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Fishink in Lisbon Part 2 Cakes, Trams and Electricity

February 1, 2016

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Welcome back to Fishink in Lisbon. One of the great things that the Portuguese seem to do soooo well is their little coffee stands, wonderful cakes and extravagant Patisseries. Below are just a few examples.

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Portugal is famous for its ‘Pastéis de nata’ (a Portuguese egg tart pastry) which were created before the 18th century by Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery. It was quite common for monasteries and convents to use the leftover egg yolks to make cakes and pastries, resulting in the proliferation of sweet pastry recipes throughout the country. Following the extinction of the religious orders and in the face of the impending closing of many of the convents and monasteries in the aftermath of the Liberal Revolution of 1820, the monks started selling pastéis de nata at a nearby sugar refinery to secure some revenue. In 1834 the monastery was closed and the recipe was sold to the sugar refinery, whose owners in 1837 opened the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém. The descendents own the business to this day.

Since 1837, locals and visitors to Lisbon have visited the bakery to purchase fresh from the oven pastéis, sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Their popularity normally results in long lines at the take-away counters, in addition to waiting lines for sit-down service. I thought it would be rude not to try one (or even two), even if this one (below) does look a little burnt and crispy.. it still tasted great.

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Lisbon is also famous for it’s varied modes of transportation, trains, tuk-tuks, funicular railways and perhaps most renown are it’s trams. The first tramway in Lisbon entered service on 17 November 1873, as a horse-car line. Up until 1959, the network of lines was further developed, and in that year it reached its greatest extent. At that time, there was a total of 27 tram lines in Lisbon, now only five remaining lines operate in the southern centre and west of the city. Despite the relevant tourist attraction, those lines are still very important because of sections of the city’s topography of small, narrow streets and very hilly aspects, that it can best be crossed by small trams. Yellow is such a popular colour here.

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There are plenty of places selling fish-inspired treats, whether it’s a gift shop or a restaurant, touting it’s fresh wares in the window.

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I came across this wonderful children’s gift shop (above) called Capitao Lisboa and the Folk Art Shop (below) near to the centre of Lisbon with an interesting array of ceramic figures, some looking a little like Frida Kahlo!

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Rossio Square is the popular name of the Pedro IV Square which has been a preferred meeting place for locals and tourists alike and since the middle ages it has also been the setting of popular revolts and celebrations, bullfights and executions… fortunately, non there today. The contrast of the blue sky with the sun on the white stone and yellow walls, makes for quite a striking scene.

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From there you can walk along the river and take in a whole host of impressive monuments. (More in my next post.)

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This metallic sculpture, pays homage to the Portuguese artist Jose de Almada Negreiros, whilst the the ’25th of April Bridge’ is a suspension bridge connecting the city of Lisbon, capital of Portugal, to the municipality of Almada on the left (south) bank of the Tejo river. It was inaugurated on August 6, 1966, and a train platform was added in 1999. Because it is a suspension bridge and has similar colouring, it is often compared to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  The upper deck carries six car lanes, while the lower deck carries two train tracks, with a total length of 2,277 m, it is the 27th largest suspension bridge in the world. The name “25 de Abril” commemorates the Carnation Revolution.

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A little further along we discovered the Electricity Museum, which opened to the public in May 2006 as a reflection of a more up-to-date concept of a museum. The Tejo Power Station is one of Lisbon’s architectural landmarks and boasts a façade of undeniable beauty. In its day it was a real pioneer in electricity generation. Today, almost a century since it was built, the power station has again taken on innovative aspects and a prominent position as an Electricity Museum.

The main part of the permanent exhibition is the power station itself, i.e. all the equipment making up the old generating unit, which is still there today. The exhibition endeavours to give visitors a clear idea of the way Lisbon’s old thermoelectric plant worked, identifying its different components and explaining how it operated.

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I hadn’t intended to visit this museum as (to be honest) I had thought it initially sounded quite dull, but I was so glad that I did. Not only did I find the whole museum (and the quality of the exhibitions) extremely impressive, but I was also transfixed by it’s odd little quirky gadgets, dials and devices that displayed  and monitored various happening along the process of creating electricity. That and the fact that the whole experience was free, was pretty amazing.

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I can’t begin to imagine how long it must have taken to clean up all the machinery and present it to the public in it’s present state, but it looked good enough to eat your Portuguese egg tart off ! 110% for effort here.

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Some impressive models, a snazzy lightbulb collection and a device that showed how hot and cold you were. Don’t you think this looks like something the Petshop Boys would release as a video lol

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Electrical posters from throughout the ages.

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Shapes, textures and instruments, all meticulously cleaned to within an inch of their life.

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After all that reading it was time for a rest, soak up some rays and grab a beer. See you in part 3. If you missed part one it’s here http://wp.me/pY4YW-4F9

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For those of you who are near to Manchester and who enjojed my post about https://fishinkblog.com/2015/07/20/tibor-reich-the-rebirth-of-his-mid-century-textiles/ , you may well be interested in an exhibition on at the Whitworth which started this weekend and is on until August. The exhibition explores the ideas behind his innovative textiles, photography, ceramics and drawings. Should be well worth a visit.

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I’d also just like to say a Huge vote of thanks to everyone for voting for my blog in this year’s UK Blog Awards. Sadly we didn’t make it to the finalists list this year (like we did last year), but hey it’s still great to be up there and singing with the best of them. So thanks again and please carry on tuning and chipping in : ) It is so much appreciated.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2016 9:36 am

    Lisbon is on my bucket list, looks fantastic, as do the pastries!

    • February 1, 2016 12:32 pm

      I know you’d like it… move it up the rankings lol : )

  2. February 1, 2016 2:36 pm

    What a fabulous city and a great set of photos from you! It looks such a local city, i.e. not too overwhelming – did it come across like that to you? Thanks for taking us with you as always Craig!! :o)

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