Portugal News

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Archive for the ‘lisbon’ Category

Miracle required in Bethlehem (again)

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Belenenses, my Portuguese club, is in big financial difficulties after having its stadium sequestered by the bank earlier this year. The club is now in talks with Lisbon City Council on a plan to develop the ground and its surrounding 11 hectares, located in the plush suburb of Restelo, with a modernized but smaller stadium surrounded by a high-end gym, private clinic and care home.

Previous schemes to develop the impressive Belenenses stadium and its facilities, involving construction of flats and office blocks, have flopped because of the sensitive location a few hundred yards behind the 16th century Jeronimos Monastery. Club president Antonio Soares told Publico the latest plan to redevelop the stadium area doesn’t involve any residential or commercial premises. With debts of at least €20 million Belenenses future could rest on the scheme getting approval from the local authorities, warned Soares.

Belenenses, said to be the second team of most Lisbon folk who either support Benfica or Sporting but with a hard-core fanbase of around 2,000, won the Portuguese league in 1946 to become only the second team to break the Portuguese ‘trioploly’ of Porto, Benfica and Sporting. Boavista of Porto were crowned Portuguese champions in 2001.

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Written by porkncheezer

September 12, 2011 at 9:54 am

Saramago at rest in the Onion Field

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Portugal’s Nobel-garlanded author Jose Saramago, who died a year ago, had his ashes scattered under an olive tree in Lisbon at the weekend. The 100-year-old tree was brought from the Alentejo village where he grew up, Azinhaga. Saramago as a boy would have most likely watched lizards frolic in the shade of that very tree, located behind his grandparents’ house.

Some locals in Campo das Cebolas, or the Onion Field, the square in Lisbon’s Baixa district where the Alentejo olive tree was replanted, weren’t too happy about the their new connection with a writer who often had a difficult relationship with mainstream public opinion in Portugal. Saramago liked to descibe himself as a libertarian communist. “God wants that olive tree to die! Why? Because Saramago didn’t want to be Portuguese, he wanted be Spanish,” one moustachioed OAP told Publico.

Saramago experts believe the olive tree from the author’s birthplace could be the one where he recounts in “Pequenas Memorias”, or Small Memories, seeing a lizard predict an adulterous affair between an Azinhaga woman and a man from elsewhere – a liaison consummated under the very same tree.  In the top right of the picture you can see the Casa dos Bicos, one of the capital’s oldest buildings that gets visited by most big wigs coming to Lisbon. The building will house the Jose Saramago Foundation before the end of this year.

Written by porkncheezer

June 21, 2011 at 9:16 am

Posted in lisbon

Sorry, you’re too dirty to take me downtown

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Lisbon’s city council wants to ban older vehicles that generate more pollution from the historic Baixa city centre. The move would affect 20% of the capital’s fleet of 3,500 taxis, according to Publico. Taxistas (cabbies) call for more time to meet the January 2012 deadline.

Pedro Lopes, director of one of Lisbon’s biggest taxi firms, says banning older vehicles from an area between Avenida da Liberdade and Terreiro do Paco will create confusion. If an oil-spewing ‘legacy’ taxi picks up a fare who wants to go to the Baixa, the passenger will have to be dropped off some distance from their destination to continue the journey by other means.

Lisbon has lots of old taxis that are mainly reliable but smoky diesel Mercs. The new regulations will ban pre-1993 cars from central Lisbon unless they are fitted with a catalytic converter.

Written by porkncheezer

May 20, 2011 at 8:24 am

Hands off our marquises!

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Many apartment blocks in Portuguese cities have a slightly higgledy-piggledy look due to customized modifications and enclosures of balconies, known as a “marquise”. Some town and city councils, including Almada across the river from Lisbon, are trying to standardize the appearance of buildings by getting residents to legalize their beloved marquises, used to stow a household ‘junk” and often a place to put washing machines in cramped flats. Many oppose the proposed law changes which will increase property taxes as apartments boost their square meterage.

Publico sends a crack investigative team to gape at the marquise of President Anibal Cavaco Silva. His relatively modest family home in Lisbon is off Avenida Infante Santo. A neighbour points to the president’s two marquises, the Cavaco Silva’s have bought the first-floor flat next door. One of the president’s probably illegal balconies has smart white blinds while the other is mirror glazed.

Portuguese TV showed the newly elected and beaming head of state in his marquise (on left) on election night in 2006. At the time one media wag doubted if President George W. Bush had ever set foot in a marquise, let alone allow himself to be filmed in one.

Written by porkncheezer

May 18, 2011 at 10:17 am

B.Leza back in town

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Legendary Lisbon African dancehall B.Leza, forced to become itinerant for several years, has finally found a new home, reports Publico. Sofia Saudade e Silva, one of two sisters who run B.Leza, said the new location remains hush hush for the time being. But she revealed the new venue is a stone’s throw away from its palace-like predecessor, near Largo Conde Barao, and closer to the River Tagus. So my guess is somewhere near the Ribeira municipal market and Igreja de Sao Paulo – if you know Lisbon.

B.Leza’s co-proprietor said she hopes the new establishment will be up and running by August. The club has operated out of a number of Lisbon locations recently including Teatro Sao Luiz, Musicbox and Teatro Bairro Alto. B.Leza is named after the eponymous Cape Verdean singer of morna, the West African islands’ take on Portuguese fado. Or is that the other way round?

Written by porkncheezer

May 13, 2011 at 8:21 am

Feliz Pascoa

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Cardinal Archbishop Jose Policarpo of Lisbon delivered an Easter day mass in the capital’s cathedral, telling worshipers that “faith can help us to live with some spirit of sacrifice” as most Portuguese see increasing deterioration in their standard of living. The Lusa news agency spoke to some of faithful leaving the church.

 “Religion isn’t like an aspirin”, said one, Tomas Fernandez. “It’s much more than this and in these times of crisis having faith is an advantage. People worry a lot about having and doing and more important things get forgotten a bit. The Archbishop reminded us of this”.

Even as the senior Portuguese prelate sermonised, IMF and EU officials continued talks just a few blocks away with senior Lisbon Finance Ministry officials on the €80bn rescue package being readied for the debt-ridden country. Portugal will be obliged to implement more austerity measures and also liberalize its state-dependent economy to get the bail-out already given to Ireland and Greece.

 Jose Policarpo was born in 1936 and proclaimed a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2001. Policarpo was reportedly a long-shot candidate to replace JP II and viewed in some circles as capable of building bridges between Latin American and European Catholic Cardinals. He has come under fire from some Catholics for his apparent tacit support for Portugal’s legalization of abortion in 2007, or a least not throwing his full weight behind the “no” campaign, and same sex unions a year later.

Written by porkncheezer

April 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm

El botellon portugues

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Daily newspaper Publico reported recently on “botellon”, the phenomenon of young people drinking mainly beer at night in groups from largish bottles. El botellon, or big bottle, is a Spanish tradition and facing increasing crackdowns there. In recent years it’s become the way Lisbon youngsters start a night out. If you’re anywhere near the Bairro Alto on a Friday evening you’ll see them in groups ambling with plastic cups being topped up from litre bottles of beer, wine and often spirits. It’s all pretty civilised and peer-group controlled. Let’s face it, you have to be fairly organized to get hold of plastic beakers! Don’t forget too you can buy booze at 16 here and the law seems to be largely observed.

Most of the young street drinkers Publico talks to are essentially respectable but cash-strapped and can’t afford bar and club prices. Some are even in their late 20s and early 30s. Economic reasons largely explain Portugal’s botellon trend, Joao Goulao, head of Portugal’s Institute for Drugs and Drug Addiction tells Publico. Most of the youngsters concerned have no income and depend on pocket money from parents, adds the article.

Whatever your views on botellon it’s a group activity and not to be equated with the activities of solitary al fresco winos, or even sad souls who drink home alone. Hopefully the Lisbon City Council will start placing a few bottle banks in the areas where botellon is rife. Largo do Conde Barao, off Avenida 24 de Julho, has become the epicentre of the capital’s botellon craze, according to Publico.

Written by porkncheezer

April 21, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Posted in lisbon