Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Photo and text by Douglas DeFalco
J Zach Gregg was handsome, charming, wonderful, funny, charismatic, intelligent, vigorously political and informed, as well as ALWAYS up for fun, and hearing new and interesting music. He actually told me that the JellyNYC Pool Parties had changed his life and inspired the desire to open his own bar one day…flattering for me obviously. To this day, I can honestly say, there are only a few people, like me, who moved to Brooklyn in the 90’s (or shortly after like J) who, although not from here, loved this borough so much that we would live and die for it.
I never felt that way about where I was born, or anywhere else I lived, and there are only a few other folks that live here now that aren’t from here that feel the same. He lucked out meeting a great business partner in Dominic Tracy, and together they concocted a plan for a great spot in Fort Greene. It was to be in the former place of Tillie’s Coffee Shop on Dekalb which was a regular spot for me when JellyNYC was doing their shows at Masonic Temple. Then…one day, the The Great Georgiana got an opening date, and it did…to wide open arms. It was everything that Brooklyn was, but isn’t much anymore: community-based and all-inclusive; diverse, soulful; complete with great design, Truth and Soul; Daptone, and other great DJ’s who spun great Soul; and old hip hop music while you tripped the night fantastic.
It still is one of the best bars in ALL of Brooklyn. At this point on my life, as is the case with most folks I know, I’ve dealt with a lot of loss from both my immediate family, extended family, and many close friends. NONE of those experiences make another loss any easier…ESPECIALLY THIS ONE. I am going to miss him so sooooo much. Like the many that knew him, I loved him dearly. Last Wednesday night I texted him to come see a show with me, and despite not being able to come, he told me NEXT WEEK FOR SURE! I was looking forward to tonight, but instead I got the horrible news that he was taken from us earlier in the day. He left for a bigger party which kind of makes sense in a way as he was THAT GUY who made sure everyone got to meet the people they needed to for whatever reason…then kinda moved to the side so the connection could happen. Thank you for linking all of us together in your name. I love and miss you, man. There will NEVER be another like u my man.
Top-Speed Tourism: How to Spend 24 Hours in Lisbon
by Ellis Dixon
The city of light has lots worth highlighting, but if you only have a day or two in Lisbon, you’ll have to limit yourself. Here’s an itinerary I like to take my 24-hour visitors on. The energetic ones, anyway!
Should you be more of a doer and less of a planner, we can also plan an itinerary tailored to your specific interests. Just get in touch. Side note: if it’s a bachelor shindig or the like, we do not provide costumes or stupid hats…and neither should you.
Praça do Comércio: I recommend starting at the center: Praça do Comércio. You can take in a lot of Portuguese history in one very picturesque swoop from here. This is the square where the royal palace stood before the 1755 earthquake. You can see west along the Tagus river all the way out to the Atlantic, past the statue of Cristo Rei that the Portuguese clergy envisioned as a plea to the heavens to keep them out of World War II (it worked, although the statue was only completed in 1959).
Turn around for a glimpse of the majestic Castelo de São Jorge, the 11th-century castle that the first Portuguese king Afonso Henriques took from its Moorish rulers with the help of a few Crusaders. And you can continue your education at a seriously cheap, if not free, wine tasting at Wines of Portugal on the west side of the square. To wake you back up, grab a bica (espresso) and a pastel da nata (custard cake) at Martinho Da Arcada, to the right of the big arch — this was, after all, a frequent haunt of the great Lisbon poet Fernando Pessoa.
Lisbon Shop: For your souvenirs, skip the ridiculous wooden roosters or Chinese-made Ronaldo t-shirts at the minimercados, and pop into one of the better tourist shops to look at quality goodies made locally. They carry cobblestone coasters, excellent photography books about Portugal, ceramic andorinhas (swallows), lots of items skillfully crafted out of cork and more.
Portas do Sol: Take tram 28 (drivers accept cash) up the hill: it’s marvelously charming — when the lines are short. If it’s August, just forget it and walk toward Alfama, popping by to cool off inside the Sé Cathedral. The tram stop for the castle is at Portas do Sol, which is really only a 15 minute walk up, so your call. Savor the view, have a drink from the convenient and cheap quiosque (kiosk), and if a skinny grey-haired busker is strumming there, throw him some change. He’s a legend.
Note: If it happens to be a Tuesday or Saturday, the thieve’s market, Feira da Ladra, is happening at Campo Santa Clara, behind the church (left), just a 10 minute walk away. It’s worth a spin through, and a must for antiques obsessives.
Pátio de Dom Fradique: On your way to the castle, take an alternative route through an still abandoned part of the city, called Pátio de Dom Fradique, also known as Portas do Castelo. It’s overgrown with green grass and decked out with some pretty awesome graffiti, great for an alternative photo-op. The castle and all that pretty stuff is just a few minutes away, so might as well have an off-the beaten-path adventure beforehand.
Castelo de São Jorge: The castle is an excellent structure to explore, and often empty enough to relax, too. Walk out onto the ramparts for a longer visit, or keep it to the perimeter walls to save time. There are roman ruins as you enter the actual castle itself, just to the right as you pass the portcullis. It’s easy to miss. Once you’re finished ogling the view and pretending to pour hot oil over the sides, go have a ginja (cherry liqueur) in a chocolate cup from the café and snap a few shots of the peacocks who are roaming around looking for the odd crumb.
Wine Bar do Castelo: This wine bar serves delicious meat and cheese plates for a lunch-sized snack and another chance to try some of Portugal’s top wines. You tell the waiter what kind of wine you like and he or she will bring you three options to try. The one you like best, you get as a full glass and that’s the one you pay for.
The National Tile Museum: If it’s not too late in the evening (or a Monday, when they’re closed), make your way down the hill toward the Santa Apolónia train station and either grab the 728 bus or continue walking for 20 minutes east to this museum in the former convent of Madre Deus (after which the famous Portuguese band named themselves). It’s open until 18h, and well worth the trip to learn about tile-making methods through history, look at modern azulejo (tile) art, and see a 37m-long panoramic tile map of pre-earthquake Lisbon. If you’re hungry, the patio café here is a real treat as well.
It’s getting late, most likely, so now would be a good time to catch a cab back to your HQ. Since most people eat dinner at around 21h, you’ve got a little time to freshen up and get yourself over to Cais do Sodré for dinner and a night out.
Povo: What a better way to finish off your big day than with scrumptious traditional Portuguese food and fado? This restaurant does both right. Try the pica pau and the salada de polvo to start, and finish it off with a prego or some sardinhas for your main dish. During your meal, the resident fadista will melt your heart with a song and explain the history behind it in both Portuguese and English. Since they’re mostly young and hungry, it’s guaranteed to be a damn fine show. Just try not to clink your glasses too much during showtime.
Titanic sur Mer: Stumble out of the restaurant onto Pink Street and stop in for a drink at one of the hundreds of bars in the area as you head towards Cais do Sodré station. Just behind it, to the right of the terminal fluvial (ferry terminal), is one of the best places to dance in Lisbon. The club opens at 23h and closes up shop at 6h, so if you’re in it for the long haul, they’ve got you covered with DJ nights, live bands, the works.
Cacau Da Ribeira café: If you really want to do what the Portuguese do, now it’s time to eat “breakfast” before you go home. Open all night (and morning), this place serves caldo verde and pão com chouriço (kale soup and sausage bread), the traditional meal to be eaten while intoxicated. There will certainly be a line and stumbling yet harmless clientele clamoring for comida (food), so go ahead and join them while you decide between coffee, coke, or just one more imperial (a half pint of draught beer).
Come back for longer next time, because there’s loads to explore.
Driving through Portugal: See it All in 50 Stops (Part 1)
There are many incredible sights around Portugal that are worth making a special weekend trip to visit, but what if your trip could be a little longer and/or your mode of transport is one you could technically live in?
When I first moved to Lisbon from New York, I met an adventurous local who gave me one of the best gifts I’ve received to date: a road map of Portugal with points of interest marked in pen alongside a few words scrawled here and there explaining why I needed to stop there. This prized possession is the inspiration for this tour of the country.
This route won’t necessarily show you everything, but it will surely guide you through way more than just the highlights. Start from the capital or jump in at any point in the loop: here’s an idea of what not to miss in each of these stops, but how long you stay or what you skip is up to you.
FROM LISBON TO CAMINHA VIA THE WESTERN COAST: Lisboa- Sintra – Mafra – Peniche – Óbidos – Nazaré – Leiria – Ruinas de Conimbriga – Coimbra – Praia de Mira – Aveiro – Porto – Guimarães – Braga – Viana do Castelo – Caminha
FROM PONTE DA LIMA TO ÉVORA VIA SERRA DA ESTRELA: Ponte da Lima – Caldas do Gerés – Chaves – Bragança – Mirandela – Caramulo – Covilhã – Piódão – Castelo Branco – Tomar – Fatima – Golegá – Portalegre – Elvas – Arraiolos – Montemor-o-Novo – Évora
FROM BEJA TO LISBON VIA THE ALGARVE: Beja – Mértola – Alcoutim – Tavira – Faro – Monchique – Lagos – Sagres – Aljezur – Odecixe – Zambujeira do Mar – Grândola – Alcácer do Sal – Setubal – Arrábida – Sessimbra – Lisboa
From Lisbon to Caminha
Sintra: Check out the caves and descend into the well at the masonic wonder Quinta da Regaleira while wallowing in the supernatural side of things. Alternatively, or in addition, bask in Disney-like hypercolor hubris at Palacio Pena — but if you only have time for one, I recommend the former. Into ornate gardens? Monserrate Palace has an amazing one.
Mafra: The Mafra National Palace was built in 1755 and was where the last king of Portugal, Manuel II, left for exile in 1910, following the proclamation of the New Republic. It might not sound like much, but trust me, it is worth a stop…especially to take a peek inside the royal library.
Peniche: This is the place to get your seafood on at Garrett McNamara‘s favorite beachside restaurant, A Celeste, and check out Praia dos Supertubos: the most tubular waves on the coast. Stop by the lighthouse and Fortaleza de Peniche on Cabo Carvoeiro. Take a 10km boat from the port out to Berlengas Archipelago to see some puffins and a crazy cool fort.
Óbidos: This hilltop town, known as “the Queens’ village,” is popular for its chocolate festival (in February and March) and its ginginha (cherry liqueur that you can drink from a chocolate cup). Its charm can be attributed to its well-preserved medieval streets, squares, walls, castle, and our favorite, the church that has been turned into a bookstore.
Nazaré: Aside from being famous for its dried fish and the seven skirts (sete saias) worn by traditionally dressed women, this town is known for its Black Madonna called Our Lady of Nazaré and the legend that goes with her. Not into that kind of miracle? It might interest you to know that this is also the site of the biggest wave ever surfed. Seeing is believing.
Leiria: The picturesque Castle of Leiria is worth more than a thousand words as, in my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful in Portugal. Inside, you can visit the ceiling-less Church of Nossa Senhora da Pena, get a killer view from the former royal palaces, and travel back in time inside the keep.
Ruinas de Conimbriga: You don’t have to drive all the way to Pompeii to get a glimpse of Roman life at 139 BC. It certainly isn’t as expansive nor was the town buried under volcanic ash, but the impeccably preserved Roman ruins at Conimbriga are no less jaw-dropping, especially the mosaics, atriums, and the museum itself.
Coimbra: Once the country’s capital, the city is best known for its University, one of the oldest in continuous operation in the world. Visit the 18th-century Baroque Biblioteca Joanina located in the main square of the campus. The 60,000 ancient books inside are protected by a small colony of bats, and there is a dungeon in the basement.
Praia de Mira: This fisherman village has some of the best no-frills seafood in the country. The town is basically one long unimpressive street that dead-ends into a long sandy beach perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and beginner-style surfing. There are two official campsites in town, both of which are cheap and generally uncrowded.
Aveiro: If you have ever seen pictures of colorful vertically striped houses (palheiros) against a beachy backdrop, they were likely taken here. The boardwalk along Praia da Costa Nova is the best place to see them. If you are more into iconography and golden altars, you won’t want to miss the Museum of Aveiro in the former St. Joan’s Convent.
Porto: The second largest city in Portugal inspired JK Rowling to write the famous Harry Potterseries and, from the uni students in traditional black robes to the incredible Livraria Lello Bookshop that inspired Flourish and Blotts, it’s no wonder. While you’re in the land of the dragons, don’t skip chowing down on the traditional francesinha (Bourdain swears by O Afonso) or at least a Tawny with a view of the Douro river, the Dom Luís bridge, and the various port winemaker signs popping up along the water’s edge. Take a port wine tour (I recommend Cockburn’s, and not jus for the name — the “ck” is silent), ride the Guindais funicular up the hill, check out the incredible azulejos at the São Bento railway station, and see if there’s a show you’d like to attend at the Rem Koolhaas-designed Casa da Musica. There’s lots to see and do in Porto, so prepare yourself to be charmed into staying at least one more day than you planned.
Guimarães: This medieval-turned-modern town is the birthplace of the Portuguese nationality, and is likewise called cidade berço (the cradle city). Ready for a feeding? Try the traditional tortas de Guimarães (Guimarães pies) and toucinho do céu (bacon from heaven) and walk it off alongside the beautiful Castle of Guimarães.
Braga: Sure, it’s an industrial town sprawling from the walls of the medieval center, but walking around the old town and under the Arco da Porta Nova archway is a treat. Climb the elaborate 17-flight stairway to the neoclassical Bom Jesus do Monte church along the various stations of the cross. There are many churches in Braga, but this is the one to see.
Viana do Castelo: Drive over Eiffel’s bridge into this charming town and grab a coffee along the Limia river. Take the funicular uphill and check out the view of the town from the top of the dome at the Santuário de Santa Luzia. Walk down the stairs and back to the center to pick up the famed Viana heart filigree pendants and earrings right from the source.
Caminha: Head for the 16th-century Torre do Relógio clock tower to find the center of town: the Praça Conselheiro Silva Torres. If you come hungry, you’re in luck, because all the restaurants here serve enormous portions of boar, goat, duck, you name it. This pretty little town is along the Portuguese way to Santiago do Compostela, so you’ll likely see pilgrims walking toward the boat across the River Minho to Galicia.
Read on, road warrior! Go to Part 2.