After the chaos and weirdness of visiting Nirvana Studios and the sweet freshness of the Portuguese beers Jonathan enjoyed with Manuel and his friends in downtown Lisbon, it’s time for Mr. Wieme to get back to work. First stop in part 3 of Motorcycle Cities Lisbon is located just a few streets away from the historic Terreiro do Paço square – though culturally it’s actually a long way away from the typically Portuguese Pombaline style. Off to O Purista we go.
A barbershop at the front. A pool table at the back. And in between, a superb counter, ready to serve you the best local beer and craft beer specials. But not just that. In due course, I asked for a small shot of Medronho liqueur. Cheers, my friends!
Welcome to O Purista and meet the owner of the place, Nuno Mendes. By the way, if you see a blue Honda Varadero parked outside the door, it means the boss is in.
What was originally a pop-up concept is now a well-established, no-longer-temporary place in the heart of the city. This bar, an HQ for certain motorcyclists, and a meeting point for the Lisbon Motorcycle Film Fest crew, is located between Bairro Alto and Baixa. To paint a full picture, on the one side, there is the Bairro Alto quarter, a rather picturesque district dating back to the 15th century. Historically, this bohemian quarter was the home of the city's artists and writers. Today, it is a quarter known for its many bars and restaurants and its lively nightlife. On the other side, there is the Baixa quarter which is part of the historical center of Lisbon with its beautiful monuments, emblematic squares, and large avenues. It is predominantly built in a neo-classical and Pombaline style – referring to the Marquis of Pombal who had this part of the city rebuilt. It is also the city's most commercial district, with its traditional shops, as well as new shops, and it’s where the famous Tram 38 stops.
At O Purista, I meet Marta and Jimi, two members of the Dust Girls crew. A group of five motorcycle friends who certainly don't scare easily. This is evident by their adventures in Morocco and Cuba under epic conditions. I can only invite you to check out their videos and travel stories on Manuel's Vimeo account or Dust Girls Insta page (@dustgirlspt). If you think their trip was crazy... follow them and expect more craziness in the months to come.
I'd already mentioned to you that Manuel was a great help on this Lisbon adventure. During our conversations before the trip, I'd told him that I had no intention or ambition to produce a guide with addresses of good motorcycle garages in Lisbon, but that I was looking for a spirit, an atmosphere, a universe in which I could feel good and find my identity as a lover of two-wheelers. Manuel took me to Casa Tigre... I could tell you that it's a mix between a clothing shop and a tattoo studio. But that would not be doing them justice.
Again, I was captivated by their story and philosophy of life. Luis Raimundo, with his generosity and kindness, welcomed us and shared his personal history and that of Casa Tigre. Launched and opened recently by three friends, Paulo – the Legendary Tiger man – Alfonso, and Rai, Casa Tigre is a place, an alternative – or not so alternative – hangout, for all those who want to escape, even just for a moment, from the control and suffocation of society. A place for punks, skaters, bikers, and all those who don't necessarily fit in anywhere else. For anyone looking for a breath of fresh air and something unique, a place for just strolling around, drinking a beer, and listening to music. All of it wrapped in style, class, and humor – and above all – not too much seriousness.
To get down to practicalities, yes, you can find clothes there. A beautiful collection in the Casa Tigre style, but also unique pieces, hand-painted black jackets, and a tattoo studio for a lifelong souvenir of your time here. This is a shop that also fits in very well with the neighborhood, Los Anjos. A somewhat forgotten neighborhood with a glorious past and magnificent art deco and modernist fronts and buildings. An air of East Village in the ‘80s. A new urban neighborhood in the making? A neighborhood for artists? Who knows? We'll see. But I'd bet on it anyway. In short, as they say there: Stay Gold. Meaning remain true to yourself, remain pure, and offbeat.
If you want to find treasure, you have to deviate from your route. Go on an adventure. Don't follow a plan; follow your instinct. Well, it may not be as heroic as a treasure hunt when there were pirates around, but nevertheless I have plunged into a new setting. In the meantime, I'd had to return the R nineT... But thanks to Yamaha Portugal, I'd acquired a beautiful XSR700 XTribute. I love the way it looks; it obviously reminds me of my XT500. It's easy to handle and its tires, reminiscent of those of dirt-track bikes, give it an adventurous spirit.
Let's go toward Alcácer do Sal, one hour south of Lisbon, where a friend of mine, Mircae, lives and works. I met him a year or two ago through my work in Brussels at a collection design exhibition. This craftsman, creator, and designer carries out his woodworking activities in a gigantic workshop with a vast outdoor space that gives free rein to his imagination and stimulates his creative exploration. I wanted to go and see it. To meet Mircae and his team, who had just finished a big project – called 'La Puerta' – for the Mirazur restaurant in the south of France, a 3-star Michelin restaurant, voted best restaurant in the world in 2019.
Today, he's working on a hotel project in Lisbon, the JAM Hotel, designed by the architectural studio Atelier Lionel Jadot. But perhaps the most impressive thing is its furniture and tables. Although, it's his whole universe together with this place of creation that make us dream and carries us off to another world. His world.
After a boat ride, he tells me that we can visit a friend of his, Bernardo, who apparently has a crazy collection of old motorcycles that he maintains and develops with his father Manuel. So, not far from Mircae's, we leave the asphalt road. The gate opens and we cover a short off-road stretch to get to the hangar, where this collection of old bikes is hidden. The hangar door opens. The lights go on, one after the other, and an astonishing “wow... wow... wow...” matches the rhythm of the lights coming on.
Here, there's not one particular brand or type of motorcycle, but a collection of motorcycles, each more mythical than the last. Unfortunately, I'm not an expert able to recognize them all and judge their rarity. But that’s not the point. It makes you want to see, touch, examine, and discover everything in detail. It's always fun to come to a place like this. You don't know where to look first, you feel lost trying to single something out. Oh my, I've already spotted the bike designed by Philippe Starck – the Aprilia Moto 6.5 – oh and there's a CB750 Four, a nice four-cylinder like the one I had before my Ducati 750 Sport. A beautiful Yamaha two-stroke, a Hercules with a Wankel engine. Several superb motocross bikes including Harley, Garelli, and Gilera. I love it.
But the ones that perhaps drew my attention and admiration most are the 50cc and small bikes. Benelli, Ducati, Hercules, Flandria. A Honda Dream 50, too. They are beautiful, magnificent. A nice collection of Vespas and Lambrettas as well, if I understood correctly, the basis of the collection.
I finish my tour, stopping for two minutes in front of the Suzuki RG400. I have the feeling that the rest of the collection will evolve towards competition motorcycles from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Anyway, if you want to know more, the family runs a superb Bed & Breakfast, Casas da Horta. The ideal place to escape and find treasures for yourself.
WORDS & PHOTOS BYJonathan Wieme
The man behind Motorcycle Cities. An independently published magazine that we just happened to stumble upon during a leisurely Saturday afternoon stroll through Antwerp.
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