It was my last night at the Lisbon Lounge Hostel, a great modern backpacker hostel at the foot of Lisboa’s hilly terrain. I had made some great friends there, among whom were Vicky and Nicky. These delightfully friendly British girls, taking a break from their studies, offered to share a meal with me which they were happy to say had more than seven different ingredients (A huge undertaking for most budget-conscious backpackers.) I was very interested to see that they had included all four of the pre-packed “Four Cheeses” pasta mix as separate ingredients and wondered if they were taking a break from studying marketing with a major in Fiction….
So to top it off, the next day I invited the two girls and a few other stragglers to dinner at my new hostel. My mission was to include eight different ingredients in the pasta sauce. Tomatoes, onions, cheese, broccolli and carrots were the base of it all and I claimed basil, oregano and salt to be my final three ingredients. Between the two nights, it certainly lifted the bar of culinary success that I had experienced at any backpackers previously.
And speaking of food – the custard tarts in Portugal are the best! The ever popular portuguese tart is best sampled in the neighbouring town of Belem. There is a cafe there which has been serving them hot and fresh for a number of years and claims to have the best custard tarts in all of Portugal. After tasting about three, I had to agree! So if you’re ever in Lisboa be sure to check it out!
And just so you know, Lisbon is the English spelling for Lisboa.
I had to visit Portugal to see the country with its history intertwined so closely with Brazil. And I had a particular fascination with Lisboa because of the poetry of Fernando Pessoa. If you haven’t read any of his works, then at least read the one I have included below. His originals are in portuguese, but this english version does this particular poem justice!
The poet is a faker
Who’s so good at his act
He even fakes the pain
Of pain he feels in fact.
And those who read his words
Will feel in what he wrote
Neither of the pains he has
But just the one they don’t.
And so around its track
This thing called the heart winds,
A little clockwork train
To entertain our minds.
If I thought that Paris was a great city to explore unplanned on foot, then Lisboa is even more so. Wandering around from ruined cathedrals to city forts perched on the hill, its a historic city with rustic views around every corner without the faster pace of Paris.
For a stimulating read, try Fernando Pessoa’s semi-autobiography, “The Book of Disquiet”. If it doesn’t change your views on a number of topics, then it will at the very least stimulate you into thinking about them.
I ran into fellow backpacker, Gemma, who had spent six months in Brasil and spoke portuguese as well. So we celebrated by nostalgically drinking a few espressos or ‘cafezinhos’ at the famous Cafe do Brasil in central Lisboa. That may have followed with some traditional cachaça testing as well which resulted in the rest of the night being somewhat of a blur…