Our next story takes us to a very special world, the miniature world of Carlos’ shop.
Originally from Viana do Castelo, in the beautiful Minho region, Carlos Guimaraes opens the doors of his shop, in the Casais de Mem Martins area, on the outskirts of Sintra.
Lovers of modeling, but not only, will certainly be amazed to see the world that hides in this shop.
Carlos’s passion for modeling has always been carried within him, a world capable of making young and old dream.
Carlos’s father had a toy shop, and he imported from different countries. At the time, Carlos, sixteen years old and already a great lover of modeling and new technologies, began to try to persuade him to introduce some modeling objects into his shop.
Their first shop will be in Lisbon, in Rossio Square, where the father’s children’s toys are combined with his son’s models.
The passion for this world will always accompany Carlos, who even continuing to work in other fields, makes this world “in miniature” an oasis of him.
“Here I have fun, I don’t work” he tells me. And this is immediately perceived, especially when, with the impatient air of a child, he leads us through the halls of his shop to discover this world that fascinates him so much.
A real guided life between models of all kinds, from the simplest to the most sophisticated, from those within everyone’s reach to those for true amateurs willing to invest a real fortune.
The first rooms he shows us are those of cars and motorcycles, complete with remote control. As soon as we enter, Carlos proudly shows us the box of a collector’s model of which he has received three copies. “It’s a limited edition” he explains to us. And only a few model shops in the world have received a few.
We pass between shelves of all kinds of spare parts, perfectly identical to the real ones only much smaller. And if there are spare parts, batteries and tools, there will also be the workshop … And there it is, the repair area, with also a space covered by a white cloth, a lamp and the reproduction of a mini photographic set, where Carlos photographs the new models acquired.
There are cars of every era and model, remote controlled, with suspensions, which reach truly remarkable speeds. Carlos explains that there are competitions and that some enthusiasts manage to create a real garage of immense value by collecting more models.
But leaving this room for the next one, we are struck by a plane, perfect in every detail, and Carlos explains to us that these are planes that can fly perfectly and that participate in the Aeromania event.
Carlos explains that in Sintra, near the air force, there is an air base where you can fly these miniature planes from the age of 17.
Carlos says that the proximity of the air base to the air force area is not accidental because many young people, passionate about flying, then pass from the experience of flying their plane to that of a real plane. Carlos in that base accompanied many boys, teaching them how to fly these “perfect miniatures”. And in this regard, he tells us a truly incredible story. On a trip, when he was ready to embark for Dubai, a young man in uniform approached him greeting him and calling him by name. Carlos was surprised, not recognizing him. Then he presented himself as “Franceschino”. Carlos at that point said he understood even less since that was a baby name and that man had told him that yes, it was a name for a child, because that was what Carlos called him when Francesco, a boy at the time, had learned to fly a “miniature” plane with him, thus giving birth to the passion that he then continued to cultivate as an adult.
Our journey continues among small real works of art such as those kept in a showcase and which were presented at the Lisbon tourism hobby kit which is held annually in October.
In the next room there are boats, modern but also real galleons and Carlos shows us one with bronze cannons and real wooden boards, in the same number as the ship he reproduces. It is a ship from the era of Portuguese maritime expansion. 370 pieces, 6 months of work to build it and a cost of 1800 €. These works, explains Carlos, pass from generation to generation. Even the sails were treated with water and salt to recreate an effect of crystals that shine like stars as was done with the ships of the time, Carlos tells us, to encourage the crew to continue traveling.
Of course, there is also room for Diecast, what we usually call modeling. In this case there is no building but to collect and each object has a small certificate with the number of. series to be jealously guarded. Among the objects that Valentino Rossi’s motorbikes and miniatures, which he cannot fail to show us, is also a truly unusual object: the reproduction of the trucks carrying the vaccine. low but that over time and demand can increase in value. After all, this is the law of the market that regulates the value of these collectibles.
Carlos’s “miniature” world is truly endless: it transports us between war reproductions, complete with characters and objects of everyday life, as well as those of military life, to recreate the environment in every aspect, what it’s called Diorama. Objects that come from Italy, Germany, the USA, Russia, Ukraine … and other countries. A real world tour in some room.
But what strikes me most in this guided tour that Carlos makes us of his shop is the passion with which he tells us things and the fact that for every single object, for every reproduction, Carlos is able to tell us the story of that event or of that object recreated them. It is like attending a history lesson, walking through this miniature world.
And there is something for everyone, from the Battle of Waterloo to the Reichstag.
Obviously there is no shortage of objects, miniatures of trees and flowers, and characters also used for architecture projects, and small recreations, with mini characters, of every moment of human life.
Carlos really took us into a different reality, made of history but also of a lot of fantasy. And what really strikes us is his great passion, the way his eyes sparkle as he describes his world to us, piece by piece.
His unmissable appointment is obviously the Nuremberg fair, where every year Carlos also participates as a press officer for his Hobby magazine. In 55 years he has only passed away twice; a fixed appointment for him.
But Carlos still has other hidden worlds and talents to tell. Turns out the magazine photos of him are of him. And that behind the passion he told us hides a past as a photographer.
Years ago, in Paris, he had taken a course in photography and cinema and ended up working for Playboy. He tells us that to find new models, he went downtown to the Cafe de la Paix, where the girls looking for work as models were attentive to the presence of a photographer. And then Carlos just had to put his camera on the table, and that’s it. They asked him to make a photo book and so he turned into a talent scout.
And Paris won’t be his only destination. Invited for a photographic event in Brazil, he returns a second time for a year and a half reportage work in the Amazon.
And if photography had brought him there, the video reportages had seen him as the protagonist of services also made for RTP. He tells us about one related to the overseas war that he ended up collecting rather shocking images that in the end could not be transmitted. And some time later those same images, in a competition in Spain, had earned him an important journalistic prize.
In short. Carlos never ceases to amaze us, a life that would be worthy of a book. But even in the face of so many adventures, he prefers to return to his little world, a bit like a male version of Alice, who “shrinks” to return to his wonderland, which for Carlos is a world made up of transport, landscapes and characters. , which you can often hold in the palm of your hand.
If you want to visit the capital of Portugal, in this text I will give you some tips on how to enjoy Lisbon in the best possible way.
Lisbon attracts visitors for its history, but also for its varied tourist offer, able to please any style of traveler.
Tours, gastronomy, beaches, museums, historical monuments and nature.
So that your experience in the city of seven hills is well used, here are ten essential tips
1. How to get there
The city is well served by public transport, with metro lines and buses that cover the entire urban area. For those arriving at the airport, just follow the signs, purchase the individual transportation card (viva viagem) in a machine and load it according to the desired option. Just validate the card and board. The line that leaves the airport is the red one, which crosses with the others.
Important tip: Lisbon is known as the city of the seven hills. Consider this when preparing your luggage and also choose the place of accommodation. And don’t forget comfortable shoes
2. Where to stay
If you are looking for a lively place at night, you can look for Bairro Alto, while Baixa is the most touristic neighborhood but also very close to the main tourist spots in the city. Another neighborhood I suggest staying in is Alfama, the oldest part of the city.
For those who prefer the beach, there are options in the cities near Lisbon, which belong to the same district and, therefore, have a good offer of public transport, making it easy to get around, for example Cascais, or the Costa de Caparica, for those who like surf.
3. What to eat
The classics deserve all the attention. Pastel de Belém (in Belém) – or pastéis de nata (in the rest of the city) -, pastel de bacalhau or typical dishes like Bacalhau à Brás or Polvo a lagareiro (preferably away from Rua Augusta, to avoid tourist traps) .
For those looking for more modern concepts, a great option is the LX Factory
4. The Lisbon night
Cosmopolitan, Lisbon brings together adventurers from different countries, who go out for an imperial drink (as it is called a beer) during the night. The most concentrated spots are Pink Street, surrounded by bars with diverse proposals, such as Menina e Moça, which during the day also works as a bookstore, and Pensão do Amor, a former brothel turned into a bar and disco.
There is also the Cais do Sodré area, with lively parties and a beautiful view of the Tagus. Bairro Alto is a bustling spot, with crowded streets and lots of entertainment. For those looking for a more authentic experience, the trick is to get lost in the streets of Alfama and end up in one of the many fado shows that take place there.
5. Mandatory stops
Be sure to have them in your script:
Praça do Comércio or Terreiro do Paço and Pier of the columns
It is one of the largest squares in Europe and was for many years a noble space in the city, with palaces and headquarters of important institutions. It was also the entry of people of the nobility, who disembarked at Cais das Colunas.
Rua Augusta Arch (and Rua Augusta)
Rua Augusta is super busy, full of shops and restaurants and also many street artists. It is curious to see how each one finds his way of earning a living in the city.
To climb the Arch, the cost is low (2.5 €) and the ideal is to go in the late afternoon, to catch an incredible view of the sunset. It’s a highlight, you can also see a little bit of Lisbon and, of course, the Tagus.
Chiado and Alfama
These are two of the most traditional neighborhoods in Lisbon. The first is where all the city’s cultural aura circulated, with writers, poets and other artists who were inspired by this special air that only Chiado has and created their works from that. Alfama has preserved houses from before the earthquake that almost destroyed the capital entirely. Small streets where it is easy to get lost (and also find yourself) are a charm apart
– Elevators and viewpoints
Located at various points, they offer unique views of Lisbon, with special angles.
This is another essential region that guarantees a day well spent visiting the Jerónimos Monastery, Belém Tower, Monument to the Discoveries, Berardo Collection Museum, Praça do Império and the famous Pastel de Belém. To get there, just use the tram 15E, which leaves Praça do Comércio or Praça da Figueira.
7. Parque das Nações
Getting away from the cultural and historical aura, there is also the modern Parque das Nações, with a cable car, the main highlight being the Oceanarium. The space is very well organized and offers the opportunity to see sharks and many other exotic fish, large or small, up close. You can get comfortable there, even sitting in front of the giant aquarium and watching the coming and going of the aquatic residents.
With easy access by bus or train, the beaches in the Lisbon region should also be explored. On the south bank of the Tagus, the options are Costa da Caparica and Setúbal, with breathtaking landscapes.
Already in the same way, there are equally incredible options, such as Cascais, Carcavelos, Parede and Oeiras. Each beach has its charm, with rocks by the sea and crystal clear water.
The only thing is that the water is cold, but, of course, worth the dive.
9. Unique destinations a few km from Lisbon:
– Sintra, a world heritage site, is 35 minutes by train from Lisbon (Rossio station). Here you can visit the Pena Palace, the old village palace, the esoteric Quinta da Regaleira, and much more.
For those looking for a religious destination, they can reach Fatima by bus in about an hour and a half from the Sete Rios bus station
If you are looking for truly unforgettable historic places, you can rent a car and visit the monasteries of Batalha and Alcobaça about an hour and a half from Lisbon.
10. Visit Lisbon with me 😉
If you want to enjoy the city, visit less touristy places and live that experience in complete relax without the stress of planning, then entrust me with organizing your trip. Let’s discover Lisbon together for an authentic and unforgettable experience.