The quantity of quality beaches nearby Lisbon, not to mention in Portugal, is overwhelming. You can have a glimpse of how it is like to wander around the country beach tasting/testing but the sites I will present here will maybe cover 1% of the total number.
Costa Caparica is probably the hippest beach in the Lisbon’s surrounding. The fact is, it is pretty much accessible, either by car, or by bus taken from the centre of Lisbon. Be aware if travelling during rush hours: the beach is situated on the other side of the Tejo river, and the famous Ponte de 25 de Abril at that times become rather a parking lot than an artery.
Once you get there, you will notice various beach bars and restaurants, varying from very posh to quite affordable ones. But what actually is my favourite remark of the Caparica beach is the quantity of surfing schools and little, wooden houses which endured wind, sun and high tides.
There is pretty much everything to be found on this wide beach: also a nudist and gay zone aka Praia 19. However, if you are looking for a rocky beach where to hide from the all-time present sun and humanity, Caparica may not be the best choice.
My personal fave is to sit nearby the wooden houses, listening to bossa nova classics overlooking the sunset and think about what memories I have left on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I think that what Principezinho meant by ‘looking at the sunsets’ while being melancholic, the Portuguese put nicely in one keyword: saudade.
Ponte de 25 de Abril – 25th of April Bridge, connecting the city of Lisbon with the municipality of Almada on the left (south) bank of the Tejo river. The name “25 de Abril” commemorates the Carnation Revolution.
Principezinho – The Little Prince of Saint-Exupery
Moving on with the Lisbon-related delights… I need to present you the beach I fell in love with at a first sight and which remains in my top 5 until now. Moreover, which is within 1 hour drive reach from the Portuguese capital’s centre!
I have to travel back to very difficult 2011 when Lisbon has been my departure and arrival point throughout the year. Eventually, when my first Brazilian/South American travel came to an end in the mid-September, Lisbon was my welcoming port in Europe after a few months of absence. I had a very emotional meeting with my Mom and my cousin Piotr who decided to fly over from Berlin to join me and spend a couple of days in the Cidade da Luz.
Tired after all-night travel, I proposed we should chill out at the most peaceful place I know by the Oceanside: Praia do Guincho. It was not so easy to get there, taking train to Cascais and then a bus, but impossible was nothing on that very special day for us, weary travelers.
And then, the path between the dunes and green Atlantic forest led us to a wide, sandy beach limited by the most-Western rocks within the continental Europe: Cabo da Roca tip. The air was so clear, the waves – high and long and the breeze was making wonders to my jet-lagged body and soul. We were so happy there, we could not even realize that the tide went up very quickly, gathering back to the ocean our camera, sunscreen and what not. No quality photos were left from this lovely Indian Summer get away, but the memories will definitely remain. And this Brazilian-origined song can tell how glorious can it be when you live by the sea.
Cidade da Luz – City of Light, Lisbon’s nickname
Cabo da Roca – ‘Rocky tip’, the most Western tip of the continental Europe
Praia – beach
The idea behind this post lays partially in my current state of mind: being extremely busy, somewhere in between the unfinished stuff and the forthcoming events which will pretty much decide on how the next months/years of my life will look like. Partially, in one particular request for posting something related to Milton Nascimento’s work. Last but not least, in recent requests for writing something about Lisbon, as one of my friends currently is living there, working as a guide showing the city’s deepest secrets (Polish speakers are much welcome to visit her www.sekrety-lizbony.pl or Facebook Fan Page where she posts some hilarious photos from her favourite neighbourhood Alfama!), and another one is planning shortly a weekend get-away.
To create an amalgamate of these three topics I decided to show you some of my favourite Lisbon’s murals. The quote ‘Para nascer Portugal; para morrer o mundo’ is authored by Antonio Vieira, a Jesuit who shared his life between Portugal and Brazil and can be found written on a mural closely to Sé de Lisboa. Nowadays this quote has definitely another meaning. Given not only difficult economic circumstances, but also insatiated curiosity, there are millions of Portuguese spread all over the world. To me, this might be a reflection on a globalised reality, just as illustrating one’s craving to discover the world.
Milton Nascimento’s ‘Tudo o que você podia ser’ is an anthem for those, who are not afraid to change, to go beyond mainstream or to take difficult decisions. He underlines that the only obstacle on our way to become who we would love to be is fear. Recapitulating with another famous quote: the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Nascimento – birth (also, a surname of a famous Brazilian musician, Milton Nascimento)
‘Para nascer Portugal; para morrer o mundo’ – To be born in Portugal; to die in the world
Sé de Lisboa – Cathedral of Lisbon
‘Tudo o que você podia ser’ – ‘All you could become’ (a title of a famous Milton Nascimento’s song)
‘I already knew you were a big fan of Portugal and Brazil but I never thought it was mostly language- and sound-related. It’s really nice to hear that Portuguese as this kind of power. I guess that fado it’s not your type of music but it seems unusual to talk about saudade without mentioning it’.
Well, hearing this kind of feedback I just cannot remain unresponsive! The author of the feedback is Joana with whom I had a pleasure to collaborate at my previous workplace last year in Barcelona. Even though it was always quite stressful and very fast-pace back there, we managed to create a very inspirational (and still, productive!) ambience on our ‘Fox Island team’ (don’t ask for a meaning) within the open space ocean. So, speaking a weird mixture of Spanish – English – French – Catalan – Polish – Lithuanian (!) and Russian we could not obviously miss Portuguese. And despite the fact that we are all in very different places now, I guess (?) we all feel this special kind of saudade when we remind those crazy times.
So, it is true, I have not started off with fado, as it is not really my cup of tea. However, it is something a Portugal-loving person cannot just leave behind. Promise there will appear some classic content (for which my Portuguese-aficionado Maezinha is longing, too!), sometime soonish.
For now I would love to present my fave out of Joana’s selection: Ana Moura’s Desfado which represents a powerful trend in fado music nowadays: remaking, experimenting with the form, musical styles and language. Desfado reminds me also of our multilingual team we used to be, desfalando all the afore-mentioned languages and simply, having fun!
Fado – a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life in the neighbourhood, and infused with a characteristic sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia (loosely captured by the keyword saudade – longing). Desfado is a neologism meaning the opposite of it.
Falar – to speak (desfalando is the opposite gerund of it)
Maezinha – (diminuitive) mom