Whenever I return from a trip, the one task I tend to put off for ages is sorting my pictures. That might sound weird: the moments I spend snapping around are among the happiest I’ve had on any given holiday. On the other hand, seeing my photos on a computer screen too often brings the realisation that they don’t look half as promising as they did on my camera’s tiny viewer; a hard truth that adds up to the unforgiving post-holiday blues. As I picture hours spent editing and enhancing, and the heartwrenching possibility that some photos I’d held high hopes for will prove unrescuable, my first instinct is giving up altogether. Let’s look at more cat pictures on Reddit, shall we?
The aftermath of my holiday in Lisbon is not all Photoshop, sweat and tears though. Surprisingly, my phone (normally useless in any context that requires interesting photos, like – ahem – restaurant visits) did a pretty good job when I lacked the time to play with camera settings, and wanted to quickly photograph something that caught my eye. This post does exactly what the title says: sharing a few quirky details I noticed while wandering around the city, which I feel deserve as much space as the more refined photos I’ve published so far. I hope these shots help you get a feel for Lisbon’s vibrant character and creative vibes. Most of all, I hope they put a smile on your face – flicking through them still gives me the giggles!
1. The children’s cookbook I wish I’d had
While exploring the shopping quarter of Baixa, we stumbled across a bunch of used books stalls just off the touristy Rua Garrett. Most books were in Portuguese, and among them I fished out this children’s cookbook, inspired to Goscinny and Uderzo’s ’90s French comic book series starring Asterix and Obelix (the title translates as “Obelix’s favourite desserts, for shamelessly gluttonous little Gauls”).
It was a random find, and a sweet return to childhood: Asterix comics were my favourites as a kid. If you’re familiar with them, you’ll remember Obelix as the chubby, food-obsessed big guy, and the thought of a cookbook will make sense. If you aren’t, I’m sorry to say you missed out on hours of great fun and giant belly laughs; you can make up for the lost time though, I bet you’d still find them hilarious as an adult. I certainly do…
2. Chocolates (almost) too pretty to eat
The nearby streets of Chiado are home to Chocolataria Equador: possibly the artisan chocolate shop with the prettiest packaging designs ever. I’m not sure I’d actually enjoy chocolate that tastes like passion fruit or raspberry, but I’d be more than willing to give those bars a try if someone gave them to me wrapped in beautiful patterned paper.
3. Sardines that don’t come on plates
Lisbon seems to be somewhat obsessed about sardines; or, at least, about crafting puns that hint at them as the omnipresent local speciality you can’t get away with not tasting at least once. Still, the only sardines I caught sight of were printed on giftware and souvenirs. Have I missed out on a Portuguese dish I should have tried? I’m not too worried, as I all the food I had during my stay was nothing short of wonderful.
The photo on the right is the pattern of a t-shirt I saw while browsing a small crafts market in Jardim da Estrela, selling clothes, jewellery, stationery and homeware from independent designers. The photo on the left comes, once again, from Chocolataria Equador. So I have seen sardines, after all – only that they were made of chocolate!
4. False advertising
Of all the tiny cocktail and tapas bars based near our apartment in Bairro Alto, Troika Bar will be the easiest to remember. To my untrained eye, most of Lisbon’s watering holes looked the same, but this one had some good banter to show for itself. I could have easily taken a similar photo outside a London pub; in fact, I bet you’d think I have, hadn’t I already told you this is Lisbon. The next time you walk past your local pub and chuckle at the cheeky messages on the blackboard outside, remember: these guys could give British humour a run for its money.
5. My first-ever taste of Pavlova
On my last day in Lisbon, I got to meet the lovely Zomato Portugal team. Getting from the city centre to the inconspicuous, slightly run-down quarter of Alcantara was a trek, and I seriousy thought we were getting lost at one point, but their office looks spacious, bright and comfortable. They even have a wall of fame with pictures of the bloggers they met in person, among which I’m told you’ll also find my mug now. Foodies of the world unite, right?
The team were celebrating a colleague’s birthday that day, so they offered us apple pie and chocolate pavlova before we left. Both cakes tasted incredible, and I had to ask if they were homemade; turns out they were made to order by an artisan bakery they always use for office events. Britain should learn the lesson: the next time I see someone put birthday candles on a store-bought caterpillar-shaped cake, I swear I’ll scream.