What’s the best part of visiting Portugal in the off-season? Well, when we did a tour of the famous Douro Valley, we had nearly the entire area to ourselves. This well-known wine countryside is usually packed during the summer, so it was nice to not be bombarded with tourists as we visited the various vineyards. It’s located in the North of Portugal and makes for a nice wine-tasting trip from Porto.
During my family’s trip to Portugal, we took a 3-hour train ride to Porto, the region which actually gave the name to “Portugal”. The people of Porto are referred to as “Tripeiros”, which translates to “tripe-eaters”. It may sound insulting, but it’s actually a name taken to with pride. Back in the 15th-century when the Portuguese set out to conquer other lands, food was reserved for the army and explorers. All that was left behind was tripe and other leftovers, as the Portuguese proudly sacrificed the good food for those fighting for their country.
What can I say about Portuguese food? Lots of seafood, custard pastries, and custard pastries. Okay, I’m a little obsessed with the pastel de nata, the egg tarts pictured above that are famous in Portugal. They’re similar to Chinese egg custard tarts, but have more flavor, crispier shells, and there’s cinnamon sprinkled on top. They’re delicious, but you can’t really eat more than 2 in one sitting (except my friend Julia who apparently ate 6 because they were so good!)