“Don’t forget that no one sees the world the way you do so no one can tell the stories that you have to tell.” Charles De Lint
Ten Things That I Want To Do In Portugal This Time
“Life is what we make of it. Travel is the traveler. What we see isn’t what we see but what we are.” Fernando Pessoa, Book Of Disquiet
Porto is the colorful, Unesco city that I have wanted to visit. The photos are beautiful and I can’t wait to walk down those streets.
Livraria Lello and Irmao is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. Ask JK Rowling.
Drink Port which is named after….
I love seafood and both Porto and Lisbon are on the sea – codfish, sardines, snails, grilled whole fresh fish of the day with coarse salt and crispy, skin, octopus, eels, and snails along with kale soup and pastel de nata is a great reason to go to Portugal (This is a major eating trip)
When I was in Lisbon I didn’t make it to the National Tile Museum ((Museo Nacional De Azulejo). It is located in the Alfama area (where we are staying this time) in a fifteenth century convent. I saw those beautiful tiles on many of the old buildings and palaces when I was there and I want to know more about them.
The Fado Museum (Portuguese guitar music) is also in Alfama and sounds like something I would like. The Fado Museum is a testimony of passion and dedication this country has for Fado and has helped musicians, instrument manufacturers and researchers gain the exceptional esteem which the practice of fado enjoys today.
Buying a few more pair of handmade gloves at Ulisses in Lisbon. They are guaranteed for life so i will check mine before I leave for Portugal .
The Douro Valley is known for its vineyards, landscapes and the Douro River. It’s another amazing place in Portugal that I will see this time.
Drive from Porto to Lisbon stopping in towns and fishing villages along the way.
Buy canned fish to take home from Lisbon. There are many different cans to choose from. Shelves in every corner of the city sit stacked with cans of sardines, horse mackerel, tuna, anchovies, octopus, eel, and more. Some shops sell nothing but tinned fish. It is surprisingly good. It is not like Chicken of the Sea.
Just A Lot Of Walls – Urban Art In Lisbon
“I was here but now I’m gone. I left my name to carry on. Those who liked me, liked me well. Those who didn’t can go to hell'” The bathroom wall
Like any subculture, street art has its own slang. You don’t need to know it to appreciate the art but some words that pop up are spot jocking (putting your work up next to a popular artist for some attention), child style, tiling, (both self-explanatory ), reverse graffiti (creating art by taking off and not applying paint) and one that I heard a lot on my street art tour of Lisbon – intervention. (Sainer)
It’s not a word I hear often unless it involves rehab. Intervention is a street art term used to disrupt public space as opposed to street art which is decorative. My street art guide in Lisbon used the word as a form of urban artistic expression. Art intervention is art specifically designed to interact with an existing structure. I guess with that definition all street art can be called an intervention.
The only street art tour I could find was a private tour given by the street art collective Underdogs. http://www.under-dogs.net/ They have a gallery with exhibitions of interesting street artists, affordable editions at their shared store space, and public art and community programs. They do not do group tours and instead invest their time in promoting artists and art education in the community. (Bicicleta Sem Freio)
My tour guide Marina Rei shows up full of passion and enthusiasm for the art on the streets of her city. She is excited about the artists in residence and the educational programs she has just completed.
Underdogs was started by a famous Portuguese street artist named Vhils. The word underdog means to struggle against something more powerful than you. They are “underdogs pushing to be top dogs .” (Vhils)
The tour includes works by Alexandre Farto AKA Vhils, PixelPancho, How & Nosm, ±MaisMenos±, Finok, Okuda, Nunca, Clemens Behr, Bicicleta Sem Freio, Wasted Rita, Sainer and Ernest Zacharevic. (Clemens Behr)
Their souvenir shop and offices share space with a paint store. Classic artists, students, serious street artists and vandals come to buy their paint. ( ±MaisMenos±,)
Their art gallery is in an old warehouse area just starting to be gentrified. The current exhibition is by Spanish street artist Okuda.
Street Art started in Lisbon around 1974 when the Carnation Revolution overthrew the Authoritarian regime. Almost all the territories became independent.(A Lei Do Meis Forte -Nomen, Slap ,Kurtz, Exas,Lukas)
Graffiti and tagging began with the new democracy. (Merkel’s Puppets -Nomen,Slap,Kurtz)
Murals appeared around the city similar to those in unstable South American countries portraying the problems and the dreams. There are still references to it throughout the city.
The old warehouses of Clube Naval de Lisboa, are now covered in a work of art by Bicicleta Sem Freio, a group of Brazilian artists. They create murals around the world.
My favorite work that I saw that day was a series of girls by Lithuanian street artist Ernest Zacharevic. He sees himself as a fine artist who paints in the streets and that is evidenced by the combination of spray paint and detailed art. I really wanted one of these. The last time I thought about cutting a piece of street art out of the wall it was by a guy named SAMO in New York.
The outdoor walls in Lisbon have become a lot of blank canvases for the artists. It is sometimes a strong form of communication and sometimes it is quieter. But, there is always a splash of color.
Sintra, Caiscais and Estoril, Portugal
“Some places speak distinctly. Certain dank gardens cry aloud for a murder; certain old houses demand to be haunted; certain coasts are set apart for shipwrecks”. ~Robert Louis Stevenson
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Sintra was the place to be for the rich, famous and royal.
There are villas, palaces and castles with a mix of very colorful architectural and decorative features.
It is about an hour out of Lisbon with a cooler mountainous climate.
Pena Palace was built by the last Portuguese Royal Family In the mid-nineteenth century.
The palace is an unusual and ornate blend of design and color.
They were not afraid to mix prints, materials or styles.
It is on the highest hill and views are spectacular.
Being from a country that does have not have royalty, (other than rock, sports and Hollywood royalty) I have used the term castle and palace interchangeably. In Sintra where they have both, I have learned that a castle is built as a defense and a palace is used more to showcase wealth. A good rule of thumb is if there is a moat it is a castle. Pena is for sure a palace.
There is nothing practical here.
You can see that National Palace with its two chimneys from almost anywhere in Sintra.
It was built as a summer residence for the Portuguese royal family who resided there from the early 15th century and was in continuous use up until the late 19th century. It now belongs to the State and it is used as a Cultural Centre where exhibitions are usually held.
Sintra’s charming historic town centre is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Every visitor should spend some time exploring the maze of cobblestone lanes lined with quaint shops and cafes.
We head to Cascais. Cascais represents the hardest part of the Portuguese language for me. It looks French but it is pronounced Cazh Cezh with a hard C. Sometimes a word looks Spanish and it means the same thing in Portuguese, but when said, it sounds Russian. (photo – Sintra Magik Tours)
Caiscais was once a sleepy fishing village and has transformed into a favorite holiday destination for Portuguese and Europeans.
It is a nice town with cobblestone streets lined with shops, bars and restaurants. It’s not just a holiday town, there’s a resident working population which generally commutes to Lisbon – half an hour or so – so it doesn’t close down as the tourist season ends. (photo-Sintra Magik Tours)
Cabo da Roca is the most westerly point on the European mainland.
It stands on a cliff and it is marked by a monument (with many people taking photos)
and a lighthouse. ( photo – Sintra Magik Tours)
Lisbon and the surrounding area was a spying hotbed during WWll because of the country’s neutrality, the city’s strategic position by the Atlantic and the presence of all sorts of displaced European royalty.
Hotel Palacio was not only Bond’s hotel in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but Lieutenant Ian Fleming himself stayed here during the Second World War.
The Allied spies based themselves at the Palacio and the bar they frequented in the hotel, and where Fleming enjoyed a martini or three, is today known as the Spies Bar. ( photo – Sintra Magik Tours)
The Casino in Estoril was the basis for Ian Fleming’s first 007 book Casino Royale.
There is no shortage of things to do in Lisbon but if you have a few days definitely get out of the city and explore the surrounding areas. I highly recommend doing it with Diogo of Sintra Magik Tours. http://sintraprivatetours.com/ He is intelligent and very knowledgeable about all of Portugal. As you can see from all the photos of me, he is also an excellent photographer. Special thanks to Sintra Magik tours for answering all my questions and for the needed photos. It was such a wonderful, special day.
Finding Fernando Pessoa in Lisbon, Portugal
“I’m nothing. I’ll always be nothing.I can’t want to be something.
But I have in me all the dreams of the world.” Fernando Pessoa
I was looking on the internet for interesting things to do in Lisbon and there was a tour with Lisboa Autentica http://lisboaautentica.com/en/ of Fernando Pessoa’s Lisbon. Fernando Pessoa was a famous writer and poet in Portuguese speaking countries. Seeing a city through the eyes of its artists, writers or chefs is always the way I want to see a city.
I started reading the Book Of Disquiet and realized that I was reading something amazing. The story is hard to describe. It is a fictional autobiography which deals with the meaning of life and the quest and topics that go with that. The poetic language in which he tells his story is brilliant. A great book to me is when I read it and think that I feel the same way. This made me very interested about who Fernando Pessoa was in Portugal.
The tour was available on my first morning in Lisbon. It was going to be my introduction to the city. I jumped in a taxi and headed to the Cafe Brasilia in Chiado, a heavily touristic area.
Many of Pessoa’s poems were written in coffee shops – at Brasileira in Chiado or in Terreiro do Passo’s Martinho da Arcada. There is a bronze statue of him at his favorite table outside the Cafe Brasilia.
The tour guide turned out to be a person who had put his soul into learning about Fernando Pessoa. Fabrizio Boscaglia had come from Italy to the University of Portugal where he received his PhD in Philosophy. He was part of the group of researchers who digitalized Fernando Pessoa’s private library and wrote his doctoral thesis about him. I was introduced to Fernando Pessoa through the eyes of someone who’s passion and enthusiasm for his writing had led him to this path.
As we walk the cobblestone streets of Chiado we pass the book headed statue in front of the place of his birth and the “office” where from the Book Of Disquiet worked.
Fernando Pessoa not only wrote under different names, he created different characters or personalities for them. He called them heteronyms. (heteronomonos) I think they were fragments of his personality. These poets he created were also some of the great writers of Portugal. They had their own birth dates, life stories, jobs, astrological charts and literary style quite different from each other. Many of them wrote incredibly beautiful poems. Pessoa who started a literary magazine also critiqued them. Some he liked better than others. There were at least seventy-eight heteronyms and probably many more.
We walk passed the beautiful Manueline Church, Opera House and Theatre as Fabrizio tells us about his life.
Fernando Pessoa moved to Durban, South Africa when he was five years old with his mother’s new husband who was with the consulate. He lived there until he was seventeen. I had just returned from South Africa so I can picture him there.
We continue near the places that Pessoa used to meet his lover Ophelia and the bars where he drank with his friends.
Fabrizio saw my interest and offered me the “advanced Fernando Pessoa tour” usually given in Portuguese. I was in. What better way to understand Fernando Pessoa and see Old Lisbon than with someone who cared so deeply about him.
We meet a few days later in the Alfama district of Lisbon, which is a maze of beautiful narrow uphill streets.
The city’s poorest residents, dock workers and sailors once lived there. It is now gentrified and trendy but still charming. There are several historic buildings and churches and one of the most beautiful views of Lisbon is here.
The Thieves Market -Fiera De Ladra happens every Tuesday and Friday. It is a flea market full of junk and treasures. A market had been in that spot had since the seventeenth century.
Fabrizio continues to tell me stories and little known facts about Fernando Pessoa as we navigate the picturesque streets as he once did.
Casa Fernando Pessoa is the house where Fernando Pessoa lived. Outside is a café with quotes from his poetry. Inside is a museum with his private objects, interactive exhibits, a small bookstore and a library.
One side of the library is dedicated to Fernando Pessoa books. Fabrizio shows me the book he published and is about to publish another one. The other side is a poetry section with books of poems from all over the world.
Fernando Pessoa published one book of poems in his life time called Mesagem. He died a penniless alcoholic.
The manuscript for the Book Of Disquiet was found in a trunk after his death along with many other unpublished works.
Pessoa is so important to modern Portuguese culture that he is buried in the 500-year-old Jerónimos Monastery, one of the most important buildings in all of Portugal, under a simple memorial.
I highly recommend taking the Fernando Pessoa tour with Fabrizio. He speaks so passionately that you become absorbed in the story. It is not often that you find a tour guide so educated in a subject and with such a unique perspective. He is also a really nice guy. It was an honor to see Lisbon with him.
Street Art In Lisbon – Portuguese Pavement
“Where utility ends and decoration begins is perfection.” Jack Gardner
If you read my blog, you know I am a fan of street art. Lisbon is no exception. There is very interesting urban art but there is also calcada portuguesa .They are street tiles painstakingly laid down by hand in a variety of mosaic patterns throughout the city. It started in the mid nineteenth century and can be seen in the historic parts of Lisbon.