Holidays and Other Distractions

I have been feeling guilty for neglecting the blog. A confession. I have a few new addictions. One is the game Doodle Jump and the other is wonderful Joy Orbison mix. The mix is an easier thing to be obsessed with as I can just listen to this on repeat and it does not really affect my life apart from the obvious joy I get streaming into my ears. Doodle Jump on the other hand has put my life on hold. Like a proper geek, I’ve quickly become very addicted to this game, playing it all the time, at any given chance.

I thought that I needed to cure this addiction but could not bring myself to delete the application from my phone. I have decided that tonight I will write about Porto and Lisbon.

At our first stop, Porto we regrettably had rain every day. Luckily the large number of confectioners meant that we could duck in and out of the rain for more pasteis de nata and quick cups of strong coffee or bica.  And even though chocolate umbrellas can’t really protect you from the rain, it can with a little imagination make you forget your soaking feet.

I found Porto an interesting destination. The city was so old and hilly. The architecture beautiful. We searched for youth, but kept finding old men in flat caps and walking sticks. In a club, we sat in the dancefloor next to a family. Three generations sitting together in a darkened club, illuminated only by the dancing lights from the giant disco ball. The DJ played something generic and other families peered in from the madly decorated bar. It was surreal and wonderful.

Our next stop was Lisbon, a city we knew would be very different. It even has its own Le Cool guidebook. We wouldn’t find clubs filled with small tots learning how to walk and greying men and women. We’d find bars that looked like crazy museums lit by  pak choy lampshades.

In Lisbon, we missed variety in our diet so we went in search of something different. It led us to near wild goose chases to find the Mozambican restaurant and later a Malaysian-inspired place called Cafe Malacca.

We pursued the cool in Barrio Alto and Principe Real but it was in Sintra where we found paradise (as described by Lord Byron) and a paper mache animal park. In Lisbon, the old and new sat together comfortably. Sprayed on tiles didn’t look out of place next to the originals that are so distinctively Portugese.

In Sintra we walked up the massive hill and were rewarded by the calm of the lake where a lone black swan was swimming in circles. The air was so fresh and the forest trees were alight with autumnal colours.

On our way to Belem we found the Museu Da Carris, a charming little museum dedicated to the trams!  In Belem we had the most delicious tarts in Antiga Confectaria de Belem. Here perfectly baked custard tarts are served with icing sugar and cinnamon. Each bite is perfectly flaky with a soft filling. I regret not taking photos of any tarts. There were so many petite cakes and tarts. I have never eaten so much pastry in my life. And I’ve also never enjoyed pastry this much.

We went to the wonderful Berardo Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and happily whiled away a few hours looking at the exhibitions on at the moment.

On one of the evenings we met a dapper man. He was so excited about the fact we lived in London that he repeatedly proclaimed “London is the best country in the world!”. This we found endearing and very amusing.

The main highlight of the trip was when we decided to seek out The Cape Verdean Association (Associação de Cabo-Verde, 8th floor at Avenida Duque de Palmela 2, tel. 21 353 1932). In the business district of Lisbon, in an 80s office block, we entered this grey building and into the lift with two men in suits, clearly on their office lunch breaks.

Together we rode up to the eight floor. As we approached the 6th floor, we started hearing music. The men got more and more animated.

The lift opened onto the 8th floor into a big dining hall, filled with people, laughing, eating and chatting. There was a band playing Afro-Portugese music and couples danced in the front. I have never felt so much happiness around me. My last memory of Lisbon was this busy hall filled with music, chatter and dance. And I can’t imagine a nicer way to end a holiday.


2 thoughts on “Holidays and Other Distractions

  1. Audrey,

    I’m Cape Verdean and that happy event of people, laughing, chatting and OH THE MUSIC (dancing!) is common for Cape Verdean gathering in Cape Verde Is, and in our communities around the world. I went to a Hawaiian Luau theme CV dance in Brockton Massachusetts this summer, with a couple non-CV friends. They were amazed at the food, the happy people, dancing and music in a hall in a corner of town no one really knows about 😉

    Sweet memories….Roxanne

    1. That is so lovely! I wish more of the world was filled with communities of people dancing together. It was so rare to witness and experience something like that in the middle of the business district, knowing full well that the folk that were there were actually on their lunch break. =)

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