Lisbon is a lovley city with so many cultures within it. You can experiance a little of everything all within a few miles of the city center.
When going over the bridge for a day trip do not try to come back over between the hours of 4 and 7 or on a Sunday afternoon as you will be sitting in real bad traffic.
Now it's about time to start learning some Portuguese:
"Direita" is a Portuguese word that means either right or straight. Each city uses to have its "Direita" street that, by coincidence is generally one of the least straight of them. Don't try to understand - that's Portuguese logic.
King José statue in Praça do Comércio is the subject to a traditional game that all the children visiting it must face:
- Which one is the "direita" leg of King José's horse?
Wrong! It's the other one.
If they answer "the right one" they will be correct - the straight one is the left. If they answer "the left"... well... the right is the other one.
With this innocent joke no child will ever forget that statue.
Usefull Words in Portuguese
In the restaurant:
Waitress = Garçon
Fish = Peixe
Meat = Carne
Fruit = Fruta
Dessert = Sobremesa
Wine = Vinho
Beer = Cerveja
Water = Água
Juice = Sumo
Coffee = Café
Bread = Pão
Please bring me the bill = Traga-me a conta por favor
Please = Por favor
Thank you = Obrigada (if you’re a woman)
Obrigado (if you’re a man)
I need help = Preciso de ajuda
How much is it? = Quanto custa?
Cash = Dinheiro
Cheque = Cheque
Credit card = Cartão de crédito
What size is this? = Qual é o tamanho?
Shoes = Sapatos
T-shirt = T-shirt
Trousers = Calças
Skirts = Saias
Books = Livros
Earrings = Brincos
Watch = Relógio
Ring = Anel
Cigarettes = Cigarros
Bottle = Garrafa
Perfume = Perfume
Excuse me, can you help me = Desculpe, pode-me ajudar
Where is... = Onde fica...
How do I get there = Como posso lá chegar
Where do I get the bus = Onde apanho o autocarro
Do you speak English = Fala Inglês
I’m looking for the museum = Estou à procura do museu
Library = Biblioteca
Shopping Center = Centro Comercial
Lady/woman = Senhora/mulher
Mister/man = Senhor/homem
1 = um
2 = dois
3 = três
4 = quatro
5 = cinco
6 = seis
7 = sete
8 = oito
9 = nove
10 = dez
100 = cem
1000 = mil
2000 = dois mil
3000 = três mi
Fado... fate... destiny
Much as been said about fado. I just add what I think it can be worth of a note (I know it's a lot)
It's not the most important kind of music from Portugal, although it's the most famous.
It's not from the whole Portugal but only from two Portuguese cities: Lisbon and Coimbra.
The Lisbon sort of fado appeared in XIX century Mouraria (read my tip about Mouraria). It was a marginalized kind of music, sung in filthy taverns and brothels.
The first legend of fado, the XIX century singer Maria Severa, was a gypsy woman. She was also a prostitute who used to sing in Mouraria's brothels (XIX century history, no longer exist, hum?).
At the end of the XIX century, fado became more respectful, but kept the emotional root of it: related with alcohol, sadness, jealousy, melancholy, frustration, mixed feelings, revenge, and a poetic/metaphoric/cheeky way to translate those feelings into songs.
In the XX century, many of Lisbon's poets (there are so many), wrote fado songs. The XX century is a long period of decadence of Portugal in all aspects. That contributed even more to the sad feeling of "saudade", or "longing for something", and made fado even sadder. "oh! sad fado..."
Fado is so deeply related to wine that there was the idea that a good fado singer had to be drunk to sing a fado. The drunkard-like voices of many singers represent that.
There is no consensus about the real origins of fado. Some claim African origins because of the slaves ordeal, while others claim Brazilian. But for these origins it lacks that African rhythmic beat.
It's more likely that it comes from a combo of origins such as the following:
Arabic: Because of the emotional touch of fado and it's sense of fatalism. It appeared in the Moorish district of Lisbon after all: Mouraria.
English: The 12 stringed and pear shaped Portuguese guitar evolved from a medieval European guitar called the cittern. It is thought that English sailors from wine ships used to play this instrument. The instrument became popularized in Portugal and known as the English guitar. Meanwhile, the usage of the cittern faded in Europe and in England. The English guitar would be renamed in Portugal as the Portuguese guitar.
If the English sailors who played this instrument were from port wine ships, we can say that the English cittern entered Portugal through Oporto. Ironically, Oporto, as the 2nd city of Portugal and rival of Lisbon, is a city whose people used to take pride in saying "we do not sing fado here. We do not cry, we work"
Nowadays, fado is played in Lisbon mostly for tourists in fado restaurants as a touristy stereotype of Portugal. Besides that, it is sung by many world famous singers, who sometimes play concerts in Lisbon.
In the 1970's fado music was highly criticized as an icon of backward Portugal. It had been promoted by the long dictatorship Portugal had in the XX century.
Nevertheless, good fado songs are deep. They reflect an emotional feeling of longing for something, for a state of mind, for a place, for someone. The happier songs describe more the old life of working class people, fishermen, fish vendors, etc.
Exploring the beaches of Lisbon
Surfing, bodyboarding, sailing, windsurfing and all sorts of water sports can be found in beaches like Guincho (that has some of the best conditions for surf and windsurf), Cascais and Costa da Caparica. This last one boasts a 15 kilometre stretch of golden, sandy shoreline.
Also not to be missed are the surrounding areas of Setúbal and Sesimbra. Besides having good conditions for water sports, both these regions offer spectacular scenery and are definitely worth a visit.