It´s all in the details

The city of Lisbon is prompt up by history, beauty, irony and details. The smell of chestnuts roasting in winter, the anonymous wardrobes draped over balconies and in front of windows, the mystery of a missing tile, or a decrepit wall brought to live by an inspired work of art. It takes thousands of small details to add up to one favorable impression. In this sense Lisbon is impressive and never ceases to amaze me. I have been living here all my life and still feel as if I am visiting this city for the first time. -Lisbon Lover


Azenhas Do Mar , Portugal

Afternoon Break in Azenhas Do Mar

In Lisbon there is always hope. After so much rain and biting cold, this week has come as a revelation. The Sun decided to stop procrastinating and offer us a few glorious days of fantastic weather. It´s easy to tune out somtimes and forget your surroundings. Like a conversation overheard on a bus, you never really start paying attention until someone pulls a gun. On my way home from work, I was confronted by the loaded barrel of an aqua-marine reflection out in the distance. It was the ocean. It caught me by suprise, almost if I had forgoten its existence, as if Portugal was some landlocked country not bordered by almost 1800 kilometers of coast line. Last weeks rain and clouds had temporarily erased it from my memory with giant swathces of grey. I knew at once what I had to do. I drove... I drove until I could match what I saw off in the distance with what I could smell up close. I headed north out of Lisbon, past Sintra until road ran out giving way to sand and water. Azenhas do Mar is a small white-washed village hugged by cliffs that drop dramatically to the Atlantic. In the past it was a small fisihng village and since has become a favorite destination for adventurous tourists and locals alike. In the 50´s a man made sea water swimming pool and restuarant that sits dangerously on the oceans edge were constructed making it an even more popular destination. Maybe I should use a word other than popular, because while there is a constant trickle of visitors it still remains a relative secret , just off the "beaten path," to most. When I arrived I was instantly greeted by the sound of crashing waves and could not resit the call to strecth my legs. So glad I did. Sometimes you just need to see what's in front of you to remember how beautiful life is.

Azenhas do Mar Google Maps


"A Carioca" near Praça Luis de Camoes

Coffee selection at " A Carioca" in Lisbon

There an old saying, "never drink coffee at lunch. It will keep you awake all afternoon," and on my walk home today I was reminded of this quote and of what I miss most whenever I leave this Luso-Iberian capital. Coffee! I know there are lots of places around the world with good coffee, like Italy where "baristas" traffic in a weird currency somewhere between artistry and methamphetamine dealer and there are lots of places with bad coffee, like England , where I think it is less a caffeinated product than just toasted milk. But, something about having an unpretentious, brain awakening , not too hot nor too cold cup of coffee here in Lisbon always comforts me. In Portugal coffee is a part of everything. So much so, I often wonder what deadly chaos the country would careen towards if the magic bean were to suddenly disappear. If you are Portuguese then your average caffeine intake is about 3 cups a day. Waking up, mid morning break, after a meal, after work and socializing with friends all present themselves as a perfect occasion for imbibing. Good coffee is everywhere in Portugal, it makes it way here via Sao Tome, Timor and Brazil amoung others which at one point in time were Portuguese colonies and still enjoy thriving trade today. Every cafe, snack bar, restaurant and even cinemas have an espresso machine, so a fix is never more than 10 meters out of ordering reach. Like any good drug, to order it correctly you need the proper vocabulary. Below is a list of ways to order and if used correctly will instantly give you street cred or at least an elevated heartbeat.

  • Bica: Espresso shot
  • Café Pingado: A dripped coffee, served in a glass with a hint of milk.
  • Meia de Leite: Half milk and half coffee
  • Galao:A Café Longo with the ratio of 1:3 milk in it. It can be foamed and/or steamed.
  • Garoto: Garoto also means "kid" and this drink is mostly milk and a favorite for children(I know that sounds crazy) It is made like a Galao but the coffee has been run through twice on the espresso machine and is weaker.