Lovers Handkerchiefs

     Last week Claudia N. from Austria toured Lisbon with me and her daughter. After the tour they did some shopping and bought a beautiful handkerchief, with a writing they couldn’t understand.

     These handkerchiefs are traditional from the North of Portugal and used to be embroidered by young girls to offer them to their boyfriends. The handkerchief represented the beginning of the relationship: the girl would embroider it with love sentences to declare her love, and the boy would use it in public accepting the commitment.

     They are always embroidered with happy colors, flowers, hearts  and always have a spelling mistake. At the time most girls could barely read and would write the sentences the same way they’d speak, trading Vs for Bs.

     Nowadays they can be found in most handicraft shops and besides the classic handmade handkerchiefs one can also find inexpensive replicas, neat to use as kitchen fabrics, table cloths and home wear.

     This is something I definitely recommend as a souvenir as they’re both traditional and beautiful. Congratulations girls, you picked a beautiful “Lenço dos Namorados”!

Lisbon’s markets and fairs

If you’re one of those persons who loves to look for little treasures in lost places and browse little stores searching for rarities, then this post is for you.

One of the things I love to do on my (rare) free time is to walk around markets, buy rarities and handicrafts, or simply observe the quaint things some merchants want to sell. Lisbon has a nice offer in terms of markets and since many people like to visit local markets when they travel, I decided to list some interesting markets and fairs.

  • “Feira da Ladra” – Lisbon’s flea market is just like any other flea market in the world: name a bizarre product and you’ll find it there. From old books or vintage furniture to used clothes, shoes, underwear or other types of garbage, it has it all. Some artists use it to show their work too, so, you may find some art pieces or design jewelry as well. Where: Páteo São Vicente, between Alfama and Graça; When: every Tuesday and Saturday morning.
  •  “Mercado da Ribeira” – Is one of the most traditional markets, mostly visited by locals who want to buy fresh products: fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, flowers… Besides the classical products you’ll also find many things that you’ve never seen before. Don’t forget to buy some olives and some lupins (azeitonas e tremoços). Where: Cais do Sodré; When: every morning except on Sundays.
  • “Jardim da Estrela” – is the perfect combination of shopping and relaxing as it’s located in Estrela public garden. Most sellers are young artists who sell urban handicraft, jewelry, clothes, bags and other hand-made items. Besides the market you can sit and relax in the garden: sometimes they also have free Tai-Shi lessons or concerts. Where: Jardim da Estrela; When: first weekend of the month, from 10am to 6pm
  • Similar Fair: “Feira da Alegria”. Where: Praça da Alegria; When: every 1st and 3rd weekend of the month, from 10 am to 6 pm.
  • “Mercado Biológico do Príncipe Real” – has all sorts of organic products. While more and more consumers are worried about the quality of what they eat, more and more producers are proud of growing their products without the use of pesticides nor other chemical products. Since there was no place for them in the normal market, Agrobio decided to create this “organic market”. You can find vegetables, fruits, animal derived and bakery products. Where: Principe Real; When: every Saturday morning
  • Similar Fair: “Agrobio”. Where: Largo de Santos; When: every Thursday, from 4 to 8 pm
  • “Feira do Chiado” – is specialized in old books and collectible items. Is used mostly by collectors and second hand book sellers, some of which just show books they’ve been keeping for a while. Where: Rua da Anchieta, Chiado; When: Every Saturday morning.
  • “Mercado das Colecções” – located in the same place than “Mercado da Ribeira”, its name “Collections Market” says it all: is perfect to find stamps, coins, books, medals, postcards, watches and other rarities. Where: Cais do Sodré; When: every Sunday morning.
  • “Mercado da Avenida da Liberdade” – brings all sorts of items to the centre of the city. Old books and antiques, stamps and coins, handicrafts and designer’s clothes, it has a little bit of everything. Where: Avenida da Lisberdade; When: Every 2nd weekend of the month.
  • Similar Fair: “Mercado de Belém”. Where: Belém, in front of St Jerome monastery; When: every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month, from 9 am to 6 pm.

Not sure if everyone will speak English? Check this page with the essential words.

Share your thoughts with me and this post with your friends!

Happy mothers day!

In Portugal we celebrate mothers day on the 1st Sunday of May, which is actually today.

Instead of dedicating a post to all the mothers, I decided to dedicate this post to all the sons and daughters who are in Lisbon right now and that would like to buy their mums a little something. Here goes the list:
Filigree: it’s a very special and traditional way of working the silver or gold. Can be used in necklaces, medals, earrings, … and it’s traditional to the north of Portugal (specially Minho region) but can be bought everywhere.
Tiles: Lisbon is definitely famous for tiles and it’s production dates back to the Moorish times. Hand painted or printed with Lisbon landscapes, big or small, rolled in bubble wrap or in your jeans, they’ll make all mums happy.
Cork items: known mostly for being used as bottle stoppers, floors or shoes insoles, cork is more resistant than leather and today is used to produce all types of fashion items. Purses, hats, key holders, umbrellas, Ipad cases… sky is the limit!
Bordalo Pinheiro Ceramics: ceramics are another tradition of Portugal and these specific ones make part of our history. Bordalo Pinheiro was a great ceramist and though he already died, the factory is still alive and produces great quality ceramics shaped like cabbage leaves, other vegetables or even animals. You can find them in nice souvenir stores, everywhere.
Plane ticket! If you loved Lisbon, I’m sure that your mother will love it as well. Why not inviting her and do a city-break or vacation together? While here, experience a tile painting workshop and take a really special souvenir back home.