Books on Portugal
Frommer's Portugal offers a comprehensive, jaunty, cosmopolitan commentary on the how-tos and attractions of Portugal in an accessible format. Frommer's forte is its practicality, typified by a standard approach to information delivery that makes for almost instant familiarity with the layout. Also, it has scattered through it 'Tips', 'Finds' and 'Did You Knows?' of the kind that can make all the difference to the traveler at the time. It is especially strong on accommodation and dining, suiting those who can afford to travel well; although the clear hierarchy of pricing it offers is useful for those on a budget too. Notwithstanding an excellent 'Portugal in Depth' appendix, this is the one for those with the means to travel well, and who value their pleasures as much as their edification.
by Mark Ellingham, John Fisher, Graham Kenyon
The Rough Guide to Portugal - far from being rough - is printed on good paper, has some excellent photos, and plentiful maps. With its erudite, more wordy style - not to mention its smaller font - it requires a more scholastic take. Unlike the Frommer's, this one is more for plane and hotel room planning sessions than it is for the road. But for those who prefer a guide that takes the time to engage you in some detailed narrative and comes with a turn of phrase, as opposed to just bytes, the Rough Guide will take you conscientiously through the height and breadth of the country, body and soul, leaving few stones unturned.
by Matthew Hancock
If your journey to Portugal is confined to Lisbon and its immediate environs this handy pocket guide could be the answer. The guide covers the city's main sites with interesting listings on Lisbon's nightlife, entertainment and sports scenes. The guide has directories of restaurants, shops, live music venues, gay clubs, cafes, hotel accommodation as well as a useful kids' section for those traveling as a family group. As well as a history and language chapters, there are some good color maps at the end of the book and details on day-trip destinations: Sintra, Estoril and Cascais. Recommended and the book easily slides into a pocket for easy use.
by Pam Barrett et al
Insight Guides' formula of quality photography and in-depth essays are ideal for pre-trip planning, a relaxing read in your hotel or as a memento of your journey when you return home. The Portugal guide has some expert and very readable essays on a variety of topics including detailed explorations of Portuguese wine, food and history. The book is handily color-coded to ease the readers's navigation through the regional travel sections, essays and useful info. Though aimed at a more upmarket traveller, the 'Travel Tips' section at the end of the book is a practical bank of information for travellers on any budget. Recommended for the stunning photography alone.
Well written by Marion Kaplan, author of The Portuguese: The Land and Its People, Insight's updated Pocket Guide stands out for its interesting approach of suggested itineraries for the Lisbon visitor: three full-day tours of the city's main attractions and nine more specialized half-day walkabouts covering the rather less mainstream sights such as Queluz, the city's gardens and the south bank of the Tejo. There also useful sections on history and culture, excursions, shopping, festivals and practical info, supported as always by excellent photos and a detachable city map in the back cover. Recommended.
by Andrew M. Torres, Editor
This is Let's Go's latest on the Iberian Peninsula, which also includes a section on Morocco. At over 800 pages, this is a comprehensive guide tailored for the backpacker. It is written and edited by and for college students. It is very strong in its sections on how to prepare prior to departure, where to stay, health, and in articles on areas of interest (eg, Pedro Almodovar, bullfighting, etc.). Good maps and up to date telephone numbers and listings make this a practical addition to anyone's travel kit.
In places, the guide has a gee-whiz quality that some might find irritating.
Lonely Planet has done an excellent job. The first 100-plus pages of this guide are devoted to Facts About Portugal and Facts for the Visitor. This reviewer had never given a thought to, for example, Portugal's Architecture but it made for a great read. There are highly detailed sections on, among others, transportation and dining. The guide is then broken into regional sections, with the longest and perhaps best on Lisbon. The LP has a good selection of color photographs to whet the appetite and passable grey maps 9not easily read at night!).
(Dorling Kindersley, 2012)ISBN: 0756684331
Dorling Kindersley's lavish Portugal with Madeira & the Azores confines everything typically 'practical' to a 75-page appendix. While the information included in it is indeed ruthlessly practical (accommodation, dining, using phones, breakdown services, rail info, photos of police, etc.) the overwhelming thrust of the book is to present the country's cultural, historical and natural attractions in as comprehensive yet easily digestible a form as possible. Glossy and jam-packed with photos, this is the tourist brochure cum mini-encyclopedia of Portugal guide books, providing such intensive pictorial coverage of the country's traditions and treasures that it arguably takes the element of surprise out of it. A little lacking in written detail, this is for the intelligent traveler who nevertheless prefers to wield the camera than write up the notes. Great for those on a tour, especially if also headed for Madeira and the Azores.
Jose Saramago came to the attention of the world as a giant of Portuguese writing when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998. His novels, while brilliantly imaginative, are pessimistic in tone, and find their major themes in the importance of memory and communion with the past. Journal to Portugal is written in the same vein, as its subtitle: 'In Pursuit of Portugal's History and Culture' suggests. This is emphatically not a book for those wishing to prepare themselves for a trip to Portugal. It demands total surrender to the ego of the 'the traveler', and a corresponding commitment to the minutiae of his rueful trudge across country from village to village, church to church (to church!) and museum to museum. Think gray whimsy - over 400 pages of it. For die hard fans of the great man only.
by Lynelle Scott-Aitken, Clara de Macedo Vitorino
If there's one thing that a travel cum gastronomy guide book should do, it is make you want to go there and eat, and Lonely Planet's "World Food Guide - Portugal" does that with gusto. It makes all the essential distinctions and provides plenty of background information on history and culture as well as current trends and curiosities. Drawing you into a world of long-unchanged culinary traditions, it leaves you begging to be transported there in time for the lunchtime special.
Though this guide will offer little comfort to vegetarians or weight watchers, Portugal comes across as a treasure trove for those willing to avoid tourist restaurants and investigate working-class haunts. Bold flavours and big helpings are served up in unpretentious surroundings from the social melting pot of the taberna to rustic smokehouses hung with whole hams - just don't ask for a salad.
With a special section devoted to regional differences, complete with maps, this book will be of special interest to the traveller who wants to explore the provinces, where great local ingredients fuse with methods handed down through the ages. Wine producing regions too get a look in but the focus is very much on the food. With the aid of a large selection of photographs, the Lonely Planet guide paints a colourful picture of what it is to appreciate, understand and enjoy the culture behind Portuguese cuisine.
An ample glossary of useful phrases will help gastronomic adventurers find what they are looking for and a scattering of tantalising recipes are provided as inspiration for budding chefs. What this guide does not contain however, are the names and addresses of particular eateries. What you get is a basic tour of the kinds of establishments you are likely to come across and plenty of encouragement to delve in.
With brief language and vocabulary sections devoted to most situations the casual Portugal traveller might encounter, the Lonely Planet Portuguese Phrasebook is a handy edition to your luggage or pocket. There are set phrases for travellers of all descriptions: campers, clubbers, cyclists, the disabled, drinkers, gays, internet surfers, job-seekers, shoppers, even vegetarians. There is also a football section of use to visitors who take in a bit of football with their holidays at the soccer hotbeds in Lisbon and Porto, they can pick up such gems as 'O árbitro estava comprado' ('The ref was bought') and less usefully 'Vamos sazer a onda' ('Let's do the Mexican wave'). Although English is increasingly spoken in most places visitors may need assistance, picking up a few phrases of the local language always helps to make your stay more enjoyable and increases the "feel-good factor" enormously.
by Lexus with Norma de Oliviera Tait
Rough Guide's neatly designed and easily portable Dictionary Phrasebook opens which some very useful introductory grammar sections and then splits into the main English-Portuguese and the shorter Portuguese-English dictionary.
The English-Portuguese section features brief situational dialogues such as 'getting on a train' and 'having a film developed' as well as feature boxes with useful tourist and cultural information connected with particular words and phrases, which will be familiar to Rough Guide readers. The imitated pronunciation guide is well done and certainly helps, for this reviewer at least, with Portuguese's devilish pronunciation.
by Michael Tannock
When one thinks of 20th century art, the countries Spain, France, USA, England, even Germany and Holland will probably come to mind. Portugal is unlikely to be thought of. In fact you may be hard-pressed to think of even one modern Portuguese artist, which is a shame, as there is a lot of vibrant art being produced there. Part of the problem is that there is little in the way of books on Portuguese modern Art. This book is the exception. It covers more than 2,000 artists in the period 1900 to 1974, and is organized as a biographical dictionary. As a reference work on modern Portuguese art, this book has no competitors. The information on each artist is factual, avoiding opinion and value judgment. Half the book is given over to photos of the works, including almost 100 superb color plates. Modern art came late to Portugal, and when it did it was, as in other countries, influenced by artists returning from studying in Paris, perhaps the most important being Amadeu de Souza-Cardosa. In sculpture the most significant on the direction Portuguese sculpture was to take was Francisco Franco, who also studied in Paris. As in the rest of Europe, the period after World War 2 saw an explosion of new styles, but figurative painting dominated for a while, typified by the work of Joao Hogan and Julio Resende. In the 60's there was another upsurge of diversity, but this time the influence was more by Portuguese artists studying in England, such as the sculptor Joao Cutileiro. If you are planning on visiting any galleries on your trip to Portugal, this book will be most valuable, as it includes a list of galleries by town, or if you simply want to explore a little known area of modern art, I would highly recommend it.
by John Pollack
Former Washington speechwriter John Pollock - burned out on the hypocrisy and hyperbole of Beltway blather - took a year's sabbatical from his job with Representative David Bonior to fulfill a childhood dream. That dream was to build a boat completely from wine corks, a whole lot of wine corks, and then sail it down Portugal's Douro River: the home of cork. This "creative sabbatical" from the very real world of politics would be, according to the author, the "antithesis of everything Washington."
Thus, at age 33, Pollack set out on a quixotic adventure to realize a dream that he had nurtured since childhood. He began collecting corks from an early age. Raised in a home where expectations not rules held sway, his parents cultivated a sense of adventure in their children. This was done mainly through their work in Michigan politics and in family travels around the world. On one such trip, in India, tragedy struck on a river. Pollack lost his sister when she fell into and was swept down the rapids never to be found. Part of Pollack's obsession clearly dates to this incident, which occurred when he was eleven.
In order to build the boat, he went around to Washington restaurants to collect their used corks to add to his twenty-year collection. Large donations - of both used corks and new rubber bands - made it possible to complete the cork boat. Made up of 165,321 corks, and built with his childhood best friend, the boat was shipped to Portugal in 2002. There, Pollack and friends and family spent 17 days navigating the Douro River. The book is a lovely read that combines purpose, the overcoming of great obstacles, and a sense of what is possible. In a cynical age, this is a refreshing and even inspiring work. It includes asides on President Clinton; for whom Pollack worked; the writer's family; Portugal; cork; rubber bands; and more. Beautifully written.
by Tony Clark
Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd
This must for bird-watchers introduces the birds of the Atlantic Islands: Canary Islands (Spain), Madeira (Portugal), Azores (Portugal), and Cape Verde. Fully illustrated by Chris Orgill and Tony Disley with 69 color plates, and over 100 black and white illustrations. All birds, both resident and vagrant in the Macaronesia Islands are covered. The informative, accompanying text details identification, song, and range of the birds. Recommended.