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.


We are well into 2011 and while maybe this was the year that I should have impelled myself to start eating healthier, get more exercise and generally do a better job of looking after my body. There is one nefarious piece of slow roasted pork between two pieces of bread that sits on my shoulder whispering sweet greasy nothings into my ear which has made this resolution impossible. He goes by the name of "Bifana." A bifana is a sandwhich of sorts, comprised of strips of pork cooked in a red wine sauce and accompanied by mustard and spicy "piri-piri." In Portugal you can say that there are five basic meals a day. You have breakfast, lunch, dinner and packed in neatly on both sides of lunch you have snacking or "merendas." The way to snack properly in Portugal is not unlike the way in which a ninja carries out an assasination. It´s quick, relatively messy and without guilt. There are numerous ways both savoury and sweet in which snacking can done, but today we will focus on the most cholesterol raising method. In Lisbon there are no shortage of great places to eat a great bifana, and part of the fun of eating them is constantly trying new places in search of that perfect one. If you were to stop ten people on the street and ask where to get a good bifana you would probably get 10 different answers. While I have many favourite places all over the city to get my fix, there is one place in particular that I would like to share. Beira-Gare, across from the Rossio Train station , is a good place for anyones first bifana experience. The bifanas are good and it's large window stuffed full of other Portuguese snacks will satisfiy even the most pereverted of food vouyers. Don´t forget to ask for mustard and Piri-piri sauce. Beira Mare location


As I sit here staring at my computer screen trying to think of something to post, I find myself doing what I normally do when I find myself with a lack of inspiration. Instead of buckling down and focusing intensely on the task at hand, I start fiddling with my records and surfing the internet. The first record within reach was a strange single called "Just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in," by Kenny Rodgers which was used in the Cohen Brothers, "Big Lebowski." I have always found this song strange because it sounds like nothing else "Kenny" has ever made. As I was listening I got even more distracted and found myself on Wikipedia reading about the song. Besides learning that the song was supposed to reflect the effects of an LSD trip and be a warning against the use of hallucinogenic drug use, I learned something much more important. Kenny Rodgers is...Portuguese, well ok, he wasn´t born in Portugal and probably can´t cook "bacalhau à bras" but he is of Portuguese decent and he does own a chain of grilled chicken restaurants. Inspiration at last! So, in honor of "The Gambler, " I decided to compile an audio-visual tour through the history of Portuguese music. Portugal has become internationally know for its melancholic sounds of Fado. Fado is Portugal´s equivalent to the Blues in the U. S. or Flamenco from Spain. A music born out of poverty and heartbreak, hardship and longing. It´s Portugal's contribution to the global music scene. But because of the cultural importance Fado has taken on in this country, a lot of other really amazing and just as culturally important music often gets slighted. So below is a small sampling of some of my favourite Fado, Rock, Experimental, Electronic, Folk and Hip-Hop, amoung other things, from Portugal.

Amalia Rodrigues is the most iconic of Portuguese Fado Singers.

Carlos do Carmo the Frank Sintra of Fado.

Carlos Paredes, the man with a thousand fingers, get my vote of for one of the most
talented musicians to come of of this country

Roberto Leal is a Portuguese-Brasilian Singer. In an opinion poll conducted by
Datafolha in Rio de Janeiro, asking what was the first famous Portuguese person
people could think of, Roberto Leal came in first, with 15%, ahead of
Pedro Alvarez Cabral (9%) and Luís de Camões (4%).

Somewhere between Pink Floyd and the Moddy Blues ,
10,000 Anos Depois Entre Venus E Marte by Jose Cid is one of the
best progressive rock albums of all time.

António Variações, his recorded works blended contemporary music genres with
traditional Portuguese rhythms and melodies, creating music which for many is
symbolic of the liberalization that occurred in Portuguese society after
the Carnation Revolution

Blasted Mechanism is a Portuguese electro-rock band known for its highly
theatrical live shows involving elaborated alien-themed costumes as a backdrop
to their music.

Sara Tavares composes in Portuguese and Portuguese-based creole languages, born
in Portugal with Cabo Verdean Roots.

Sam the Kid, Portuguese Hip Hop Artist and Producer.

Sam the Kid using samples from Carlos Paredes

Clã (English: Clan) is a Portuguese Pop-Rock band of a mixed nature in terms of
style, ranging from moments of pure balladry, through jazzy details, to enthusiastic
pop songs.

Madredeus. Their music combines traditional Portuguese music (many times
erroneously associated with the subgenre of Fado with influences of modern folk music.
The lyrics are often melancholic and related to the sea or travelling or absence,
continuing a tradition of songs that dates back to Medieval times

Buraka Som Sistema is an electronic dance project from Portugal,
specializing in a fusion of techno beats with the African kuduru
genre, and are generally credited with creating the "progressive kuduro."

Micro Audio Waves, minimal and electronic artists.

Orelha Negra is a Portuguese Instrumental Hip-Hop band, that is one of my favourite Portuguese groups at the moment.


Lisbon...A City Of Disquiet

Fernando Pessoa in the Streets of Lisbon

Streets that never change?

Living History

Some writers, Like Kaka with Prague, become inseparable from their cities. Their words are pulled from the smells, sounds, and forgotten backstreets of their surroundings. 50 cents, a cup of coffee and a supercharged imagination can transform even the most mundane city happenings and its inhabitants into fantastical works of literature. Literature where reality and fiction combine on paper to form an identity or soul of "place." In Lisbon, there is one writer that immediately comes to mind...Fernando Pessoa. Living in more than 15 places all over Lisbon, due to financial constraints or just the instability that comes with a young Republic, Pessoa barely left his beloved city, capturing a photograph in his tome of poetry "Lisbon Revisted." He spent his days wandering from cafe to cafe gathering material from all that passed before him. I found myself thinking of Pessoa today as I was on my way to work and caught a glimpse of an old barber shop, a throw back to another era where getting a hair cut was more a consultation about life and less a consultation about which conditioner to use. A place where razors are sharp and the smell of "aftershave" hangs in in the air like thick water soaked balls of cotton. Lisbon is chalk full of places like this, from shoe repair shops that have shoelace stocks that could be archived for historical record to specialty button stores. Lisbon is unique in that it´s past can be seen on display in a sort of living museum. While at the same time Lisbon is teeming with modern design culture and is constantly on the border of becoming too "hip" without knowing it. From sleek new cocktail bars to concept sneaker stores, there is no lack of creative energy here. It´s the fact that these two distinct eras can co-exist which makes this city the place I love. As I watch the constant stream of new construction of designer hotels and luxury apartments I find myself wondering how long this will last. As a city moves forward a part of the past has to make way for the future. But, somewhere along that line of development there is a perfect moment when the two worlds, past and future, stand side by side and in unison tell their story.