A tourist in my hometown

September 5, 2012

Last week I went to Lisbon for a weekend – the Summer bank holiday this year was exactly on my birthday so I thought I’d treat myself to spend my birthday with friends and family back home. I only spent 2 days in total in Lisbon but over those two days I managed to have dinner with and see the great majority of my friends. It was very good to see that even though I’ve been away for 2 years now, my friends still make time to come and see me.

I arrived on Saturday and went straight to a dinner party I had organized, so I could see most people at once, as my time in the city was quite limited. After dinner obviously we went drinking and dancing and it was a lot of fun! I never go out in Grantham so it was nice to throw some shapes to some music I actually like.

It all got a bit blurry after a while…
… until me and my friends decided that enough was enough and it was time to go home. Needless to say it was broad daylight outside by then…
The Barcelos rooster is everywhere!
Everything is closed on Sunday morning and the streets are empty. Give it a few more hours and these roads will be teeming with people.
This area is called Chiado and it is the heart of the city. My last two addresses were 5 minutes walk from this area and frankly I couldn’t see myself living in any other area of the city.
This lady was sitting with Fernando Pessoa, the poet. Maybe she felt lonely, who knows.

 A very typical butcher shop, with a very typical housewife, wearing the typical housewife pinafore.

The city is sadly covered in scribbled tags, which gives it a dirty look but sometimes among all of the nonsense one can find some humourous details:
Art Brut!
Fortunately , not all is dirty tags and there is a lot of good quality street art to be seen, it is even something that has incentives in some places, like these old 19th century buildings. While they await hopefully some TLC, their façades have been decorated by internationally renowned street artists.
I don’t know if all of them were made by Os Gémeos but this last one I know for sure it was. Mr D and I saw their exhibition back in 2010, which was when this mural was created.
I took my camera out of the bag to take a photo of the old pool table sign and then saw the old ladies. Fortunately I was able to still get them in the photo.
A very traditional type of store front. Shops like these populate my childhood memories from the Benfica neighbourhood, where I used to live until I was 10 years old or so.
Sunday I arranged to meet with Henrique and go out for dinner at one of my favourite places, the illegal chinese restaurant. You ask, what? Yes, illegal because it is basically an apartment where you go and a family serves you home cooked food. Mr D spent a few years in China and said it is actually authentic and it is also yummy! Plus, perfect comfort food for the horrid hangover I had (I went to bed at 10 in the morning on Sunday, which means it was 12 hours straight partying, oops! But then it was to make up for 2 years of not going out at all!)
On our way there we came across this 19th Century bandstand. As I didn’t have any photos yet, it was the perfect setting for an impromptu photoshoot, before the sun went down. It was an absolute laugh! Sadly the pole dancing style photo was blurred so I can’t share it. Booo!
Dress – Mango (present from Sandrine, thank you, it fits perfectly)
Backpack – Izak, via TK Maxx
Sandals  – H&M (now deceased, at the end of the trip)

Curtise from The Secondhand Years was asking the other day where are all the tattoos… You can get an idea on these last two photos 🙂
On our way to the food we stopped at Amigos da Severa, this very typical old tavern for a ginginha, this very sweet and syrupy cherry liqueur. The place is decorated with posters and records related to fado, that music genre from Portugal, possibly the most well known outside of the country. The name of the place, Amigos da Severa (Friends of Severa) is so called because it is close to where Severa, this very famous fado singer from the 19th Century used to live. The small square below is also named after her:
These two cats were courting each other. Unfortunately the photos I took of the whole scene came out too dark, but it was really cute to watch, the little ginger cat on the balcony trying to figure out a way of coming down to meet the tabby.

If you are going around Lisbon it is likely that you end up having to get on the tube. The network has been expanded further since I left, which is good to see. Another interesting fact is that most of the stations, particularly the most recent ones, are covered in tiles, designed by several different artists. Some of them I don’t really like but it sure beats dirty grey walls any day!
One of the activities I had planned for the time I was spending in Portugal was to pay a visit to my friend Sérgio, to add a little word to a larger tattoo I already had and retouch the hearts on my arm. The word I added was “Saudade” . Probably not original but still very relevant for myself, being away from my homeland, my family and the majority of my friends and also separated from my husband due to constraints beyond our control.
It didn’t hurt, honest.
Some of the stencils on his wall, from previous clients. After the tattoo I met up with my Father and we ended up spending 3 hours in this place waiting to obtain an official document I need for my green card application. What a way to spend one’s birthday!
Not all was lost as we went for dinner afterwards with a couple more of my friends to stuff our faces at a Chinese buffet restaurant we used to go to. It was a lot of fun when they played a very bad version of ‘Happy Birthday’ at the restaurant when they brought the cake to the table. They also added a plastic flower with candles that opens when you light them up:
I had never seen it before and marveled at how clever it was, albeit very tacky.
I thought this manequin was funny, it has a surprised look on its face.
Batman and Robin are joining the ranks at this work agency! The unemployment crisis is also affecting super heroes, it seems.
Tuesday arrived and then my time in Lisbon was finished. There is so much more to do and visit but this was all I managed to cram in 2 days. I think I did well in the end. It is always strange to go back home, because I somehow do not feel like I belong there anymore. I have written a little about these feelings before here. I also thought it was really strange that I was addressed in English more than once. Do I look that much out of place in my own home town? I guess I always felt like that and now it really shows haha.
 Here I am at the airport, still looking relaxed and not yet contemplating hauling 50 kilos of luggage through the London Underground when I arrived. I probably had a very different look on my face when I got home, haha.
I was wearing the Wheels and Dollbaby dress that gave me all the trouble, a bracelet that was a present from my sister Elisa a few years ago and the Sonia Rykiel for H&M wedges. You ask why am I travelling wearing such unpractical items? The reason is simple, they take too much space in the suitcase!
Hope you have enjoyed this little trip with me and hope to go back soon!

You Might Also Like


  • Reply pastcaring September 5, 2012 at 11:34

    Lisbon looks great, your post definitely makes me want to visit. Love the first shot of the empty sret with the very blue sky.
    Thanks for the flash of tattoos! I love the pics of you on the bandstand and at the airport.
    Batman and Robin made me laugh! xxxx

  • Reply Megan September 5, 2012 at 11:52

    Holy cow you jammed a lot into 2 days! I love seeing all your photos of Lisbon. I was only there for 3 days in 2008 but your photos are a great reminder of a fun trip.


  • Reply riotdontdiet September 5, 2012 at 13:21

    conseguiste mesmoooo fazer muita coisa 🙂 e como certas coisas mudaram wow! vou la pra semana, bem propriamente a margem sul q é de onde sou, mas tenciono ir a lisboa tb passear e visitar amigos. tu foi c o ingles, eu vou levar c piadas de ja ter sotaque nortenho lol

    adoro a tua vestimenta nas ultimas fotos <3

  • Reply Cat September 5, 2012 at 18:49

    Gostei muito deste post 🙂 Sobretudo por ser em Lisboa, a minha cidade. Adorei as fotos! E que lindo que fica o Chiado vazio 😉


  • Reply kodiak September 5, 2012 at 19:47


  • Reply Melanie September 5, 2012 at 20:46

    I can't remember the last time I pulled an all-nighter! Your photos brought back memories. And I've never seen anyone look more elegant in skulls than in your last few pics. I loved roaming the streets vicariously through your photos. The architecture, wow!

  • Reply Connie September 5, 2012 at 22:14

    I feel like I just took this trip with you! Beautiful. I can imagine little Sara playing in those streets. I went back to my hometown this summer for my high school reunion. I know how it feels to be back on on your home turf as a tourist, wondering how different life would be if you still lived there. Batman & Robin unemployed! What a crack up!

  • Reply thorne garnet September 5, 2012 at 22:43

    oh, man, somewhere else I want to visit!

  • Reply Sandrine September 6, 2012 at 18:14

    Glad you like it 🙂

  • Reply Jean at www.drossintogold.com September 7, 2012 at 03:26

    I'm exhausted but exhilarated! What a trip, just beautiful. It must have been so poignant going back to your old stomping grounds. BTW, your hair looks great :-)!!

  • Reply Allison September 7, 2012 at 04:35

    OMG I have so much to say about this post! ahhhhh! I love seeing the streets when there is no one on them! Such a great time to photograph!! And the tattoo- OMG- can't wait to see what it looks like when it's done healing!! Lastly, I'm in love with your skull dress. I have a serious weakness for skulls and that dress is killer!
    A's Fashion Files
    Shop Kawaii Kitsch by A on Etsy!

  • Reply Kelinha September 7, 2012 at 08:23

    Nice blog. Would you like to follow each other? =)

  • Reply Amber of Butane Anvil September 7, 2012 at 14:58

    The bittersweet mood if this post really touched me, along with the gorgeous photos and the meanings you link to the places in them. Thank you so much for such a beautifully-put-together document of your visit. xo

    P.S. Ditto Melanie's comment on the skulls!

  • Reply Sin12012 September 12, 2012 at 22:45

    À imenso tempo que não vou a Lisboa , sendo do Porto ainda são algumas horas de viagem . Mas estas fotografias fizeram – me vontade de lá voltar !

    xo ,
    Ana Catalarrana

  • Leave a Reply