and i’m ok with that. :)

1000 days

a couple of weeks ago, we passed the “1000 days in algarve” milestone, and i stopped to think about it for a bit. here are some scattered thoughts.

reverse culture shock was quite acute in the first year. frustrations ran high because of the house situation, but not just that. being used to the german black & white culture, coming back to flexibly gray portugal felt like a shock. almost 10 years after leaving, we were lost in trying to deal with a grown-up world whose rules we had not really fully experienced as adults before going away.

so it took us a while to reach a sort of balance, an understanding by trial and error. and it forced us to review our ethics code, to understand what we’re ok and not ok with in this society. having different perspectives from having lived all around the world certainly helped shape our rules of conduct, and be more strict about them — even if sometimes it feels like we’re the only idiots in this country not putting all our lunches in the company expenses.

eventually, we learned to let it go and focus on other things instead.

things like the joy of being able to see family and some friends more often. the sun, kissing our tanned, salty skins. the markets, the popular fairs in the small towns, the countryside and the hills beyond the coast. the lagoon with its salt hills and flamingos. all the visitors that our extra room can accommodate. the freshly squeezed orange juice and the toasts made with alentejo bread. the local indie cinema, with its thursday sessions. the nice neighbours who bake us dessert. almond blossoms in january. and the quietness of living in a safe, calm place, at a slow rhythm and without so many distractions.

it’s been good for us, this small-town life. i look forward to the next 1000 days.

8 o’clock

we called her “8 o’clock” because that was around the time she landed on our balcony. a tiny little swallow that gingerly hopped onto paulo’s open palm and wasn’t eager to leave. she seemed okay, though perhaps a bit lost. she drank water, ate all the ants she could reach… and stubbornly refused to fly. our more knowledgeable bird-watching friends suggested we give a call to the animal rescue center in olhão, which we did and they promptly took over.

RIAS (aka the Centro de Recuperação e Investigação de Animais Selvagens) takes care of all sorts of wild animals from the southern region that were found hurt or mistreated. things like wildfires, birds falling off their nests, road accidents or the idiot that decides to keep wild animals as pets… they were happy to take care of our tiny swallow for a while, feeding it and patiently waiting for it to gain some strength to fly, before it was ready to be released. they gave us a tour of the place, and we got to peek at all the birds and other animals they were currently nursing back to health.



we were so impressed with their operation that we decided to sponsor 8 o’clock’s recovery, becoming her “godparents”. one of the perks of being an animal’s godparent at RIAS is being able to be there when it is released into the wild — so when they called us some time later and asked if we wanted to come and see it being released, we jumped at the opportunity!

8 o'clock!

it was over in the blink of an eye, but the feeling of having done something good lasted for a long time afterwards. it might be just one tiny swallow… but did you know that a single swallow can eat up to 300,000 mosquitos per year? i bet you wish you had saved a few of them too! :P

one second everyday — july 2017

apologies for the silence and mostly automatic posts… august has been brilliant so far, which leaves little time for blogging. now that i’ve managed to somehow bust my back (again!) with an acrobatic jump to the ubahn though, i’m lying in bed taking it easy… on the upside, more time for posting! :D

anyway, here’s what july looked like:

– crafty afternoons and many summer meals with friends
– hosting a biker cousin and his friends
– petsitting our neighbours’ friendly dog
– quick pitstop on our way north to explore maat with jenny
– paulo’s dad turned 80!

and then, really at the end of the month we jumped on a plane for a whole month of adventures abroad! :D