Two days in Lisbon

We are on holidays! Portugal this time, and we started in Lisbon. Lovely waterfront, winding streets with cobblestones, tiled housefronts and very nice people. This from Alfama, a local festival was in progress and there was tinsel all over. Here they were grilling green peppers as lunch prep, so we came back and had lovely fresh grilled fish and cold beer, sitting in the shade. Pateo 13, Calcadinha de Santo Estevao 13. Great after a hot morning walking steep streets.

Snails at Mercado do Ribeira. Little live grass snails, reportedly delicious when cooked. We were staying nearby, and who can resist a local market? Quieter than I expected, but lovely cherries and nice to wander through. 

Tinned sardines, in beautiful packaging. No food shopping done yet, as we will come back to Lisbon before flying back to Accra. I have not yet seen chocolate sardines (sardine shaped, not actual fish)  which a friend brought back from Lisbon, but will keep looking. Good thing I love food shopping. 

Fresh sardines at Mercado do Ribeiro, we webt for a morning stroll. Fresh grilled sardines are delicious, that was lunch. After waterfront drinks (white sangria) we also went to the Time Out food hall at Mercado do Ribeira – just packed by 2030 and hard to get a seat, another time I would go earlier to better sample dishes.

Between all the meals we also went to the fado museum. Not something I knew much about, so we enjoyed that. Then we went to the national tile museum, very nice. But a looooooong walk, so get the bus. We bussed back and that 1.85 euro ticket was best spent money of the day. 

Streets and stairs and tiles: while housefronts covered with them. 

Great city for walking and seeing little quirky details. Not to mention being able to walk all day without dropping with sweat like in humid Accra. It is strange being in Europe again, but nice. 

We have not taken tram 28 but that is on the list for Lisbon round 2, next week. Before that, however, we head for Coimbra and Porto. If you hsve any must-sees or must-eats for Lisbon please let me know, we are back there next week!

São Tomé weekend, part 2

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We had three nights in São Tomé town (as I managed to book two nights at Makaira Lodge before realizing that is on the other island, Principe – whoops. Better planning next time). Nicer to be out of town, but it was interesting to see the town, and easy to do daytrips out. The town is a bit rundown, but cleaner than Accra (no open sewers, less plastic garbage) and there is a lovely waterfront. Old buildings, faded colours, and such nice people.

20170430_094419Of course we went to the market: vegetables, fresh fish, used clothing, plantains and bananas. São Tomé imports a lot of its food, but the local produce looked nice.

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What we were looking for: peixe fumado, smoked fish. We’d had a delicious feijoada for lunch one day, bean stew but with smoked fish rather than smoked pork, and we had three Norwegians coming for dinner once we were back in Accra. So we wandered round the market looking for smoked fish: super friendly people, lots of fresh vegetables, no tourists. We found dried fish, and the dried fish seller took us over the smoked fish lady. I do not speak Portuguese, so was trying to explain in terrible Spanish/Italian/French that we needed enough for five people: we bought seven pieces in the end, to have a bit extra, and it was really nice quality. The lady on the next stall was drinking palm wine, which looks a bit milky, and she really wanted us to have a taste. Obrigada, no, I said, but was thrilled to have found good fish. Then we went to a cafe and drank some Sumol, ice cold Portuguese soda (pineapple, orange or passionfuit) which was wonderful. It did get get hot wandering around town.

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We also went to Pico Mocambo, a rum bar recommended by a friend, for a glass of cocoa rum on ice. Not well signposted (Google Maps saved us) but well worth a visit. We were wandering around on 1 May, most places were closed so this was a nice break.

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We also went to Claudio Corallo for a chocolate tasting. Very interesting: an Italian chocolatier, bean-to-bar chocolate and coffee. They do tastings three times a week, not easy to find out when but our hotel helped. Look for Chocolate Factory on Google Maps: it’s in a small restored house on the waterfront. Four euro for a ticket, get there by 1620 to get your ticket for the 1640 tasting – not room for many, and we really enjoyed the visit. The cocoa is grown on Principe, and the chocolate was just wonderful. We bought lots to take back. 😉

20170502_150903Definitely worth a visit: TAP flies Lisbon- São Tomé via Accra 3x a week, and direct from Lisbon once a week. Very friendly, nice place to visit and we experienced no begging (another nice change from Accra). I wish I spoke a bit of Portuguese, but we managed. Beaches and plantations, wonderful fresh fish (Papa Figo, 5 Sentidos, Mucumbli) and very relaxing. Green and lush, sea breezes and quiet.

Bring cash, there were long lines at the ATMs, and foreign cards did not always work. We brought USD and euros, and 100 USD changed to dobras (2.5 million dobras) was plenty in local currency. Many places have prices in euros and dobras. I got my visa online, many countries do not need one.

20170502_125059Grilled barracuda for lunch at Papa Figo. Wonderful!

Leve-leve, they say on São Tomé: easy easy. It was a great weekend.

São Tomé weekend, part 1

img_5087 Just back from a long weekend in São Tomé, very nice!  It’s only 90 minutes flight from Accra with TAP, and we had a great time. São Tomé and Príncipe is a Portuguese-speaking country off the northwestern coast of Gabon.  The two volcanic islands were discovered by the Portuguese in 1470 and became a base for slave trade, sugar cane, coffee and cocoa. São Tomé and Príncipe has been independent since 1975.

We had a very lazy weekend: we stayed at Mucumbli first, on the north west coast near Neves. Bungalows with terraces facing the sea, it was lovely waking up to the sound of waves and birds.  Wonderful grilled fish, very peaceful.

img_5094 It was a few degrees cooler than Accra,  with a nice sea breeze, so it was amazingly fresh. Nice change to be outdoors and not be sweating all the time!

20170429_130943 Driving through Neves. The blue CST booths are from the mobile phone company, and were all over. Lots of street food along the road, grilled maize and plantains.

20170429_131504Laundry drying on beach on the north coast: the goats left the laundry alone. interestingly, we saw fewer goats than in Ghana, but more stray dogs.

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Neves is the home is Rosema, a local beer. Perfectly drinkable, especially with fresh grilled fish. No label on the bottle, you just know it’s Rosema.

20170429_133604After a couple days at Mucumbli (very nice!), we went east, to see another part of the island.

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Day trip to the centre of the island: Monte Café, an old Portuguese plantation in Sao Tome and Principe. Very easy to organize a daytrip with a driver: north, centre, or south of island all possible. Plantations, waterfalls, beaches: all very acessible, easy place to be a tourist. We were more interested in coffee than beaches, but everyone says the south of São Tomé  is gorgeous.

After the independence of São Tomé and Príncipe, in 1975, most of the plantations closed, but Monte Café still produces coffee and has a coffee museum. We bought local coffee in the coffee shop, arabica beans rather dark roasted but good. We also brought back Claudio Corallo coffee and some mystery local coffee (cafe saboroso) from a Chinese shop downtown. Otherwise São Tomé is more known for cocoa.

More to follow in part 2!

 

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