8 Things You Shouldn’t Do While in Portugal

From using Spanish incorrectly, traveling through a crowded tram in Lisbon or showing bad behavior at a Fado show, here are some things you should not do during your visit to Lisbon or Portugal.

By Arik Zara

Don’t Order Paella

If you see a restaurant in Portugal displaying colorful pictures of a seafood dish and calling it “paella”, you should hesitate, even if you are hungry. The paella is Spanish and originated in Valencia. If a Portuguese restaurant chose the Spanish name paella, it might be a sign that its target audience is tourists, who know the famous paella and know less about the Portuguese seafood dish.

The traditional dish of Portuguese cuisine is called Arroz de Marisco. It is a rice and seafood dish, combining mussels, shrimp, prawns, oysters, lobster, fish and more seafood to the best of the chef’s creativity. In Lisbon I recommend the Oro de Maricheko of the UMA Restaurant. They serve a delicious pot to the center of the table and each diner dips in a spoon and serves it to his plate.

Don’t Wear High Heels

The Portuguese sidewalks (Calçada Portuguesa) are beautiful and are part of the country’s heritage and identity. These sidewalks, which adorn a large part of the cities, are handmade from small flat stones of different types, in black and white. The stones are arranged in a way that creates a pattern or picture and results in a similar mosaic. The most beautiful mosaics can be found in city squares.

Despite, or perhaps because of their beauty, the local pavements are considered dangerous. Lisbon is not a place for pointed heels. The heels come into the spaces between the curbstones and the hard walk. It is best to leave the heel shoes at home. Danger is also caused by sidewalks with loose stones. Especially the pavements become dangerous when it rains, so the stones become a smooth surface that causes slips and falls.

Don’t Go up to Tram 28 in Lisbon with the Wallet in your Back Pocket

Tram 28 is Lisbon’s famous tramcar. This yellow tram travels through the narrow alleys of the city and passes many of its important tourist sites. The queue for the tram, especially during the tourist season, is long, very long. If you were able to enter, you’d feel inside a box of sardines. The pickpockets also know about it and the tram is notorious for purses and cell phones that disappear. Be careful.

טראם 28, ליסבון
some rights reserved Alonso Javier Torres

Don’t Say “Gracias”

“Obrigado” (boys) and “obrigada” (girls), this  is the way to say “thanks” in Portuguese. Someone who speaks Spanish may be able to understand more or less what is happening, but do not assume that the Portuguese understand Spanish. Portuguese, and Spanish, although they are “sister languages” related to each other, differ in many details of grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. Spanish in Spain, Portuguese in Portugal.

Don’t Count Calories

Portuguese food is tasty, and fattening. A good example of this is the Pastel de Nata, a sweet pastry which is a delicacy, one of Portugal’s most famous symbols. This is an egg tart cake, golden and sweet crisp, filled with custard cream, decorated with white sugar powder and cinnamon. Daily pampering of coffee and pattel is a popular thing for the locals and it is located in every corner and cafe in the country. The Pastel de Nata is an inseparable part of the Portuguese culture and day, and like other Portuguese delicacies, it is not slim.

פסטל דה נאטה
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Don’t Miss an Opportunity to Surf

Portugal is known as a paradise for surfers. We go here all year long. The shores of the country are long and beautiful, with waves for all levels and all kinds. So, here’s a good reason to start working out at your local Beach!

Don’t Hurry

The Portuguese have their rhythm and it is pleasant and comfortable. An effective way to get Portuguese out of its calm is to speed it up. Take the time in Portugal, very slowly. Tranquilo.

Don’t Make Noise During a Fado Performance

Fado is traditional Portuguese folk music, melancholic by nature. The Fado houses of Portugal, a kind of taverns that combine dinner with a performance of a live fado, enable touching the heart of Portuguese culture, Fado is Portugal, and Portugal is Fado.

A well-known Portuguese saying says: Silêncio que se vai cantar o fado. And in English: “Quiet, because we start singing Fado!” The Fado House is not a place to dance on tables but to sit and listen with a lot of emotion. If the owner or waiter recognizes a loud speech or a ring of cutlery and plates, it may be silenced by reading Silêncio during the performance, for the first time it may be surprising or frightening, but when you know the custom and the tradition, it is even amusing.

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