Sometimes you need a good excuse to be a tourist in your own country. Magdalena‘s visit provided the perfect pretext to spend a week enjoying some of the most beautiful spots in and out of Lisbon. Finally came the moment to visit Palácio da Pena, the colourful-straight-out-of-Willy-Wonka royal house sitting on top of a lusciously green hill.
Note to self: next time stick to the palace’s exterior and choose only to visit its gardens, as the crowds are more sparse and you don’t need to queue all day to visit its not so remarkable interior.
Praia da Ursa, a stone’s throw from the westernmost point of continental Europe left me in utter awe. Its uneasy access and lack of infrastructures make it the perfect spot away from the hordes. It takes roughly 20 minutes to walk down and along the way
There was also time for some south-of-Lisbon adventure: Praia do Pinheirinho and Cais Palafítico da Carrasqueira. For the latter, make sure to get there before the sunset, you’ll definitely thank me later.
Just across the river, on the south bank (aka Margem Sul), one can find an idyllic place with some of the most amazing views of the city. Still not as crowded as the core historical centre of Lisbon, Cacilhas is just the right place to unwind and take some time off from the daily grooves.
It was my second time here and the excitement I got upon stepping off the cacilheiro was undeniably high. The derelict warehouses, the disrupted promenade, the grimy piers, the old-school neon, the bright yellow esplanade overlooking Lisbon… Everything here is settled in peaceful harmony.
Recipe for the perfect afternoon:
If you have the sense of orientation of a slug, open Google Maps and locate yourself;
Doesn’t matter where you are: just make it to the riverfront. Either walk or take public transport, it’s greener!
Once you make, look for the iconic Golden-Gate-like bridge and make sure that the sun is still high above it;
Head towards Pingo Doce (in Cais do Sodré) to buy some refreshments and snacks. Yes, it’s narrow and crowded but fear not!
Quickly make your way to the maritime terminal, buy your return ticket and hop on the cacilheiro heading to Cacilhas. Take a deep breath and enjoy the views;
Take a left once you disembark and walk along the promenade until you reach a green area next to a panoramic elevator;
Lay down the blanket, place yourself comfortably, and be ready for an incredible sunset.
Before writing anything else, I have to thank T. for introducing and taking me to this play yesterday evening. If it wasn’t for him, this would have slipped under my radar.
Introductions aside, let’s get down to it!
Avenue Q (locally translated to, you guesses it, Avenida Q) is a musical first presented on Broadway in 2003 and given its popularity, it has ever since been produced in various countries worldwide. Portugal was no exception, having Avenida Q first performed earlier this year. The Lusitanian season has been renewed due to the public continuous interest in it.
So, what is Avenue Q?
Imagine Sesame Street and “The Real World” having a baby. It would be Avenue Q. The show mixes human characters and puppet characters interacting with one another. The actors who give life to the puppets are not concealed, instead they have an on-stage presence alongside the other characters.
The story evolves around Luís, a recently who moves to Avenue Q because he can’t afford to live anywhere else. In that place he ends up finding others who struggle with life in one way or another. We can easily very easily relate with the characters or with bits and pieces from each one of them. The difficulty of growing up is smartly conveyed throughout the show. And also the importance of celebrating our failures. We are humans, after all.
The Ursinhos das Ideas de Merda (loosely translated to Little bears of shitty ideas) were my little guilty pleasure. Who wouldn’t love to have two cute, strident teddy bears by your side ready to instigate you into bringing out your worst. No rules, no boundaries, no limits. And then there is Paula Porca. A sex-bomb that cannot be overlooked.
I can honestly say that despite not being a fan of the whole “musical” concept (I mean, on what purpose do performers start singing so perfectly synchronised with great choreography?), Avenue Q was created with the finest ingredients: snarky sarcasm, humour and enough irony mixed with catchy songs. Enough to head home with a smile on my face.
Another foray into the underground world of not-so-legal restaurants in Martim Moniz. I ventured into a new place, right at the main square. Look for number 12 and don’t fear having to walk upstairs from the entrance door, you’ll find it easily. I came to try out a €5 Chinese noodles soup, with a pork chunk drowned on a beautifully flavoured broth.
Once we entered, the place was not so crowded and we were the only westerners in there. That’s always a good sign! 😉
The biggest challenge was deciding how to approach the soup: chopsticks, spoon or fork. We had all these at hand and within an hour of hard labouring I finished most of the bowl. Despite not having a sweet tooth, I shared a plate of fried banana to finish our travel through the East.