I have recently returned from 5 glorious days in Lisbon. Lisbon has a kind of lazy buzz about it if it makes any sense. Its buzzing with things to do and see, but it isn’t in any kind of hurry. Bougainvilleas are in bloom everywhere and sometimes you catch a wiff of cinnamon in the air. No one eats dinner until after 9pm. Street cats peak around corners and the graffiti has an artsy-look about it. And people are incredibly friendly despite the fact that you can only really say “hello” and “thank you” (and apparently with a Spanish accent).
I was so looking forward to the trip that for one of the first times in Jessica-history, I didn’t bring my computer with me. In response, my computer has decided to stage a rebellion upon my return and my photo library refuses to open. Cue full-on-blogger-panic and the resulting scenario where I am currently shoving pistachios in my face faster than I can type to distract myself.
Thus, while I sort out my photo library situation, I invite you to take a little virtual vacation to Lisbon with me on instagram (@jessonthames) on this rainy Friday.
Wish me luck at the Genius Bar… and start researching flights to Portugal.
Photos – View from the top of the S. Jorge Castle / Pastel de Nata pastries from Belem / A skirt that matches Portuguese tiles/ Rodeo drive or the Royal Botanical Gardens? / Delicious peppers that almost killed me / Pena Palace in Sintra / Bougainvilleas / Looking out over the Rio Tejo / Walking up to the S. Jorge Castle / Psychedelic pavements / Cobblestone everywhere / Breakfast of champions
The Southbank Centre has been one of my favorite discoveries since moving to London. There is literally ALWAYS something (usually a bit wacky) going on. This summer is no exception as they are hosting the Festival of luuuuuuve.
After letting your eyes adjust to the florescent colors, Jeppe Hein’s “Appearing Rooms” fountain is the first stop you need to make. Its easy to get hooked watching people dash in and out of the rooms, trying to avoid the rising water. This kid took the opposite approach and just ran straight through the walls – he was a total ham.
Then came the food trucks. They are popping up everywhere around London and the American in me who feels like she’s been missing out on that trend for years is loving it. I have a special place in my heart for the Bob’s Lobster truck and this kind lady who put up with me taking pictures of her.
From the lobster truck, I heard music coming from under the Hungerford Bridge. The kind of music you can’t help but wiggle along to. An incredible break dancing competition was taking place – drawing in crowds all over the bank to vote for their favorite dancers.
From there it was a little skip over to what I’d call the “grown-ups” section – a funfair atmosphere of all kinds of different bars, including a Pimms stand, a bar made up of bumper cars and a bar/carousel which rotates (slowly… you don’t want the tipsy people falling down).
It was a Sunday evening so I avoided the booze and instead headed for the SNOG truck. Snog being another favorite discovery in London – a rather cheekily named but entirely delicious brand of frozen yogurt.
Its a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, pretending like the work week isn’t just around the corner. Before leaving the Southbank Centre, be sure to head into Royal Festival Hall and check out the brochures for upcoming events. Some I particularly want to see are Michael Palin’s Travelling to Work show (got tickets…beyond excited), the Dirty Dancing sing-along and the BBC Blue Planet in Concert with the Philharmonia Orchestra.
On August 5th, I took a walk down to the Tower of London to mark a special event. Ceramic artist Paul Cummins has made 888, 246 poppies, which stage designer Tom Piper is setting all over the Tower’s moat to commemorate each Commonweath military death in WWI.
The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation is one of the most touching works of art I have ever seen.
Their tribute is stunning and the scale of it is humbling. 16 acres of flowers will eventually fill the Tower’s moat and it is heartbreaking to see the number of poppies already planted. The flowers seem to pour out of the Tower in one spot and a wave of them looks like it will crash over the main entrance.
Film crews were still walking around the site as Will, Kate and Harry had visited that morning. The crowds became quiet as they approached the edge of the Tower – and this during the height of summer at one of the city’s most popular tourist spots.
It was most moving to hear parents try to explain to their children what it all meant…
“Sometimes grownups have battles…”
“One hundred years ago, many men from many different countries fought each other…”
“…and many of them died… These flowers are here so we can remember them.”
If you are in London between now and November 11th, you simply must go and see it. To learn more about the making of the poppies, watch this video.
Photos by JessonThames