February 15, 2012

Lisbon. October, 2009

The tiny side streets that lead into the Praça de Figueira in downtown Lisbon serve up a rich roster of visual delights. One offers several 19th-century hardware stores, another features storefronts displaying prepared foods to go, a third is a nightly gathering place for streetwalkers of all varieties. There’s also the fancy men’s hat shop. And the store with its front window filled with hanging dried sausages. One of my favorite places is Hortelão, this seed and garden shop that borders the square. The inside is just as “casual” as the outside would indicate, with bins of bulbs, racks of seed packets, salespeople who look like they’ve been there since the day the store opened and who know their business as few others do. And I love that their sign makes the fine distinction found in the languages of many European countries between hortas (kitchen or vegetable gardens) and jardins (flower or decorative gardens.)

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