Posts Tagged ‘lisbon’

Drinks in A Vizinha, Lisbon

Posted 06 May 2012 — by Jonathan
Category General, Travel

I like the jumble of things in Lisbon. Nothing really matches. The old and the new sit adjacent; ornate tiles are juxtoposed with scrawled grafitti,  dark winding alleys are half lit by sunlight, and totally different areas sit side by side, impatiently resisting easy navigability with map-defying, cascading hills. Even in the smallest spaces the contrasts are evident; record shops which sell books and jewellery; little clothes boutiques selling two-euro, pint-sized cocktails, and arty cafes are filled with mismatched furniture. It’s a city of real informality – people look great but their outfits look instinctive not considered. On Liberation Eve, one of the biggest nights out of the year, we saw precisely one party dress.

In Bica, we stumbled into a tiny whole-food shop and cafe, A Vizinha, still open at 10pm on a Thursday night. A few chairs and tables were assembled at the front of the store, where little groups sat chatting over bottles of wine. We mooched in and ordered small beers, unfolding local freesheets and collapsing onto a little sofa which looked out over our fellow drinkers. The mood could not have been more inviting or welcoming, yet everyone talked quietly, undemonstratively, drinking slowly, taking their time. It was as intimate as any English pub and at the same time utterly different. We sat with our drinks, with the walls lined with tins of sardine pâté, gluten free pasta and tofu. It being only 10.30, no-one was really out yet, so our drink was peaceful and quick – it was perhaps the gentlest, most comfortable thirty minutes of our week away.

There are a million lovely places in Lisbon, so recommending one over another is almost counter-productive; but if you’re in Lisbon and fancy a sit-down, this place is lovely.

A Vizinha, Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo, nº14, Lisbon, Portugal

Records in Libson #1: Louie Louie

Posted 30 Apr 2012 — by Jonathan
Category Travel

A classic independent record shop in the heart of Chiado, Louie Louie is an old school, vinyl-heavy record shop. It reminds me of indie shops in London during the 1990s, before the craze for recommendations, listening posts and detailed categories kicked in. Louie Louie stocks plenty of decent contemporary vinyl from the UK and USA, but it’s notable for a decent stock of portuguese indie and traditional fado, as well as bins of soul, world and latin releases.

We stumbled in late on Thursday afternoon and I immediately began planning purchases, fingering my much-diminished envelope of euros. I’ve yet to to tire of discovering record shops; their importance to me throughout my life has been such a reassuring constant that I quickly feel at home whenever there are records to leaf through – writing this I can hear the dull thud of cardboard sleeves thudding against each other as I browse, or the light click-clack of plastic hitting plastic as I flick through shelves of CDs. Posters on the wall, free magazines on the sides, and the high counter, usually pock-marked with stickers. Louie Louie fits exactly into my mental vision of what a record shop represents, and as such I recommend it highly, should you get the chance to go.

(For more esoteric and expermintal music, try MateriaPrima, on Rua Da Rosa, or for a picturesque and old-fashioned traditional fado store in the Baixa, try Discoteca Amália on Rua Áurea – both of which I’ll blog about presently).

Louie Louie, Chiado, Lisbon

Louie Louie
Rua Nova da Trindade – 8-A (ao Chiado)
Lisbon, Lisbon Portugal
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Pasteis de Nata in Belém, Lisbon.

Posted 29 Apr 2012 — by Jonathan
Category Observations, Travel

The quite beautiful Fabrica de Pasteis de Belém is justly famous as the most picturesque dining destination in the busy, imperial suburb of Belém, just a few kilometres west of Lisbon. It’s impossible to visit the town – which was the launching post for Vasco de Gama when he made the first sea-voyage from Europe to India back in 1497 – without noticing, amongst the open spaces, modern art galleries and intricate palaces, this ornate, bustling little bakery and cafeteria. But it’s also hard not to wonder if, somewhere down the line, this achingly authentic establishment (which is famous for it’s delicious, sweet pastries) lost its purpose, and began to exclusively serve the tourist community rather than the locals. When we arrived, on a cloudy weekday afternoon in late-April, the queue stretched down the road and spoke in many languages.

Happily, we’d already been tipped off that a visit to the nearby Pasteleria Chique de Belém would be just as fruitful – the Pastel de Nata they sell are not served in such picturesque surroundings, but they’re every bit as fresh and had a determinedly sugar-agnostic diner like me marvelling over the complimentary textures; the warm, sweet custard filling and the incredibly light, flaky crust. Really amazing – if you get the chance to visit Belém, be advised that you’d be stupid not to try some. (Not being me, of course, with my quaint reluctance to eat chocolate, cake, pastries or ice-cream, not trying a Pastel de Nata in the town that invented them, would probably never occur to you. Anyway.)

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Pasteleria Chique de Belém, Rua Junqueira 524, Belém. (Right by the Belém tram stop – get the 15 Tram from central Libson)