Archive for December, 2008

The 100 Year-Old Filmmaker

Friday, December 12th, 2008

Manoel Oliveira films

As announced here on GoLisbon Blog, Lisbon’s Film Museum showed every single movie ever directed by Manoel de Oliveira last October. That legendary Portuguese director has the record of being the world’s oldest filmmaker and turns 100 years old today. Despite the age, he doesn’t have plans to slow down any time soon. He’s currently directing yet another film, and plans to write his autobiography.

A special box set of all of his films has just been released in Portugal, and includes a book about the themes of his movies and his film-making style. The set includes his latest release “Columbus: the Enigma” about the famous explorer’s identity, and the award-winning “The Letter” and “A Talking Picture” with John Malkovich and Catherine Deneuve.

There probably won’t be another director with such a long career for quite some time. But as also proven by the Portuguese lady who is currently the world’s oldest person, some people are simply born with better genes.

The Gift of Well-Being in Lisbon

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Spa in Lisbon

Believing that the best gift possible is the gift of well-being and a healthy mind and body, Lisbon’s spas will be pushing the idea that vouchers for their services are the perfect Christmas gift. The men-only spa H2omem is even offering a 15% discount on those vouchers bought until December 13th.

But you don’t exactly need to look for the best spa for you in Lisbon if you stay at one of the several hotels in the city that offer that kind of pampering.  GoLisbon has all the information about the city’s hotel and stand-alone spas, as well as the places for your morning workout, whether it’s jogging or with some yoga. See our Lisbon Spas and Fitness Guide here.

Lisbon’s Best Pastries

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Bolo Rei, Lisbon's traditional Christmas cake

This Christmas most people in Lisbon will follow the tradition and will buy a Bolo Rei, the traditional Christmas cake. That cake actually has its origins in France, but the recipe was brought to Portugal by the then-owner of Confeitaria Nacional, a pastry shop in the center of Lisbon. It literally means “King Cake” and is topped with glazed and dried fruits and nuts. But because a Christmas get-together with the family means long banquets and long banquets also mean lots of sweets, Lisbon sells more pastries in December than at any other time of the year. With that in mind, here are the best pastries in Lisbon and where to find them:

BOLO REI at Confeitaria Nacional
The traditional Christmas cake will be on display at the windows of most of Lisbon’s pastry shops. But for the cake’s original home (and still the place that does it best), you should go to Confeitaria Nacional. It’s conveniently located in Figueira Square, a shop worth visiting on its own, as the interior retains much of its 19th century charm.

CHOCOLATE CAKE at O Melhor Bolo de Chocolate do Mundo
What’s a dinner party without a good piece of chocolate cake at the end? As GoLisbon Blog has already told you here, a pastry shop in Lisbon claims to make the best in the world. While there’s no way of proving or agreeing with that, the cake is quite good, with a creamy chocolaty filling made with 53% chocolate.

The BREAD at Panificação do Chiado
Lisbon’s best bread is found in Chiado. It comes in various forms and topped with different seeds, and it’s just an excuse to go into this shop and also grab a number of its tempting pastries and sweets.

Usually you eat a chocolate croissant with your hands, but at Benard you need a knife and a fork. That’s because it comes dripping with chocolate inside and you’d have it all over you if you simply grabbed it with your hands. Make sure to have one earlier in the day when it’s fresh off the oven, since later in the day it will have lost much of its softness after waiting for hours for a gluttonous mouth.

ANYTHING at Pastelaria Versailles
It’s Lisbon’s most beautiful café and it also has be the biggest variety of pastries. While there’s no particular standout, expect to have to make some tough decisions as there are so many sugary choices displayed in front of you. But if you find yourself not being able to decide, simply ask to pack a few to take home. That is after you sit at the shop for a cup of coffee because you can’t leave without taking a good look at some of the details of the place. You’ll understand why it has the name of the famous French palace when you do.

The PASTEIS DE BELÉM at Antiga Confeitaria de Belem
If you’ve read anything about Lisbon, you know about this place by now. It’s Lisbon’s best contribution to the pastry world. Everyone will agree with that.

Lisbon’s Design District Celebrates Three Years

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

Ideas at a shop in Lisbon's Design District

Exactly three years ago a Lisbon neighborhood was reborn. On December 6, 2005 the neighborhood of Santos was distinguished for its cluster of shops dedicated to design and was branded “Santos Design District.” Since that day other shops (and restaurants) have opened (and closed), but after three years, the group behind the initiative is celebrating the positive feedback from shop owners and discerning Lisbon shoppers with special events.

To mark the anniversary, the shops are staying open for a longer period of time from today to Monday, and there are special sales and special (exclusive) products on display, among other promised “surprises.”

The best known name in the neighborhood is Armani Casa, but if you’re interested in remodelling your home, just looking for something new, or simply browsing with an interest in design, you’ll find Lisbon’s (and Portugal’s) very own shops competing for shoppers with good taste. One you should check out if you’re in Lisbon today is Domo (some of its ideas are illustrated above), offering tea, cappuccino, hot chocolate, and pastries to its customers starting at 4:30PM.

Once you’re done with your shopping (stores will close at 10PM), you can try one of the restaurants in the area. Following the new theme of the neighborhood, you’ll find places where the décor is just as interesting as the food. A favorite is Estado Liquido. Better known for it sushi, it also features a sleek minimalist space with some Asian touches, and it also doubles as a bar/lounge. If you’re not a fan of sushi and want to try something more local, head to Cop’3. It’s another tastefully designed space serving innovative versions of traditional Portuguese dishes. You’ll find it in Largo Vitorino Damasio, the same square where the bar Left is located. It’s a hip hangout that Wallpaper* magazine singled out for being “stylish and relaxed,” that’s also a great place for drinks to the sounds of the guest DJs.

Even if you’re not in Lisbon this weekend for Santos’ special events, remember that you can spend a day here when you’re in town, taking a look at the shops, eating at the restaurants, and ending the night drinking at a bar. In the future you’ll also be able to bring your laptop and sit on a bench in the streets of the neighborhood and browse the internet, with the planned wi-fi service.

Lisbon’s Tourists Like to Eat

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Yasmin Restaurant, Lisbon

Using responses from thousands of interviews conducted in April, June, and August of this year, Lisbon’s Tourism Association has found that dining at the city’s restaurants is one of tourists’ favorite activities in Lisbon. An average of 62% said that it was one of their top 5 activities during their stay, and “gastronomy and wines” was selected as the 7th favorite thing in the city.

In our endless effort to provide the most complete information about Lisbon, has an extensive Portuguese food guide together with a list of restaurants to recommend, and as previously announced, now you too can review Lisbon’s restaurants. This way whether you’re looking to sample Portugal’s cuisine, want to be surprised by some creative fusion dishes, or would like to go with a vegetarian diet, with GoLisbon there’s no excuse for having a bad meal in Lisbon.
The first reader’s comment was written yesterday for Yasmin Restaurant. Write yours too!

Christmas Shopping in Lisbon

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Shopping in Lisbon's ChiadoIt’s now December and Christmas is just around the corner. The ornamented trees are going up, the streets are decorated with lights, and you’re making your Christmas shopping list. Lisbon has gotten ready for all of that, and has unveiled a new identity for its most cosmopolitan neighborhood. Called “Chiado – Lisbon Trend Mark”, this new “brand” for the cultural and commercial heart of the city has placed banners around the Chiado neighborhood identifying it as the place for the most international and highest-quality shops for your shopping needs. There are the Hermés and Hugo Boss shops that most can’t afford, but also more affordable labels such as Diesel and H&M. For memorable quality Portuguese gifts there are the Vista Alegre, A Vida Portuguesa, or Joalheria do Carmo shops.

To make sure customers are not tempted to go to the city’s shopping malls instead, most of the area’s shops are going to stay open until 8PM on weekdays and until 11PM on Saturdays. This has proven to be a successful decision, judging by the recent long lines at the Nespresso shop late in the evening or all the browsing for books at the historical Bertrand bookshop as late as 10PM. The special Christmas lights and decorations in the neighborhood add to the Christmas spirit, and are thankfully more tasteful than the ugly commercially-sponsored decorations in Rossio or Comercio squares this year (try to overlook them if you’re in Lisbon this holiday season).

But because Christmas is not just about shopping, Chiado’s São Carlos Theater will present special performances of “The Nutcracker” . They take place on December 5, 6, and 11th at 9PM and on the 7h and 13th at 4PM.

Although we “finally” got plenty of rain here in Lisbon this weekend, it looks like another joyous holiday season in the city, starting with the inauguration of Europe’s largest Christmas tree, and ending with Chiado’s new “trend mark.”