LisbonInsideOut: Veerle Devos, a Belgian journalist

veerle devos

What is LisbonInsideOut?

LisbonInsideOut is a new interview series that I’ve created to learn why foreign people, that live or have lived in Lisbon, chose this city and what they love about it.

This week I’m introducing you to Veerle Devos, aka Vos, a Belgian journalist and historian that was drawn to Lisbon by its historical past, the endless hours of sunlight, the friendly people and the quality of life.


Who is Vos?

Veerle Devos, nicknamed Vos, is an adventurous woman passionate about many things, including history and journalism. She graduated as a historian and soon became involved in journalism, writing for a variety of magazines and news media, among others DAMNº (an international magazine on design, art, architecture and contemporary culture). Born in Belgium, she has traveled for work and pleasure to the other side of the world and back, passing through less obvious places like Palestine, Congo, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Uganda, Turkey, Myanmar and many more.

It was in the heart of Alfama that I had the chance to meet her for the first time. I later found out we were actually standing a few steps away from the first place she stayed in Lisbon. Lisbon has been her home for 5 years now and she’s even created a project called Lisboneye, where you can read about her favorite findings in the city and contact her for an authentic Lisbon tour. She’s currently working on a book featuring some of Portugal’s most beautiful sites and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

LISBONEYE-Vos
photo by ©Sander De Clercq

What made you move to Lisbon?

Portugal is a beautiful, compelling, tasty, friendly country with a unique quality of life. It’s not only about those 3023 hours of sunlight per year. It’s also the oldest country of Europe (I am a historian so the longer the past, the better!!) Full of legends and stories; it’s a country where human interaction is still valued; it’s a place with a vast variety of authentic and healthy food; it’s where ‘slow living’ has never been out of fashion; where nature is still abundant and beautiful cities and towns are hidden behind every corner. And last but not least: Portuguese people are authentic and down to earth; friendly and easy to get in touch with.

How long have you been here?  

5 years.

What do you do/what is your profession? 

I’m a journalist for an international magazine on design, art, architecture and everything in between: DAMNº (also available in Lx btw, for instance in Fnac) and through my Lisboneye sidekick, I very much like to show likeminded people my fav’s in Lisbon \ Porto \ Portugal.
adamastor viewpoint

What is your favorite place in the city and why?

The hill where it all started. The aching muscles of visiting and local flâneurs alike bear witness of the fact that Lisbon is built on many hills. On the hill topped by the current Castelo de São Jorge, the Romans built a fortification, but human presence there goes back much further in time. The hill was consecutively used by Celtic tribes, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Berber and Arab peoples from North Africa (‘the Moors’) and ultimately by the motley crew of crusaders who founded the kingdom of Portugal. A very good choice of all these peoples since this hill was full of hot water springs (the name ‘ Alfama’ is said to originate from the Arab ‘Al-hamma’, meaning ‘hot springs’ or ‘baths’), which was convenient in a time tap water wasn’t organised as smoothly as it is in our time. As a historian, I very much enjoy to see traces of history around me, so I was even more excited when I found a house to live in Alfama, where since thousands of years people had lived before me.  So yes, also my connection with Lisbon started there.

 

I often work from home but I also try to be outside as much as possible, so I take my laptop to nice terraces and gardens to work. Here are some of my favourite ‘mobile offices’:

costa do castelo

torel palace

If you could take something from Lisbon home, what would it be?

The ocean breeze (btw Lisbon IS home for me).

What is the one thing you miss about Belgium?

  • grey shrimps from the North Sea (we use them to make delicious shrimp croquettes; I simply have to eat grey shrimp croquettes each time I visit Belgium);
  • grand cafés;
  • surrealist, absurd humor.

How did the idea for Lisboneye started and what do you hope to achieve with it?

Being a curious street cat, I started to explore the city as soon (and actually way before) I arrived in Lisbon — and what I discovered, I wanted to share with others, with friends. After a while, friends started to send me their friends and family, and those then happened to send me their friends and family and colleagues, so after a while I decided to ‘brand’ myself as a ‘travel escort’ in Lisbon (a bit naughty but until now nobody mistook me for a real escort): you can book me to keep you company during your visit in Lisbon, to walk you around, to get you in touch with local designers \ chefs \ musicians \ weirdos… , to tell you stories, to show you places where no tourists go, etc. Lisboneye basically enables me to share my enthusiasm for this country.

Any other interesting facts worth mentioning?

The book I am preparing: To Die for Portugal. I find Portugal a country so authentic, beautiful, friendly, high-quality and lovely it is as the English say ‘to die for’. I’ve been taking friends and friends of friends on trips through the country and on one of these trips with good friends from my hometown Gent, the idea occurred. First I dropped dead in front of landscapes, beaches and monuments just for fun, but soon it became a concept for a project, and I started to work with a professional photographer: fellow Belgian Yves Callewaert, who has his studio in Lisbon. By now I’ve pretty much traveled the entire country, from Chaves to Tavira and everything in between.

For me, Portugal is Wonderland: you open a door and behind it await amazing legends, beautiful nature or longliving traditions; you open another door and there is a monument dating back from the Middle Ages or an incredible palace turned into a hotel; yet another door gives way to a natural water source or a flock of sheep with their shepherd high in the mountains. Wonderful indeed. I’ve always been an enthusiast and curious person who has the ability to fall in love with places and people, and who loves to share that curiosity and enthusiasm with others.

The project ‘To Die for Portugal’ is all about that – my passion for Portugal is beyond words. This will result in a book with great pictures (sneak peek at todieforportugal.com) and my texts describing the place, including tips for gastronomy, sightseeing and more. It’s a personal travel guide through Portugal which brings visitors to the most incredible places of my choice.

I also made a magbook about the Portuguese of Brussels: ‘Lusobelgae’. Research for this publication brought me to Portugal, which I until then only knew as a holiday destination. While traveling through the country and interviewing people, I realised this could be home, too.

Where can you follow Vos’s adventures?

The question is where can’t you follow them! You can see Lisbon through Vos’s eyes on her Instagram page @lisboneye or follow her on Facebook here. If you want to read the full story behind her adventures or book an authentic tour of Lisbon, then you must go hereHer passion for Portugal is quickly taking the shape of a book, for more info on this personal travel guide check out the To Die For Portugal website. And here you can read her articles about design, art and architecture.

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