The National Tile Museum was one of my favorite things that we saw when we were in Lisbon. Housed in the former Madre de Deus Convent, the museum showcases tiles (azulejo) from the second half of the 15th century to the present day. The museum holds the biggest tile collection in the world.
I absolutely loved it and I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves–
We decided to start the day by checking out Lisbon’s well-known flea market, Feira da Ladra, which is located in the Campo de Santa Clara, a public square near the National Pantheon. It’s open every Tuesday and Saturday and has been in operation since the 12th Century. In the market you can find anything from old dolls and broken tiles to cork products and crafts (and everything in between). We also found an incredible tile store as we were walking around. Tile is heavy to carry…but that didn’t stop us from buying! I also found a pair of earrings that are made from espresso capsule pods. How do people think of things like this ? I must have the creativity of a slug!
After wandering around the flea market we continued to explore the area, and we found a little shop with a sign that said, ” Old Secret Pass to Pantheon.” I stopped and looked at the sign, and the store keeper asked, “Aren’t you going to ask about it?”
I took the bait, “Okay, tell me about the secret passage.”
He told us that the street that we were standing on didn’t exist de real hundred years ago, and that there was a “cut through” to get to the Pantheon which was now their shop.
He invited us in and showed us the cobblestone flooring which was part of the passageway, and he showed us an old wall, which has been left exposed to better see the old construction. He also told us about the earthquake of 1755, a brutal event that in combination with subsequent fires and a tsunami, almost completely destroyed Lisbon and the surrounding areas.
We looked around the store and we noticed a little ceramic dish that was made to look like a man. The shop keeper asked if we knew the story behind the odd man, and we told him that we didn’t
The character was named Zé Povinho and was created by Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, a Portuguese artist known for his illustration, caricatures, sculpture, and ceramics designs. He created the popular cartoon character in 1875 as a representation of the working-class people of Portugal. Ze’ is a kind and friendly man to his peers, but he mocks and ridicules the elite class and government who rule by tyranny and injustice.
Zé Povinho is a popular character in Portugal and the ceramic dish depicts him giving a version of the “F@#k you hand motion on the front. When you turn the dish over, it’s clear to see what he thinks of those who try to control the working-class. We enjoyed the story, and the salesman sold three, as we each wanted one.
We followed the passage way through the store and ended up in a little restaurant that had outdoor seating and a great view of the Pantheon.
Christina, our taxi driver from yesterday, picked us up from our hotels and brought us to the LxFactory in the morning. She spoke English very well. She was really friendly and answered all of our questions about the area, and she filled us in on good places to eat and drink, and good sites for sightseeing.
The LxFactory is located in an old manufacturing complex nestled under the Ponte de 25 Abril Bridge. Framed in street art, it’s and indoor/outdoor market that’s home to restaurants, bars, artists selling their products, and kitschy shops that sell all sorts of stuff that you don’t really need, but you end up buying anyway! The FxFactory is a fun place to explore.
I laughed out loud when I saw a set of wood stumps tucked off to the side of the walkway. It’s hard to see in the picture below, but the little sign next to them says in English, “Seat reserved for those who gave their credit card to their better half.” Sussie, Christina, and I had fun weaving our way around the market. We all bought cork items (surprise, surprise!) and a lot of other things–jewelry, clothing, funny metal signs, etc.
One of our favorite stores was the sardine store–yes, you read that correctly! The brightly colored store (pictured above) was filled, top to bottom, with sardine cans. We each bought a few to give as gifts. The “year you were born” cans were fun to read. While in the store, I dropped my coin purse, and a man graciously picked it up and returned it to me. I was so thankful.
After several hours of walking, shopping, drinking, eating, more walking, and even more shopping, we decided to go to Landau Chocolate to get the one and only thing that they serve–chocolate cake. The cake was dense, rich, and delicious. The coffee paired well with it, oh…and the port wine certainly added to the yumminess!
I talked to the woman behind the counter about their decision to sell just one item. She told me that years ago, their competitors laughed at the idea of only selling chocolate cake. They ignored the naysayers and their business thrived. Do something different–and you’ll always stand out!
I’m teaching in Searcy, Arkansas this week and one of my participants suggested that I should go to the downtown area to see ‘Art Alley’… so I did! I was told that the alley is constantly being re-painted, which in essence, creates an ever-changing art display for the public to admire. My favorite painting (pictured below) features a tired-looking woman who just happens to be rocking bright red lipstick and fingernails! The pink background screams of cotton candy and Pepto-Bismol, but yet, it somehow works!
A few more pictures from the downtown area…
After walking around downtown Searcy, and being totally captivated by its charm, I found out that the town will be featured on an upcoming reality show called, ‘Small Business Revolution.’ The show hosted by Ty Pennington and Amanda Brinkman will air this fall on Hulu. In addition to being featured on the show, the town won $500,000.00, which is earmarked toward the revitalization effort that has already been going on here (Just look at the movie theater pictured above!). Six small businesses have won a $25,000 each (from the total earnings), and they will given marketing advice to help grow their businesses. I feel proud of the town and I’ve only been here a week!