Am I the only one dreaming with Summer holidays? Being originally from Portugal, I was lucky enough to grow up by the seaside. In those happy sunny days, Summer only meant a single thing: the beach. This is exactly what I miss the most in London. I am a spoiled Summer child, what can I say?
One of the things I say the most about London (which I believe it applies to big cities in general) is that it is a demanding lover. You do love it, so fucking badly, but it demands so much of you that tires you up. So, despite loving this, sometimes my body requires a break from everything – the crowds, the noise, the confusion, the queues, the pollution. And it’s sort of funny that I only realise this when I look at my life in London with some distance.
It is not everyday that a bookworm like me achieves such a thing as to visit the most beautiful bookshop in the world. And where is this bookshop located? In Porto, a city in the North of Portugal. And being Portuguese myself, I was desperate for years to step into this bookshop, without having the opportunity to do it.
Portugal has the most beautiful places and sights, places where we can be transported to another times and even to fairytales. I was so glad to hear that Testino was working on a fashion photo shoot in Porto, Portugal, with famous Gigi Hadid, and anxious to see the result. Of course Testino photos are always amazing and inspiring. However these ones focus on Portuguese culture and landmarks and that is why I wanted to share some of the photos here (check the whole gallery in Vogue).
I really love the lace dress in the last shoot. I do also love the pic because it portraits a great contrast: the poor old man probably didn’t even know what was going on! He carries some fish nets, still used by the most traditional fishermen in Portugal. And then, by its side, only super beautiful Gigi Hadid, with a killer look.
The first picture is a great shot of the antique essence of the city. Porto is indeed a old city, with lots of old buildings. That is what makes it beautiful. I’ve been to Porto only two or three times, and I’d like to go there and explore the city as a tourist should do.
Other thing I find quite intriguing in these photos is that they are not only about posing and showing of this beautiful (and expensive) clothes. They do reflect the image of a happy couple, with a lovely city as a background. But mostly they are about movement, about dynamism, about energy.
Sometimes we need some inspiration, and this pictures are definitely inspiring, and in some way they do provide us the energy we still need at the end of a long work day 🙂
I haven’t written about Portugal for a while now. As a touristic and recreational destination, Portugal is for sure an amazing country. You will find Portuguese people very nice, they will treat you better than they treat themselves. They may not speak your language, but they will make an effort to help you and to understand you.
In Portugal you will find History and Culture. You will also find amazing beaches, places by the sea that might be considered little pieces of paradise. You’ll find countryside if you prefer, or even amazing sights in the mountains. Portugal has also great food and wine.
Unfortunately, while Portugal is for sure an amazing vacation destination for the typical non-Portuguese tourist, for us, Portuguese people, is quite expensive. As a Portuguese citizen, I found difficult to visit places with historic and cultural value; it is just TOO EXPENSIVE for the average Portuguese, especially if you’re going in family. There are no student discounts or low prices for people till the 30’s, there isn’t a day when there’s free entrance…
I suppose I need to stop complaining, but when we, young people, with low income, mainly students, visit places like the Louvre Museum, the Prado Museum, Versailles Palace and the amazing art and history museums in London and we don’t pay a single euro for it, it is hard to pay so much for places with less heritage and cultural value (comparing to the landmarks I referred) and, worse, in our own country.
This week I had the opportunity to visit the Queluz Palace (Sintra). I was excited about it. It is told that it is a small version of Versailles and I hadn’t visit a Portuguese palace for a while. After complaining about the overpriced tickets, I entered with high expectations. The first room was a poor imitation of the mirror room of Versailles. The ceiling lamps were undoubtedly beautiful. However, as I was walking through the rooms, I was in constant expectation that something would appear and make my mouth ”o” shaped with amazement. Well… that didn’t happened. I didn’t see incredible furniture, full of luxurious gold and wood; the ceilings weren’t fully painted with well-elaborated handcrafted designs, like “frescos”; the typical tiles were nice, but not amazing.
The gardens are what I would say “cute”, with a small shrug and half smile. To be honest, I think they were a bit ugly in some parts. The tiles in the garden need restoration, as well as some staircases and bushes.
Finally, when I walked out the palace I found the receptionist that sold us the tickets. She asked me what my opinion was. I was very straight-forward, and I immediately regretted. “I was expecting more”, I said, and she reacted like if I had said I was a Nazi enthusiastic. She was only playing her part. So I needed to apply social conventions, and be fake. Hence, I added, straight away, “Maybe it’s my problem, my eyes are already trained”. Then she smiled, seemed quite relieved and said the most stupid thing I had ever heard “well, if you are used to visit places like this in other European countries, there is no comparison. Portugal is a small country”. I smiled; I didn’t want to develop further conversation. I knew it would end in discussion, and the weather was too hot.
Geographical dimensions of the countries are in no way related to its wealth or ability to build beautiful palaces. Portugal has palaces much more beautiful that the one of Queluz and yet we pay so much for that?! Or it is really just me, getting snobbish every day? I liked the palace; however, for the price I had to pay (10 Euros, single ticket); for that value, of course I had to expect more.
Well, here are some photos of the best details I could get.
Queluz, Sintra, Portugal (2015)
Two years ago I was in a place that intrigued me. It was in the middle of nowhere and I must confess I found myself bored. It is a place called São Pedro do Sul, in Portugal, and some friends of my parents invited us to spend some days in their home. I was incredibly bored. First, I already live in a village where literally nothing interesting happens. Secondly, there was there no one with whom I could talk. And third, I have a hell of a personality.
However, I was going to find some enjoyment after all. Those sites were incredible. The beauty of Nature was there, but in a strange, even sad, way. That place seemed to have been abandoned by the Gods and yet had this beauty that shines through melancholia. Its inherent loneliness was something that attracted me. In the mounts I thought it was funny how here and there we could find a little chapel, build with stone, just to remind God that the place existed.
I was there in hot summer days, and water was scarce. Everything seemed dried; all the plants assumed the color of yellow, except some trees, small ones. Some parts of that place were actually burning due to arsonists that keep on burning the natural beauty that exists in this country.
God couldn’t do anything for that place. And yet it rested peacefully in there, even burning, even dying with thirst. Even forgotten by the Gods.