Port Clyde, Maine

  Have you ever vacationed in a fishing village before? Personally, I have always had a fondness for them. Though I have an insatiable curiosity when it comes to all things related to  travel and always want to find out more about the different ways of life around the world,  I am particularly attracted to the fisherman's lifestyle.  Perhaps I was a fisherman's wife in a previous life.  Or maybe I enjoy the calming effects of the daily routine more than I care to admit; I find comfort in hearing the boats leaving the harbour at the same time every morning, to return when the light is golden and just right.   I mean, how can you not instantly feel at ease in a town of a couple of hundred habitants, with a single cafe, a general store that closes before dark and front door locks that haven't been used in decades?

 To me, the fishing village has a purpose other than providing entertainment for summer tourists. You can feel that there is community that carries on well after you have packed your suitcase and headed home. I may be quite a few years away from retiring in a place like Port Clyde, but for a a short period of time every year, I have no problem settling into a creaky old house, sitting on the front porch and watching the boats go by like a ninety year old lady. In fact, I look forward to next year's escape already.

Le Bas du Fleuve

Having always been a city girl, in love with brick buildings, spiral staircases and the vibe of  busy street life at one o'clock in the morning, I'm surprised at how much I enjoy trading it all in for wide open spaces every now and then. A few weeks ago, I did a bit of exploring in my own province, something I had never really bothered with growing up in Quebec. I had been told many times that the area known as "Le Bas du Fleuve" was well worth the drive and, after a few days of dipping my feet in the river and strolling barefoot in the meadows, I concur. 

I think we all have a soft spot for road trips. For me, there is something so exciting about packing up the Mini with all of my camera gear and driving for hours with my furry little dog on my lap, particularly if we are heading someplace new. The pleasures of discovering different regions with curious eyes and acquiring a sense of place are unbeatable.  

The Bas du Fleuve proved to be a great little escape. Essentially, the area is comprised of a string of small villages on the waterfront, each enticing with a specialty; amazing smokehouses, cheese makers, ice cream shops or particularly impressive churches. The smells of low tide and country life combined with the breeze from the water had all of my senses awoken in the most relaxing way. I had forgotten how countless shades of greens and blues can be satisfying to the eyes and how a bit of fresh air from time to time can make you appreciate the simplicity of it all.

Scenes from Lisbon

As I finished working on the last of my Lisbon images and prepared to move on to another photo project, it was like saying goodbye to Portugal for the second time.   Quiet, humble and reserved, but friendly and welcoming at the same time, Portuguese people seem to have just the right attitude for me. There's nothing flashy or pretentious about Lisbon, not that I could see anyway.  It amazes me how you can land in a different country, one you have never visited before, and be overcome by the thrills of a completely disorienting way of life or the relaxing feeling of being perfectly at ease somewhere new. Both experiences are, for me, incredibly inspiring but in Lisbon, it was definitely the latter. 

Casa Independente in Lisbon

I always seem to be seeking out the type of places that embody all the values that are dear to me.  I don't exactly go about looking for them, but when I do come across a space with the kind of soul I am drawn to, I know it instantly and I never want to leave.  It must be that I have a sixth sense for smelling  the blood, sweat and tears of hard work because the places I tend to favour are usually labours of love, and the stories behind them fascinate me as much as the details on the walls. 
I came across Casa Independente on a Sunday. It was closed for the day but my best friend's man was filming there and we were invited to stop by and watch as the crew was shooting a local band performing for a scene. We had plans to pop in for a brief visit. Somehow, we ended up with a glass of rosé and a slice of lemon meringue pie in hand, chatting with the owner for what ended up being one of the best afternoons we spent during our entire stay in Lisbon.

Casa Independente is a cafe by day, one that welcomes children and hosts workshops such as gorilla gardening. At night, it turns into a bar that seems to specialize in showcasing local talent such as artists, dj's and live bands.  As far as I could tell, there are no chefs working at Casa Independente; just a couple of dedicated owners with a passion for seasonal quality products and a willingness to learn (by trial and error if need be!)

Today it is safe to go to the Intendente area in Lisbon where the space is located,  but I am told that this wasn't always the case, that in the not-so-distant past, the square and its surrounding streets were home to some hardcore activities. To open a venue in this area was a risky undertaking to say the least.  Some time after Casa Independente was up and running, the mayor of Lisbon, in an admirable move, decided to built his office right in the middle of the Intendente square which is now a lovely spot to hang out in.  While the entire neighborhood hasn't cleaned up overnight, efforts are still being made. I love the fact that the mayor didn't turn a blind eye to these issues and that Lisbonites with great ideas and concepts  help transform the city.
I wasn't planning on posting anything about Casa Independente when I walked in that day.  The welcoming and relaxing vibe of the place just stayed with me over these past weeks.  Regrettably, I only found out about it on the night before my departure and was not able to visit during regular opening hours. As you can probably tell, I plan on returning to Lisbon  (the sooner the better!) and a night at Casa Independente is high on my list.