When in Lisbon – Beware of Snails and Other Tips

Cy and I waited for the “best” time to go on our honeymoon. It just so happened to be nearly 2 years after we got married, bought a house, finished some renovations…and procrastinated enough. We left for Lisbon right after I quit my last job! In one carry-on bag, we packed lightly and stored tons of iPhone notes on specific restaurants and destinations from friends and Anthony Bourdain.Judy and Cyrus in Lisbon Portugal Honeymoon OurTorontoLifeOur flight took us through Amsterdam to Lisbon. Once we arrived, the cheapest way into the city was via subway. Eventually, we emerged from Biaxa Chiado station – our first views were of the winding and hilly cobble-stoned pathways shooting off into different directions towards restaurants, shops and cafes.

The first path we took was to our apartment for the next few days. It was a cheap and more importantly clean rental from rent4days.com – it ended being a fraction of a hotel stay. Plus, it was one of those experiences where you can feel less like a tourist and more like a local.

rent apartment in lisbon ourtorontolifeFrom our notes, a new friend Ana who is native Portuguese gave us tips to avoid the tourist traps and plenty more notes on places to feast our eyes and mouths.

Tip 1: Celebrate Festas De Lisboa We came at a special time, and we didn’t even know it. June is the month where Lisbon celebrates a specific saint with lots of food, basil plants and street parties. Pop-up restaurants surprised us at the most random nooks of the city. We found an outdoor one where we shared a feast of AYCE grilled sardines, Lay’s chips and grilled meats with sangria shared with locals who cheered, sang and danced to the blasting music that included…Gangnam Style. Better music was at the grungy fado cafe that we visited really late at night.festa de lisboa pop-up restaurant ourtorontolifeDancing in Lisbon Festival Lisboa OurTorontoLifeTip 2: Eat lots of Portuguese Egg Tarts I’m not going to lie, Cy and I ate these every.single.day. We tried them at different bakeries around Lisbon and then finally we had them at the famous Pastis de Belem. It’s the place to go, and it gets busy (the secret is to be seated, it is actually huge inside). Besides egg tarts, we had sandwiches and coffee (I loved the rich and flavourful coffee in Portugal)!pateis de belem lisbon portugal ourtorontolifeTip 3: Go to Cervejaria Ramiro Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations took us here. He gorged on seafood and raved about it. Then, we took the gastronomic hint and ate up a storm of fresh crab, giant prawns, clams, garlic shrimp and a deceivingly good bifana (pork sandwich with American yellow mustard). Again, can I emphasize how affordable Portugal is?! Our entire meal with beers for Cy and a pop for me came to 77.55 Euros.ramiros fresh seafood lisbon portugal ourtorontolifeTip 4: Escape to Sintra We took a day trip outside of Lisbon to Sintra – the old getaway escape for the royal Portuguese family with lush landscapes and castles galore. We bought a pass to take in the grand Pena Palace and the hobbit-like Moorish Castle. S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G!Collage of Lisbon Portugal OurTorontoLifeI didn’t get a picture, but as we had our lunch of traditional cod and meat at Sintra there was a makeshift band of kazoos and plastic-pail drums rocking out Michael Jackson and other rock/pop anthems.Sintra Lunch Portugal OurTorontoLifeTip 5: Rest Up on a Patio or Cafe There was a lot of walking. The day we went to Castle of Sao Jorge (or, I call it the Castle of Cats) – our feet were the most sore. It helps that Lisbon is full of little cafes and patios…it’s the best to satisfy our people watching/resting our old people feet.castle of sao jorge cats lisbon ourtorontolifeSuper Bock Beer Lisbon Portgal OurTorontoLifeTip 6: Down A Ginjinha! It’s a cherry liquor, and it comes out of a hole-in-the-wall store where this grumpy and distracted man pours you a sticky drink in exchange for less than 2 Euros.aginjinha cherry liquor lisbon ourtorontolifeTip 7: Dare Yourself to Try Caracóis  I like to try all local cuisine, but this was probably my very least favourite: caracóis. Or snails. But, not the buttery escargot kind – these were the kinds of snails with eyeballs and fat bodies that you named, played with and didn’t eat too many of. Oh well, we tried and I ended up eating about 15 out of the 100 on the plate.Caracois snails Lisbon OurTorontoLifeNow that I look back at Lisbon – it really was a city while small, there were endless charms in the colourful buildings, arts, food, cats and more. Go because you’ll have the best time even if it’s a short time – you can cover a lot of ground without spending a lot.judy and cyrus in lisbon ourtorontolifeThe best part is going to be cheesy, but it was sharing it with Cy. He’s patient, and I’m less so. He’s willing to pose in fun ways for pictures so that they look less boring when we go through them in the future. He’s game to do anything, and he is really good at reading maps.

Plus, he’s good at renos, that doesn’t have to do with Lisbon but that’s next! And, maybe dreams of an Asia trip down the road.

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The Real Life Candy Crush

Candy Crush-OurTorontoLife.com

At first, I thought that it was a stupid game. It’s just another Bejeweled! Then, all it took was one bored-try-to-stay-awake TTC ride to trigger the download of the Candy Crush Saga app by King.com games.

Since then, I’ve almost missed my bus stop multiple times because of a captivating game of creating candy combinations (match at least 3 of the same candies in a row), “clearing all the jelly” (match at least 3 of the same candies in “jelly” in a limited number of moves), and “moving fruit down to the bottom” (match at least 3 of the same candies to move the fruit from the top to the bottom of the grid).

Anyways, I was inspired to create version of real life Candy Crush. Ok, I’m a bit of a candy fanatic. One trip to Bulk Barn, and I got the following for $0.86 (except the Clorets):

  • Blue gum balls
  • Yellow cry baby sours
  • Orange jelly beans
  • Red Mike + Ikes
  • Purple Bunnies + Flowers
  • Green Clorets ($1.69 from Macs)

Start crushing some candy – you can find the app for Facebook, iPhone and Android phones.


One Hour in High Park

One Hour in High ParkOne Hour in High Park
Cy and I  caught changing colours of High Park on a sunny day. You can find trees at any old park, but High Park isn’t just any old park. It’s like the Central Park of Canada! Next time, we’ll have to spend more than one hour in High Park.


How to Buy a Canada Goose Jacket

How to buy a Canada Goose jacketLast winter, my friends and I played “Punch Canada Goose.” It was a version of  punch buggy, except you would punch your unfortunate friend at the first sighting of a Canada Goose jacket.

They were easy to spot with their sometimes bright colours, extra puffy but smooth shell and the signature patch on the upper arm.

When Cy moved to Toronto, I thought that a Canada Goose jacket would be the perfect welcome-to-Toronto gift. Or, you can call it a welcome-to-real-winters-this-isn’t-Vancouver jacket.

So, what should you look for? Here is my guide on how to buy a Canada Goose jacket:

  1. Go to a Sporting Life, they have the best selection of Canada Goose jackets.
  2. Skip the bomber-style jackets. They are too short, so go for the jackets that at least to your hip. Trust me, your body will thank you when the miserable wind in the minus 20-something degree weather hits you like a bomb of freeze.
  3. Give up on other brands when even when you balk at the price tag dangling off  a Canada Goose jacket. Yes, it’s expensive for a good reason. Just squish it, and compare it to another brand. It’s not a scientific approach, but you will notice a difference in fill quality and fill distribution.
  4. Pick a cool colour, and luckily they have a good selection – reds, blues, grays, beiges etc.
  5. Take a look at the coyote-rimmed hood, find one that has cool ‘ears’.

Cy ended up getting a gray Chateau jacket. And, you can’t tell in the picture, but he was sweating bullets for that minute while I took my Instagram picture.

Keep hot and warm, peace.