9 February 2019

Manteigaria Silva

Lisbon, Portugal

The first ‘Lojas com Historias’ this week is Manteigaria Silva. In 1890, the area where the salt cod store is today, opened its doors for the first time, under a different name. Next door, the area where the grocery store is now, was originally a slaughterhouse, which catered to the old market on Praça da Figueira, which no longer exists. In 1922 the shop changed hands and became a Manteigarias, a butter shop, Silva was the family name of the proprietors. Only shops classified as manteigarias were allowed to sell butter and dairy products, and in Lisbon there were only about twenty of them when this shop opened. At the time, butter was an important and expensive product, which came from the Azores in blocks and was sold by weight, in small packages. Butter and its by-products were the only items for sale at this store.

The shop was extended in the 1930s to the size it is today, one side of the shop selling salt cod, and the other side a grocery store specialising in regional products and delicacies, like hams, sausages, cheeses, dried fruits and wines.

Espingardaria Central A Montez opened in 1902 and the shop is always described as being where the weapon that triggered Portugal’s transition from monarchy to republic in 1910 was purchased. The firearms used in the assault on King Carlos were bought at the shop, including the Winchester that killed the king. The seller was a young shop assistant,
António Montez, who later became the shops owner, naming the shop after himself, it has remained in the family. Montez represented Portugal at the Paris Olympics of 1924, coming 30th in the 25 metre rapid fire pistol shooting event. The spelling of ‘Revolwers’ refers back to a time when the ‘w’ was still part of the Portuguese alphabet, today ‘K, W and Y’ are only used in foreign words.

Espingardaria Central A Montez

Chapelaria Azevedo Rua, a hat shop, was founded in 1886 by Manuel Aquino de Azevedo Rua. He was a producer of Port wine, but had to leave his Douro vineyards when disease ruined his vines. The business has always remained in the family, with the fifth generation now running the shops.

Livraria Ferin is the second oldest bookshop in Portugal, founded in 1840. The name of this bookstore originates from the nickname of the Belgian family that settled in Portugal during the Napoleonic wars. The shop has remained in the same family, with the sixth generation of the family now running the store.

Casa Pereira da Conceição opened in 1933 and sells a wide range of teas and coffees. They have their own blend of coffee, beans are ground in the old machines on the counters. It also sells coffee making machines and accessories; chocolates; almonds, and hand fans.

Franco Gravador, does engraving, and personalised date and number stamps, opened in 1916, and was located in Rua da Prata before it moved to Rua da Vitória, in 1944. The founder, Joaquim Cândido Franco, passed it on to his daughter, who in turn passed it on to her daughter, Dulce Franco Matos, who currently manages the shop.

Alfredo Pinto da Cunha, a goldsmith from Porto, purchased Joalharia do Carmo from its founder Raúl Pereira in the late 1920s, and it has remained in the same family ever since. In 1925 the architect Norte Júnior produced the design for the iconic Art Nouveau façade, which remains unchanged. The jewellers is known for stocking exclusive Portuguese items.

2 February 2019

Lisbon, Portugal

One of the things I enjoy about living in Lisbon is there is so much to learn about the city. I have recently discovered the ‘Historic Shops Project’, set up by the City Council in February 2015, in recognition of the role these establishments have in the  city’s identity and character, and to ensure the conservation and revitalisation of this heritage. The project states,
‘One of the priorities of the city of Lisbon is to work with the traditional and historic businesses in the city with a view to conserving and protecting them and their material, historic and cultural heritage and energising and reinvigorating the commercial activities essential for their existence. It was with this objective in mind that Lisbon City Council launched its programme, which is a first in Portugal.’

Dotted all over the city centre, these shops can be identified by the ‘Lojas com Historias’ sign located somewhere on front of the building. They all have their own unique stories, I thought you might like to know about some of them.

I’m starting with Caza das Vellas Loreto, which is one of Lisbon’s oldest shops. It is has been in the same building, owned by the same family, producing and selling the same products, candles, since 1789.

Caza das Vellas Loreto

The Luvaria Ulisses, a glove shop, was founded in 1925 by Joaquim Rodrigues Simões. The shop’s tiny interior, it is the size of a cupboard, was created by Carlos de Alcântara Knotz, a wood carver, and the original interior is still maintained today. Made-to-measure gloves in seven different sizes are sold here, they are made in a nearby workshop in Travessa do Almada.

Ferragens Guedes was founded in 1922 by Luís Guedes da Silva, who sold the items he produced in his foundries, in this shop. The shop is lined with cupboards containing the item attached to the outside, it has just about every item that one may need to complete a piece of furniture, open or close a door, a window or even a safe.

Pequeno Jardim, (Little Garden) founded in 1922, is an example of the ‘shop under the stairs’, literally it’s a shop installed in a building’s entrance hallway, so it is very small, which is why the flowers and plants are displayed on the pavement.  The iron-framed, Art Nouveau inspired shop window, has a painted glass shop sign on the façade naming the shop’s founder. Florists are quite rare in the centre of Lisbon, so it’s a joy to have this pop of colour on the street.

The Ginjinha Sem Rival shop was founded towards the end of the 19th century by the current proprietors’ grandfather, João Lourenço Cima. The original interior had the Art Deco influenced work added after 1920. It opens from 8 in the morning until midnight, selling Ginjinha, (also called ginja). The original recipe for Ginjinha was created by a monk, who was inspired to ferment Morello cherries in brandy, with lots of sugar, water and cinnamon. Ginja is served in small glasses, costing around €1.40 a shot, one can drink it with or without the cherries at any time of the day, and usually while standing on the pavement, because the traditional ginja shops, like this one, are quite small and only have a serving counter, not table and chairs. It is a very popular tipple in Lisbon and one often sees queues at ginja shops.

This shop makes it’s own ginja and also supplies other ginja houses too. If you have visited Lisbon and either drank or bought a bottle of Ginja Sem Revival, this is where it was made. The shop also makes and sells a liqueur called Eduardino, named after the clown pictured on the bottle’s label, (just seen on the counter on the above photo). The clown, who performed in a theatre near the shop, was a regular customer here and liked to drink a concoction of ginja, herbs and spices. It became so popular it was produced and bottled, with the trademark registered in 1908, and as the sign states, it is the only place where you can drink Eduardino.

The sign above this tiny little shop front states that this is a hairdressers, ‘Cabelleireiro’, spelt with double ‘L’, is the old way of spelling hairdresser, it is actually a barbers, Barbearia Campos. Founded in 1886, by the Campos & Costa company, the business was taken over by José Augusto de Campos, when the company was dissolved in 1920, and has remained in his family since then. Apart from a temporary move to another premises when the building was being renovated, the business has operated at this site since 1886, and is the oldest barber shop in Portugal.

The shop still has some original features, the marble sinks and counter, and the tiled floor. The chrome chairs were a 20th century addition. Displays of original tools used in beard and hair care sit along side contemporary tools. The huge board has details of some of their famous customers.

26 January 2019

Quinta da Regaleira

Sintra, Portugal

Regaleira Palace

Sintra has several unique places to visit and Quinta da Regaleira is one of them. It was named after the Viscountess da Regaleira, who bought the estate in 1840 to use as a summer retreat. When António Monteiro purchased it in 1893, he added adjacent plots of land, and hired the Italian architect Luigi Manini, who added Manueline, Roman, Renaissance and Gothic architectural features to the 4 hectares of Quinta da Regaleira, completing the project in 1911. It remained in private ownership until 1997, when the Municipality of Sintra bought the estate, and after extensive renovations, opened it to the public in June 1998. This site is included in the Cultural Landscape of Sintra classification as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Regaleira Palace
The Hunting room

The Regaleira Palace has five floors, but only had a couple of rooms on the ground floor were open, as the rest of the palace was being renovated when I visited.

The paths, above ground, weave around the extensive gardens, leading one to water features, wells, and castle like structures. There are underground tunnels leading to grottos, caves, and to the Initiation Well.

Garden Bench
Portal of the Guardians
Initiation Well

The Initiation Well is 27 meters deep, walk down the stone steps to the well floor and there are tunnels that lead to other parts of the gardens.

12 January 2019

Lisbon, Portugal

My walk today took me down to the River Tagus, where I watched a sleepy sun rising into a cloudless sky. The ground is freckled with dots of glitter and sparkles from the new year’s eve celebrations, reminding me we are already 12 days in to this new year. This early in the morning the city is still waking up, coffee shops are putting tables and chairs outside, ferries are taking people to work, and the seagulls are making the most of the low tide, to have their breakfast on the beach.

The sunlight at this time of the day, gives an orangey glow to everything. I was pleased to see the cranes, which rather rudely, ruined photos of the Praça do Comércio, have now gone. While I’m on the subject of morning walks, these are a couple of shots I took walking along the Avenida da Liberdade, I think Lisbon is a beautiful city.

The Algarve

At the risk of boring you with sun themed shots I thought I’d share some photos I took of the few days I spent in the Algarve, over Christmas. It was very quiet at Vilamoura Marina, so a joy to walk around, we walked there one evening in time to watch the sunset before we had dinner. The combination of water, boats and the sunset made it a very pleasant pre dinner walk.

Watching the sun set after Christmas lunch in the Algarve

There are great views from the apartment I was staying in, on this morning I got up early enough to see the mist rolling across the golf course.

23 December 2018

Lisbon, Portugal

It is just me or has this year gone by at super fast speed? It doesn’t seem twelve months since I was telling you I was moving from Asia to Europe, and here I am, almost a year later, feeling very settled in Lisbon. I’ve had a really good year, although I still feel I have only scratched the surface of the delights this city, and country, can offer. I think with places, like people, arts, food, etc., one either likes or doesn’t like them, and from the first week I arrived in Lisbon it felt good to be here, this city is my home.

This Christmas I won’t be feeling anxious about moving half way across the world to start again. I’m spending a relaxed Christmas in the Algarve with a very lovely, dear friend and then coming home to Lisbon to meet up with some more of my favourite humans, who are flying here to join me in the new year celebrations. I am blessed to have such good humans in my life.

This time of year, for me, is always a time of reflection, looking back on what I’ve done over the last twelve months and looking forward to the plans, hopes and aspirations I have for the coming months. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope this festive season is whatever you want it to be, and wish you health, happiness, and that 2019 is everything you want and hope, it will be. Boas Festas.

15 December 2018

 Alcácer do Sal, Portugal

Alcácer do Sal is a municipality in the Setúbal district, the small town is 90 kilometres south of Lisbon and gets it name from the Moorish Castle of Alcàcer, which, situated on the highest point, dominates the landscape. Excavations in the 20th century revealed evidence of human occupation here dating back to the late Neolithic Age. The Archaeological Crypt of the castle has the ruins of a Roman house, during the Roman occupation of Alcàcer do Sal it became an important trade centre for wool and salt.  

Rice is grown in Portugal, a fact I didn’t know until my visit here. The River Sado flows through the town, the flat lands and climate make Alcàcer do Sal perfect for growing rice. The climb up the hill to the castle provided views of the rice fields either side of the river. The air was filled with the smell of wood smoke, it was a beautiful still autumn day and I got there in time to watch the sun set.

Rice fields
Rice fields
Views of River Sado as the sun sets
Footbridge over the Sado
Igreja de Santiago
Igreja de Santiago

The Igreja de Santigo, known as much for the resident storks nesting on the twin bell towers as it is for the 18th century azulejos, that cover the inside of the building.

When the sun had set I went for a cruise on the river in the Galeão do Sado, a traditional boat that was originally used to carry the salt that was produced here. Salt production stopped years ago, so the restored boat is now used for tourist trips. It provides a different view of the delightful town of Alcàcer do Sal. 

8 December 2018

Mosteiro de Alcobaça

Alcobaça, Portugal 

Alcobaça’s development is down the Monastery, also known as the Royal Abbey of Santa Maria. Dom Alfonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, built a church to commemorate the conquest of Santarém from the Moors, in 1147. The king donated lands to Bernardo de Claraval and the Order of Cistercians, and building began in 1178 and finished about one hundred years later. At over 100 meters long it is the largest Gothic religious building in Portugal.

A characteristic of the Cistercians was agricultural work and the monks introduced new techniques and systems that transformed the region, which is still one of Portugal’s main fruit providers. 

The kitchen dates from 1752, the huge chimney, supported by eight wrought iron columns, dominates the room. The walls are completely tiled, to make them easier to clean.  Water was delivered to the kitchen via a canal system, demonstrating the ingenuity of the Cistercian monks hydraulic engineering skills. 

Alcobaça has a Spal factory, founded in 1965, and I had a guided tour. Some of the machines looked architectural. It was interesting to see that a lot of the production processes are still done by hand. The 470 employees produce 18 million pieces a year, sixty percent of which are exported to forty five countries.