From Mykonos to the Algarve to stay with good Canadian friends Daphne and Mark and Marion and Gregg at a lovely villa they have rented on and off over the last few years. It is in a gorgeous spot overlooking the village of Salema and the sea. We started our first night with an excellent bbq (well done Mark and Gregg who also picked my up from the airport which meant I got to see a donkey and cart on the motorway!)
Daphne and Marion took me on an easy walk for my first morning – scenery and wild flowers were great and it didn’t rain.
In the evening we walked down to the village and ate traditional salt encrusted bream and sea bass right by the sea. And ok a few desserts too! Delish
Salema is a very small village although apparently getting busier. It is lovely to see the moored and immaculately kept fishing boats as the evening sun starts to wane.
My time in Lisbon is coming to an end so I managed to squeeze in a street art tour that took us all over the city – Lisbon is right up there with Melbourne, London and NYC as a street art venue. Although it helps to have someone take you around to find the art.
These are from the Bairro Alto district and include one by Obey (who designed the Obama poster used during the first election campaign)
The first picture depicts the “Carnation Revolution” of 1974 when the dictatorship started by Salazar after the war was overthrown. A very important period for the Portuguese people. The madonna depicts a struggle which has also been a key part of Portugal’s history – the separation of religion and the secular world.
These almost photo quality artworks are of Amalia Rodrigues and a chap whose name I don’t remember – they were both idolized Fado singers (I have become a bit of a fan of Fado while here) and they lived in the Graca area where these are. The one on the bottom right is about the boat refugees (check the image in her glasses). And I love the unknown fado singer in red with her classic lace shawl.
Now here is a brilliant idea. Give good street artists access to a floor in a parking garage and let them do their thing. It makes the place so much more interesting and far less menacing than most car parks and there are plenty of white walls for them to work on – obviously at night only when the cars are gone.
The one at the bottom is another well known street artist from Portugal – Vhils – whose work I saw at Wynwood Walls in Miami earlier this year. This work is done with tiles rather than the etching he is famous for.
Farewell Lisbon, I’m going to miss you.
Next stop Crete.
Walking around Lisbon means you are exposed to tile work wherever you go ( a legacy from the period the moors lived here). These tiles were hand painted and decorated the exterior and interiors of buildings and churches. Some are purely for decoration and others tell stories about battles or saints. Some were even coded to denote whether the building or company was of Catholic or Freemason origin.
Sadly the ability to make quality tiles is a bit of a dying art and certainly very expensive so while there is some restoration mostly you get to see the original tiles which are sometimes in better condition than in others.
It is one of my favourite things about this city so wanted to share some examples in the same place.
Decided to do the trip to Sintra to see the astonishing Pena Palace – a gothic fairy tale castle kind of place. Too many people as it was a weekend but still pretty impressive as are the views and the interiors.
Best bit of last few days has been visiting Fado (the Portuguese traditional songs the sea and love) and doing that while catching up with visiting friends – Joanna,Peter and Daphne and Mark (will see more of them later this month in the Algarve). Thanks for joining me.
I took a day out of the walled city of Evora to visit the 8000 year old megaliths about 15 km outside of the town. There are 98 stones and they are in great shape as they were only discovered in 1964 so were not damaged by various marauders of the past who seems to have come this way. The are in pretty area and surrounded by cork trees – apparently Portugal produces 70% of the world’s cork but it is an expensive proposition as cork can only be harvested every 8 or so years at the moment – they are trying to speed this up as cork is in high demand – it doesn’t burn and it is very lightweight but durable.
The views looking back to Evora and the surrounding countryside are lovely once you can get up a bit higher and look down on the verdant plains. April is a great time to be there as everything is very green
Last stops were a winery (Alentejo is second only to the Douro valley for production of Portuguese wines) and then the picturesque hillside town of Monsaraz – perfect for a movie but it is all real.
A short side trip to the walled town Evora for three days gets me out into the countryside. I took the train – 1 hour and 40 minutes – which is a lovely way to travel. Accommodation was at the Albegaria do Calvario hotel just inside the city walls. Large rooms with an excellent breakfast and a 5 minute walk into the centre of town.
Evora has a lot to offer for a small place. Lovely buildings painted with red roofs painted white and yellow. There is a lot of debate about why yellow – some say to stop the evil eye, others say it replaces the old blue as blue and white are the colours of a rival football team. Who knows? Anyway the buildings plus the impressive aqueduct that runs right through the town and some of the houses, make for a pretty environment and that’s good enough for me .
Although this is a medieval town it is famous for its Roman Temple ruins which are slap bang in the middle of it and in pretty good nick
Add to the above some beautiful churches with lovely Portuguese tile work and the macabre Chapel of Bones (apparently they had to dig a load up from the cemetery as they needed to space for new houses so they put them into this chapel) with the enticing reminder “we bones that are here, we are waiting for your’s”. Nice!
Add a few museums with contemporary and traditional art plus some local food (that’s baked melted cheese a speciality around here)
And finally a special exhibit to hundreds of nativity scenes and I liked the funky irreverent modern ones the best!
All in all – well worth a visit for a quieter pace of life.
I continued my long wander by bus and foot along the waterfront and moved from the modern art of the LX Factory to the decidedly old art at the National Museum of Ancient Art which features both Portuguese artists and others from Europe. This is a nice size place to visit with a lovely terrace overlooking the “golden gate bridge’ look alike where you can sip a decent cup of coffee.
As always I enjoy portraits and these were my favourites. I love the bloke at the bottom left – might have been a Brueghel?
The museum also has arts and crafts and tile work and I would buy both those vases now even though they were designed a few hundred years ago – so contemporary looking.
Then on, past some lively street art, to the Time Out Food Market (yes that Time Out). This is a venture that the Time Out staff set up and which I believe they are going to do in other locales too. It is a hanger of a space which is essentially a very high end food court highlighting (mostly) Portuguese food. There is everything from fish tartare, to suckling pig to ice cream. At the far end are five stands hosted by top Michelin starred chefs where you can taste some of their dishes. I decided that Miguel Lafan’s pan fried fois gras plus a mix of beets and raspberries would be my choice. Not half bad. Definitely worth a visit if you are in Lisbon.