Saturday, 18 November 2017

Portugal - Meeting friends in Setúbal & Lisbon

On Wednesday September 13th we borrowed my Dad's car and my husband, my daughter and I drove across the 25th of April bridge to Setúbal (1h from Cascais) to meet up with a friend who actually lives in Perth, but was there on holiday in his home town.
Nuno is a great food appreciator and wanted to treat us to some fresh fish in a simple restaurant. 
The bridge was originally named after the Portuguese dictator Salazar, who was Prime-minister from 1932 to 1968 - "Ponte Salazar". Right after the Carnation Revolution on the 25th of April 1974, the bridge was renamed "Ponte 25 de Abril".
Setúbal was previously an important center for the fishing industry, specially sardines, but unfortunately the factories linked to this industry are no longer operating. However the maritime and commercial ports still keep the links to the ocean alive. But the excellent beaches, resorts, hotels, the Arrábida natural park and the dolphin colony that inhabits the Sado River means that tourists are attracted to this area.
Crossing the Tejo River

Approaching the end of the bridge you can see the statue of Christ the King (Cristo Rei) in the town of Almada overlooking Lisbon on the other side of the river. The statue was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The 40 tonnes cement statue took 10 years to be built and was inaugurated in 1959. The distance between the hands is 28mt, the same height as the body and the whole monument is 110mt high.

It was erected to express gratitude because the Portuguese were spared the effects of World War II. The statue can be climbed and apparently has great views of Lisbon.
In the 12 years I lived in Portugal we crossed the bridge a couple of times on our way to visit my parents who at one time lived on that side, but we never visited this monument.

When we reached Setúbal we called our friend and met in front of a shopping centre and then followed his car to his choice of restaurant.
Just across from the Sado Bay, the "Restinguinha" seafood restaurant looked very plain and basic, but the fresh fish was grilled on demand and tasted beautiful - the men had grilled sardines, and my daughter and I had the grilled cuttlefish with salad. 

Somehow I forgot to photograph our meeting or the food!
Restinguinha Fish Restaurant - Setubal

(photo from the net)
Sado Bay beaches across the restaurant
After a long lunch we unfortunately had no time for sightseeing as we had another meeting with childhood friends of my husband in Lisbon. So back in the car, back across the bridge, we parked in an underground car park by at Chiado Square (Largo do Chiado) and walked across to "A Brasileira" Coffee shop.  

It was a joyous occasion for my husband who hadn't seen these childhood friends for over 30 years, only having contact with them via facebook. So we spent another couple of hours catching up and reminiscing about funny things they remembered when growing up in Mozambique.  Neither of those friends live in Portugal either and were on holidays too.


The coffee shop at 120 Rua Garrett near the Baixa-Chiado metro stop, is one of Lisbon's oldest and most famous cafes. It was opened in 1905 with an Art Deco interior, a beautiful ornamental door and outdoor tables to sell Brazilian coffee, a rarity in Lisbon then. 
Over time it became a meeting point for struggling intellectuals and artists and later becoming a tourist attraction as a cafe.
One of it's frequent visitors was the writer Fernando Pessoa, and a bronze statue of the writer was placed outside the cafe in 1988.

Image result for a brasileira cafe lisboa
The lavish interior of A Brasileira Cafe (photo from net)
The impressive door, the statue of Fernando Pessoa with my husband sitting on the chair across from him
Fernando Pessoa was a writer, poet, literary critic, publisher and philosopher, who was born in 1888 and died in 1935, and is considered one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest poets in the Portugal.

You'll notice the sign "Casa Havaneza" just behind the statue, and that shop specializing in tobacco and respective accessories, was inaugurated in 1864 in that same spot and has been there since.

Some buildings around the Chiado square area
And after much animated conversation we had to part again to meet another group of friends for dinner!

On the way there we made a small detour to LX Factory so I could photograph some murals. I found them this time!!

Situated in the suburb of Alcantara, just under the 25th of April bridge, this old textile factory dating from 1846 was abandoned and reopened as a trendy spot for the younger generation, with flexible workspaces in the top floors and plenty of eateries and boutiques on the ground floor. There was an interesting open air restaurant with live music and so much to see, so it was a pity that we didn't have time to wander around properly.
There's a fabulous book shop - Ler Devagar (Read slowly), that I didn't get to visit either, and you can even have a coffee and cake while browsing the books, how good is that?
Hopefully I'll visit it sometime in the future.
LX Factory entry, building across the entry (future museum) - shops decor, open air restaurant
One of the open-air eateries at LX Factory, just under the 25th of April bridge
Ler Devagar © Ler Devagar
Ler Devagar (Read Slowly) bookshop (photo from net)

And at 8pm we finally arrived at the "Restaurante O Xico", just in time for dinner with our friends. Situated in Paço de Arcos, about halfway between Lisbon and Cascais, it was also a seafood restaurant. This time we had a seafood rice.
We met these two couples in Perth when they came to visit their daughters who are my friends, and it was lovely to meet up with them again. 

The 3 couples after dinner
And so ended a lovely day when we sat around food and friends for most of the day. That is so typical Portuguese!

Enjoy the weekend.


  1. We were in Chiado Square a number of times but I don't remember seeing the cafe. Yes, we have the obligatory photo with the statue of Pessoa. It was a very full day for you, with family, friends and food. A good combination. My mother loved the tea towels with the roosters on them we bought for her in Porto.

    1. What a pity you missed the cafe Andrew, the Pessoa statue is right next to the cafe's outdoor tables. The "rooster theme" is very popular at the moment, saw a few souvenirs with roosters.

  2. I think I would LOVE to visit Portugal if there was so much food, architecture and gorgeous art to see there. It would truly be a haven for artists and book lovers, too. I really enjoyed the phot of your husband and the statue of Fernando Pessoa. The entire experience was beautiful and just one more reason to visit. You would make a fantastic tour guide.

    1. I'm sure you would love Portugal Elizabeth. The Portuguese are very artistic too - murals, crafts, plus fabulous art museums. I think being a tour guide could be something I could do when I retire :)

  3. A minha amiga esteve na minha cidade de Setúbal a cidade do rio azul onde se come muito bom peixe assado, vou algumas vezes aquele restaurante a Restinguinha que fica a caminho da Serra da Arrábida.
    Espero que tenha gostado da minha cidade.
    Um bom fim-de-semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa

    1. Nem tivemos tempo de ver Setúbal onde não vou há imensos anos, mas foi um dia a correr dum lado para outra só encontro de amigos. Terá que ficar para outra altura Francisco. Gostei imenso da comida da Restinguinha. O amigo com quem nos fomos encontrar também é Setubalense, mas vive agora em Perth há uns 4 anos.

  4. Olá! Boa tarde.
    Visitando os blogs amigos cheguei até seu blog. Amei suas postagens e a forma como comentas em suas visitas. Estou seguindo e lhe convido a conhecer os meus, se gostar seguir, ficarei grata.
    Abraços, com desejos de um fim de semana abençoado.

    Links dos meus blogs

    1. Muito obrigada pela visita Lourdes, terei muito gosto em visitar os seus blogs tambem. Bom Domingo para si tambem.

  5. Lovely to be able to meet up again with all your friends in
    Portugal & enjoy good food & conversation!
    I enjoyed the glimpses of the places you visited!

    1. Always great to meet up with friends you don't often see, and great food makes it even better. Thanks Christine.

  6. 10 years of building the statue, wow, those are numbers, it must be really impressive! As the reason itself. I´m really grateful I never had to witness war.
    You were really busy - wonderful to still have childhood friends. And those coincidences, awesome, really - or did everybody plan these meetings - then: Great job!
    The coffee shop is very beautiful.
    Ha, so your husband still joins you on mural hunts, very good :-)

    1. I'm also glad I didn't witness wars. Jose was present in the mural hunt because he was with me, or I was with him that day, There was another day that I went into Lisbon with my daughter hunting for murals and he didn't want to join of course. He contacted his childhood friends via facebook to say he was going to be in Lisbon during those dates, and they were also going to be there so it was luck. As for our friend who lives in Perth, we had arranged that before he left, a few days before our departure he would take us out to a fish restaurant that he frequents in his home town.

  7. I thought I recognized that name Sami! Is Setubal where Francisco and his family live? A pleasure once again to travel with you ☺

    1. Yes, you're correct Grace, that's where he lives. Once again we were there just enough time for lunch, otherwise I might have contacted him to meet up.

  8. Ha - I reckon I must have some Portuguese in me somewhere down the track as your day with friends and food would have been my perfect day too. I always love, love, love catching up with friends in other locations - what a special day.
    Wren x

    1. Who knows Wren, you need to investigate your heritage. I think most of us love to sit around a table with good food, but in Portugal they can just sit eating lunch or dinner for hours on end and then still talk about what to cook for the next meal.

  9. Great post again Sami.
    How nice to meet up and enjoy a meal with friends.

    All the best Jan

    1. Thanks Jan, always nice to be around good food.


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