Summer Staycation: Lisbon
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This time we're going all Iberian with a pilgrimage to Portugal, a land of excellent food, friendly folk and a culture that finds all ages sitting out on the street late into the night. That might not be what you think of when you think of Vauxhall, but you've been exposed to a lot of fake news, haven't you? Get set for a very relaxing, food-heavy day with a community vibe running strongly through it. Warning: it must be a sunny, warm day for the real deal.
1. A custard start
One of Portugal's most famous slogans is 'every day must start with natas'*, and we're nothing if not compliant. Head to to the arches where you'll find a family dynasty that encompasses a restaurant, deli, cafe and bar - covering all bases and pleasing all Portuguese punters.
Purchase a couple of natas and a coffee from the lively cafe. Sit outside on their street-side tables and pick up a little of the impassioned utterances of Portuguese in full flow.
2. Peruse a traditional deli
There's nothing quite like perusing a foreign deli to get a feeling of a country's fabric, and Madeira Deli, owned by the same family as the cafe, is an arch stuffed full of authentic Portuguese produce. Fill your sack with cheese, smoked sausage and tinned sardines. You'll probably never get round to eating the sardines but they'll look impressive on your shelf. Don't forget to take a look at the wines too - this place is renowned for their selection including some of that rarely seen vinho verde.
3. Park, chess & chill
Stroll on to this well-kept oasis of greenery in Vauxhall. Back in Portugal, botanical gardens are a popular place to grab some shade and relax and, whilst this isn't Kew, you will find a lavender garden, an orchard and a rose pergola to roam around/lie in.
If you're the person we know and love, you'll have grabbed some Sagres cervejas by this point and this is the ideal time to drink them. Why not bring some chess pieces and make for the tables, imagining you're one of the old-timers of Lisbon, chewing the fat and putting the world to rights over a game.
4. Street-side tapas
Street-side tapas. You've travelled all the way to the Vauxhall-Algarve and you're not leaving without having had some street-side tapas. Notoriously ram-packed whenever the footie is on, Estrela Bar is a buzzy joint manned exclusively by Portuguese staff where the outside tables are hot property.
Take a seat here and order some tapas to share: bacalao fritters and the Estrela king prawns would be our picks. This is tasty and traditional Portuguese fare with pretty generous portion sizes - go on and get full.
If you can't get a table here, check out Grelha D'Ouro nearby.
5. A drink and a dance
Tia Maria might be Brazilian by origin but Portugal and Brazil share plenty: a language, food and music (thanks, colonialism). All three of those things can be found in abundance at this lively, no-frills community hub. Weekend evenings are often heady affairs where the rapid rhythms of sertanejo, samba and forró result in caipirinha-fuelled shakedowns with no pretension. If this one doesn't quite work out, check out the similarly raucous Rodizio Britannia just up the road.