Since moving to Lisbon from Cascais, I have much to report but first, news about COVID.
As of this writing, Portugal has returned to a State of Calamity which means restrictions on gatherings and travel. Public gatherings of more than five people are banned and there is an appeal by leadership for everyone to wear a mask on public streets, as is required in all buildings, and to download the StayAway Covid application.
That’s not too much to ask for everyone to stay safe and the number of COVID cases to go down in Portugal.
[Please note that on Friday, October 23rd, the government is mandating that everyone wear a mask on public streets as well as in enclosed areas.]
For those living in Portugal or planning to move here, I highly recommend subscribing to Safe Communities Portugal. They send out a newsletter, sometimes daily, with updates on health information about Portugal. All of the text is in English and much is translated from official documents so you are reading exactly what is being stated by the government.
Now on to the fun stuff.
I took a walk to my wine shop this week, and yes, I already have a favorite place to buy Portuguese wines in my neighborhood. Interestingly, it was the first wine shop I visited during my reconnaissance trip to Portugal last Spring. Now, it is just up the hill from where I live. The name of the store is Garrafeira Internacional and they feature wines in the Lisbon district at reasonable prices.
While taking my walk to the wine shop, I realized the small park I pass on the way, Jardim do Principe (the Garden of Principe Real), offers three options for getting a coffee and a sweet treat. This is not surprising for Lisbon or other parts of Portugal and something I appreciate.
There is the quiosque (kiosk) on one end of the park, a park that is about one half city block:
In the middle of this park, only several meters away is this cafe:
And then. of course, if you missed the other opportunities for a coffee, there is this kiosk on the other side of the park, another several meters away:
I love Portugal.
Across the street from this park is the Palacete Ribeiro da Cunha which has been converted into shops with a cafe. It is now called Embaixada.
The building has an interesting history. It was built in 1877 by José Ribeiro da Cunha, a merchant from Minho and designed by the architect Henrique Carlos Afonso.
In 1901, the palace was bought by the Seixas family, who occupied it for about twenty years. Then doctor Manuel Caroça bought the building in 1920 and gave it to his daughter as a wedding present. In 1980 the Universidade Nova took over part of the building and turned their space into administrative offices while the family stayed on the first floor until the 1990s.
Apparently the building stood empty after a time but was recently renovated, keeping the interiors intact. The large rooms on the second floor are now shops and below, in the atrium, is a cafe.
Heading back to the house, I decided to take advantage of one of the last days of our Indian Summer in Lisbon by stopping in at the cafe kiosk in the Jardim de São Pedro de Alcântara, a park with sweeping views of Lisbon.
I ordered a meia de leite, a coffee drink that is half expresso, half milk, and enjoyed the view.
You can have a bite to eat, a glass of wine or a pastry as well. I discovered you can sit in a sling chair, facing the view of the city while being served your refreshment of choice! I must do this in the Spring.
After having my coffee, I walked down the hill where a trolley used to run. It appears that the two trolley cars are being updated but in the meantime, as I mentioned in my last post, it is now a place for street artists to paint and share their work.
I’ve been watching two women painting for a few days, curious to see what would appear on their established portion of the wall.
After a few days, I saw the final product.
The message is to wear a mask, practice social distancing and do the elbow knock instead of the kiss-kiss.
Just as I was getting adjusted to the kiss-kiss on both cheeks instead of shaking hands or just saying good by, and got fairly well practiced at it, I can no longer show off my new cosmopolitan style 😦
On another day, I decided to stop into the Rossio train station on my way to a small grocery store down the hill from where I live. The entrance to the building is quite striking and I wanted to see if the interior matched what I saw of the facade.
After going up an escalator in this immense space, I arrived on the platform floor and the view of the station matched the exterior in size and design.
The photo above does not do it justice but at least shows the scale of the building.
The interior walls repeat the arch pattern of the building entrance and it is all in a polished stone.
I did discover from this station I will be able to go to Sintra and where I will visit some parts of the town that I did not have the opportunity to explore on my last trip. You can see more about my first visit to Sintra here.
I realize that much of the beauty of Lisbon are the interiors of these wonderful buildings and it’s worth the time to take a peek inside.
Now, about shopping in Lisbon.
Lisbon is filled with all kinds of small shops and you don’t know the scale of some of these little stores until you go inside and realize they keep going back further and further or go up or down a set of stairs and sometimes take you through a maze of small rooms. If you think a storefront looks interesting, go inside. You don’t know what discoveries you might make.
Then there are the department stores and supermercados (supermarkets). The department stores are multi-story and carry a wide variety of merchandise.
Since moving to Lisbon, I have needed to get various items and didn’t want to spend time going from one small shop to the next hoping to find what I needed so I explored two department stores in Lisbon.
The first store I explored is Pollux. It offers furnishings for the home. There are eight floors plus a rooftop terrace in this building. I was most impressed by the floor of kitchenware and the quality of the cooking utensils.
To compare, Pollux is like a Macy’s in the US.
I walked through each department and on the top floor is a restaurant with a rooftop terrace where you can have a small meal, a glass of wine or a coffee. The view from the terrace was magnificent and a recommended break from the activity below.
My second visit was to El Corte Ingles and it left my head spinning.
This store is a megastore on the level of a Nordstroms but carries everything from higher end appliances to the latest fashions at varying prices. The service is excellent and rivals that of a Nordstroms, Saks Fifth Avenue or a Neiman Marcus.
There is nothing in the US to compare it to.
It takes up at least two city blocks and there are six levels in addition a below street level where there are restaurants and a supermercado that is on par with a Whole Foods in quality but not with the high prices.
Each level is devoted to one category, children’s wear, women’s fashions, men’s clothes, etc.
I was in heaven.
Everything I needed was in the kitchen department but I did look at the clothes and appliances. Very nice clothes, mostly high fashion, with prices that went from reasonable to 650 euros for a gorgeous cable knit sweater.
That’s it for this week.
I promise more revelations in future posts.
Stay safe and stay well.