A few random photos from Lisbon

October 10, 2012 • 9:54 pm

I leave this morning for Vienna: other skies, other fudz.  My best photos of Portugal—the ones of the Douro valley—will have to wait until I have more time to post. But here are a few photos I took while wandering around Lisbon yesterday.

This is neither a good nor a flattering photo, but I was in the Museo do Design e da Moda (the design and fashion museum), which highlights triumphs of good design (modern furniture, the Vespa, nice clothing), and I saw the smallest car I’ve ever seen. I put myself into the photo for scale. It’s much smaller than a SmartCar, and I think it’s a BMW. But I’m sure some reader will know it, so please identify it.

After I took the photo I was told that photography was prohibited, but the deed was done. (Click all photos to enlarge.)

Upstairs was an exhibit of theater and music from Brazil, with a guest book that one could sign. The signatures were, as you might expect, very artistic, and although I’m not an artist I had to add mine:

And “beware of the dog” and “here is the cat” signs for sale in a sign store. It is Basement Cat, but note that you needn’t be afraid of him!

24 thoughts on “A few random photos from Lisbon

  1. Yup, looks like a BMW Isetta ‘Bubble Car’ from the early sixties. Italian design I think. My Uncle in Law had one. Nearly came to grief when he parked it too close to the back garage wall. Reverse gear didn’t work and he didn’t have a canvas escape hatch in the top! He was in it quite a while before rescue. Great fun but lethal little blighters.

    1. I remember a British Candid Camera piece (many, many years ago) where they fitted a 50-gallon fuel tank to one of these and asked a filling station attendant to “fill her up”.

    2. As I recall (having seen a couple) it had certain peculiarities, amongst which were:
      The door – the whole front of the cab opens up to get in and out; the rear wheels are set very close together, about a foot apart, so it’s almost like a three-wheeler;
      and it’s rear-wheel-steer, I think.

      1. Under UK legislation 3-wheel vehicles only required a motor-cycle driving licence, so they had tax and age advantages. The original design had four wheels but in the UK the two closely-spaced rear wheels were later replaced with a single one which increased their popularity.

  2. In the sign, “Aqui há gato”, gato is, among others, slang for a trick or sham, so “Aqui há gato” would maybe translate to, “there’s something going on here.”

  3. Yes, an Isetta bubble car.
    A friend of mine had one for a while but sold it as youths used to pick it up and park it with the door against a wall. He couldn’t get in to release the brake and had to disconnect the brake cable to move it or get us to lift it if we were near.

    1. That reminds me of a not so nice thing I did when I was a punk teen. A few friends and I came across a similar micro car in a shopping center parking lot. We had never seen such a tiny care and so it really caught our attention. We picked the car up and rotated it ninety degrees in its parking space. Since there were cars in the spaces directly adjacent on both sides the car was thereby, at least temporarily, trapped.

      1. You incurred bad car-ma. Now you can expect to be parked in by a Cadillac Escalade adorned with Christian fish decals and “Believe!” bumper stickers, filled with “faith-based homeschool” children who will draw Noah’s ark on your car with metallic Sharpies.

        I used to have a toy “bubble car” made of metal, with working wheels and door, and painted orange. I knew it was a model of an existing car but have never seen one. Did not realize how small they are!

        1. Oh my god, you are so cruel! 🙂

          Also, do you live in my town? You must to have so accurately described my nightmare. I’d hate to think it is more widespread than that. The only thing you forgot is the Romney/Ryan sticker.

  4. I hope you have enjoyed Lisbon. I would have liked to see you speak, but couldn’t go to Porto; and I didn’t know you’d show up around Lisbon too, or else I’d have gone try to get an autograph on my copy of Speciation or something. 😛
    Good stay on Vienna, it’s a beautiful city 🙂

  5. If you get the chance, I recommend eating the Sacher Torte in Vienna. I had some as a kid at the Hotel Sacher almost 30 years ago, and I still remember it as being some of the best cake I ever had.

  6. Others have already commented on the car being an Isetta. I didn’t know they were produced by BMW, though. I saw a number of them in the early 1960s when I was an undergraduate at Arizona State. You wouldn’t want to have a head-on in one of those. There would be little left to piece together!

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