Pages Navigation Menu

Tile mania in Portugal – Tile museum in Lisbon

Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Tiles, tiles, tiles, everywhere. Portugal’s unique decorative feature is the azulejo. Shiny ceramic plates that adorn about every building in Portugal.  Azulejo is derived from the Arabic word azzelij or zuleycha, which means small polished stone and refers to a squared ceramic piece, with one side glazed. Tiles are used as decorations for everything, from the walls of halls, chambers, staircases or making up whole building façades to the lintels above doors or holy pictures at the entrance… they enter about every level of life here. Inside and outside, private and public places are adorned with traditional blue, but sometimes more colourful tiles.       You might be lucky and find a tile on the street. Or be (unlucky) hit by a falling one. Know the threats on Lisbon’s streets. Hence a visit to the National Tile Museum....

Read More

Divine breathtaking

Posted by on Jun 14, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Garden, panaderia, dinner, concert. Today was a great day. 1st THE GARDEN To escape the city bustle and see if our favourite garden in Lisbon could be matched, we took a walk to the Jardim Botanico Tropical. Location: Largo Jeronimos and Calçada do Galvão, Belem, Lisbon. Entrance: 2 Euros. Souvenir tip: You can buy very sweet miniature plants in pretty pots for less than 10 Euros at the entrance office. The garden is located close to the monumental Monasterio Jeronimos and Lisbon’s Pasteis de Belem. Seriously, all the great things of Lisbon are in Belem.   Jardim Botanico Tropical is an inviting garden with a lot to see, or equally suited to relax on sun-warmed benches, get a tan and watch peacocks, waddling ducks and geese following their daily commitments. Wings-drying cycle activated. A lot to discover. We saw the...

Read More

Happy Consumption

Posted by on Jun 12, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Happy consumption is, apart from my personal motto, the exhibition of vintage advertisements at the Centro Cultural in Portugal’s capital. The Centro Cultural is a hard contemporary contrast to Lisbon’s ornate architecture. The complex is large with conflicting dynamics, a bit too big, too ugly, too empty, just one of those examples of EU spending. Set in the medieval-historic centre of Belem, in the western part of Lisbon, it is clashing with its more attractive neighbours, the Monastery of Jeronimos, Monument of Discoveries and the fountain square, providing imposing picture backgrounds for Asian wedding tourists. Facing Lisbon’s Centro Cutural. Which in turn is facing the fountain on Praca do Imperio. And then facing love in front of the monastery, at Praca do Imperio. Dominating the graceful Praca do Imperio, the bulky cultural centre houses congress rooms, auditoriums for meetings,...

Read More

Portugal’s regent residences – Ajuda and Belem Palace

Posted by on Jun 8, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Whilst visiting Queluz Palace, I was sure to have found the most opulent residence in Portugal. Today, I was proved wrong. Ajuda National Palace, just a stone’s throw away from our quarters in Belem, was the visualized definition of royal residence.  All heavy drapes and an abundance of aristocratic imagery. If you have little time in Lisbon, I would recommend to focus on the historic centre in Lisbon’s western district. Most of all, on Ajuda Palace. Palácio Nacional da Ajuda Location:  Largo Ajuda, Belem, Lisbon. Admission: The entrance is 5 Euros, plus 1 Euro for an info brochure (optional and the English version is a rather poor summary of the Spanish brochure). Construction of the Palácio started after royalty had lost their palace in the big earthquake and tsunami in 1755. A large piece of land stretching from Belem to...

Read More

Foible for fashion and history

Posted by on Jun 6, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

A feast for nostalgic fashionistas are two sights in Lisbon. Especially if, like me, you love historic frock and fancy accessories of aristocracy. MUDE, the Museum for Design and Fashion in the centre of the capital and the Costume Museum, called Museu Nacional del Traje, did not disappoint. The latter is a real gem but located a bit on the outskirts, in Lumiar. If you have the time to travel around Lisbon, I highly recommend it. COSTUME MUSUEM – MUSEU NACIONAL DEL TRAJE When buying our tickets (for 4 Euros each), we were given a sweet present on top. Three postcards picturing dolls dressed in traditional folklore garb. The Costume Museum, more fittingly a fashion history museum, is set in a grand mansion of a Portuguese marquis from the 18th century. The family sold the residence rather recently to...

Read More

Queluz – Portugal’s fancy-pancy palaces I

Posted by on May 23, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

A wonderful delight, the ultimate palacemania can be found in Portugal. For the most unusual noble residences I urge you to visit Sintra and its whereabouts. We started our one-day palaces tour from Belem, our home in Portugal’s capital, with a rented car, to see the National Palace in Sintra, the Palace of Monserrate and to make a stop over for the Palace in Queluz, on the way to Sintra. The distances are pleasantly manageable. Before we disembark for the residences of people who had way too much money on their hands, I must note that for those financially less blessed, renting a car cheaply in Lisbon does not come easy. To pick up our car, we ‘traveled’ for two hours and three buses. Sixt, located at the airport, by my research the most competitive car rental, charged us 140...

Read More

Feasting on Lisbon’s history

Posted by on May 22, 2014 in All posts | 0 comments

One kind of a ride in hilly Lisbon is tram number 28. This tram is a tourists’ favourite and one of the most memorable mean of transportation in Lisbon. Number 28 has a pretty antiquated wooden look and is rattling up and down steep mini hills, edgy turns and narrow streets of the capital. It was going to take us up to Lisbon’s Castle, known as Castelo S Jorge, when the heavens above decided against a smooth ride and more for the one of a kind experience in Portugal. It just so happened that a car blocked the tram and we got an idea of Portuguese temperament. The car owner got out, wiggled his arms about angrily and started a heated argument with the tram driver. Then the tram driver got out and both tried to prove who’s in...

Read More

Japanese tempura is Portuguese

Posted by on May 20, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Tempura are delicately battered and deep-fried vegetables and seafood. All around the world, tempura is known to be a Japanese dish. How surprised I was to hear that Japanese tempura comes from Portugal!  What? Exactly. Whatever culinary crown Portugal was wearing once, it seems centuries ago, as apart from salt, sugar and cinnamon (the latter two, mainly in their pastry shops), I cannot see restaurants pushing culinary boundaries to catch up globally. Portugal once was a culinary forerunner. Maybe. It sure was the leader in the spice trade and had an empire of colonies in Africa, India and Asia, with a flourishing exchange of edible goods (and slaves and missionaries – but let’s focus on the food). There are African and Indian influences, like pepper, chilli and coriander and maybe they got soy from Macau… but Portuguese kitchens are...

Read More

Fado in Lisbon – Museum, Alfama and concert

Posted by on May 19, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

To understand Lisbon’s musical vibes it is essential (for the Fado amateur) to visit the Fado Museum, conveniently located in the heart of Alfama – the district breathing Fado tradition. To feel Fado, you got to attend a live performance of black clothed Fado singers, creating an atmosphere of mystique and elegance. Here is our Fado know-how (for beginners). THE FADO MUSEUM Location: Largo do Chafariz de Dentro 1, Alfama district, Lisbon. At the Fado Museum, they have this cool wall picture of famous Fado singers. You can pick a singer, put the number into your audio guide and listen to songs by icons like Amalia Rodriguez or contemporary stars such as Mariza.  Fado roughly means destiny or fate. Fado is Lisboa’s song, melancholic and empathic. Tunes that catch and carry, creating thoughts about love affairs, the misfortunes of...

Read More

Lisbon’s treasures of the Portuguese empire

Posted by on May 18, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Today we dived into the exorbitant wealth of Lisbon’s past. When you walk the streets of the capital, the prosperous past oozes through the streets. And through holes of neglected walls. On every shabby corner of Lisbon you can see that it was a powerful empire, playing a first class role in the orders of the world. During the Age of Discovery Lisbon flourished with riches pouring into Portugal, which saw the construction of great monuments like the Tower of Belém and the Jerónimos Monastery – the latter I show you in this post. Portugal derived massive earnings and gold from its spice and slave trade, starting in the 15th century. Decolonisation is a fairly new thing. Independence to Portugal’s African colonies was granted not before 1975. While on our trip to Macao, I learned that the country had...

Read More

Try this food in Portugal

Posted by on May 16, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Apart from fantastic pastelarias and (sometimes) fine tourist menus, here is my list of local delicacies, most of which we bought to cater for ourselves and most of which you can buy at a Portuguese supermarket. Gastronomic specialities of Portugal (a list of 12 foods to expand – feel free!) 1. CHEESE Portugal is batting high in the cheese department. The local cheese variety is delicious. The soft versions are to die for. My favourite cheese is the fresh soft cheese, packaged in small plastic containers swimming in water, which you can get at most supermarkets or well-stocked local grocery shops. Queijo Fresco is made from cow, sheep or goat’s milk and comes in whole or skimmed. The more fatty ones are clearly my taste bud winners. Queijo Fresco is good for breakfast, sliced on bread, or for dinner...

Read More

Mobile phone internet for travelers in Portugal

Posted by on May 14, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 10 comments

If you are planning to visit Portugal for not longer than a month, you can get a very good offer from Meo – the Portuguese brand name for telecommunications services provided by Portugal Telecom. Meo sells a SIM card for €10 – that includes 10 GB of internet traffic and a €5 credit which can be used for phone calls and is valid for one month. We found the offer in one of Meo‘s mobile phone and internet shops at Lisbon’s Armazens do Chiado shopping mall. There are three different providers to choose from – one was Vodafone, the other Optimus but Meo clearly won. The super deal.   This start package was enough for our first four weeks in Portugal. Now, that we have decided to prolong our stay on Portuguese Madeira island, where no internet connection comes...

Read More

For budget foodies in Lisbon

Posted by on May 13, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

From what we have seen and tasted so far, Lisbon’s highlights are not of culinary nature. Main tourist spots – in prime locations – may shock you with hamburgers, hot dogs and low key fast food dishes. They are by no means cheap and let’s not even get me started about quality or health benefits. But there are just as many cheap-good value options. Look for a high frequency of locals and you will find yourself in one of numerous Portuguese PASTELARIAS. Those traditional pastry-coffee shops are popular places for a sweet breakfast, quick lunch, light supper. At any time of the day, locals step by to savour on pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tarts). Accompanied by bica, a short and deliciously mild espresso – the Portuguese way to have coffee. My favourite choice though was fresh squeezed orange...

Read More

Transportation in Lisbon and Porto

Posted by on May 10, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

The first day we arrived, we used public transport in Lisbon and bought tickets from the driver. We rode the bus, the train, tram and the old tram but if you buy single tickets on board you pay a lot more. We weren’t in the know. Locals were using the better alternative, a travel card which they scanned when boarding buses and trams. You can buy a travel card for 0,50 Euros, then top it up anytime at ticket machines. To get a travel card, we went to Cais Sodre Metro Station (but I think most stations do the job). At the ticket window we were informed about the price for a ride with a card, which was 1,40 Euros and I think it was double that without a travel card. To top the card up, you can either...

Read More

Quirky sights of Lisbon

Posted by on May 8, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

We saw many what I would call ‘unconventional sights’ in Lisbon today. Don’t-miss-dos are riding Lisboa’s old trams, the Santa Justa elevator, as well as finding one of those Portuguese miradouros. As a must-try I would add shredded bacalhau, the mazagran and awesome pastelarias to the list. The Elevador da Glória, is actually not an elevator but a funicular (an old tiny tram going up steep slopes)  that has been taking passengers up and down the hill between Restauradores Square and Bairro Alto. Dating back to 1885 the old tram has an antique wooden interior. The ride is very, very short and you can walk up yourself along the tracks, but only Scrooge would miss out on the rattling Portuguese experience. Our tram was adorned with crappy graffiti smears but along the way you can see more elaborate street...

Read More

Top sights of Lisbon are in Belém

Posted by on May 6, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Probably the best thing about our apartment is the proximity to all major sights in Lisbon. The magic place to go is Belém. The historic western part of Lisboa. Within walking distance to our apartment are most of Lisboa’s imposing sights. Will share them as we travel along! Top sights of Lisbon in Belém (and my ✮ rating) ★・・・・・・・★・・・・・・・・★・・・・・・・★・・・・・・・★・・・・・・・★ °☆ Jeronimos Monastery ☆゚  the World Heritage monument treasuring Vasco da Gama’s tomb ✮✮ °☆ Berardo Collection Museum ☆゚   classy examples of modern art (entrance is free!) ✮✮ °☆ Coaches Museum ☆゚  the world’s largest exhibition of magnificent royal carriages ✮✮✮ °☆  Belém Cultural Center ☆゚  where we enjoyed a sublime baroque concert ✮✮ °☆ Tropical Garden  ☆ nice garden with rare plants from around the world ✮ °☆  Belém Palace ☆゚ the office of Portugal’s president ✮ °☆ Ajuda Palace ☆゚...

Read More

Lisbon – our Portuguese apartment, tiles and laundry

Posted by on May 5, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 2 comments

We rent an apartment in Belém, Lisbon’s most monumental and historic hub. The area where you can witness the Age of Discovery, grandiose monuments and top museums. We admittedly don’t live right next door to those pearls, still we are on Ajuda hill in Belém where I can brag about the closeness to some prime Portuguese property. Ajuda hill is where the Portuguese king acquired a piece of land and build one of the most imposing residential palaces – Ajuda Palace… is the generic name. Maybe that is why it is off the beaten tourist track. Okay, the truth is from one side, the palace seriously looks like a miserable ruin… which… does not matter at all because I was going to show you our residence anyhow. Our area in Belém is very residential. And calm. It feels like being part...

Read More

Lisbon – for the blind, antique collectors and the hungry

Posted by on Apr 27, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Having just arrived in Lisbon (on the 6th of April, mind you), we dropped off our bags at the apartment in the historic western part of the capital, called  Belém. This district is most famous for the Jerónimos Monastery, the Tower of Belém and mouth-watering egg tarts, called pasteis de Belém. Resisting temptation, we took a close walk around our neighbourhood to the nearby Jardim Botânico da Ajuda. It is the oldest park in Portugal, dating back to 1768 and features a special area with various scented plants and flowers for blind people (and people with a nose for gardens). This is where I was introduced (by mum) to the curry plant – smells totally like curry sauce! Tomek facing scents. Did not get very close with this species. Apart from the (nicely-) smelly herbs and flowers garden, there is...

Read More