News about Portugal

A change in perspective?

View of the river Douro, waaaaay up in the north of the country, in Miranda do Douro. Portugal to the left, Spain to the right of the picture

View of the river Douro, waaaaay up in the north of the country, in Miranda do Douro. Portugal to the left, Spain to the right of the picture

As you may (or may not) know, Portugal has a new President. Just to give you some context, in Portugal, Presidents are not the ones who actually rule (that’s for Prime-Ministers). They act like diplomats, in a way, and can veto laws from the Government.

This post is not meant to be about politics and I’d like to stress that I have no political affiliation and it is not my intention to give Beyond Lisbon a political colour of any kind. Still, I couldn’t help but be surprised when checking the news this morning and coming across a sentence, which the new President recently said (sorry, it’s in Portuguese), regarding the presidential ceremonies that will take place in Porto: “Because Portugal is more than Lisbon” (“Porque Portugal é mais do que Lisboa”). Now… that has always been my motto, Mr. President! 😀

headerHonestly, I hope this type of action, coming from the President, will help pave the way for a change in perspective regarding the way people (both in Portugal and abroad) look at the country.


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And now for something completely different


Some of the wolves I’ve “adopted” through the years.

Today there will be no pretty landscape, no old monument and no trivia tidbit. Instead, I will share something which is very dear to me.
The Iberian wolf, native to the Iberian Peninsula (that’s Portugal and Spain, if you’re curious) is a highly endangered species. Back in 1998 I read an article about an independent NGO called Grupo Lobo and their effort to provide a safe space for this species. Actually, they were doing more than that and were also promoting talks and activities to let people know that wolves are not big bad monsters. A few weeks later I became the proud adoptive “mother” of Lobinho, a wolf which had been found by firefighters during a forest fire and which had lived in an apartment for 2 years, before crossing paths with the CRLI (Iberian Wolf Recovery Centre).
Later, I had the opportunity to visit their space, not far from Lisbon, when they opened the Centre to visitors. I had the privilege of taking a guided tour and of witnessing a professor howl like a wolf – and listening to the wolves howl back!

Sabor, one of the wolves living at the CRLI (Photo credits:

Today, the people from Grupo Lobo and CRLI do so much more than that and have expanded in several ways, but they also need our help: They need to buy the land in which they’ve built this wolf haven. If they fail to do so the Iberian wolves living in this space will loose this vital safe place for them and will risk dying at the hands of hunters and traps.
Every little bit helps! You can make a donation through their crowdfunding page (and choose a perk) or you can go straight to their website and adopt a wolf, while also learning more about them and their cause. You can also donate any other sum that fits your pocket. If you can’t donate please spread the word! ❤

Bolota, my adoption for this year (Photo credits:

I’ve done my bit and hope you’ll help, too! 😉

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Two tips (if you’re in Lisbon for the next few weeks)

If you happen to be in the Lisbon area for the next few weeks and your schedule and/or budget won’t allow you to go any farther than the city’s surrounding area there are two things you can do: either go to Fiartil or go to FIA – Lisboa.

Why? Because they’re both fairs dealing with Portuguese handicraft and food, although in different manners, so you get to experience some of what the country has to offer without actually leaving the Lisbon area.

Sounds like a good idea? Yes, I figured that much. 😉


Where? Centro de Congressos do Estoril (Estoril Congress Center, some 20/25 minutes away from Lisbon, either by car or train).

When? June 28th to September 1st. Mondays to Fridays from 6 p.m. to midnight; Saturdays, Sundays and official holidays from 5 p.m. to  midnight.

How much? From Monday to Thursday adults pay 1€ but if you’re more than 65 years old you pay 0.50€. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays the ticket is 2.50€ and if you happen to be more than 65 years old you pay 1€. Children up to 12 years old don’t pay.

What else? This fair will be celebrating its 50th year of existence! Visitors will be able to appreciate and, of course, purchase, the work of some 300 people, from all over the country, working with handicraft. Food will also be a topic, of course!

Every night there will be live music, catering for different tastes, starting at 9 p.m. Sunday nights are jazz nights!

FIA – Lisboa

Where? In Lisbon, at FIL. FIL is an exhibition center in Parque das Nações, a fairly recent part of the city which, unfortunately, a lot of tourists don’t get to see because they’re only looking for the old stuff! Boo!

So how do you get there? I thought you’d never ask! There are several possibilities, but taking the subway is probably the best alternative, if you don’t have a car.

When? From the 6th to the 14th of July. The exhibition area is open from 3 p.m. to midnight and the food area is open from 12.30 p.m. to midnight. This year you’ll be able to get your ticket money back by going to the food stalls. They don’t give a lot of details on their website, but it’s worth taking a closer look at that!

How much? Adults pay 5€; students (take your school card with you) and people over 65 years old pay 2€; children up to 10 years of age pay nothing (obviously they need to show some ID).

What else? One of the main aspects of this blog is to let you know what you can experience in Portugal… beyond Lisbon. Right? Right! So why am I suggesting something taking place in Lisbon? Because it will allow you to somehow  get to know a good part of the country without actually leaving Lisbon. Usually, one pavilion will be dedicated to Portugal alone, another pavilion for the other countries and one other for food and drink (and yes, you can eat/drink there or you can buy stuff to take with you). Most of the food stalls there are Portuguese, but not all of them.

I’ve been going to this fair since I was a kid and, of course, I’ll be there this year as well. It’s a very ethnic/alternative kind of event and you can usually see some handicraft items being produced right there. There are also several events, like small workshops and concerts, taking place during the time of the fair. This year’s “special guest” will be Cape Verde!

You can check the fair’s website in English right here.

Have fun! 🙂

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An artist you don’t see everyday

Yes, I realise that all artists are unique and, therefore, they’re all “artists you don’t see everyday”. But let me tell you about this one in particular. You may have heard something about a Portuguese artist exhibiting in Versailles in 2012. Not only was she the first woman ever to have works exhibited there, she was also the first Portuguese citizen to do so. Meet Joana Vasconcelos!

Joana Vasconcelos was born in Paris in 1971, but she studied in Lisbon and is still based there. Her works will often, but not always, be big and bold. She takes objects from our normal everyday lives and creates something new with them: something with a message, great visual impact and colour. Take, for example, “The Bride”, one of my favourite works from her: when you look at it, standing a few meters from it, it looks like a big chandelier, but… there’s something odd about it. And then you come closer and realise it’s made of tampons!

“The Bride”: 5 meter-high piece made with 25.000 tampons. I’m glad I didn’t have to put all that together!
Photo credits:

Obviously she has a team of people working with her to bring to life her ideas and creations. How else could you make two huge stilettos from stainless steel pots and lids? Or hang a ginormous crochet quilt from the D. Luís bridge in Porto?

“Varina”: a public space installation suspended in the D. Luís I bridge in Porto. It’s a 15×35 meters piece of hand made crochet: Varina was the name given to the women who used to sell fish on the streets.
Phot credits:

This year Joana Vasconcelos will be representing Portugal in the Venice Biennale with “Trafaria Praia”. This will be an old kind of ferry boat, called cacilheiro, that used to connect Lisbon and Trafaria (across the Tagus) which has undergone major changes and will be like a floating pavilion, with art both on the inside and on the outside. The outside of this ferry (built in 1960) will have hand-painted ceramic tiles (azulejos, of course!) and the inside will have an amazing display of objects created with crochet in tones of blue and white mingled with LEDs that will make it look like you’re deep down in the ocean. You can check both her website for the Venice event or her Facebook page (half Portuguese, half English) for more details about it.

“Marilyn”: two piece sculpture with 297x155x410cm, created with hundreds of stainless steel pans and lids.
Photo credits:

Her works have been in exhibitions in many countries but being in Versailles was, obviously, something very big.  Despite being the first Portuguese, the first woman and the youngest contemporary artist to have her works there the whole thing was not without some “hiccups”. Her work “The Bride”, for example (mentioned above), was censored (Boooo, France!) and considered “inadequate” for Versailles. I think Versailles needs to relax a little…

“Vitrail”: tapestry inspired by the Castelo Branco embroideries and made in collaboration with the Manufactura de Tapeçarias de Portalegre (346 x 367 cm)
Photo credits:

Even if she can somehow look eccentric with some of her dress choices (aren’t all artists somehow eccentric?) she has a laid back attitude, living with her husband and child in a flat in Lisbon. You can have a peek at a day in her life here (this series of photos is part of a photography project): Joana Vasconcelos with her baby; brushing her cat, Ming; family breakfast; her day at work; meeting with fashion designer Filipe Faísca (who conceived her dress for the opening of the Versailles exhibition); Joana with her mom and her baby; end of the day, playing with the baby.

Hope one day you’ll have the opportunity to see the works of this amazing artist!

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Surf’s up!

Once again, Portugal and surf go hand in hand. I didn’t know about this, but Ericeira (a coastal town some 40 minutes to the North of Lisbon) was officially dedicated as a World Surfing Reserve. Why is this so big, I hear you ask? Because Ericeira became the second World Surfing Reserve overall and the first in Europe!

Ericeira, Portugal

Ericeira, Portugal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the World Surfing Reserve website “The Ericeira area of Portugal is a treasure for Portuguese and international surfers alike. The dedicated Ericeira surf zone consists of 4 km (2.5 miles) of coastline, containing seven quality surf breaks, including Pedra Branca, Reef, Ribeira d’Ilhas, Cave, Crazy Left, Coxos and São Lourenço. (…) ‘Ericeira is very special because there are so many great breaks in a very small area,’ said Portuguese world tour surfer Tiago Pires, who spoke at the dedication.”

Surf is more than just keeping your balance on top of a surf board – it has to do with nature, with being one with the ocean. This designation has to do with that, exactly: it is a tribute to the Ericeira surf zone and it tries to develop efforts to maintain it as unique and natural as it is. Sounds very good to me!

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Are you going to Scarborough fair?

No, I’m going to another fair!

You might remember my post last week about cheese. Well, now I’m here to announce the XXII Festa do Queijo Serra da Estrela 2013 e outros produtos locais de qualidade. Say whaaaaat?

What is it? It’s a cheese fair! In this cheese fair the star is none other than the Serra da Estrela cheese I told you about. All you need to know is that it includes cheese tastings, show cooking, live folk music and several activities for those of us who enjoy sports and/or have children and/or are curious to know more about wool (also very important for the economy of the region. Sheep = wool + cheese. Get it?). You’ll be able to not only taste but also buy cheese, local cured meats and handicraft. I bet there will also be local honey, bread and sweets.

Where is it? Very close to the biggest mountainous region in Portugal, Serra da Estrela, in a town called Oliveira do Hospital. As usual, Google Maps knows where it is. The fair will take place at the local fair spot (Recinto da Feira de Oliveira do Hospital).

When will that be? 9th (10 a.m. – 7 p.m.) and 10th March (10 a.m. – 6 p.m.).

How can I know more about it? Come on, I already told you all that I know! Oh, wait, you can check their Facebook page. It’s all in Portuguese but you can have a look at the pretty pictures.

Going to the fair will be a good excuse to visit one of my favourite places in the country which will  likely be covered in snow – fingers crossed!

Can’t wait to go there and tell you all about it! There will be a review on the fair but also on the hotel and, probably, a restaurant or two. Don’t miss it!
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Would you like some extra Portugal with that?


Chuck Norris is not afraid of Portuguese onions!

Well, it looks like McDonald’s has decided to use onions produced in Portugal, more precisely in the Alqueva (Alentejo region). These onions will be used not only on McDonald’s products in Portugal, but they will also travel to other countries in Europe. The fast food chain famous for their golden arches intends to expand their production area in the Alqueva to up to 700 hectares – that’s about 1730 acres and a lot of onions! Source:

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