Special Guest Post: Christmas in Portugal

Guest Contributor post by Stephanie Levy

Portugal is one of the most exotic and beautiful places I've visited so far on my 12 Countries in 12 Months tour.   I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Lisbon, where the bakery windows were full of yeasted cakes called "Bolo Rei" or King's Cake. This sweet treat is traditionally made to celebrate Three King's Day on January 6th.

Christmas decorations in Lisbon were rather spartan and improvised. Everyone blamed this on the "economic crisis" - although the shops and restaurants seemed to be fairly full from what I could see.

 This Santa was trying to climb up past the wrought iron balcony.

In the historic Alfama district where I stayed, Christmas decorations were especially colorful and fun!

 The main square was lit up by a nativity scene in neon.

Other streets were decorated with large colorful signs in Portuguese.

In my search for a traditional "Christmas Market," I took a day trip to the small village of Obidos, about one hour north of Lisbon. There the streets were decorated with fairy lights and Christmas trees.

There was a charming market area with bright red food stands

where I enjoyed a carefully prepared and delicious crepe.

More culinary treats were awaiting me in Obidos, like these fresh, hot roasted chestnuts

and one of the richest cups of hot cocoa I have ever tasted. Obidos is famous for its chocolate,

and the tiny cobblestone streets were lined with small stands selling cherry liqueur in tiny chocolate cups.

The friendly locals were ready to pose for photos and make a toast in Portuguese.

In the evening, the village square was lit up by a life size nativity scene

and even the local olive trees were decorated with lights.

Portugal has such special atmosphere, like nowhere else I have ever been. It was difficult to leave, but I'm sure I'll be back again. I hope you enjoyed our visit to lovely Portugal during this holiday season.

Tomorrow: join me for a tour of my neighborhood Christmas market in Munich, Germany!


Stephanie Levy is an artist and illustrator originally from Memphis, Tennessee, USA, now based in Munich, Germany. She studied art at the University of Tennesee in Knoxville, and the University of the Arts in Berlin, Germany. In January 2012, she will begin the second session of her new e-course called Creative Courage. This unique online course helps creative women start fulfilling their creative dreams, and include 12 exclusive guest interviews with artists, writers, bloggers, and inspirational women from around the world. They will also be taking a special "virtual field trip" to enjoy art, culture, and design in Barcelona, Spain. To find out more click here.

Jan Halvarson


Nadia (With Glittering Eyes blog) said...

wow! Thank you for that mini vacation. Beautiful!

Merry Christmas!

Pacas said...

Hi, I'm Portuguese (from Porto) I read your lovely post about Portugal and agree with all you wrote here!
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year :)

Saskia {SaskiaLikes} said...

I spent 10 days in and around Lisbon in July and it is the most beautiful place. Totally unexpected, but completely captivating. I would love to see it at Christmas. That market in Obidos looks so festive!
Saskia x

♥ Nia said...

Exotic?! Really...Portugal?! :)
Bolo Rei is delicious!! Did you eat a slice? It's really good!!
But I think you could find some prettier christmas decorations!! LOL We have better than that around here ;)
I'm glad to know that you had a good time here! Hope you'll be back some day soon :D
Merry Christmas!!!!

Gwen @ Saturdays with Maggy said...

cherry liquor in chocolate cups? That sounds incredible! Lovely photos.

Raquel said...

wow, i´m from portugal and i have a shop in Obidos!! so nice to see this pictures in here!!! :)

Ana said...

Wellcome to Lisbon, Portugal. I'm glad you had a good time! This year Christmas lights were few because of the economy (the city Mayor decided not to put any lights on thought some of us ended up lighting the city up a little bit). You should come in the Summer and enjoy the beaches as well ;)!

stephanie levy said...

Thank you for the nice comments, and I LOVE Portugal! Beautiful, friendly people and a gorgeous country. I can't wait until my next visit - such a special place!


Zane said...

love the photos

RoxoVox said...

It was so nice to see the pictures. I'm portuguese and was pleasantly surprised to see something about Lisbon in the Christmas time. Love it!

twirlingbetty said...

Beautiful post - loved it. Made me very nostalgic for Obidos.