It was about an hour before the sun set: feeding time. The birds were hungry. Starving swans stalked the lawns, beady eyes trained to the ground. Ducks flapped their wings, breaking the peaceful surface of pond water, and again dove down for their dinner. A fat white duck waddled up. “Chicken sandwich, chicken sandwich,” the portly duck seemed to squawk in his low quack.
The gardens of the Crystal Palace, like the João Chagas Garden, was designed in the 1860’s by German landscape architect Emile David. Overlooking the Douro River, these gardens are much bigger and filled with birds, ponds, artwork, and amazing trees. Chestnut, lime, Lawson’s cypress, European beech and pedunculate oak are just some of the monumental ancients living along the Crystal Palace’s many avenues and viewpoints.
On a rainy late afternoon in January, it was just me and the birds. In the warmer months, I imagine these gardens would be a great place for a date. An escape within the city, together in nature, the plant life and vistas… it sounds romantic to me. And if you’re more in the mood for solo meditation, maybe bring a book and a chicken sandwich.