2011/08/25

















Sacrilidge, Satisfaction, Social revolution, the Sixties and Fado



I was stumbling around the internet trying to quiet the hunger of my musical addiction when I came across a strange version of the Rolling Stones "Satisfaction," by Carlos Bastos. Carlos Bastos is a Portuguese Fado singer who in the sixties began to combine the traditional melancholic sounds of Fado with the ephemeral rhythms and lyrics of pop. His album, "All That Fado" , is a collection of covers from the likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. At first glance, the idea seems kind of gimmicky, a attempt to make a quick buck of the backs of musical giants. But listening to songs like "Satisfaction" covered by Bastos, one starts to build an appreciation for this peculiar bridge between 60's pop and Fado. Bastos takes the Stones classic and wrings every drop of desperation out of the tune, creating something original and much more nefarious. Bastos received a bit of a mixed response from the general public. From the guardians of Fado the reaction was a bit stronger. To hear Fado sung in English was akin to sacrilege and he was denounced as a musical heretic.

Satisfaction from J. Sprig on Vimeo.



Ultimately music acts on it's audience through the the basic physics of sound, moving the air an arousing sensations in our bodies.
Very simply, sound is the vibration of any substance. The substance can be air, water, wood, or any other material. When these substances vibrate, or rapidly move back and forth, they produce sound that our ears gather and these vibrations allow us to interpret them. Physiologically music works the same way it does on me as it does on another person. But emotionally we have very different responses. A song can have one affect on me and a completely different affect on someone else. Sometimes a song can meaning beyond it's tones.
"Grândola, Vila Morena" is a Portuguese song by Zeca Afonso, that tells the story of fraternity and brotherhood shared among the people of Grândola, a town in the Alentejo. Salazar, and his "Estado Novo" regime considered the song to be Communist, and banned it from being played or broadcast. On April 25, 1974, at 12:20 a.m. the song was broadcast on Portuguese radio as a signal to start the revolution that peacefully overthrew the regime; it thus became commonly associated with the Carnation Revolution and the beginning of democratic rule in Portugal.

Dostoevksi said that taking a new step is what people fear most. Usually the first steps toward any revolutionary change are forced. There must be an accompanying frustration, sense of defeat, and complete failure to see a future, that letting go of the past and chancing the future becomes the only option. Other times change comes from the combination of generations brushing up against each other in an awkward cultural tango of clashing social attitudes and sometimes just a bit of insanity is all it takes. Being that We Hate Tourism Tours was born from a combination of all of the above, we always admire and salute those kindred spirits with which we share the same rebellious DNA.

Purveyor of Travelling Lifestyles

2011/08/09

Sun Sand and SURF


Right now in Lisbon 'The Oceans Festival' is going on until the 13th of August.
The aim of this festival is to promote a real-time consciousness for protecting our worlds oceans and fresh water supply. Portuguese have always had a love for the sea. We, at We Hate Tourism Tours show our love in the the form of surfing. Innately we are humbled, respectful and grateful for our oceans. I would like to start this blog by saying, "Thank you Atlantic ocean, for all the great waves!"
Portugal has over 1,700 km of coastal waters. Remote cities in the eastern part of the country are only 2 hours drive from the majestic Atlantico. Portuguese girls have the best beach hair and the guys tan like their Brazilian cousins. Lisboa is the closest European capital city to a beach. Looking westward along the Tejo River the beach seems so close you can touch it. Touch we do! Beaches around Lisboa are more than just beaches to locals. They remind us of our youth. Skipping school, riding ticketless on the train, hoping there are no cops to send us back to the city.
We still get to the beach daily, just legally, break on through to the other side of Lisboa!
SUN
Everyday during the summer months the beaches are packed with sundrenched bodies, extended families, and sunglass sellers. Lube up with suncream. The sun in Portugal is harsh on your skin. After the end of a long day at the beach you will have realized you have endured too much Vitamn D. Every year our country of ten and a half million, loses 24,000 people to cancer. Watch your back! Usually one forgets to use sunscreen on the not so obvious places of the body, the back, neck (remember behind the ears), feet (inbetween toes), behind the knees, even underarms. Sunscreen doesnt last forever, so reapply every 2 hours.
SAND
In Portugal you can find every beach type: mainland, barrier island, spit, and pocket. Powdery or yellow tinted grains of quartz roll off your body like water on a ducks back. You can leave your beach blanket at home.The beaches around Lisboa are the perfect place to bury a friend and not get sand in the car.
SURF
Portuguese surf can be consistent, but is unforgiving. Portugal is the only country in mainland Europe to have a current named after it. The Portugal Current is extremely complex. The Portugal Current begins about 300km north of Portugal in the open ocean. It drags south into the Mediterranean or clashes with the Azores and Canary Currents that sit off the southwestern part of the country. The cold and warm water currents collide and power hurricanes to the eastern coast of the United States in late summer months. In the summer, the strong heat and cold water temperatures are deseptive. Hypothermia can set in before you catch 4 waves, so bring a wetsuit (3/2mm, even during sweltering summer months). Home to 100+ known surfing breaks, the coast of Portugal is pounded by swell and littered with countless locations to get your surf on. Caxias in, well Caxias and Paço D'arcos in the town of Oeiras are the closest spots to Lisbon and accessible via public transport. Guincho beach in Cascais is favored amongst travelers. Find true southern hospitality on the south end of the 25th of april bridge, hit up breaks like 'Cova' or Praia do Barba. You'd better watch for us locals! Just kidding. Paddle out with some of our Surfing Bros by clicking on their bus.
Lisbon South Surfers By JT

2011/07/28

Portuguese Dance & Music 101

Revolution, ritual, festival, and individual have all been incited by the magic of music. It is meant to evoke memory, emotion, and body movement. Portugal is notorious for Fado music. Fado is not as sad, as people think. Fado is spiritual. A genre of music exclusive of dance, in the normal sense, because Fado dances in the soul. Music and dance in Portugal have their own lineage and instruments:
the bagpipe (Gaita de fole), the accordion (acordeão) and guitars (cavaquinho and 12 string Portuguese), to name a few. Portuguese history vaguely recognizes its' Gaelic origins.In northern regions of the country you can hear bagpipes and see related styles of Gaelic dance. A traditional Portuguese dance is 'Fandango.' This music and dance are not credited as having Celtic roots, but originally was played in the same 6/8 tempo. Fandango includes stationary arms, rapid leg movement and a lineup of steppers.
Since the medieval era, variations of Fandango spread through villages. 'Fandago do Varapau' includes long sticks and men fighting off make believe vermin. Portuguese music and dance don't stop getting jiggy with ancient Irish roots. Originating hundreds of years earlier, Fandago is likely the basis for the C-Walk in America. (Shout out to Lisbon's sister city San Francisco.)
Minho, Portugal is home to 'Vira do Minho.' A waltz inspired square dance that has its own style of mountain music. It sounds like yodeling with accordions and a whining child singing in the background. People enjoy the sound, meanwhile dancing joyfully with hands in the air and big dresses that will give you heat stroke. In the former colony of Goa, on the central coast of India, a dance known as Malhão is still performed by Goan youth. Here in Portugal it is known as 'Corrindinho,' the running dance. Believe it or not, it translates to, "I am outta here because I do not want to sleep with you!" Who wants to run around dancing? We do and we like it. It looks neat at least. Preformed at folk fairs, couples dress in old clothes and spin at lightning speed. In Goa, they have a variation- dancing with a fiery lamp on your head. Fun to watch and after a couple drinks, try it for yourself. Farther east, the Hawaiian islands, owe their beloved 'ukuele, or 'machête' to the Portuguese who left it there in the mid 1800's. Because of the machête, Hawaiians developed another form of Hula known as the 'auana to incorporate this musical instrument.
Recent dance and music in Portugal have been adopted from its youngest generation and melting pot of cultures. New musical genres are seen as a cultural movement, rather than mere dance. The newest and worst is the 'Pimba Movement.' Pimba translates to 'bad music' and sounds like a horrible carnival in Mexico. Xylophones and tacky mariachis included. One particular man is noted for starting the Pimba Movement, Emanuel. Thank god for the islands! After the Portuguese war and its revolution in 1974, colonies separated from Portuguese rule and people were split between country and family. Socialism was the norm and music followed. On the Cape Verdean islands of Portugal the music of Funaná resonates like the rhythm of the surrounding ocean. Like Morna, the national music of Cape Verde; Funaná is creole in nature, but exact nativity are unknown. Normally, Funaná is played with basic instruments like the ferrinho (a small circular washboard, made out of wood.) Closely linked to Funaná is Kizomba. A genre of music and dance from Angola and other former colonies of Portugal - the Kizomba is a mix of the Tango and Samba.
A smooth and sensual dance with hip gyrations and extremely close contact.
Kizomba has been gaining momentum in dance competitions and African music clubs around Lisbon.
If you want to dance like a local find your way to MUSSULO on Tuesday-Saturday until 6am. No sneakers inside this club, so dress yo-self! Rua Sousa Martins 5-D, one block south of Picoas metro station, east of Parque Eduardo VII. Corresponding with regional bullfighting schedules; small towns and provinces outside of Lisbon, hold countless folk festivals during summer months. Check regional websites for monthly agendas http://cultura.sapo.pt/ August 1st-8th is the 26th annual World Folklore Festival 'oMundoaDançar' in Monção.

2011/07/15

The best things in Life are almost free


Assimilating can be the hardest part of travel.
The easiest is growing accustomed to new food. Face it, you have to eat. Much easier when the food is cheaper and tastes delicious. Travelling is the perfect outlet if you love food. If you love to eat and on a budget, you need to know the local delights. Lisbon was recently surveyed as the 72nd most expensive city in the world. Compared to other capital cities in Western Europe, food here is cheap. How yummy can cheap food be? Lisbon is home to more than a handful of mouthwatering grub spots. Whether its breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you can find an almost free, or free spot to munch. Lisboetas eat endlessly. Walking these hills will make anyone ravenous.
Two or three small meals during the day and a moderately portioned dinner.
An average daily allowance for a local would be something like this: Breakfast- Coffee or Tea and a pastry of sort, Lunch- Bread with chorizo, Snack- Tremoços (individual yellow beans, eaten like Japanese edamame), Dinner- Bacalhau with potatoes and wine. This plethora of food would bring you to a grand sum of around 5 euros per day. It's mind boggling to see such a low price, compared to spending 10 euros a plate at a restaurant. One of my favorite cheap and tasty local spots is Frutalmeidas. A fruit and salad-fusion cafe. Sounds crazy. Well, now with two locations in Lisbon, this once ma and pa joint has expanded to include their grandsons and the food is G double O, D, GOOD. The speciality of Frutalmeidas is the Portuguese delicacy known as 'pasteis de massa tenra.' Known to non-Portuguese as the satisfying; beefpattie, or empanada. In Portugal it is refined and eloquently rendered. Watch out McDonalds this health conscious cafe has its own version of the 1€ menu. Choose from a variety of 6 different cold and fresh juices. Ranging from 1,20 to 1,50 a glass.
Soups, pastries (sweet, meat or veggie) and salads average 1.10, 1.20, & 3.00€ respectively. The most expensive thing on their menu is dessert. At Frutalmeidas they make homemade strawberry 'short'cake, 3.20€ for a monster slice. You can find Frutalemeidas #2 behind the Sheraton near the Picoes metro station, or it's 1st and chic locale on Avenida de Roma º45.
Another cheap spot is Cafeteria Italiana, on Rua Dona Filipa de Vilhena, use the Saldanha red line metro exit and cross the garden 'Arco do Cego'. At this tiny cafe, beer is .50cents and a Rissol de Leitão (pig in a blanket) is 1€. If you don't think those eats are cheap enough, how about free food? Yes, free. Food sovereignty is the idea behind Jantar Popular. Issues of sustainable eateries and social awareness at this dinner, make it a concept ahead of its time. A vegan establishment, run by volunteers.
Jantar Popular (Popular Dinner) offers guests the opportunity to cook, clean, or serve for their dinner or just eat and take part in the banter for 3€. No worries here if you forgot your wallet. Every Thursday of the week, (except in August) bring your culinary skills, your love for veggies, and some political rhetoric to this new Lisbon legend. Check the GAIA.org website for the Jantares Populares weekly location. Almost everyone falls in love with Lisbon. If it is food you like, this is surely the place to have a fork handy. Don't be shy, eat like a local, cheap. The old saying says, the best things in life are free. The cynic's say, nothing is ever free.
In Lisbon, almost everything is always almost free. The good stuff, anyways. By JT

2011/07/05

Eat a Fish, kill a Pigeon

With names like Tit's and Cock's, who doesnt love birds? Within the urban sprawl of Lisbon, you will probably see one type. The pigeon. The most well known pigeon is the Dodo bird. Unlike rats, we walk by them unconsciously. But, in mid-May my friends and I were enjoying 'almoço' and a few brews, only to be surrounded by a gang of our fellow city dwellers. It was then we decided to organize against them/use our wi-fi and find out exactly where these mutant spawn come from. Apparently, they grow to maturity at a record pace and one female pigeon can birth 30 eggs a year. Ironically however, only until they are the first to sample our lunch, foul on our head, our car, or dry clean only silk, do we want them dead!
If making things become extinct was a game amongst species on this planet, humans would be winning. We have successfully documented the extinction and endangerment of over 10% of the entire bird taxa. Of the 10,000 species of birds, astoundingly, there are 300 different types of pigeons. 15 are extinct. The past few weeks I have documented the number of dead pigeons on my way to work, an average 3 a day. That's 15 a week.
Why are the roosting rats dying in Lisbon?
Scientifically speaking, fish and birds have always had a high correlation of simultaneous death. In Lisboa for the entire month of June we celebrated Festa de Lisboa. Consuming 100 tons of sardines. Ironically for the pigeons, they probably were sacrificed to this scientific method, by choking on left over fish bones, or poisoned by old alcohol. Not to say us humans are killing them, but most of us have probably wanted at least one dead, sometime in our lives. In America the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon, which was the most abundant bird on the planet, happened in the early 1900's. The last one lived a long and happy life in captivity, her name was Martha. The over abundance of the urban Rock Pigeon should be seen as the pigeons call to arms. In-sighting visions of Alfred Hitchcock movies, not to mention pandemic salmonella poisonings and avian flu. Such issues spell the extinction of humanity and should not be taken lightly. So the next time you see a pigeon, remember Martha & the Dodo. We have killed them off before and if they continue to foul our dry cleaning or corner us at cafés, we will do it again. How much does W.H.T.T. love birds? Follow us on our favorite-Twitter, @wehateallbirds.
By JT

2011/06/30

Don't Forget your SUNGLASSES --OO--


The best places ever partied are always the places you vaguely remember.



Have you heard the story of 'The Never Ending Nightlife,' its sequel 'DayLight'?
If not, it is because you spend too much time in your office.
Play with various acts on different stages, have them narrated and directed by someone like Chekhov, and star you and your sisters, or brothers of the night. Whether you are the type to wake up early or stay up late, there are plenty of clubs and bars in Lisbon that will suit your fancy. The downside- you may not want to go to these places everytime you decide to have a twenty four hour party, but more than likley you will end up there. At 6 oclock in the morning Lisbon streets are littered with party goers, you just have to know where to look and where to go, if you want to keep the party alive. Just north of the metro stop Cais do Sodre, there is an inclining street above the roundabout. On either side of this slope you can enter another world of bars and clubs. Sketchy entrance ways and newly born beams of sunlight may not encourage you to go inside, but if to just experience the random side of Lisbon, you will not want to miss these truly local gems. Eighties music and seventies singalongs, share space with blown speakers, sticky floors, mirrored walls, and dodgy people.
By this time of the night/morning, you shouldnt care about the atmosphere, as long as they are selling alcohol and playing music that keeps your legs moving. Expect to pay two euros a beer and five euro for cocktails at these places you hope your mom doesnt catch you in. If you've managed not to loose your diginty and it is seven in the morning, make your way along the riverside west of the same train station to clubs with an average 12 euro cover, even during the week. Dont forget your sunglasses, your smoke crusted eyes will be happy you didnt!

By JT



2011/06/22

If you love someone, POP THEIR ZITS


Okay, before you think this blog is gross, just read it. Around the world cultures have different ways of showing their affection and displaying emotion in public. From throwing rotten fruit in rural China to sticking your tongue out if you're an indigenous New Zealander. In some cultures showing affection is just plain illegal. For as long as I have lived in Lisbon, I have seen PDA as something of a primal and cultural marvel. Young and old alike can be seen holding hands during a walk in the park, frequently kissing each other, and gazing at sunsets on the banks of the Tejo or beaches in Cascais. Until recently, my foreign friends never understood one particular part of the Portuguese love-story; publicly popping each others pimples. In Portuguese it is called 'espremer borbulhas,' which literally means to squeeze bubbles. Who doesn't like to squeeze bubbles.. (actual bubbles)? It makes you feel like a kid again. If you understand pimple popping in these such terms, it definitely sounds more endearing. Most Portuguese women are addicted to the act of popping pimples on others. Portuguese men often cringe and are not as inclined. However, like proper gentleman, they let their women have at it. Watching their eyes light up with excitement. The anxiety of how much puss will come out of the inflammation and the thrill to spot another. Why in the world would someone want to pop another persons zits? Unbeknownst on-lookers have no idea. Most dont even want to touch their own zits. Other cultures may try not even to look at them and hope they just disappear without a scar. In Lisbon however, it is a courtship ritual. In the metro, or on a bench waiting for puberty to pass them by, love is in the air. Unfazed by germs, bacteria, acne, or disgusted foreigners, we pop pimples in public. When you are in Lisbon and see friends or loving couples bursting each others imperfections, look to your girlfriend, boyfriend, or travel buddy and burst that bubble! Squeezing bubbles makes people feel young again. Pimples are a readily available source of unconditional love and a time for bonding in Portugal. Don't be grossed out, just show your love in Portuguese to someone special.
By JT

2011/06/17

Good luck getting where the LOCALS are


Look down, footwear of choice for Lisbon locals is the hiking shoe. Walking in this city is not for the faint of heart. Now, look up, hills are the landscape that define Lisbon and gives its' fascination. At all times during a trek around Lisbon you will find yourself somewhere on a mile long hill, either on the top, middle, or bottom. To take advantage of these verandas, the city has in place, some 15+ viewing points. In Portuguese, we say 'Miradouros.' Atop the Miradouros you can expect artisan like vistas of the city. You will see sprawling ceramic rooftops, sun kissed skies and breathe air scented with pine. These alcoves are known mainly by locals and every neighboorhood in the city has winding streets that seem to dead end or has staircases that look like they go up and up, and up into oblivian. Along these mysterious paths are Lisbon's hidden gems. Sun bathed public space teeming with lovers, families, friends, and hipsters, enjoying company and crisp summer breezes that caress the hillsides. Crowds gather daily at Miradouro 'Santa Catarina,' locally known as 'Adamastor,' a look toward the Tejo River and 25th of April bridge. Nearest, to Santa Catarina and situated to see directly into the valley floor and city center is the multileveled Miraduoro 'Sao Pedro de Alcantara'. From the vantage point of Sao Pedro, five other miradouros can be seen. On weekend nights you can hear live jazz in the courtyards while having a cold cerveja served up from cafes located in most of the parks. I would only suggest people training to climb Mount Everest, to walk up and down Lisbon and locate all its' stunning Miradouros. To test this theory I went on a 7 hour walk with my roommate to the most well known of the viewpoints and only managed to see 6. The mission felt like I had journeyed the entire camino de Santiago de Compostela in one day. My suggestion is to see these magnificent outposts by taking the King of the Hills tour with WHTT. You can leave your hiking boots at the hotel and have a local guide drive you up and down (and sometimes on the side) of the city's palisades. After the tour is done your legs are still fresh to dance the night away, or just to walk up the ten flights of stairs back to your accommodation.
By JT



2011/06/06

Saint Anthony's Eve- Bica Bottle Poppin' June 12th





It is no secret, that the festivities on Saint Anthony's Eve are the worlds best
kept secret. Every small street in Lisbon's historic city center will be filled hip to hip with party-goers. The big decision is where to begin your celebrations. After much deliberation, The Purveyor, has complied a list of hot-spots and a
locals only map, for Saint Anthony guidance. Fun times will be happening everywhere in the city, so be prepared to get caught up in sardine smoke and traditional sing alongs.
Start in my bairro, near metro stop 'Martim Moniz' on Avenida Almirante Reis, then wander your way to the Alfama District early in the day.
Alfama is noted as the eldest of Lisbon's districts and was home to the patron saint that is commemorated this Eve. Bairro Alfama is by far, the best spot for traditional fare today. Get there early in the day otherwise you won't get a seat at a table, or breathing room. The church of Saint Anthony can be found on
'Largo Santo Antonio à Sé.' Weddings that would put Las Vegas to shame will happen here all day. Once you've seen the ump-teen newlyweds and had some grub (sardines & bread), it will be afternoon and that means, drink, drink, dance and drink some more. 21h will begin the Marchas Populares de Lisboa, on Avenida da Liberdade, this must see parade is over before you can make a beer run, so get there a little early for a quick see. Adventurous spiritos should also make it to the streets of 'Mouraria' just north of Santos train station. The finale, head down to the Bica for the best of party central. Here in the Bica, steep, tiny streets outline a procession of partying that only your eyes can believe and bottles of cachaça numbering in the tens of thousands. Some folks say Saint Anthony's Eve is like Mardi Gras. I know it to be better. I would give Mardi Gras a solid 6.5 in compairisons 1 to 10. SAE gets a 9.5. This party gets 3 more points because you can count on; a better party atmosphere, 7 times the 'arraiais' of parties, no violent conflict, more local and cultural interactions, higher quality food, and lower libation price tags. Get your proper partying on Lisbon style and wear comfy shoes. Saint Anthony wants you to stay on your feet all day,night and into the morning of the 13th. You can always confess your sins later.
By JT






2011/06/01

Hypothesis, Philosophies, and Sócrates


The Portuguese political and economic systems are as complex as any other in the European Union. In laymens terms, there is a president, who is more of a ceremonial figure with little political clout. A prime minister, who actually heads the government and an executive branch, legislative branch, and judiciary branches, who each do their respective jobs. Economically, the Portuguese are capitalist, but preach socialist solidarity.
Currently vying for his second term as Prime Minister after he resigned from the same position in March, Jose Socrates has put his name on the ballot for the Socialist Party. I am sure he is hoping to win. I am also sure you are asking yourself how in the world can someone that just resigned from the position of PM actually believe that he is the countries most viable leader? The basis for his campaign happens to be the same premise of his resignation just months earlier, Portugals' insolvency.
The age of exploration brought the people wealth beyond their wildest dreams. Now, thanks to its EU brethern, Portugal was bailed out of bankruptcy in late March. The bail bond was paid in the amount of €78billion, receivable over three years. Portugal is the 3rd country of the 27 EU states to receive bail money in the last year, totalling a sum of over €300billion. The 12th highest GDP in the world, Spain is projected to jump on the bail out bandwagon later in the year. Bringing the EU cash register to well over half a trillion dollars. Like Greece and Ireland, Portugal had no plan on how they were going to repay this debt to their neighbors or divide it among its industries.
What will more than likely happen? That is the €100billion question.
I can tell you what is happening now. Salary and job cuts in the public sector. In Portugal this means privatization of services that were once preformed by government funded employees, like doctors and other health practictioners, teachers, and municipal workers. So, in reality if you are a doctor that is currently funded by the government it is more than likely that you will be working alongside another doctor that is funded by the private sector and making more money then you, regardless of tenure, merit, or research you have conducted. Self-professed socialist, Portugal is already home to some the lowest working wages in the EU. Not to mention, if you are a retired government employee you can look forward to having your pension cut by 10% if you receive over €1500 a month.
Pause here for recollection. Late 2008 and the U.S. financial crisis. Followed by massive layoffs, job loss, and piles of debt. My hypothesis of all this formidable rhetoric is that the people of Portugal- life loving, warm hearted, and passionate, will remain essentially unscathed by any measures a system may try and tie them down with. Lastly, a big shout out and OBRIGADO to countries like Great Britian, Finland, Germany and China, for paying it forward, as long as someone owes you, you'll never be broke. Wish us luck, porreiro pá.
By JT

2011/05/31

Doesnt Smell Like Fish, Doesnt Taste Like Chicken



Over a millenia Lisbon has been a port city. Importing and exporting delicacies from all around the known world. The saying goes, if it aint broke dont fix it. In Portuguese it must have translated to, if it aint broke, use it everyday, all the time and be sure to include ways you never thought possible - this is the story of 'Bacalhau.' A traditional and mainstay Portuguese dish of codfish, lightly fried in olive oil with onions and usually served with home fried potatoes.
I never imagined fish would taste like anything other than fishy, slimy, fish. Every dish of bacalhau can have a surprise of flavor. The taste possibilities are endless with over 350 known preparations.
Bacalhau tastes like an old woman belting a fado ballad, textures fusing together, telling a sad, beautiful story to your mouth.
Anywhere you order Bacalhau is going to lay claim to its' in house recipe as being the best.
When purchased at the local market, just look for the aisle with crusty fish carcasses adorning the tables and shelves. The indeterminable shelf life, probably help to keep distributors pricing of this staple low. If one were to peek inside a Lisboetas' shopping basket you would probably see a bottle or two of regional wine, a salted codfish probably two, a loaf of fresh baked bread and a small bag of varietal fruits and veggies.
The Portuguese love their bacalhau so much, that when the country has a shortage they will just import it from places like Norway or Northeastern Canada.
Everyone knows it is not fresh fish! But, with Portuguese culinary magic, this dried, salted, aged, soulful masterpiece of cod is reincarnated nightly onto the majority of plates across the country.

2011/05/25


The concept of human bowling pins conjures the idea of a circus act, rather than a fading elitist past time. If this sounds comical or interesting to you, welcome to Portugal, where they share a love-hate relationship with the ancient sport of bullfighting.
Here in cities of the central and southern region you can still find 'corridas' for a short season usually beginning in May. Unconventional to the normal style of bull fighting. In Portugal it is funny and terrifying at the same time, the bull does the bullying and the 8 'forcados' literally stand in line for a cartoon like display of bullfighting known as a 'pega', or face charge.
In previous years forcados were peasants from out lying towns employed as practical rodeo clowns, in order to keep the bull from entering the magistrate and upper class seating areas via stairs that were at ring level.

The Portuguese practice of bull fighting has a magical dance that must follow a specific sequence of events. If this order is not followed, the front man, a.k.a. guy with the green hat that looks like it was made by an elf, has to pick himself up and start the process from the beginning.
This futile attempt doesn't end until he and his 7 man crew subdue the bull.
To start the fight the front man stands fearless and instigated the bull to charge him.
The 7 others wait in line, like friends backing up their friend in a school yard brawl.
Charging forward into the frontman, the bull must be mounted via its face and latched onto by its horns or neck. In come running the six back-ups, who stack like dominoes onto their fearless leader. Remember, there are 8 forcados. What does the No. 8 guy get to do? You guessed it, hold the tail! Having his tail pulled and a human dog pile on his back, the bull gives up. Final score: Forcados 8, Bull 1.

For the volunteer thrill seeker, get to the Azores Islands for some real street fighting. There, communities flock together and let a bull into the street so their citizens can participate in this harmless (to the bull) idea of fun. Fundamentally, a display of human crash test dummies in plain clothes, some in suits; returning home from their office jobs. Unfortunately for these crazies they are missing the seven man backup posse. Admirably, these bulls take advantage of their loose reins and give boastful instigators a butt kicking. Final score: Bull 73, Adrenaline Junkies 0.

By Jennifer




2011/03/14





Lisbon Earthquake and Tsunami of 1755

When you first look at a map of Lisbon's historic center one thing immediately grabs your attention. Amidst the confusion and drunkenly orchestrated streets of the Alfama, Castelo, and Bairro Alto sits a monument to order and city planning. The "Baixa" with its wide avenues organized into a perfect grid with large open squares and plazas stands in stoic protest to its unkempt immediate neighbours. Watching the devastation that has hit Japan in the form of an earthquake and tsunami is heartbreaking. It is even more heartbreaking thinking about it in relation to the city of Lisbon. Normally when such tragic events happen they remain safely off in the distance confined to images on the TV or Computer screen. But as I watch the events unfold in Japan and walk the streets of the Lisbon an uncomfortable reality begins to set in. The exact same thing has and will happen again here. Maybe it won't happen in my lifetime, but the immediate threat remains like a thick gray cloud pregnant with the warning of a coming storm.
On the morning of November 1st, 1755 a 9.0 magnitude earthquake rocked the city of Lisbon for an estimated 3-6 earth shaking minutes. Gigantic fissures measuring close to 5 meters wide opened up in the middle of the city center. Survivors of the initial quake rushed to find safety in the wide open spaces of the ports next to the river Tagus only to be confronted 40 minutes later by an enormous tsunami that engulfed the harbor and downtown Lisbon. To make matters worse, this catastrophe happened on a religious holiday where churches were filled with people and large amounts of candles to commemorate the day. Otherwise unaffected areas of the Tsunami and quake were soon raging with fires. When all was settled and done 85% of Lisbon's building had been destroyed, amoung those many palaces, theaters, libraries and museums and all they guarded inside would be lost forever. Many classical works of art, historical records of an empire, even the detailed writtings of Vasco de Gammas explorations were swallowed up by the quake. The human toll is said to have been around 100,000 which would be about a third of the population of the capital at the time.
The Baixa was reconstructed after the 1755 Earthquake that devastated Lisbon. The Marques of Pombal set out with the help of Manuel da Maia to build a new city. A rational and open city. It was laid out on a grid with wide and open roads and featured large squares and plazas. The building style which would later take the name Pompaline, after the Marques himself, is a notably restrained neo-classical style, do as much to the new "rational" architecture so beloved by the Marquess as to limited funds and an urgency to rebuild quickly.
Disasters of great magnitude often act as a stress test of a social formation, revealing inner weaknesses and fault lines, and in the case of a decaying society, thereby quickening its demise. In other cases they act as a catalyst for major ideological shifts. Before the quake, Lisbon and much of Europe were shackled by the church and its belief that the world was exactly the way God intended it to be, so we must be living in the best of all possible worlds. What is, is because God has made it so. Even immediately after the quake many religious leaders pointed the finger at society blaming them for their lack of piety and faith which had wrought this terrible disaster upon them. Inquisitors literally roamed the streets looking for heretics to hang. For others the trauma universally suffered made the very idea seem a bit silly. Many, including Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau began to rethink this ideology out loud wondering just what type of deity could have desired or ordained the destruction of Lisbon. Just as the earthquake had brought down the foundations of the city , it also began to raze the "dead-hand" grip of the medieval church giving way to the beginnings of what would later become know as the Enlightenment. When I see images like the ones I am seeing coming out of Japan now, I don't think of causes, geological or philosophical. I don't wonder why. I just realize how connected we have become as a planet and how human we all are. Despite our differences in politics, religion and customs. We all worry about our family, our friends and those we love. We all want to do right by them and be loved in return. When the King of Portugal asked his prime minister what should be done after the earthquake. His words were both prescient and simple. " Bury the dead and feed the living."


Marques do Pompal
( Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo) who over saw the reconstruction of Lisbon after the earthquake




"Plans for the New city"



The "Baixa"

2011/03/03



Paula Rego does not consider herself an artist since she "has never worked with oils." She says that to be an artist you must paint with oils. She is more comfortable with the term "drawer." Whether she considers herself an artist or not seems to be a rather moot point as her work seems to tell a different story all together. Rego was born and for the most part raised in Portugal and embarked on her artistic career at the early age of 4 years old. When I first came across her work I was instantly drawn to the terrible beauty of the surreal imagery that seemed to draw you in as much as it pushes you away. "Olga" for example depicts a male German immigrant dressed as a maid with a child seductively or not tucked into his/her lap while a train has just passed by on its way to Auschwitz. Her work is often mysterious and fantastical. She draws largely on Portuguese folk tales, childrens stories such as Mother Goose, Red Ridng Hood, and Peter Pan. She also is inspired by such works as Kafka's "Metamorphosis, Martin McDonagh's "Pillow Man" and the "Sin of Father Amaro" by the 19th century Portuguese writer Eça de Queiroz. Her work is also largely autobiographical. Her prints and work are often filled with scenes from her "bourgeois" upbringing complete with maids, well dressed mothers and grandmothers, and the reoccuring figures of neat little girls conscious of their social class. These images from her childhood are often juxtaposed against undercurrents of sexual transgression, cruelty and unease.
Rego was born in 1935, the only child of a prosperous middle class family. Her parents left for England when she was young and she spent a brief spell under the care of her grandmother and her maid who both regaled her with countless fables and stories. Rego grew up during the dictatorship of Salazar where Portugal was a place of political repression and cultural suppression. A Portugal in which according to Rego, "Men were running the show. Upper class women went to church and played Canasta while working class women worked like donkeys." In works such as "Celestina's House," her childhood seems not so much a distant memory as a vivid portrait constantly haunting her subconscious for good or ill.
One of the best places to see Rego work and prints is in Cascais at the "Casa das Historias."
The Casa das Historias is a recently commisioned building by the architect Eduardo Sota de Moura. Moura is one of Portugals most important and current architects. He worked alongside Álvaro Siza Viera, at the latters architecture firm in Porto. The building was commisioned by the Mayor of Cascais. The Casa das Historias is a perfect class in Mouras work with its bold shapes, accentuated by intricately patterned terracotta exterior. Moura built the museum with the intention of balancing the space between the ground and the surrounding tree tops. It's Yin/Yang, natural vs manmade style is a mix of elements from traditional Portuguese homes and modern structures.
Casa Das Historias Google Map

Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Cascais, Portugal from Pedro Kok on Vimeo.




Casa das Historias by Eduard Sota de Moura in Cascais




Celestina's House by Paula Rego



Dog Woman by Paula Rego



"Olga" by Paula Rego







Paula Rego in her studio

2011/02/22



The rain is finally letting up and the weather has been good enough to contemplate some outdoor time. Lately in Lisbon, I have been noticing small pockets of bicycling enthusiasts popping up all over town. There are even some vintage bike stores opening up and a messenger servive called "Camisola Amarela," who are largely responsible for this small but burgenoning pedal "crush." It would be safe to say that Lisbon is not a very bike-friendly city, with its slippery metal tram tracks, thigh punishing hills and irascible Portuguese drivers, you could even say the city goes out of its way to extend the middle finger to anyone brave enough to try to lay rubber to its road. So I want to salute those daring souls who I see out in the streets risking their lives in order to bring a little bit of Amsterdam , Barcelona, or even New York here. While I myself am still not ready to push out into the streets of Lisbon, I will do my part by attempting a route that is completely flat, next to the ocean and ends with caipirinhas at the beach. The best part is that I don't even need to own a bike to do it. Catching the train at Cais do Sodre to Cascais( a small beach town about 15 kilometers from Lisbon) I can pick up a bike the city lends out for free, provided I leave some form of valid identification. There are a couple of "kiosks" emblazoned with the words Bicais in the city where you can pick one up but the easiest is right in front of the train station in Cascais. Once I have my "hog" I head for the ocean and follow the coast line out of town. There are proper bike paths and the scenery is incredible and after about 8 kilometers I will arrive at one of my favourite beaches in the Lisbon area, Praia do Guincho(if it is a particulary windy day be warned that it will be 10 times windier once in Guincho). Today I ride! Leaving my computer and house slippers behind, today I ride with Joaquim Agostino(Portuguese cyclist) on my mind and try and make him proud with each downward push of my pedals...

You can see my whole r
oute and map, brilliantly detailed by Bikely.com here.


Scenery along the way from Cascais to Guinco


The Atlantic vs Rock Formations





Photo of Joaquim Agostinho. He was champion of Portugal in six successive years. He rode the Tour de France 13 times and finished all but once, winning on Alpe d'Huez in 1979, and finishing 3rd twice. He died after colliding with a dog whilst leading the Tour of the Algarve.