February 1, 2015

Sintra, Portugal. October, 2009

So much of Sintra is geared to be beautiful that, frankly, I had my fill early on. And so it was nice to see a bit of whimsey in the midst of the overload of UNESCO-sanctioned pretty.

January 31, 2015

Lisbon. October, 2009

If you’re going to take the #28 tram all the way up to the top of the Graça neighborhood in order to eat at the Churrasco da Graça, then of course you’re going to order the mixed grill. Quite a lot of meat for these two chicken-and-fish eaters. But a wonderful treat. Also wonderful: We seemed to be the only tourists in this locals-only hangout.

January 30, 2015

Sintra, Portugal. October, 2009

Thirty minutes from Lisbon by frequent train brings you to the UNESCO-honored town of Sintra, once the summer residence of Portuguese royalty. Popular with tourists and filled with photogenic buildings and vistas, it struck me as rather Disneyfied. Look at this picture and you’ll see what I mean. Beautiful, yes. But too tidy and prettified for my taste.

January 29, 2015

Lisbon. October, 2009

Did someone say “flea market”? No matter where in the world I am, the siren song of second-hand goods invariably calls to me. Taking the #28 tram way up to the top of the Alfama neighborhood, I arrived at the city’s biggest swap meet, filled with religious and secular goodies, paintings, lamps, jewelry...and counterfeit DVDs like these. Interesting to see the titles of some Almodóvar favorites in Portuguese. Not interesting to see the dreaded Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow with their fat faces staring.

January 28, 2015

Lisbon. October, 2009

What’s black and white and tread all over?  (Sorry.) Why, this cobblestone Lisbon sidewalk, of course. One of many hundreds in this beautiful city.

January 27, 2015

Lisbon. October, 2009

I have always loved that in Europe, billboards are a revered and effective way of conveying information. And they’re generally adequately sized and placed at eye level. From the Southern Italian funeral notices posted in various neighborhoods, to the movie posters pasted up through France, Spain, Turkey, just about everywhere I’ve visited. Like these concert notices along a busy street in Lisbon. Some fado, some rock, some Lisbon Traviata.

January 26, 2015

Kasımpaşa, Istanbul. September, 2014

That’s chestnut honey, if you please. Also on offer here at the Kasımpaşa Kastamonu food market each Sunday morning, homemade tahini, pomegranate molasses and many other things I don’t know the names of. All presented in whatever containers the vendor was able to find back in his Black Sea village. (My favorite was the cream sold in re-used Coca-Cola bottles.) A bit of advice: Don’t indulge in the raw-milk yogurt if you haven’t built up a tolerance for it. The price you pay at the market will be nothing compared to the price you’re likely to pay for several days afterwards. Just saying.