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Part 1: Voy a Marrakech, Days 1 – 3

Where I eat my weight in bread baps in Marrakech, try not to be ripped off in Essaouira and get attacked with a flip flop.

My year in Madrid is finally coming to an end and it’s been an interesting experience. I’ve eaten far too many free bowls of crisps and clara con limóns (a better sounding version of a shandy), but Madrid doesn’t feel like my home. So before saying adios to this bizarre country, I’m venturing overseas in search of vegetarian tagines and embroidered carpets.

An unbelievable experience in the Sahara desert whilst travelling Morocco.

I absolutely looked the part when trekking the desert, especially when riding a camel.

Day 1

After a majorly rocky start to the 2 week excursion to Morocco, I’m finally sipping overpriced coffee and tucking into sugary croissants in Madrid’s Terminal 1. I think I’ve managed to wire all my money home via TransferWise (I’ll let you know how I get on as I know how difficult getting money out of a country is), but be forewarned of Spanish banking! Edit: all my money is safe and sound in England.

So far I’m planning on spending 3 days in Marrakech plus a day trip to Essaouira, a tranquil coastal town; a 3 day excursion to the High and Middle Atlas Mountains and Sahara; 2 days in Fez plus a day trip to Chefchaouen, the entirely pastel blue town, and maybe a couple of extra days in the mountains or surrounding areas if time permits. I’m on a budget of 600€ so we’ll see how this goes down…

Later

Our hostel, Riad Itry, seems to be a really nice and chilled place. It’s incredibly basic – I booked a private room for two and the room only consisted of a bed, electric fan and shelves. There’s also a shared bathroom with only a toilet and shower area, but it did the job for 11 per-person, per-night. The Riad is in a sea of colourful (and slightly smelly) market stalls, it’s literally a labyrinth! At first, I was taken aback when the driver pulled over and told us a man was meeting us from the hostel. We were led through tiny alleyways and down hidden corridors. It wasn’t what I’d expected but after spending an afternoon walking around, it’s a nice area if you have your wits about you, i.e. Say no to anyone who offers you anything, don’t use selfie sticks with iPads on the end… The usuals.

Check out Koutoubia Mosque if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Marrakech, Morocco.

Koutoubia Mosque is the perfect place to escape the traffic fumes.

We walked down to Koutoubia Mosque and through to Jemaa el-Fnaa square in the scorching heat. Literally, I felt like my skin was melting off my face. Jema el-Fnaa was full of horse and carts which you could smell from a mile off, tourists, locals, and makeshift stalls selling handmade trinkets and stained-glass lamps. We set up camp in a slightly touristy but, more importantly, shaded restaurant and wolfed down a decent vegetarian couscous for 45MAD each.

The chaos @ Jema el-Fnaa night market in Marrakech.

Soak in the chaos @ Jema el-Fnaa night market from 5pm – midnight.

In the evening, we braved the evening madness and made our way back to Jema el-Fnaa for the night market. The market was completely barmy – huge crowds of people eating local dishes, monkeys wearing make up and bohemian buskers. At food stall no.1 we had a vegetable tagine and bread with tomato salsa (a spicy, sweet and vinegary dipping sauce) each for 70MAD, including bottles of water. The bread and sousse were just given to us, a norm in Marrakech, so be careful with what you eat. Usually if you don’t eat it, you won’t get charged. It’s basically a social experiment to see what you do with food you haven’t ordered… Also, you will get approached by a lot of very confident and direct stall vendors. They’ll beckon you over, shout at you and follow you but they’ll give up when they see another foreigner. I say avoid eye contact and walk like you do after you’ve fallen over in public.

Day 2

My thoughts for the morning:”why isn’t there any loo roll?!”, “where can I grab a coffee?” and “I could murder a pastry.”

Later

To fulfil said pastry craving, we headed to a local supermarket outside Bab Doukkala to get breakfast and lunch to save the pennies (it’s 7MAD for a 5-pack of bread rolls and 9,60MAD for Laughing Cow cheese if you’re wondering). After a wander and trying to spot the direction other tourists were walking in, we visited the Jardin Majorelle, i.e. the Yves Saint Laurent gardens. It was 70MAD entry for only the gardens, but I loved being away from suffocating traffic fumes and raucous noise. After a walk around and the usual posed photos for the fam, we went back into the old city in an attempt to find the Palais Badi.

Travelling Marrakech, Morocco.

The Yves Saint Laurent gardens in all their preened glory.

The Palais Badi is located south of the old city and the area was absolutely mad. The roads are pretty narrow but carry the same heavy traffic as a motorway. Because there are so many motorbikes, trucks and cars, the traffic fumes are very overpowering. When we managed to weave through traffic and not to get run over, we found the Palais down another dusty road and it looked really serene with many green spaces.

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As we want to go to Essaouira and get away from the city, we booked bus tickets today for tomorrow morning with Supratours at 80MAD per-person. The journey takes about 3 hours, more or less, so we’re leaving early, early morning. Apparently the difference between Supratours and other Marrakech bus companies is that their buses drop you off inside the city, not outside. Food for thought if you book a trip.

We had dinner at food stall no.22 at Jema el-Fnaa. This time round the food stall vendors were pretty hilarious, e.g. “All shit here’s the same, try our shit!” I appreciated the marketing technique and, yes, the majority of stalls had a similar menu.

Thinking we were being cunning by not eating the olives we hadn’t ordered, we didn’t consider being overcharged for soft drinks. Another tip: make sure you specify between small and large drinks to avoid being stung by costs! We ended up paying 95MAD (plus 5MAD tip) for two vegetable couscous, 2 bread rolls with tomato salsa and 2 large soft drinks. Not too bad but we were a little taken aback with the bill.

Vegetable couscous and bread overdose in Marrakech.

The usual dinner of vegetable couscous with spicy, sweet and sugary tomato dip and the compulsory bread bap.

Also, great anecdote from the day: child shouts at boyfriend to give him money, boyfriend refuses, child gets angry, flip flop is thrown at boyfriend by child. Never anger a Moroccan kid.

Day 3

After an early wake up and a 25 – 30 minute walk to the train station, I finally had my first cup of coffee in Morocco. Oh to feel human again!

Our bus to Essaouira arrived in time and took about 3 hours the scenery enroute was pretty desolate with a lot of empty farming grounds and abandoned buildings. Someone on the bus obviously found inspiration in said landscape as they didn’t stop taking photos for 3o minutes. I knew this because their camera sound was on super loud #publictransportfauxpas.

The coastal town itself was more what I’d envisaged for Marrakech;  moorish inspired architecture with cobbled streets weaving around the city. What was really interesting was the contrast between tourist-friendly Essaouira and local Essaouira. By tourist friendly I mean a very clean and international language friendly area, with organic shops and quirky cafes. Local Essaouira, just an archway away, was a chaotic street market filled with locals making dealings or grabbing ingredients. If you follow streets around, you’ll also find aged, derelict buildings and rubble strewn across the ground. You can really see where money’s been invested  for tourism.

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The beach itself stretches quite a way, with extreme sports on one side and families paddling about on another. You can also hop on a camel and cruise around the beach if you’ve always wanted to ride one. One thing that caught me by surprise was just how windy it was. It was like I was walking, more lurching, through a wind tunnel. The sun was deceivingly really strong so you were in that Catch 22 of being freezing but probably burning all flesh exposed (I have a bright red nose and neck as a result. It’s a super great look).

Taking a walk along Essaouira's coastline in Morocco.

It looks deceivingly still, but this photo doesn’t capture the strength of the wind that literally deafens you.

As always, these areas are a bit of a tourist trap. We ended up paying 120MAD for a lunch of vegetable tagine – again – with some fresh orange juice, a coca cola plus tip. With hindsight, I wish we’d gone to a supermarket in Marrakech and brought a beach picnic instead… Learn from my mistakes, fellow budget travellers.

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I wouldn’t say Essaouira is the most beautiful seaside town I’ve ever visited, but when compared to Marrakech you can see its appeal. It’s quiet, chilled (temperature and people wise) and there’re no toxic fumes or pollution in the air. I suggest going for a day trip if you’re Marrakech-ed out.

Riad Itry pros

– You’re right amongst all in the medina.

– There’s enough space in the private rooms.

– It’s inexpensive, more or less.

– It’s easy to book rooms for extra nights in person.

– There’s a kitchen if you want to unleash your cooking skills.

– You’re in walking distance of coach and train stations as well as supermarkets.

– It seems like a safe area but it can be intimidating when you first arrive.

Riad Itry cons

– There isn’t a free breakfast which most hostels include.

– The roof terrace is more an open concrete space with a couple of chairs.

– You’re more than a walk away from the main happenings, such as Jema el-Fnaa, and you’re told to walk along the smelly and congested motorways.

 

Have you ever travelled Marrakech? What did you think? Was it exactly what you envisaged or completely different? Lemme know your thoughts!

Grab A Cuppa Joe @ Monkee Koffee

What comes with the extreme heat is the subsequent afternoon slump. For me, nothing beats a strong espresso and extensive cake selection when I’m hangry. Read on for my Monkee Koffee experience!

As you probably can tell just by my photos, I love cake. If baked goods didn’t make you fat – I’m talking about excessive consumption – and affect your health, I’d be rolling around in chocolate cake every day. To deal with this, I treat myself a lot in many of the fine cafes that are found in Madrid. Monkee Koffee is another great find for you fellow coffee and cake addicts. 

Monkee Koffee, a great  place to grab a coffee.

Cake life is a difficult life.

What really makes Monkee Koffee special is its ethos – it seems to be pretty environmentally aware for a little cafe. The cafe leaves its used coffee granules outside so passers-by can grab a handful for their plants. So if you have a penchant for your garden, here’s a great place to stock up on plant food too!

Anyway, to the cakes. In all honesty, I’m pretty bad at trying different desserts if I know a place serves my favourite. Such #lifeproblems. The brownie was nice – a bit dry and not heated through (everyone knows a brownie should be hot and squidgy). Weirdly we even spoke to the boss and he admitted that the brownie wasn’t the best brownie. He said he’d work on it…   However, my partner in cake said the tarta de zanahoria and cheese cake are darn tasty. I think I made a food error, but I still enjoyed the brownie! Cake prices are fair, between 3 – 4€ so you’re not forking out a lot for your sugar fix. You get a decent portion so I think you’re getting your money’s worth here!
If you like your food served on chopping boards Jamie Oliver style, then you’ll appreciate the kitsch of Monkee Koffee. It’s also self-serving so any worry about tip percentage is decided. I like how the chalk blackboard is huge with the drinks, food and even wifi information so you’re not looking around haphazardly. There’s plenty of space and chairs so you’re bound to get a seat any time you drop by, or you can prop yourself on the surrounding bar stools.

Monkee Koffee is a quirky stop if you’re in the Islas Filipinas area – the coffees’ tasty and the atmosphere’s quite cosy. I don’t know this area particularly well so it’s often my go-to if I need to feel human again! There’s also the running track and park nearby if you want to walk off your cake baby.

On my next visit, I’d order the fruit tarts and fruit-based cakes as they look really good. Maybe Monkee Koffee gave me the sign to expand my dessert horizons…

Address: Calle Vallehermoso, 112.

Opening times: Mon – Fri 9am – 8.30pm, weekend 10am – 9pm.

Let’s Taco ‘Bout La Tierra

It’s only appropriate that a Mexican food experience should be introduced with an arguably well-placed Mexican pun. If, like me, you’re a fan of tasty quick eats, then you’re in for a guacamole-covered burrito and nacho feast at La Tierra

From first impressions, I thought La Tierra was a students’ hub which brought back terrible memories of 100 Montaditos (listen to my advice and never ever go), but by majority it’s a vibrant young person’s hang out. With it’s create-your-own-order set up and eclectic craft/imported beer cooler, I’d definitely recommend this place as a mid-week treat to dispel the working blues.

The Vege Super Picante Burrito that literally melted my face off.

The Super Picante Veggie Burrito that literally melted my face off.

Served American diner-style in a plastic woven basket, this hefty vegetarian burrito will set you back 4.95€ and includes roasted vegetables, black beans, white rice, sour cream, guacamole and a smothering of super spicy hot sauce. If you’re wanting a meatier option (I was having a meat-free Thursday), La Tierra offers chicken, beef and pork – or carnitas – for 5.95€. I’ve tried the meat options and would suggest ordering the carnitas burrito which is basically succulent pulled pork in a rich gravy. There is a price set back with ordering meat: you have to pay extra for guacamole if you want it, about 1.50€ or so. If you order the veggie option however, you get all the trimmings free which is probably their way of praising you for your good, animal welfare deeds.

You can get all the fully loaded toppings on a mountain of nachos (pretty delicious and perfect for sharing), in tacos or ‘naked’, without any base with varying prices. As you’ll obviously be wanting a litre of Margarita to wash down your spicy wrap, you can drop by during Happy Hour, between 4pm – 7.30pm and 11.30pm until closing at 12.30am, and get a jug for 9.95€. Add nachos and it’s 14.95€.

La Tierra has a nice variety of hot sauces which are surprisingly hot. Seems odd but in Spain it’s pretty hard to come by spicy food that is actually spicy. The super picante sauce has been hit-and-miss on the spicy barometer; one time it was hot but not burning hot, but other times it’s been so hot that I’ve had to down my Paulaner to hold back the tears. I love spicy food, but be careful with what sauce you order. Next time I’ll order the medio picante to not make a choking spectacle of myself in public and to enjoy my burrito a little more.

All-in-all, paying too much for a bad burrito is nacho problem here (it had to be done, I apologise).

Where is your Mexican food go-to? More importantly, what are your favourite Mexican word plays?

Address: Calle de Guzmán El Bueno 52, 28015 OR Calle de Sagasta 30, 28004 OR Calle de General Yagüe 12, 28020. Madrid.

Opening Times: Mon – Thurs and Sun 12pm – 12.30pm; Fri – Sat 12pm – 1.30am.

The Place To Cake

If, like me, you’re suspicious of English-named establishments in foreign countries, don’t let The Place deter you. With its classy and non-aggressively hipster graffiti décor, this cafe over the road from the well-trodden Malasaña is a great little cafe. From my research, The Place is a health geek’s dream with its vegan salads and with/without bread vegetable-laden mains, just in case you’re conscious about your white-carb intake. If it’s a cheat day, their house desserts are highly reviewed and the coffee packs a punch.

There are tapas tasters, with vegetarian and  “outstanding” markers at the side of certain dishes to direct your choice, and gourmet sarnies with raciones options.  If that isn’t enough to tickle interest, The Place also offers a Saturday and Sunday brunch menu which includes 2 breakfast plates with a side salad or tabbouleh, hot drinks and a dessert, all for 17.50€. From reading the menu, I’d prefer to check out The Little Big Cafe for its American diner-inspired brunch menu – all I have to say is FRENCH TOAST WITH MAPLE BACON – rather than have an assortment of pastries with cheese, jam and Italian ham. Then again, I’m a tubs so I could be mistaken.

Me being me, I ordered Brownie The Place (a slightly steep 5€) and a café solo (1.50€), disregarding the many five-a-days I could’ve been eating. There were other house desserts such as an artisan cheesecake and a sponge cake with cocoa and honey, but a chocolate brownie is and always will be my dulce of choice.

Brownie The Place in all its chocolate covered glory.

The brownie was sickeningly tasty, which is always a good thing. It wasn’t warmed through but it still had a gooey centre, and was accompanied by a mountain of squirty cream (I’d have preferred vanilla ice cream but beggars can’t be choosers) and a generous dousing of chocolate syrup. All-in-all, it’s a pretty good brownie-tart hybrid but I think La Musa‘s chocolate brownie slab with salted caramel and ice cream is a difficult contender to beat. The Place, however, is up there with my favourite cafes for satisfying cake cravings and an espresso that slaps you round the face. As there’s such a variation in the mains and savoury section, I think The Place is more of a lunch stopover than a sugar-craving killer. I saw a lot of locals ordering a salad with a couple of gin and tonics so perhaps I missed the main selling point.

Alternatively, the cafe is a comfortable spot to work quietly for an indefinite amount of time with free wifi, especially when there’s a Madrileño torrential downpour happening outside.  

Cute crockery for a café solo.

The next time I visit The Place, I’d like to try the healthier options – the salads were huge and looked darn tasty – and/or the artisan cheesecake.

…OK, I’d probably only order the cheesecake and a hefty gin and tonic, but a girl can dream. Nevertheless, The Place is a safe bet for sandwiches and salads if you’re wanting something on the healthy side with a strong cocktail for afters.

Want to give me some food pointers? Head on over to my Madrileño To-Food List and leave a comment!

Address: Calle Noviciado 16, 28015. Madrid.

Opening Times: Tues – Thurs 10am – 12am, Sat 11am – 2.30am and Sun 11.30am – 10pm.

Eat My (Bolero) Meatballs

“EAT MY BALLS” slaps you in the face when you near the vibrantly advertised diner. Bolero‘s culinary muse is simply the humble meatball, hence the bemusing slogan. Oddly, I came across Bolero’s when I was searching for healthy luncheon options in Madrid’s heart (the vegan meatballs are apparently a healthy alternative to the beef, but what kind of meat lover would choose that?).

From my madrileño food escapades, I’ve very rarely found an eatery that hones in on perfecting one type of dish. As I’m frustratingly an indecisive eater, I seek solace in having as little choice as possible; too much on the menu results in me umming and ahhing for a stressful amount of time, especially if I’m not eating alone. Bolero has three meat variations and a veggie option, which greatly offsets the pressure of choosing a meatball.

The Albóndigas Orientales

The mouth-watering Albóndigas Orientales. Many peanuts.

As I’ve been to Bolero’s a fair few times and thought to try something different from my usual order, I tried out the Asian inspired Albóndigas Orientales – ground pork with coriander and ginger in a coconut milk and peanut sauce. The heat from the chilli complemented the strong and sticky peanut sauce with the herby pork balls, especially with freshly chopped coriander sprinkled on top to cut through the richness. I really liked this sub and in no way was it a food regret (this is a real thing and exists in my world).

The Albóndigas de la Abuela

Eye-popping colours in the Albóndigas de la Abuela. So much goodness in a sub.

Personally, the winning sub has to be the Albóndigas de la Abuela, consisting of minced beef, garlic and thyme meatballs in a seasoned herb and tomato sauce on a toasted bap with melted cheese. You can’t beat this more refined and delicious version of Subway’s meatball marinara; it’s a classic mixture of meat, tomato and cheese. The tomato sauce is tangy without being overly acidic, whilst the beef balls haven’t been tampered with and are seasoned simply with some thyme running through the mixture. I always get this sub and I think it’s a great alternative to the ardently appreciated hamburger which is everywhere in Madrid.

You can order your meatballs in a large or small portion on either bread or with a side dish of rice or potatoes. After living in China and growing up in’t North, I haven’t tried the sides for obvious reasons, but they seemed to look good, although quite basic.

For a large sub and doble beer you’ll spend around 10€, which is a steal for city central food prices, even for further afield. The Bolero’s cooks use good quality beef, pork and chicken meat for their albóndigas, especially for Spain, and the sub will even tie over those with a bottomless pit for a stomach. If, like me, you have a diabolical sweet tooth, there’s a raved about Oreo Brownie that I have yet to sample, but I’m sure I will in due course.

Spot the slogan.

To satisfy a meaty sandwich craving, Bolero Meatballs is the best food stopover I’ve found thus far in Madrid. Mixed with the hipster décor and great customer service, it’s no wonder why it’s popular with foodies alike. Check. It. Out.

What’s your favourite eatery? Why has it made a lasting memory in your head and stomach?

If you like Bolero Meatballs, follow my food chow downs via My Madrileño To-Food List!

Address: Calle de las Conchas, 4, 28013. Madrid.

Opening Times: Tues – Sun 1.30pm – 4.30pm, 8pm – 11.30pm.

Find Your Inner-Lady @ Mama Frambroise

If three foods were to sum me up as an individual, they would be chocolate cake, burger and guacamole. The majority of my being consists of cake – more chocolate brownie at the moment – and a strong coffee, which led me to Mama Framboise, the home of the elegant and beautiful treats.

As you’ve probably suspected from the name and featured image above, Mama Framboise is a Parisian style patisserie-come-cake haven in the centre of Chueca barrio. The unassuming exterior belies the large quantity of delicious and beautifully presented desserts within. What makes Framboise different to other cakeries is that the space is well utilised: the cafe is basically a hall and has plenty of space for large tables and comfortable seating. There are actual, proper (and may I say very kitschy) chairs and not stools or tiny benches without cushions or backs.

So much space for activities!

As I am a chocolate fiend, I ordered the fancy looking Tartaleta de Chocolate – a dark chocolate profiterole sitting atop a bed of chocolate pastry, almond praline and crumbed chocolate biscuit. It was ridiculously delicious and sickeningly rich, in a good way. My mother, who is equally cake-mad, had the Millefeuille – caramelised puff pastry layered with almond praline, vanilla and Bourbon mousse, caramel, and vanilla whipped cream – which she said was absolutely amazing. Mama Framboise is not for the faint-hearted dessert lover.

Tartaleta de Chocolate and Millefeuille with a cappuccino and Earl Grey tea.

The cakes are of an exceedingly high quality and, I think, are pretty cheap for the individual portions. The Millefeuille and Tartaleta de Chocolate are a measly 3.70€ each, and if you’re feeling really decadent, you could buy the full cake version of the Tartaleta for 19.50€. Framboise also has a set menu of a starter and main dish for 11.20/15.24€ with a soft drink, beer or glass of wine, but I was more mesmerised by the cakes than the savoury food.

The Tartaleta de Chocolate up close.

Mama Framboise is the perfect cafe for a cake-and-coffee refuel after trekking the cobbled streets and boutiques of Chueca. It has free WiFi for you to plan your next move as well as reading material to practice your Spanish comprehension. All-in-all, Mama Frambroise sells the best cake I’ve eaten in Madrid so far, especially for price and quality, and is a stylish, mother-friendly zone.

Want to give me more recommendations? Of course you do! Check out my Madrileño To-Food List for my food wishes in Madrid.

Address: Calle de Fernando VI 23, 28004. Madrid.

Opening Times: Mon – Fri 9am – 9pm, Sat – Sun 10am – 9pm.

#SemanaSanta in Lisbon, Portugal.

Portugal has, so far, been my absolute saviour for cheap and cheerful holidays abroad during peak times of travel. This Semana Santa, also known as Easter to us English folk, is a week of celebrating Jesus’ flamboyant life by dressing in black robes whilst dragging crucifixes through the streets. As opportunities to venture abroad are few in my current work schedule, I used this time off to walk (more hike) around Lisbon and get a fix of the Portuguese language that I’m obsessed about.

I have to say, Lisbon impressed me with the ridiculous amount of independent food holes and markets that celebrated fresh seafood and, more importantly, pretty delicious desserts, both international and traditional.

One of the tourist things to do in Lisbon is eat the traditional Portuguese egg tarts (or pastel de nata) from Pastéis de Belém, located near Jéronimos Monastery and next to Starbuck’s. After living in Guangzhou, where Portuguese egg tarts were weirdly a popular dessert, I was interested to know why such a tart cracked China where Google couldn’t.

Cinnamon and icing sugar-covered pastel de nata.

Basically, it’s pretty darn delicious and I could’ve eaten another one easily (OK, more five). The base of the pastry wasn’t how I thought it would be; it was more crispy rather than moist (can you tell I watched The Great British Bake Off?) and the egg custard wasn’t overly sweet, more rich, which was well complemented by the little packets of cinnamon and icing sugar that came with the tarts. Even though queues were forming outside of the patisserie, we were seen to quickly, which is often a rarity when going to tourist hot spots.

The Pastéis de Belém tarts being wonderfully modelled.

On another note, I’m a fool for food markets. I find that it’s the best place to sample all the specialities of the country I’m residing in or visiting. An absolute winner is Time Out’s Mercado da Ribeira, a foodie’s heaven, where you’ll find Michelin star chefs’ food vendors under one, alternatively furnished roof. After traipsing through Tripadvisor and Spottedbylocals, I found that tasting all the top, cheap eat restaurants would be a nightmare (such life problems, I know), but this market was the solution. 

There is a canteen style of food service, which I quite liked, where you have to wait for your meal to be prepared and you chow down on long benches that take up the entirety of the hall. There are cider, beer and soft drink stations dotted around the venue, including a Somersby Cider station where the cider, dangerously, tastes like fresh apple juice. You can also buy assorted sweets and gourmet chocolates, as well as fresh produce in the adjoining hall to support local businesses.

What makes this foodie hangout so tourist friendly is that it’s open every day at reasonable hours (a God send on Sundays), you can sample a multitude of different cuisines, and mix ‘n’ match your meal.

“How to choose?!” @ Mercado da Ribeira

From my own personal research, many reviewers were impressed by the quality of bacalao (dried and salted cod) sold at the Japanese-inspired Sea Me.  As I’m a sucker for sashimi and all things sushi, I wanted to try their version of a seared bacalao filet made sushi-style for my starter. I ordered the sardine and bacalao sushi share plate that I thought was 5.90€ altogether. I, however, was gravely mistaken and realised that I had to pay 11.80€ for four pieces of sushi, a far cry from the £6 I’d spend in China for 6 plates of freshly made sushi… Anyway, after handing over my pennies, the fish was wonderfully cooked and I oddly liked the fish and almond combo, but I probably wouldn’t order it again, maybe veering towards the salmon salad or bacalao tart.

(Arguably overpriced) bacalao and sardine sushi @ Sea Me

To fulfil my unwavering craving for beef burgers, I tried Honorato’s artisan bacon cheese burger with garlic mayonnaise and chips. The humongous patty was cooked rare with ‘proper’ chips – those shredded potato-like chips seem to be popular in Portugal – for a decently priced 10€. I know beef burgers aren’t the food of refined dining, but it’s hard not to love a good one, especially when it’s covered in bacon.

Burger challenge @ Honorato’s

If you’re debating on whether to visit Lisbon, I highly recommend it as a city getaway. The historic architecture and hidden viewpoints around the city are lovely to walk around on a sunny afternoon, especially if you catch the sunset over Ponte 25 de Abril (the huge engineering feat that connects Lisbon to Almada) and São Jorge castle. As you can see, it’s well-equipped with an endless reel of modern and traditional eateries for all types of food-lovers. Fortunately, Lisbon’s ridiculously hilly landscape ensures that you’ll fit into your skinny jeans at the end of the holiday.

If you’ve been to Lisbon, where did you go? What do you think? Share your experiences!

Addresses: 

Pastéis de Belém, Rua Belém 84-92. Lisboa, Portugal.

Open every day during the summer schedule from 8am – midnight.

Mercado da Ribeira, Avenida 24 de Julho 50. Lisboa, Portugal.

Open from 10 am – midnight Sun – Wed and 10am – 2am Thurs – Sat.