Lisbon’s most famous café

If you are near Chiado, don’t miss the chance to have an espresso in Lisbon’s most famous café, A Brasileira. The poet Fernando Pessoa spent here many golden hours, writing words that became immortal. If you want to pay homage to his genius, do not take a photo with the awkward Pessoa statue resting in the esplanade. Sit instead at a table and write a poem.

The blank page can be intimidating, so it might help you to know that Pessoa’s first poem was a modest effort. When he was seven, his widowed mother decided to remarry and start a new life in South Africa. Pessoa, worried that she might leave him behind in Lisbon, gave her this poem :

Here I am in Portugal
In the land where I was born
As much as I adore it
I love you even more

These simple words were Pessoa’s ticket to South Africa. So, summon the muses and write their whispers on your blank page. Who knows where those words might take you!

Three reasons to learn Portuguese

1. To understand more. The Italians say that “traduttore, traditore,” translators are traitors.  Authors labor over every word, but much of the meaning they create is lost in translation. Learning Portuguese opens the doors to a new world of elegant novels, inspired poetry and fabulous travel tales by Portuguese, Brazilian and African writers. Which other language allows you to read the literary hearts and minds of three continents?

2. To gain more insight. The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote that  “what we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.” Language is the scaffold of thought. A new language can take your thinking to new heights, forming synapses that feed creativity and insight. Why learn Portuguese? Here you have to trust the great poet Fernando Pessoa who said that English is the language of science but Portuguese is the language of feelings. So you need both, you see?

3. To sway knowingly to the sound of Bossa Nova. Brazilian music is an irresistible combination of African rhythms, jazz harmonies, and tropical sensibility. And these songs have romantic, funny, sunny lyrics which will make your heart sing.