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Deadline for submissions is the 25 of December!
With 365 days of cycling possibilities in a year, what was your favorite biking moment or most epic ride so far this year?
The Azores are an archipelago of nine stunning islands located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Known for their stunning landscapes, unique culture, and rich history, the Azores are a true paradise for travelers and adventure seekers alike. And what better way to remember your trip to this breathtaking destination than by bringing home a piece of it? In this article, I will suggest my top 7 souvenirs to buy in the Azores.
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Azores tea is a high-quality tea grown and produced on the Azores islands. In fact this is one of the very few places in Eurpoe where tea is actually grown! Aside from making a unique, easy to pack and inexpensive souvenir, the Azores tea is known for its unique flavor. Azores tea is made from teh classis Camellia sinensis plant, and comes in two main varieties: Black Tea (with its Orange Pekoe, Pekoe and Broken Leaf varieties) and Green Tea. Enjoy its smooth, refreshing taste hot or iced.
Hand-painted Azorean ceramics
The Azores are renowned for their hand-painted ceramics, which are made with traditional designs and techniques passed down from generation to generation. From vases and plates to mugs and bowls, these ceramics make for beautiful home décor and functional pieces.
Wine from Pico Island
Pico Island is known for its unique volcanic soil, which provides the perfect conditions for growing grapes. The result is a range of exceptional wines that are worth trying and bringing back home. Some of the best-known wines from Pico Island include Pico, Verdelho, and Terrantez (1).
Hand-knit woolen goods
Made from the wool of local sheep, these cozy and comfortable items are perfect for chilly days. From scarves and hats to blankets and sweaters, these hand-knit woolen goods are practical and stylish souvenirs that will keep you warm and remind you of your trip to the Azores.
Traditional Azorean lace and embroidery
The Azores are renowned for their intricate lace and embroidery, which are made using traditional techniques and designs. These beautiful pieces make for elegant souvenirs and gifts, and they're sure to add a touch of sophistication to any outfit.
The Azores are known for their stunning natural beauty, and this is reflected in the jewelry made from local stones and shells. From necklaces and earrings to bracelets and anklets, these unique pieces will add a touch of the Azores to any outfit.
The Azores have a long history of dairy farming, and there are plenty of delicious cheeses to discover during your trip. The famous queijo da Ilha cheese from Pico Island is a must-try, and other local cheeses, such as Sao Jorge and Graciosa, are sure to tantalize your taste buds.
Bring back a piece of paradise
These top 7 souvenirs from the Azores are a great way to remember your trip and bring a piece of this paradise back home to share with friends and family. Whether you're looking for practical gifts or beautiful pieces to decorate your home, you're sure to find something special in the Azores. So, make sure to add these items to your list and discover the best souvenirs from this stunning archipelago.
Have you travelled to the Azores? If so, what are your favourite and recommended Souvenirs from the Azores? You can share your insights below!
Gravel biking is quickly becoming one of the most popular outdoor activities, and it’s no wonder why! From its extreme versatility to its relative affordability, this sport has something to offer everyone, regardless of their riding experience. Whether you’re new to the sport or an experienced veteran, you can find something to enjoy about gravel biking.
With its unique blend of mountain biking and road riding, gravel biking gives you access to a wide variety of terrain, from smooth, easy trails to challenging off-road routes. Plus, it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to get started, as most of the gear needed is fairly affordable and easy to find.
So, if you’re looking for an exciting new way to explore the outdoors, gravel biking might be the perfect option for you! In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about gravel biking, including its benefits, tips, and more.
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What is gravel biking?
Gravel biking is a cycling activity that involves riding on unpaved trails and gravel surfaces, including dirt roads and Byways (regional roads). While it can possibly be traced back to the ‘80s, it didn’t get its official title until 2012, when the term was introduced as a new category in the Adventure Cycling Association’s Bike Route Classification System.
Today, gravel biking has become incredibly popular, with riders of varying experience levels enjoying the sport across the globe. Gravel biking is a great option for outdoor enthusiasts who want to enjoy a wide variety of terrain types and settings, from scenic, smooth paths to challenging, rugged routes.
While the activity is similar to mountain biking, with the difference being the type of surface being ridden on, gravel biking is equally as good on road rides and more.
Benefits of gravel biking
Gravel biking offers a wide range of benefits, perfect for anyone looking to get more out of their outdoor adventures. Here are some of the biggest benefits to consider:
Improved fitness and health - Cycling adventures on unpaved trails often involve climbing hills and pedaling up steep inclines, which are great for improving your cardiovascular health, stamina, and leg strength. Whether you’re tackling a short, easy trail or a long, challenging route, you’ll be able to improve your fitness and overall health, which can improve your quality of life.
Mental health benefits - Riding gravel trails also has mental health benefits, providing an opportunity to relax and unwind from a busy, stressful life. Whether you decide to take a short, easy ride or a long, challenging route, you’ll be able to clear your head and think more clearly.
Variety of terrain types - Riding gravel trails gives you access to a wide variety of terrain types and settings, including smooth paths, winding dirt roads, and challenging, rugged routes. This allows you to explore different terrain types and settings, giving you access to a wide range of outdoor experiences.
Access to diverse communities - Another benefit of riding gravel trails is that they give you access to a diverse range of communities, including nearby cities and towns. By combining two of the most popular outdoor activities, you’ll be able to access a wide variety of communities.
Gear and equipment needed for gravel biking
It’s important to have the right gear and equipment for any type of cycling adventure, including gravel biking. To ensure you’re well-equipped for any gravel biking adventure, check out the following gear and equipment:
Gravel Bike - You’ll need a bike that’s built for off-road riding, with wider tires for better traction and durability. If you don’t have a specific gravel bike, you can still ride on unpaved trails, just be sure to adjust your tire pressure to suit the terrain.
Helmet - You should always wear a helmet when cycling, especially on off-road routes. It’s important to wear a helmet to protect your head in the event of a fall or collision.
Gloves - You’ll also want to wear gloves to protect your hands, especially when riding on rough, rocky surfaces.
Shoes - You should also wear protective shoes to help shield your feet from rocks and other debris found on gravel trails, while affording all day long cycling comfort and support.
First-aid kit - Always bring a first-aid kit on any cycling adventure, including gravel riding. It’s important to have the necessary tools on hand in the event of an injury.
Hydration and nutrition - You should also bring plenty of hydration and nutrition, especially if you plan on going on a long trail. Bring plenty of water and food to fuel your ride.
Getting started with gravel biking
If you’re interested in getting started with gravel biking, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you’ll want to decide what type of riding you’re most interested in.
Are you looking for smooth, paved paths or extreme, challenging off-road routes? Next, you’ll want to decide what type of bike suits your riding style.
Do you prefer a drop bar bike, or a straight bar bike? You’ll also want to decide what type of gear and equipment will work best for you. Are you interested in going with a carbon fiber bike frame, alloy or a steel frame?
You may well have the perfect gravel bike at home gathering dust in your garage: a simple hardtail mountainbike or a hybrid trekking bike make perfect gravel bikes, without having to spend a fortune on an all-new dedicated gravel machine. Once you’ve made your choice and got your perfect bike, you’re ready to hit the trails!
Gravel biking tips for beginners
If you’re new to the sport of gravel biking and aren’t sure where to start, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Follow these tips to help you get started with the sport:
Start with an easy trail - When you’re first getting started with gravel biking, it’s important to start with an easy trail or route. This will allow you to get used to the sport and feel comfortable riding.
Build up your endurance - Cycling is a challenging sport, and it can help you improve your fitness, but only if you put in the work. To build up your endurance, try riding more often or increasing your ride distance.
Invest in good gear - When it comes to riding gravel, you never know what type of terrain you’ll have to ride on. Be prepared for anything by investing in good gear, including a durable, reliable bike and protective gear, such as gloves, helmets, and shoes.
Gravel biking safety tips
While gravel biking is an exciting, fun sport, it’s important to follow safety precautions to help keep you out of harm’s way. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind if you’re participating in the sport:
Stay hydrated - Cycling can be challenging and exhausting, which makes hydration incredibly important. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout your ride to help keep you hydrated and energized.
Wear protective gear - Cycling is a challenging sport, and it’s important to wear protective gear at all times. Always wear a helmet and gloves to protect your head and hands in the event of a fall or collision.
Know your limits - It’s important to know your limits when it comes to riding gravel. Stay away from challenging terrain, and always follow the 10% rule when deciding whether or not a trail is right for you.
Ride with a partner - It’s important to ride with a partner, especially if you’re new to the sport. Riding with a partner can help keep you safe and encourage you to push yourself.
Gravel biking routes and maps
When riding gravel trails, you’ll likely come across many different routes. Some routes are short, easy paths, while others are long, challenging routes.
While you can choose the route you want to take, it’s important to take note of the distance so you know how long your ride will be. Another helpful tool to have on hand when riding gravel trails is a map, be it printed or digital.
A map is helpful when riding with a group or with friends, helping you all stay on track and reach your destination. If you’re interested in riding gravel trails near you, you can use sites like Trailforks, Routzz or Ride with GPS, which allow you to search nearby trails and review different routes.
Gravel biking events
As you become more involved with the gravel biking community, you’ll likely come across various events, such as local rides and races. Participation in these events is a fun and exciting way to get to know other gravel bikers, as well as to challenge yourself and improve your riding skills.
Plus, you’ll often have the opportunity to ride unique routes and visit new places. When you’re planning to attend a gravel biking event for the first time, make sure to do your research so you know what to expect.
This includes knowing the route ahead of time, what gear you need, and anything else you should keep in mind. Additionally, make sure to ride safely and follow any rules and guidelines set by the event organizers.
Gravel biking community
Gravel biking is a fairly new sport, but you'll find a ton of information and gear online. You’ll likely come across small, and enthusiastic, communities of people who love sharing their experiences with others. With that said, you may find it challenging to find people with whom you can ride when you’re just getting started.
This is why it’s important to get involved with the community as soon as possible. One of the best out there is Bikepacking.com. Joining online groups, participating in local events, and attending gravel biking workshops are just a few ways to meet other people who share your interests and ride style.
Once you’ve connected with this supportive community, you’ll have access to new gear, tips, and information that can help you along your gravel biking journey.
Gravel biking resources for beginners
If you’re new to the sport of gravel biking and are interested in trying it out, but aren’t sure where to start, there are a few resources and tips you can keep in mind - without going out and buying an expensive new bike!
First and foremost, it’s important to make sure your bike is ready for gravel riding. This means replacing the standard road tires with wider, more durable tires (here's where a mountain or hybrid bike makes a better fit that a narrow framed road bike!). Additionally, you may want to consider purchasing a wider handlebar to give you extra control and comfort.
Once your bike is set up for gravel riding, it’s time to purchase a few essentials that are necessary for riding on gravel. This includes a bike repair kit, tire repair kit, and some basic tools. It’s also helpful to wear appropriate gear, such as a helmet and gloves, to protect yourself from potential hazards.
Whether you’re new to off road riding or an experienced veteran, you can find something to enjoy about gravel biking. With its unique blend of mountain biking and road riding, gravel biking gives you access to a wide variety of terrain, from smooth, easy trails to challenging off-road routes. Here are two of my favourite routes to inspire you: Camino de Santiago in Spain and Rota Vicentina in Portugal.
Azores teas are a unique and sought-after product that have been gaining in popularity in recent years. The Azores, a group of nine volcanic islands located in the Atlantic Ocean, are home to some of the best tea-growing conditions in the world.
With its subtropical climate, rich volcanic soil, and abundant rainfall, the Azores provide the ideal environment for producing high-quality tea.
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About Azores Teas
The two main varieties of Azores tea are black tea and green tea. You will see references to Orange Pekoe Black tea and Hysson Green tea. This can be a little confusing, but I'll get into the differences below:
Black tea is a type of tea that is fully fermented and has a strong, robust flavor. It is the most oxidized of all the tea types and is the basis for many popular tea blends, including English Breakfast and Earl Grey.
Azores black tea is known for its smooth, robust flavor and is a popular choice for those who enjoy a strong, full-bodied tea.
In the Azores, most of the black tea produced has the label "Orange Pekoe". This is a grading system for black tea leaves, indicating the size of the leaves. Orange Pekoe tea is made from high-quality leaves and is known for its full-bodied flavor, bright color, and brisk taste.
It is commonly used as the base for blends such as Earl Grey and English Breakfast tea.
Green tea is a lighter and more delicate tea that is known for its health benefits. It is a type of tea that is also made from Camellia Sinensis leaves, but with minimal oxidation. This results in a tea that is lighter in color and has a more delicate flavor compared to black tea.
Unlike black tea, green tea is not fermented, which helps to preserve its natural flavor and health benefits. Azores green tea is prized for its bright, fresh flavor and is a popular choice for those who prefer a more subtle tea experience.
In the Azores, you will see the reference "Hysson" - this is a type of green tea from China with long, twisted leaves picked in early spring. It is considered a high-quality tea due to its delicate processing and milder, slightly sweeter flavor - witout the bitter or adstingent taste some green teas can have.
Hyson tea is also known for its health benefits, including high levels of antioxidants. Whether for its taste or health benefits, Hyson tea is a popular choice among tea lovers.
What's so Special about the Azores Teas?
While Azores teas are made from Camellia sinensis, the same plant used to produce tea in other parts of the world, the conditions in the Azores create a distinct flavor that sets these teas apart from others.
What truly make Azores teas a unique and highly prized product, enjoyed by tea lovers around the world, are four main reasons:
Azores Tea Producers
The popularity of Azores teas has led to the growth of a thriving tea industry in the region. This industry not only provides jobs and economic benefits for the local community, but also helps to preserve the local culture and traditions of the Azores. In addition, the tea industry has also helped to raise awareness of the Azores as a tourist destination, attracting visitors from around the world who are interested in learning more about this beautiful and unique region.
Like Tea? You'll Love the Azores!
If you're a tea lover and are looking for a new and unique tea experience, Azores teas are definitely worth trying. Whether you prefer black tea, green tea, or herbal blends, there is a type of Azores tea that is sure to suit your tastes. So why not head down to your local tea shop and pick up a package of Azores tea today? If you are feeling adventurous,, consider exploring the islands and taking home some Azores tea, as a wonderfully unique souvenir!
If you’ve spent any time exploring the world of cuisine, you probably know that there are few places on earth with as much variety in their food as Portugal. A small country with a big history, this region is home to some of the most amazing dishes from almost every culture and subculture you could imagine.
Whether it’s veggie, beef, pork, fish or chicken, there are so many different types of dishes in Portuguese cuisine that we had to narrow our list down to just ten of the very best ones. Even if you’re not a fan of fish or red meat, these dishes will open your eyes (and your mouth) to a whole new world of tastes and textures.
If you love exploring new flavors and cuisines, then read on for our list of the top 10 best dishes from Portugal you must try!
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Green broth - Kale Soup (Caldo Verde)
I think Portugal is the soup capital of the world. All Portuguese eat soup every day! It's just part of life. If you’re a fan of veggie soups and stews, you’ll love this popular soup dish.
Caldo Verde has been a staple of the Portuguese diet for centuries. The hearty kale soup It became a staple of the national diet during the Great Plague of 1720. When food became scarce, people looked to this dish as a source of nutrients and vitamins to keep them going.
This traditional dish is made from a variety of green vegetables and herbs but, mainly, shredded kale, potatoes, mint, parsley, leeks, and cabbage. The vegetables are cooked in water with a touch of salt and pepper, garlic and a little olive oil, until they’re soft and tender. The result is DELICIOUS!
Codfish Casserole (Bacalhau à Brás)
If you’re a fan of codfish and chips, you’re in for a treat. This traditional Portuguese dish is made from salted codfish shredded and baked in a rich, creamy sauce. The dried cod is first soaked for 24+ hours in water to reconstitute it. It´s then prepared like fresh fish and baked until golden brown.
It's then shredded and served with a rich, creamy sauce made from eggs, milk and a pinch of pepper with a topping of fresh coriander, chopped hard-boiled eggs and a generous helping of Portuguese piri-piri sauce. The salty codfish is accompanied by a crunchy layer of fried potato slices.
Combined with a generous helping of piri-piri sauce, this dish is perfect for lunch or dinner.
Fish Stew (Caldeirada de Peixe)
This traditional Portuguese fish stew is a hearty, heavy dish made from a variety of fish and seafood. Although there are many different recipes for this dish, it’s common for the stew to include a mixture of fish such as squid, clams, fresh mussels, and shrimp.
This fish stew is cooked with potatoes, carrots, onions and parsley in a rich, creamy sauce that gives the dish a unique flavor and texture. Fish Stew is often served with a drizzle of olive oil or sprinkled with a generous helping of paprika.
Cod á Lagareiro (Salted Cod a Lagareiro style)
If you love seafood and are looking for something a little different, this Portuguese dish is one you won’t want to miss. Bacalhaou á Lagareiro Style is a traditional Portuguese dish that’s both simple and delicious.
In this dish, the cod is boiled in water, shredded, mixed with bread and then drizzled with olive oil. It’s then served with slices of toasted bread and a generous sprinkling of chopped parsley and paprika.
This is a great dish to serve as an appetizer at a dinner party or as a meal on its own. It’s simple to make, rich in flavor and full of nutrients. The cod is high in protein and low in calories.
A wonderful hearty, potato-free meal, you’ll love this traditional Portuguese fish and bread stew. This stew is made with a variety of fish, such as codfish, shrimps, clams, and mussels and pieces of bread that are slowly cooked in a rich, flavorful sauce.
This is a great dish to make if you’re looking for something quick, simple, and hearty. Açorda is often eaten as a light meal or a snack, or served as an appetizer at dinner parties and barbecues.
This dish is so popular in Portugal that it’s considered a National Dish. You can find it served at almost any restaurant or bar in Portugal.
Portuguese Piri-Piri Chicken
If you love spicy food, you’ll go crazy for this Portuguese take on a classic dish. The Portuguese Piri-piri Chicken is a popular dish served in many Portuguese-owned restaurants and bars all over the world.
This is a spicy chicken dish made with a variety of spices, including paprika, piri piri and garlic. It’s often served with a side of vegetables, rice or potatoes, and a generous drizzle of olive oil. The Portuguese Piri-Piri Chicken is a quick, easy and cheap dish to make for yourself, family or friends. It’s also a great dish to serve at parties and barbecues.
This one is a wildcard, but if you love sandwiches and want to try a dish that’s as different and delicious as it is decadent and indulgent, the Francesinha is a must-try. This sandwich is so popular in Portugal that it even has its own festival, which celebrates this sandwich and the people who love it.
The Francesinha is made from a variety of meat and seafood, melted cheese, and a special sauce. It’s then baked in a sandwich press to create a delicious and unique texture.
If you’re looking for a fish dish that’s a little different, we think you’ll love the Monkfish Rice. This is a delicious firm scale-less fish often served in rice dishes that are typically enjoyed for family lunches or dinners.
The Monkfish Rice is made from a mixture of monkfish, seafood, and a generous helping of rice. It’s then sloly stewed in a rich tomato sauce, flaboured with bay leaves, white white and a pinch of pepper.
This is a simple, hearty and healthy dish that’s quick and easy to make. It’s a great dish to try if you’re new to Portuguese cuisine or if you’re looking for a new type of fish dish to add to your weekly menu.
Pastel de Nata
Portugal’s most famous treat from the bakery! If you’re a fan of desserts, you won’t want to miss out on this unique little tart. The Pastel de Nata is a traditional Portuguese dessert that’s loved around the world.
This little tart is made from a thick layer of flaky pastry and a rich, creamy filling made from eggs, sugar, and cinnamon. It’s often served with a drizzle of honey and sprinkling of cinnamon.
The Pastel de Nata is a delicious pastry that’s rich in flavor and absolutely delicious! It’s a great treat to end a meal with or to share with friends or family over mid-morning coffee.
So much to try, so little time
Well, there you have it! Our list of the top 10 best dishes from Portugal you must try. If you love spicy food, seafood, and rich, creamy sauces, then you definitely won’t want to miss out on these amazing dishes.
If you love exploring new cuisines and want to try something new and different, then why not plan a trip to Portugal? This amazing country offers visitors a taste of history, culture, and cuisine in every bite.