Shopping in Lisbon

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Window of a wine shop in Lisbon


Shopping in Lisbon is fun because there are many independent shops including vintage and traditional shops that are disappearing fast in London. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of time to shop, but I did manage to visit a few ‘essential’ shopping destinations and stumbled across some intriguing shops during my short stay.


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Embaixada  (Praça do Príncipe Real, 26, Príncipe Real) One of the newest and most exciting shopping destinations in Lisbon is this design/lifestyle concept store that opened in 2013. Located in a 19th century Moorish palace, Palacete Ribeiro da Cunha, it is hard not to be awestruck as you enter into this stunning building. The building accommodates retail spaces for more than 15 Portuguese brands over two floors, offering fashion, design, crafts, as well as an indoor and outdoor restaurant, bar and art exhibition space.


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Top: Real slow retail concept store; Bottom: Lisbon lovers


On the same street further down the street, there is another smaller concept store Real slow retail concept store which also offers fashion and lifestyle products with a small cafe inside. Next to it is Lisbon Lovers, a shop that sells Lisbon-related souvenir that is more design-focused than the average tacky ones.
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Shops and barber in Alfama


Meanwhile, Lisbon’s most emblematic and historical quarter, Alfama also offers some interesting crafts, traditional and quirkier souvenir shops including A Arte da Terra (Rua Augusto Rosa, 40).


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2nd left: Luvaria Ulisse; the rest: CHIcoracao


A few shoos up the hill, there is a wonderful woollen shop CHIcoracao (Rua Augusto Rosa 22-24), which has restored looms from the 60’s and the 70’s to produce their own range of high quality woollen blankets and fashion lines. The prices here are reasonable, and if I had the room in my small case, I certainly would have purchased one of their soft and locally made blanket home!


In Chaido, Luvaria Ulisse (Rua do Carmo, 87A, Chaido) is a contestantfor the title of “world’s smallest shop”. This tiny (4 square metre to be exact) art deco glove shop was founded in 1925 and can fit only about two or three people at a time. The shop manufactures all the gloves they sell, and it is the only specialist glove shop in Portugal. If you want to invest in a pair of high quality and stylish gloves that will last, then this is the place to visit.


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Top: Bertrand Livraria; Bottom: Fabula Urbis


Wandering the streets of Lisbon, I came across many bookstores including specialists and vintage ones. This, I think says a lot about the culture of Lisbon and its people.

Interestingly, the oldest bookshop in the world is in fact in Lisbon, and it even has a Guinness World Records certificate on a wall at the entrance to prove it. Bertrand Livraria (Rua Garrett 73 -75, Chiado) was founded in 1732, but it was destroyed after the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and moved to its present-day premises on Rua Garrett in 1773. This original branch has beautiful wood-paneled walls and a wide assortment of all types of books, including some English-language books at the back, offering translated Portuguese literature from names like Nobel Prize author José Saramago or Fernando Pessoa.


Fabula Urbis (Rua de Augusto Rosa, 27) in Alfama is a small gem that sells books and CDs that revolves around Lisbon, past and present. The subjects offered cover poetry, novels, history, politics, art, photography, crafts, textiles, fashion, theatre, cinema, opera, music, astronomy, archaeology, gastronomy, and travel etc.

Situated above the bookshop is a room designed with a stage and piano. It is used for evening recitals and exhibitions of paintings or photography. It is certainly more than just an ordinary book shop.


Palavra de Viajante (Rua de São Bento, 30) is a bookstore that is dedicated to travel. Aside from guide books and travel-related books, they also sell maps, games and notebooks. There is also a pleasant cafe that serves coffee, cakes and simple lunches.


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Top left: Notebooks at A Vida Portuguesa; Others: Artes e Letras Atelier and purchases from the shop


A Vida Portuguesa (Rua Anchieta 11, Chiado) is probably one of the most famous Portuguese shops thanks to its retro and quaint Portuguese packaging and products. The first Lisbon shop was launched in 2007, and since then it has even branched out to Porto (I love the interior and fittings of their Porto branch). The brand has established partnerships with many traditional Portuguese brands, and so all the products found here are quintessentially Portuguese. You will find bathroom essentials, homeware, food, toys and stationery including Viarcro pencils and Emílio Braga notebooks here.

I was on tram 28 passing through São Bento one day when I saw a shop that looks like a letterpress workshop. On the next day, I endeavoured to find the shop by following the tram route. I was quite thrilled when I eventually found it, and even more so when I stepped inside.


Artes e Letras Atelier (Rua dos Poiais de São Bento, 90) is indeed a letterpress workshop and shop that sells letterpress cards, prints and self-published art/ illustration books, with a small exhibition area at the back. I often feel extremely excited when I find gems like this in different cities, because usually they are not listed in guide books. Chatting to the owner, I found out that she is responsible for the designs of the cards and prints sold at the shop, and occasionally she will also print booklets and posters for other designers or small studios.

There are many quirky and unusual art and illustration books that are produced and published by local artists and designers. I felt almost like a kid in a candy store. With limited cash in my wallet (probably to my benefit that they don’t accept credit cards), I decided to purchase a letterpress postcard and an ‘erotic’ themed illustration book called “Acontorcionista manifesto” (see above). This shop is a must if you love letterpress and all printed matters!


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Casa Pélys


Like I mentioned earlier, there are many cool vintage shops in Lisbon and many of them are not listed in the guide books. One of them is Casa Pélys in Campo de Ourique. As soon as I walked into the shop, I felt like I was transported back in time… seeing the retro tiles on the floor, vintage children’s books, toys and homeware brought a smile to my face. The shop was once owned by a photographer Mr Pélys, hence you can still see the remnant of the signage Foto Pelys on the shop front. Now the new owner is a former bookseller who has turned the ground floor and basement into a mini flea market where one can rummage around for as long as one wishes.


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Vintage and antiques shops on Rua de São Bento


Rua de São Bento is home to many antiques and vintage shops, including The World of Vintage (Rua de São Bento 291) which specialises in 1950s – 1970s vintage furniture and objects.


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Top 2 rows: Conserveira de Lisboa; 3rd & 4th left: Loja das Conservas; 5th row: Parceria das Conservas at Mercado de Campo de Ourique


One of the most popular souvenir to bring home from Portugal is undoubtedly canned sardines! And there is an array of brands, flavours and packaging to choose from. But the top favourite shop and brand is Conserveira de Lisboa (Rua dos Bacalhoeiros, 34, Baixa), which is recommended in almost every guidebook. Opened in 1930, the interior of this 80-year old shop has hardly changed for decades. The main attraction is the original wooden counter, selves and an old cash register. The retro packaging is also loved by tourists and locals alike, thus making canned fish a popular souvenir to bring home.


If you want to find out more about canned fish and its history, then you must pay a visit to Loja das Conservas (Rua do Arsenal, 130)/ National Association of Manufacturers of Canned Fish. Here, you can find a wide range of well-known Portuguese canned fish brands and the history of these canning factories. And aside from the famous sardine, you can also find tuna, eel, Ray’s bream, mackerel and horse mackerel. If you are stuck on what to pick, you can always ask for recommendations (which I did) from the shop assistants. Don’t underestimate the allure of canned fish, and make sure you have enough baggage allowance because you may end up buying more than you intended after a visit to this shop!

Last but not least, don’t forget to bring back a bottle of Portuguese wine or port back home! Portuguese wine must be one of the most underrated in the world! Personally, I love Portuguese wine and I am surprised by the limited choices available in the UK. Wine is relatively cheap to buy and drink in Portugal, and one of the best places to taste and buy Portuguese wine is at Viniportugal at Terreiro do Paço. Visitors can purchase a rechargable Enocard for the price of € 2, which will give access to tasting 2 to 4 wines from a selection of 12 wines from different regions of the country. It is a good starting point if you want to learn more about Portuguese wine.


Lisbon’s art deco & art nouveau architecture

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 Interior of Cais do Sodre station


Lisbon has a fantastic variety of architecture from different periods, including one of my favourites: Art Deco.

I was quite pleasantly surprised when I arrived at Lisbon’s Cais do Sodre station to catch a train towards Cascais. Opened in 1928 and designed by Pedro Botelho and Nuno Teotónio Pereira, the most notable feature of this Art Deco building is its beautiful foyer, with an emphasis on geometric patterns. I like the simple but impactful stained glass windows, and the use of zig zag lines and checked patterns throughout. There is a lot going on, but somehow it works harmoniously.


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Cais do Sodre station


In the centre near the Praça dos Restauradores stands one of Lisbon’s most beautiful Art Deco buildings: the former Teatro Eden. Opened in 1931 and designed by architects Cassiano Branco and Carlo Florencio Dias, it soon became one of the city’s most important cinemas. Unfortunately, the cinema closed in 1989 and was left neglected for years until it was converted into Orion Eden Hotel in 2001.

Not far from the old Teatro Eden is another former cinema, Condes Cinema. It was built in 1951 by architect Raul Tojal on top of the former Teatro da Rua dos Condes. The notable feature of this Art Moderne building is its streamline corner and a circular rooftop. Like the fate of Teatro Eden, the cinema closed in the late 1990s and was left in ruins for years until it was converted into Hard Rock Cafe in 2003. All the original fittings of the interior were demolished, leaving no trace of the old cinema.


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Top: Old Condes Cinema; 2nd left: Old Vitória hotel; the rest: Other modernist buildings with circular balconies


On Av. da Liberdade, the eye-catching Old Vitória hotel (170) was designed by Cassiano Branco in 1936-37. This marble-clad building was initially intended to be apartments, but opened as a hotel and is now the Communist Party of Portugal headquarters. It would be hard to miss this building from street level because of its distinguishable stacked circular balconies. The composition combines the clean solidity of Modernism with the lyrical playfulness of Art Deco. Apparently, German spies frequented its grand rooms during World War II.


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Cinema São Jorge


On the opposite side of the avenue, there is another bold building with a huge São Jorge sign on the top. This is Cinema São Jorge (175), which opened in 1950 as the largest cinema in Portugal. Designed by Fernando Silva, this elegant building reflected the glamour of Hollywood at the time. Unlike the two unfortunate cinemas mentioned above, this cinema was altered in1982 to incorporate two cinemas at balcony level, and was renovated in 2007 by the City of Lisbon. You can still see the two historical film projectors at the entrance of the cinema.

It is easy to be distracted by all the grandiose facades on Av. da Liberdade. Yet hidden behind these buildings lies an intriguing 1920s entertainment park/complex, Parque Mayer.


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Parque Mayer


I was only lead into this complex (now also used as a car park) because of the four white pillars with art deco lighting at the entrance. I was curious and decided to explore further.

Wandering around the complex, I was shocked by the state of these old art deco theatres and the area itself. They looked as if they had been left neglected for decades, even though there is a functioning restaurant at the back and some construction workers working on the site of a white building. On the wall of the Teatro Varidades, there are hangings of the theatre’s history since the 1920s. So I can’t help wondering to myself: what happened to this place?

The history of this entertainment park began when it was acquired by journalist, playwright and theatre impresario Luis Gallardo in 1921. Gallardo wanted to create a park or mini Broadway dedicated to theatres and entertainment, and so Parque Mayer was born in 1922. The first theatre that opened was Teatro Maria Victoria, named after the actress and singer Maria Victoria who died a few years earlier. Then others followed: Teatro Varidades (1926), Teatro Capitólio (1931) and Teatro ABC (1956).

Aside from theatre, there were also restaurants, carousels, fado houses, cinema and box fight. It was a bohemian place par excellence, and a magnet for Lisbon’s political elites, artists and intellectuals. I didn’t find much information on what exactly happened, but presumably like many other theatres and cinemas in Lisbon, it fell into decline at some point and eventually became a derelict site.

A new rehabilitation project of the park was proposed in the mid 2000s, but constant legal disputes and bureaucracies between BragaParques (the landowner) and the Council of Lisbon had barred the project from going ahead. Will we get to see a new entertainment park in the future? Let’s wait and see.


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Top two rows: Museu do Oriente; Last two rows: 2 other Art Deco buildings nearby


By the seafront in Alcãntara is the Museu do Oriente, which I mentioned in the previous entry. The restored 6-storey white conspicuous building was a former salted cod (bacalhau) processing factory. Originally designed by Portuguese architect João Simões Antunes in the 1940s, it was converted into the current museum in 2008 by Carrilho da Graça Arquitectos.

There are also some interesting art deco buildings nearby, probably built around the same period.


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Mercado Sao Bento

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Many derelict Art Deco buildings can be seen in the city


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Top two rows: Cascais; Bottom two rows: Estremoz


Besides art deco, art nouveau architecture can also be spotted in the city especially around the Estrella district.

Yet the most fascinating art nouveau architecture is located at 28 Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo, the Headquarters of Metropolitano de Lisboa, designed by Portuguese architect Manuel Joaquim Norte Júnior in 1912.

Informally nicknamed the ‘wedding cake’ for its exuberant decoration, the building was the recipient of the Prémio Valmor architecture award in 1914. Designed as a private residence, it has been the headquarters of Metropolitano de Lisboa  (the managing company of the Lisbon Metro) since the 1950s. The building is also listed as of Public Interest in 2002, and is considered a remarkable ‘museum’ of early 20th century decorative arts, given its lavish finishes and details.

Right next to it is the entrance to the Picoas subway station, a gift from the Paris Metro (RATP) known as Guimard access in 1995. (there is also one in Moscow at the Kievskaya station). This is a copy of the original designed by French Art Nouveau architect Hector Guimard to adorn the entrances of the Parisian Metro Stations that can still be widely seen in Paris today.


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Top 3 rows: Metropolitano de Lisboa; 4th left, 5th & 6th rows: Picaos metro station entrance; Bottom two rows: an Art Nouveau building in Estrella




Lisbon’s Brutalist architecture

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation


In recent years, Brutalist architecture has made an unexpected comeback. Eyesore or masterpieces? It is all relatively subjective. In Lisbon, there are some fine examples that are worth exploring if you are interested in this type of architecture:

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation – The foundation is a vast complex that houses Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, which was constructed in 1969 by Alberto Pessoa, Pedro Cid and Ruy Athouguia. The austere horizontal concrete structure contains a world-class art museum, auditoriums, offices and a library which sits above an underground world of conservation, study and storage.


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I think the highlight of this complex is its serene modern park designed by landscape architect Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles. The contrast between the cold concrete structure and the beautiful landscape is what makes this place intriguing. The complex would look rather depressing without the lawn, bamboo forests, exotic plants, ponds and hidden streams; and it demonstrates how nature and landscape can alter our environment dramatically.


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The later addition to the complex is Centro de Arte Moderna in 1983, which was designed by British architect, Sir Leslie Martin (famous for London’s Royal Festival Hall). This outstanding multifunctional space is bright and airy with floor to ceiling windows that overlook the tranquil pond outside. You can also see the interior of the building from my previous post entry here.


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Palácio da Justiça


I was walking through Edward VII Park one day and I suddenly noticed a conspicuous concrete structure from afar. Moments later I was standing underneath it and feeling quite ‘insignificant’.

This massive and imposing modernist architecture is the Palácio da Justiça or Palace of Justice (Rua Marquês da Fronteira 1098 – 001), constructed between 1966-1969 and designed by Januário Godinho and João Andresen. The architects adopted a highly original conceptual language, and they combined it with new materials employed in its construction. Personally, I think the beauty of this structure lies in its subtle details, i.e. the repetitive patterns of squares, rectangles and circles used throughout exterior, as well as on the ground (large overlapping circles).


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Liberty Seguros Building 


Another of my accidental discovery was the Liberty Seguros Building (Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo, 6), designed by António Gomez Egêa and Ionel Schein from 1966-70.

This 14-storey office building (formerly the Edíficio Winterthur) has a rather unique zig-zag facade, in which all the windows are angled downwards, thereby creating a serrated surface. I am particularly curious in regards to the amount of sunlight that penetrates into the building. I would love to see the interior of this building, and enjoy the spectacular view of the city from its rooftop.



An unguided tour of Lisbon’s urban art

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Av Fontes Pereira de Melo – Top & 2nd row: Os Gemeos and Blu


Before coming to Lisbon, I was a bit clueless in regards to Lisbon’s street art scene. Over the last few years, I have been documenting street art during my travels and in London; and it brings me immense thrill when I stumble upon cool urban art pieces in the most unexpected places. I never do research beforehand nor do I search for them intentionally because I think this will spoil all the fun.

Nonetheless, it is almost impossible to miss the amazing street art in Lisbon because of its discernible presence! I was completely blown away by the scale and creativity, and as much as I love Lisbon’s museums and galleries, I think the best contemporary Portuguese art work is to be found on the streets!


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Av Fontes Pereira de Melo – Top: Erica Il Cane (Crocodile) and Lucy McLauchlan (birds); Bottom: Sam3


The ‘must-see’ destination has to be Av Fontes Pereira de Melo, where a cluster of derelict buildings is covered with giant art works created by a group of internationally-renowned street artists. When I saw the works while I was on the airport bus heading towards the city centre, I decided to make a special trip to visit the site one day.

I later found out that the project was initiated by Crono project (founded by Alexandre Farto/Vhils in 2010), which aimed to turn facades of abandoned buildings into masterpieces of contemporary art. Here are some of the artists involved in this project: Os Gemeos (Brazilian twins), Blu (Italian), Erica Il Cane (Italian), Lucy McLauchlan (British) and Sam3 (Spanish). It is necessary to stand on the other side of the street to appreciate these murals fully; unfortunately, I arrived late in the afternoon and the lighting was not ideal to capture these stunning art works.


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The Amoreiras Wall – Top: Nomen, Slap and Kurts; 2nd row: Nomen; 3rd row: The Nightmare Before Christmas by Kurts, Styler, Slap


Since I spent most of time in Lisbon on foot, it subsequently enabled me to come across some of the city’s marvelous street art by chance. My second surprise came when I discovered The Amoreiras Wall of Fame, an seemingly endless wall located between Amoreiras Shopping Centre and Marquês de Pombal Square. The graffiti started in 1995, and over the years, many of the original murals being painted over. But you can still find many outstanding murals created by famous local artists. My favourite is the mural of German chancellor Angela Merkel as a puppet master, holding the Portuguese Prime Minister and the Deputy Minister on strings. This was made by Nomen, Slap and Kurtz just before her visit to Lisbon in 2012. Highly political but brilliantly depicted.


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Alcântara tunnel


My third surprise came when I got off the train at Alcântara-Mar station and walked down to the underground tunnel. The last thing I expected to see was the entire tunnel covered with street art murals!

I later discovered that the project was initiated by Portuguese Association of Street Art (APAURB) as part of the regeneration of the area. About 400 local and international artists took part in this project, and I particularly like the wonderful murals of Lison’s streetscape. This project demonstrates how street art can rejuvenate even the grottiest areas or places in the cities, and I think more cities need to follow suit.


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Street art in Alcântara


Venturing outside of the station, you can see a diverse array of street art including calligraffiti by Dutch graffiti legend Niels ‘Shoe’ Meulman. However, Shoe’s original black and white work has since been painted over with purple and green spray with 2 words: ‘Hium’, ‘Quê?’ (see above).


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Since Lisbon is a colourful city, its street art is equally vibrant and playful. Aside from building facades, walls and underground tunnels, the city’s recycle bins are also used as canvases for street artists.

The concept was conceived by Galeria de Arte Urbana, founded in 2008 by Ines Machado as part of the regeneration plan of Bairro Alto for City Council of Lisbon. The City Council felt the need to create a site dedicated to street art, and wanted to open a dialogue with the street art community. The objective of gallery is to promote street art, and reject practices of vandalism and disrespectful actions towards other artistic works. The gallery believes that all of these artistic languages can co-exist in the urban landscape in a democratic manner, while emphasising the importance of cultural heritage preservation, conservation and restoration. I applaud Lisbon’s City Council for its open-minded attitude towards street art and graffiti; its tolerance and forward-mindset plainly put many other city councils to shame. And this applies particularly to many Asian cities where artistic expressions are regarded as vandalism, since they all compete to look as pristine and glossy as they possibly can. This image-control attitude reveals how different the paradigm of  ‘democracy’ is interpreted in the Eastern and Western societies.


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Walking around Lisbon, you are mostly likely to come across the ‘signatures’ of different street artists including a yellow cat by Monsieur Chat from France and a yellow pencil character ( though I am not sure who the artist is).


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Street and urban art in tiles


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Street art in Cascais – 3rd & 4th left: Diogo Machado; 4th right & 5th row: Easp; 5th & bottom rows: Dalaiama


In the seaside resort town of Cascais, I also discovered some intriguing street art and one of them was an odd-looking derelict house that appeared to be covered in blue and white azulejo.

Seeing it from afar, I was curious and so I walked over to have a proper look… it was then I realised that the azulejo was in fact a mural rather than ceramic tiles! This impressive work was created by a local artist Diogo Machado (also known as Add Fuel), who is well-known for his distinctive and quintessentially ‘Portuguese’ azulejo-inspired street art pieces. I have never seen anything like this before and I absolutely love it!

Other notable graffiti artists’ work in Cascais include Easp and Dalaiama (look out for the black pacman-like character with birds).

Like London, Lisbon offers many guided street tours, but I still recommend exploring on your own if time is not a constraint. It is enjoyable and full of unexpected surprises that will make you ‘see’ the city in a different light.


Streetscape of Lisbon

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I don’t believe in love at first sight; lust or instant attraction perhaps, whereas love I believe requires time to develop. Nonetheless, I have fallen in love with many cities on my first visit throughout the years, like New York, Berlin, Venice, Antwerp, Tokyo, Helsinki, Porto and Lisbon etc. My relationships with these cities would change over time (if I get to return again), and my ‘love’ would increase or decrease based on my experiences and expectations.

Even though Lisbon is an international and cosmopolitan city, it somehow still retains the charm (thankfully, not provincial) of a smaller city. It is laid-back (or ‘slow’ compared to New York/London), hospitable, retro and slightly run-down. It lacks glitz and glamour, yet its characteristics shine through, which makes it feel somewhat authentic and honest.

I think Lisbon reminds of the old London, a time when Londoners were more individualistic, creative, effortless and laid-back ( yes, I am sounding more like an old fart these days). London has undoubtedly lost its edge and charm in the past decade or so; although it is more cosmopolitan and ‘happening’ these days, it is also more stressful, commercial, crowded, trend-driven and segregated. This is not what I consider as ‘cool’ or as the Mayor relentlessly proclaims: ‘the greatest cities on earth’.


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To appreciate Lisbon fully, it is necessary to walk (mostly uphill) or take the tram. You are unlikely to get bored because there is always something quirky or interesting that would grab your attention.


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When I arrived in Lisbon, it was just days after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack took place, and I could see the conspicuous ‘support’ shown by the citizens of Lisbon in the streets at different areas of the city.


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The Portuguese also share something in common with Asian people esp. the Chinese, and it is their habit of hanging laundry outdoor! The sights of laundry being hung outside of houses/ flats/ even on the pavements are ubiquitous in China, yet similar sights can be seen on the streets of Lisbon and Porto. Though what is surprising is how meticulous these articles are being hung… often according to sizes, categories and sometimes even colours! I think the Portuguese are qualified to publish books on the art of laundry hanging!


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I am aware that the economical downturn has hit Portugal hard, and when I spoke to the locals, they complained that many young people have moved to cities like London for better job opportunities. I guess this is understandable. Nevertheless, I believe that when the economy of a city/country suffers, it also empowers the citizens to unite, think more creatively and contribute more towards the community or society as a whole for improvements.

And being an artistic and cultural city like Lisbon, one of the best way to express the citizens’ frustrations, disappointments, aspirations, passion and creativity is through art… namely street art, which I will cover in my next entry.


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Portuguese doors, windows & tiles

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I have a slight obsession with doors and windows of façades, as well as staircases. I can’t remember exactly when I started photographing them, but I took the ‘mission’ slightly more seriously over the past few years esp. during my travels. I must have taken hundreds of photos over the years from Seoul to Berlin, to Singapore etc as I find these architectural details extremely fascinating. If we think of fashion as a means of a personal expression, then perhaps the façade of a building is not so dissimilar.


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In Portugal, there is a diverse array of architectural styles that can be seen on the streets. Hence, I thoroughly enjoyed walking up/down the hilly cobbled streets and taking photographs of windows, doors and the conspicuous tile-covered houses. These architectural details not only reflect the styles and trends of the a certain period (i.e. art deco and art Nouveau), they also reveal the distinctive tastes of the architects or owners.


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The introduction of azulejos/tiles from Spain in the early 16th century by King Manuel I profoundly changed the streetscape of Portugal. Originally this ornamental art form was applied onto the walls and façades of monasteries and churches by master-designers (Porto has some outstanding examples of them); but thanks to the industrialisation of decorative tiles and new methods like transfer-printing, decorating houses with azulejos became fashionable from the 19th century onwards. Now we can still see a startling range of azulejos on building façades when we walk down the streets in cities like Lisbon, Porto and in smaller towns too.


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Although many of these kaleidoscopic azulejos seen on the streets are printed rather than hand-painted, their artistic value should not be underestimated. And most importantly, they convey a sense of vibrancy and individuality to the streetscape of the cities/towns, making them utterly charming and unique.


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Art & design exhibitions in Portugal (Jan 2015)

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 Casa Das Historias Paula Rego


Lisbon offers an abundance of world class museums and galleries, and on my previous trip, my friend and I visited some excellent ones like National Museum of Ancient Art, National Tile Museum, Fado Museum and the wonderful Puppet Museum. On this trip though, the seaside resort Cascais turned out to be a prodigious surprise for me. Aside from Casa Das Historias Paula Rego, I did not have any concrete plan for the day, and yet I ended having quite an ‘art-full’ day!

The highlight of the day was undoubtedly Portuguese artist Paula Rego‘s stunningly-designed museum. It was impossible to miss the earthy red pyramid-shaped towers from a distance! Designed by Portuguese architect and Pritzker Architecture Prize winner, Eduardo Souto de Moura (chosen by Rego herself), the building was inspired by the region’s historical architecture (i.e. the twin chimneys of the National Palace in the nearby Sintra) and it is surrounded by a lush garden.

Architecture aside, the museum’s current exhibition is ‘Parodies – Paula Rego/ Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro’ (until 12th April), a non-illustrative dialogue between the works of the two artists, separated by over a century, yet both express a critical view of the Portuguese life and customs of their times through their art.

Rego and Bordalo Pinheiro‘s works share a great deal in common despite living in two completely different era. Both artists’ works frequently feature humanised animals and animalised humans; they are dark, perspicacious, critical with a sense of sarcastic humour. This is a thought-provoking exhibition that reveals the creativity of two important Portuguese artists and how they used/use art to express their critical voices towards politics and society.


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Centro Cultural de Cascais – 2nd & 3rd rows: Bryan Adams exposed; 4th & 5th rows: Carlos Marques; Bottom middle & right: Painted glasses of red hall


After some random sightseeing, I stumbled upon a massive dark pink building, which turned out to be the Centro Cultural de Cascais. Housed inside the former 19th century Palace of the Viscondes da Gandarinha, the centre has been turned into an art centre with permanent and temporary exhibitions. While I was there, I saw the photography exhibition ‘Bryan Adams exposed’ (which I missed in London) and discovered the singer’s talent in creating powerful images through the lenses. Downstairs, there was also a fascinating exhibition by Portuguese artist Carlos Marques, who created a set of shrines dedicated to different artists as his tribute towards them.

Next door at the Casa Duarte Pinto Coelho, there is a small but intriguing exhibition “Painted glasses of red hall” (until April), which showcases some East-meets-West paintings from 18th century China. The production of glass and painted mirrors were introduced to China by Jesuit missionary G. Castiglioni in the early 18th century, and soon after glass paintings developed into a highly skilled art form in China. These works were commissioned by Europeans, and they were intended primarily to satisfy the West’s passion for Eastern-inspired products. Although glass-blades were produced in Europe, particularly in England, they were being sent to the factories of Guangzhou in China where they were painted after returning to the Western market. This manufacturing process is not so different from how things are made today in the 21st century! Perhaps the world has not changed THAT much after all!


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Cidadela art district


As I was walking down the road back towards the town centre, the Cidadela art district signage by the old fortress wall caught my eye and so I decided to explore the district ‘hidden’ behind it. The art district is part of the Pousada de Cascais, Cidadela Historic Hotel set within the walls of the historical fortress of the emblematic 16th century Citadel of Cascais. The Art District comprises six galleries, including six Open Studios where artists can be seen during their creative processes.


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Palácio da Cidadela de Cascais – 2nd & 3rd rows: Frenéticas no pós-guerra exhibition; Bottom row: Capela de Nossa Senhora da Vitória 


Within the same square, there is the Palácio da Cidadela de Cascais, a former summer palace for the Portuguese monarchy until 1910 when the country became Republic. Neglected for fifty years, restoration and renovation work by the architect Pedro Vaz was commissioned by the President of the Republic, and the palace was opened to the public in 2011. The former palace now serves as the summer residence of the President of the Republic, but the public can visit it when it is not being occupied. Usually a minimum party of two is required for a guided tour around the palace, but the friendly staff kindly offered to show me around, hence I was able to enjoy a private tour of the palace with a humourous and knowledgable guide.

Due to the recent renovation, the palace looks newer than most other palaces that I have visited. One notable aspect is that the wall hangings are mostly contemporary art works including some unfinished tapestry drafts. This is highly unusual but quite refreshing to see as most palaces are just filled with old Master paintings or simply ‘old’ paintings. Another surprise is that Eastern-style objects and antiqes are ubiquitous; from tiles to furniture, lighting and decorative pieces, this again reveals the Portuguese’s passion for Eastern style as previously seen at the glass painting exhibition earlier. The tour ended at the stunning baroque style Capela de Nossa Senhora da Vitória, with azulejos on both sides of the walls depicting Portugal’s glory past.

The palace also hosts temporary exhibitions, and during my visit, I saw ‘Frenéticas no pós-guerra’, an exhibition showcasing more than 100 articles, objects and original documents from the 1920s post war period in Portugal. The main focus was on women and so there was an interesting selection of fashion garments, accessories and some wonderful art deco style objects on display.



A free exhibition of Christmas trees made by recycled materials in Cascais


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Top row: Igreja de Sao Joao Evangelista in Evora; Bottom two rows: a paper craft exhibition at Palácio dos Duques de Cadaval


In the historical town of Evora opposite the Temple of Diana stands a beautiful 15th century church, Igreja de Sao Joao Evangelista, which belonged to the monastery Convento dos Lóios. Now the monastery has been converted into a historical hotel Pousada dos Loios and the church became part of Palácio dos Duques de Cadaval.

It would be hard not to be awestruck by the church’s sublime floor-to-ceiling of blue azulejos by António Oliveira Bernardes (early 1700s), which depict scenes from the life of São Lourenço Justiniano, founder of the Lóios order. This church is considered to be one of the most beautiful private churches in the country, and it certainly does not disappoint. The palace next door however, is pleasant enough and has some interesting art work and artifacts, but it lacks the grandeur that one would expect from a ‘palace’. Without much antipication, I followed a set of narrow staircase that led me up to the attic… which turned out to be the space for a temporary exhibition called ‘Four corners of the world’. The die-cut cardboard installation of architecture from around the world was not what I was expecting and it immediately brought a smile to my face.


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Top & 2nd rows: Fórum Eugénio de Almeida – As high as the eye can reach exhibition; Bottom: Carriage Collection


After visiting the historical Cathedral and its museum, I decided to skip Museu de Évora and opted for something more contemporary opposite – Forum Eugenio de Almeida. The contemporary art and cultural centre was endowed by the privately-owned Eugénio de Almeida Foundation, as part of the scheme to regenerate and restore the city of Évora.

Their current exhibition ‘As high as the eye can reach‘ (until 15th March) proposes a cross-reading between sacred art and contemporary art, marking the culmination of more than a decade of inventorying the artistic heritage of the Archdiocese of Évora and dissemination of contemporary art. The exhibition approaches the question of the relationship between art and transcendence in the past and present day. This is an ambitious exhibition, however, the lack of context esp. with the contemporary art works was an issue for me. Perhaps I am biased as I am not a big fan of contemporary art, but instead of feeling stimulated, I left the exhibition feeling somewhat apathetic. I applaud the curators’ effort in tackling a subject that is quite inscrutable and provocative, though I think they have only scratched the surface of a complex subject.

The foundation also owns the nearby Páteo de S. Miguel, a group of buildings including the Paço dos Condes de Basto (the Palace of the Counts of Basto), the Eugenia de Almeida Archive and Library, the Coach Collection and the S. Miguel Chapel. The palace, library and archive can be visited by appointment with a guide, whereas the Carriage Collection is open to all. The small Carriage Collection has an interesting display of coaches, carriages and harnesses of different styles and traveling from the 18th and 19th centuries.


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 Museu do Artesanato e do Design


On the other side of town, I walked past the Museu do Artesanato e do Design (Museum of craft and design) and was curious to see what was inside. The museum is not very big, but the display includes a wide range of locally made crafts, ceramics and furniture etc. Aside from local crafts, there is another section that displays an impressive selection of household and industrial objects designed by world-renowned designers like Dieter Rams, Ettore Sottsass, Philippe Starck and Kenneth Grange etc. It’s not exactly MOMA, but it is worth visiting if you happen to be doing some sightseeing nearby.


Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Museu Calouste Gulbenkian


Back in Lisbon, I was keen to visit one of Portugal’s best museums, Museu Calouste Gulbenkian as I missed it on my last trip. I did not anticipate to spend most of my day there (but I did), and so I ended up feeling like I had completed an epic art marathon. I had not realised that the museum is connected to Centro de Arte Moderna, and the complex is enormous, so be prepared to spend hours here! At the museum, the ‘A Shared History: Treasures of the Royal Palaces of Spain‘ exhibition showcased significant art works and artifacts from the Spanish monarchy spanning 350 years. The historical ties between Portugal and Spain could be seen at this exhibition through portraits, drawings, paintings, furniture and even decorative objects.


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Centro de Arte Moderna – Top two, 4th middle & right, 6th left: António Dacosta; 4th left: Paula Rego’s ‘The Vivian Girls as Windmills forms’ & 5th row: Paula Rego’s ‘Proles wall’; 6th row right: Julio Pomar’s ‘Le Luxe’; 7th & 8th rows: Salette Tavares


At the Centro de Arte Moderna, there were several exhibitions taking place at the same time including: ‘António Dacosta 1914 I 2014‘, ‘Salette Tavares: Spatial Poetry‘ and the ongoing ‘Arshile Gorky and the Collection‘ (until 31st May). It was a great opportunity to see the retrospective of Portuguese artist António Dacosta, and a small selection of works by Arshile Gorky. However, it was Portuguese artist Salette Tavares‘ (1922-1994) work that blew me away. I have never heard of this artist before, but her visual exploration of text and poems still seems ground-breaking in today’s standards. I love the fact that she experimented with a wide range of media and materials, I am merely astonished that she was not as recognised internationally.



Shadows of Asia at Museu do Oriente


The Portuguese first established their roots in India around 1500, and gradually they moved eastwards and became a dominant powerhouse in the region through force, religion and trade. Even today, we can see the influences and imprints left by the empire in their former colonies like Goa, Malacca, Macau, and Nagasaki in Japan. Not many people acknowledge that the beloved Japanese tempura (the Portuguese version: Peixinhos da horta) was introduced by Portuguese Jesuit missioneries when they founded Nagasaki during the 16th century. And the popular Chinese egg tarts that are ubiqutious in Hong Kong and Macau today can also trace its origin back to the Portuguese custart tarts (pastel de nata).

Opened in 2008, the Museu do Oriente is situated in a massive former 6-storey factory used for the processing of salted cod (bacalhau) by the port in Alcântara. Originally designed by Portuguese architect João Simões Antunes in the 1940s, Carrilho da Graça Arquitectos was commissioned to convert the factory to a museum containing a collection of artworks from Portugal’s Asian colonies. The museum has an impressive array of historical artifacts, paintings, furniture, crafts and puppetry and over 13.000 pieces were donated in 1999 by Paris’ Musée Kwok on after its closure.

I have never seen such an extensive range of shadow theatre puppets before. The permanent collection here is diverse and extraordinary, and the collection focuses on China, India, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malasia and Turkey where shadow theatre played was seen as a highly significant form of folk art.


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Top right: ‘Woven Languages / Linguagens Tecidas’ and the rest: Lisbon impact by Deviprasad C Rao 


The two temporary exhibitions that took place while I was there were: ‘Woven Languages / Linguagens Tecidas’ on traditional ikat textiles from Indonesia; and ‘Lisbon impact’, a solo exhibition of Lisbon-inspired art works created by self-taught Indian artist, sculptor and muralist, Deviprasad C Rao. The artist created his perspective on Lisbon through abstract drawings, paintings, photographs and a video installation. His works capture the city’s vivid colours, density, geography, architecture and essence stupendously and it is hard not to be amazed by his metculous abstract streetscape of Lisbon.


From Matrix to Sleeping Beauty

Museu do Design e da Moda – ‘From Matrix to Sleeping Beauty’ 


Housed in a historical building that used to be the headquarters of the bank BNU in the city centre, it is worth visiting the MUDE (Museu do Design e da Moda) for its architecture/ interiors alone. The building has had several major transformations, first in the 1920s by architect Tertuliano Marques and then by Modernist architect Cristino da Silva in the 1960s. The third transformation took place around 2001 but the project was abolished after its interiors had been demolished. Finally in 2008, Lisbon City Council acquired the building and commissioned Ricardo Carvalho + Joana Vilhena Arquitectos to create a new contemporary space while conserving the historical elements.

The ‘deconstructed’ museum space reminds me of Paris’ Palais de Tokyo where the concrete structure is exposed rather than being painted over. The industrial rawness allows the design objects and colourful fashion articles to stand out more. And this is best demonstrated at one of its current exhibition ‘De Matrix a Bela Adormecida’ or ‘From Matrix to Sleeping Beauty’ (until 29 March), which showcases around 300 pieces (clothing, hair props, jewellery and shoes) designed by Portuguese set designer, costume designer and artist, António Lagarto. The stunning dresses, architecture and lighting all work brilliantly (see above), creating a theatrical effect that is immensely captivating.


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Museum of design and fashion – Top row: From Matrix to Sleeping Beauty


The ground floor of the museum houses its permanent collection, providing a chronological history of design through its display of fashion items, furniture and other classic design objects. I was lucky to be able to catch the two Japanese-themed exhibitions before it ended: ‘Naked shapes‘ and ‘Boro: Fabric of life‘.

At the ‘Boro: Fabric of life‘, 54 pieces of kimonos, purses and tatamis created by the traditional Japanese technique Boro method were on display. The technique consists of stitching and weaving different fabrics together (like patchwork) and subsequently dyed with indigo. The technique was employed especially by peasants from the late eighteenth century to mid-twentieth century. It also embodies the Japanese motto of ‘mottainai‘ or ‘waste not‘ as it creates garments that are eco-friendly and practical.

At ‘Naked shapes‘, I was thrilled to see the 200 aluminium household objects, home appliances, furniture, and toys manufactured in Japan between 1910 and 1960. The minimalist designs reflect the Japanese aesthetic values perfectly, and the beauty of these objects lies in its simplicity and bareness. Functionality, craftsmanship and material are the priorities here, and so little design is required for their creations. I am sure that design guru Dieter Rams would appreciate them too!

Last but not least is the exhibition on eyewear ‘Behind the shadows (until 29th March) in the basement of the museum. The setting of the exhibition is the highlight because over 400 vintage eyewear are displayed inside the safety deposit boxes behind the bullet-proof steel door! It is no doubt one of the coolest exhibition venue that I have come across, what a playful and cool idea!


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Atelier Museu Julio Pomar


The best thing about Lisbon is that you can wander around the city and you will always come across something interesting. After a disappointing visit at the Casa Fernando Pessoa, I came across Atelier Museu Julio Pomar by chance, which I think is a well hidden gem in the city.

Housed inside a former warehouse, the spacious and bright museum was designed by the same architects behind MUDE, Ricardo Carvalho + Joana Vilhena Arquitectos (see above). The collection here includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, ceramics, collages and assemblage by Portuguese neo-expressionist artist, Julio Pomar. On the ground floor, there are many of the artist’s delightful woodblock prints, while the larger and more abstract paintings are upstairs. You can also find his other well-known works at the Centro de Arte Moderna (see ‘Le luxe‘ above).


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British Council: 3rd row: The tile panel at the entrance by José António Jorge Pinto


Being curious can be a positive trait as it often brings me surprises (pleasant or not)! I was intrigued by a pink building as I was walking uphill in Estrela district (which has strong British roots and connections), and when I saw the British Council sign, I decided to go inside to explore further. After walking past the gate, I was immediately drawn towards the two long panels of azulejos that depict rural farming scenes from the past. I later found out that they were designed by José António Jorge Pinto, a Portuguese Art Noveau artist.

The current site of the Coucil was once the Palácio do Menino de Ouro, and it was acquired by the British Council in 1942. This historical building has quite a fascinating story behind it. Originally built by José Luís Seixas Fernandes in 1885, who was a collector of art and porcelain, and therefore transformed his home into a private art museum for himself. Three years after his death in 1925, the building was purchased by Alves dos Reis, a famous fraudster/criminal who printed counterfeit notes in London (of all places!) in the name of Banco de Portugal (Bank of Portugal). Considered to be one of the largest frauds in history, the ‘Portuguese bank note crisis‘ has inspired TV series in Portugal and Italy in recent years.

Once inside, I asked the receptionist if it was possible for me to visit the building and she said ‘fine’ as long as I didn’t take photographs inside. And to my surprise, the building is filled with works of art by an amazing array of famous artists including a huge painting by Paula Rego (who studied and lives in London) in the foyer. Currently on display is a selection of British contemporary art in the last 60 years, and you can find works by Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread and Julian Opie etc.

Unfortunately, aside from the structure, foyer and main staircases, most of the rooms have been turned into MFI style offices and classrooms except for the former music room (now a conference room) at the back. The room has wooden panels, exquisite early 20th century tiles made by the Sarreguemines factory in France, and some exceptional stained glass windows.

After my self-guided tour, the receptionist urged me to visit the garden at the back. As I expected, the garden is well-maintained with some outdoor sculptures, a traditional well, lemon trees, exotic plants and a lovely groomed hedge around the back stairs.

This British Council must be one of best hidden gems in Lisbon as it is not even listed in guide books! This is the reason why a guide book is not needed to explore Lisbon, all you need are a pair of comfortable shoes (for walking up hilly cobbled streets) and your eyes, then you will uncover a city that is full of history, beauty and charm.


Food, wine & markets in Portugal

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Mercado da Vila, Cascais


When I travel, if possible, I would always try to visit a local food market as I believe it is the most authentic place to be in any city/town/village. At the food market, not only you would find the best local produce, but you would also see how the locals interact with each other, and it’s unlikely that you would be ripped off if you shop with the locals!


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Cascais: Mercado da Vila; 6th row middle & Bottom left: Grão damor


In Cascais (the seaside town 30 minutes from Lisbon), there is a bustling municipal market (Mercado da Vila) that sells fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, seafood and other local produce such as cheeses, bread, olives, pastries and sweets etc. And on Wednesdays, there is a jumble sale type of market that sells cheap clothing and shoes etc just outside of the food market.

Usually the eateries in or near the markets are most likely to be reliable due to its proximaty to the fresh produce. I discovered a cute cafe Grão damor on top of the market and had a small fish soup full of fresh fish for €2.50, a real bargain!


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Fish market and Marisco Na Praca


The market is also home to one of most popular seafood restaurants in town, Marisco Na Praca. Everything is ordered by weight, so the customers choose their seafood preferences and they would suggest the cooking methods. The prices here are low but the quality is very good. My favourites were the local shrimps since they taste different from the standard shrimps, and judging from other tables, their seafood rice dish seems like a popular choice too.


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Top row left, middle and 2nd row: Botequim da Mouraria and the owner/chef Domingos; Bottom left & middle: Salsa Verde; Bottom right: Cafe Alentejo


I have heard a lot about Alentejo cuisine and wine before I visited the region, but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect until I arrived. Unfortunately for a pescetarian like myself, I struggled to order at some restaurants as most items on the menus seem to be geared towards meat-eaters. From what I have seen and tasted, this region’s cuisine is hearty, simple and slightly peasant-like with a lot of cheeses and sausages.

In Evora, the bar-like Botequim da Mouraria is one of the most well-known restaurants in town to experience typical local cuisine. The wine collection here is huge as well, and instead of going through the list, I simply asked the owner pick a local red wine for me. There are only 12 counter seats, the best part is that you are mostly to end up chatting to your neighbours like I did. I spent much of my meal chatting to a Russian lady and her architect daughter with the owner joining in occasionally. It was relaxing, cosy and fun, probably the most memorable evening during my trip.

And after being deprived from vegetables for days, I was more than relieved to find Salsa Verde, a vegetarian buffet-style cafe for a light lunch. Fresh juice and a plate of vegetarian meal was less than €8, an affordable and healthy option for vegetarians.


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Pastelaria Conventual pão de rala; 2nd left: Sign for Cafetaria Páteo de S. Miguel


I am quite sure that most Portuguese have a sweet tooth! I seldom eat sweets and desserts, but I felt ‘obliged’ to taste the local sweets and pastries while I was there. In Evora, Pastelaria Conventual pão de rala is THE place for those who are addicted to sugar! Most of the sweets here are made on the premises from recipes originated in the local convents. The cafe is cosy and friendly, but after one bite of their famous pão de rala, I felt like I was consuming my whole year’s worth of sugar in one go! I later tried their Queijinho do Céu back in the hotel, and found it less sweet and more ‘edible’ for my taste bud.

Behind the Cathedral, there is another cafeteria that is well-known for their Patéis de Nata (custard tart). The cafe is called Cafetaria Páteo de S. Miguel and their tarts are considered to be as good as the famous Patéis de Bélem!

After consuming so much sweet stuff, I was beginning to wonder about the statistics on diabetes in Portugal… and guess what? I later found out that Portugal has a higher rate of diabetes than any other country in the EU, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development published in 2012. And boy, I am not at all surprised by this!


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Saturday food market in Estremoz; 6th row middle & Bottom: Gadanha Mercearia; 6th row right: A Cadeia


One of the main attraction in Estremoz is its weekly Saturday markets in the town’s main square. Aside from an antiques/car-boot sale type of market, there is also a food market selling fresh vegetables, fruits, bread, cheeses and sausages etc. I couldn’t resist buying strawberries and satsumas here as I felt like my diet had been rather unbalanced since my arrival here.

Not far from the square, Gadanha Mercearia is a modern restaurant/cafe/deli to sample local cuisine with a contemporary touch. The wine here is produced locally, and the a glass of wine is cheaper than a cup of coffee in London!

In the evening, I had dinner at the prison-turned restaurant A Cadeia Quinhentista near the castle on the top of the hill. The prices are not cheap here (in Portuguese standard), but I didn’t think the food lived up to its reputation nor did I like the formal and rather cold service. It was one of the most expensive but also most disappointing meal of my trip!


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First 3 rows: Mercado da Ribeira; 4th to bottom rows: Mercado de Campo de Ourique


Finally, I was glad to be heading back to Lisbon as I was feeling rather bloated after 2 days of substantial Alentejo cuisine! In Lisbon, the newest and most popular food market/court is the Time out Lisboa’s recently renovated Mercado da Ribeira near Cais do Sodré train station. The 5-million-euro project restored and transformed a 13th century former fish/food market into the hippest culinary destination in town. With seating for 750 people, there are 35 establishments selling and serving a variety of local specialties and international cuisines. Prices here are reasonable, and best of all, you can pick and eat and drink your way around the market provided your stomach can handle it!

Elsewhere in Campo de Ourique, a quiet residential area where I was staying, there is another smaller but less touristy food market/court Mercado de Campo de Ourique. Although the food hall here is smaller than the Time out one, there are still plenty of choices available, and it is especially popular with the locals who live nearby.


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Top & bottom left row: Linha d’Agua in Jardim Amália Rodrigues; Bottom right: a wise ‘motto’ found at a local wine shop!


One of the best parts of this trip was having alfresco lunches in the midst of winter, and I became addicted to eating outdoor whenever it was available. In Lisbon, my favourite outdoor cafe is Linha d’Agua on the top of Jardim Amália Rodrigues. I loved the tranquil and relaxing setting, the cafeteria-style food here is simple but fresh and reasonably priced, and it seems to be a popular choice amongst local students.


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Top & 2nd rows: A Tentadora; 3rd row: A Padaria Portuguesa; 4th & 5th rows: Pastelaria Aloma


When I visited Lisbon previously, my friend and I visited many well-known cafes and pastelarias recommended by guidebooks including the famous Pastelería de Belem. But on this trip, I decided skip these places and headed for the local ones instead. In Campo de Ourique, I stumbled upon an art nouveau style cafe that is great for people-watching called A Tentadora. It is full of elderly locals, and prices are cheap as well (an expresso for €0.60 and €1 for a white Americano), so if you are skimped, spending a few hours here is not a bad option!

If like me, you don’t want to travel all the way to Belem and queue for some pastel de Natac (custard tarts), then the orginal Pastelaria Aloma shop in Campo de Ourique is a must! The 70-year old Lisbon institution is not as touristy as Pastelería de Belem, and it has won the best Pastel de Nata award (yes, there is a competition for it) in Lisbon in two consecutive years, so their tarts are definitely one of the best in town. The shop has recently expanded and opened 3 new outlets (including one at he Time out Mercado da Ribeira), but the friendly and cosy original one is my favourite.

Bakeries and pastelería are ubiquitous in Lisbon, but curiously, the local chain bakery and cafe A Padaria Portuguesa seems to be very popular amongst locals. I didn’t realise it is chain until later, but I think the shop stands out for its contemporary style interior. The food and service here is good, so it is easy to understand why it attracts mostly younger customers.

As much as I enjoyed eating and drinking in Portugal, I felt that a week of indulgence was more than my stomach and liver could bear. It is true to say that good things come in small doses, because all that I craved for by the end of the trip were just fruits and vegetables! And I am most likely to stay away from the sweet stuff for quite a while…