April feels like life went from black and white to color, from somber chamber music to jazz.
Portugal slowly and methodically began to open again, first outdoor seating at cafes and the opening of small shops then the larger stores opened and students return to school.
What was a hauntingly quiet Avenida Liberdade once again came to life with cars, bikes, scooters, motorcycles and people, the sounds of the city.
And, with all of this, I replaced my old iPhone, which was on life support, literally, with it always plugged into a portable battery, with a new phone that promised to have a better camera. My new iPhone has lived up to what was promised and hopefully my photos will show a difference in my posts to follow.
A flower given to me on International Women’s Day
Easter was quiet this year as it was last year but there were wonderful sweets to eat.
There is a bread made and shared at Easter in Portugal called Folar. It is a sweet bread but not too sweet, that can hold one, two or four decorative eggs. The eggs signify rebirth as is celebrated at Easter. I thought the bread was delicious and a slice or two toasted or warmed was even better.
Then there is my favorite candy, Jordan almonds. The first time I enjoyed these sweets was in Venice when I much younger, running through the streets with my brother and smelling the warm, delicious scent of Jordan almonds wafting from the candy shops. I would get a little paper cone filled with the candied almonds still warm, and savor the flavors.
At Easter in Portugal, those wonderful candies are in every window and store and I cannot resist.
A box of Easter treats at Manuel Tavares
A chocolate egg at El Corte Ingles
Easter Lillies given to me at a floral shop in the Mercado Ribeira. I bought a few plants there and they gave me this beautiful bouquet of lilies.
A neighbor of mine is the host of a wonderful little bar/lounge Procopio. It is on the list of historical shops in Lisbon and highly recommended for a comfortable spot to have a glass of wine or a cocktail with friends.
I celebrated here with friends when I received my Residency Permit last week.
Since coming out of lockdown, all of the museums in Lisbon are offering free admission and many are taking advantage of the opportunity. In the summer the museums will be filled with tourists so this is the perfect time to explore them and learn more about Portugal, its history, art and culture.
Last weekend, after closures and periods of rain every time I wanted to visit, I finally had the chance to go to Castelo de Sao Jorge (Saint George’s Castle) which is on top of the highest of the seven hills of Lisbon and across the city center from where I live. The castle has a presence about it, sitting there with its walls and towers.
The castle was founded in the 11th century by the Moors. In the 12th century there was the Christian conquest and from the 13th to the 16th century it was a royal palace. During the 16th to the 19th century it was used as army barracks and garrison and was to provide shelter for the elites if there was an attack on the city. In the 20th century it became a national monument.
You can see the influence of the Moors and Romans on the site.
There is also an archeological site of the first known settlements in the 7th century and remnants of how the Moors lived and worked in the 11th century.
Many of the bits and pieces of everyday life from the 7th century on are housed in this beautiful space.
And there are peacocks!
And of course, a view.
After leaving Castelo de Sao Jorge, I wandered down the street and discovered the Miradouro de Santa Luzia and the church of Santa Lucia. This is a perfect place to stop for a cafe while enjoying the spectacular view of Lisbon and the Tagus river.
There are many remnants of Roman and Moorish structures in Portugal. The aqueduct, that spans Lisbon is another example. The Lisbon aqueduct follows the earlier path of the Roman aqueduct.
This week I had the opportunity to go inside the aqueduct to watch an immersive color and light show on the works of Monet and Klimt.
In the cavernous space with created pools of water and music, you can view on every surface, works of these two artists.
The reflection on the water.
The program was handled perfectly with social distancing from the time we entered the space until we left. I felt comfortable the entire time and enjoyed the experience.
On my way home from the program, I came across this Yucca in a park in Principe Real. In Southern California, where I grew up, Yucca plants are common but I never saw one with such beautiful blooms.
Odds and Ends
There is much more I saw and experienced this month that I want to share.
First, tile work at my Metro train station, Restauradores:
Newly painted street art on my block:
A view of Castelo de Sao Jorge from the park where I walk Buddy.
Wildflowers in the park.
A wonderful shop, Manuel Tavares, with goods including dried fruits, nuts, ports, chocolates sausages and other delights. I go here for my almonds, raisins and other goodies.
Tile work outside of a restaurant in my neighborhood.
This might be something only an architect can love, a floor grill artfully crafted.
Tomorrow I will be visiting Evora after a year of waiting to travel. Evora is a short train ride from Lisbon with a Roman temple at its center and I can’t wait to see it.
I am sure I will have much to share.