Archive for May, 2009

A Lisbon-Style Las Vegas

Friday, May 29th, 2009

A place named Rossio, delicious custard tarts, baroque architecture, cobblestone pavements with black and white designs — but it’s not Lisbon. Gambling is the main attraction and there’s a monumental casino named The Venetian — but it’s not Las Vegas. That place is Macao, a Chinese territory not far from Hong Kong that was a Portuguese colony for almost five centuries until 1999. It was the first and last European colony in China but its present status as the world’s gambling capital (it has surpassed Las Vegas) has made people forget its ties to Portugal. Yet Portugal is everywhere, with reminders of Lisbon in every corner. Restaurants fuse Portuguese and Chinese cuisine, the European-style architecture has been preserved amid modern skyscrapers and flashy casinos, its main landmark casino is named “Lisboa,” there’s a sophisticated restaurant called “Rossio,” and everything from the old street lights to the pavements are just like those of Lisbon. Although it will be a decade at the end of this year since it became part of China, Macao remains the Portuguese capital of Asia, perhaps even more so than Goa in India.
On the video below you may see how the now-Chinese territory is still very much Portuguese-inspired despite its new role as an international gambling mecca. You’ll see that the Portuguese influences are still preserved in what remains from the past, but also provide the ingredients to make this a unique place in the present and the future.

(See also our other Lisbon in the World posts.)

Now You Can Book Your Restaurant Through Go Lisbon!

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Espalha Brasas restaurant, Lisbon

Lisbon’s restaurant week is coming to an end, and reportedly it has more than met expectations. But you may still continue to try out different menus in the city, and now GoLisbon.com even gives you the convenience of booking your table online. At the moment there are four restaurants offering that service, but others will follow them in the future.
If you’re a fan of Brazilian picanha, you can enjoy it in the attractive row of colorful houses in the Belem district, right in front of Jeronimos Monastery. Picanha Belem is inexpensive and offers the opportunity to dine at the tables outside, but also has another similar restaurant not far from the Ancient Art Museum. Book your table at Picanha Janelas for a meal after your visit to the museum, and continue admiring other Portuguese works of art — the beautiful blue and white azulejos that decorate the dining area.
Halfway between downtown and Parque das Nações is a refreshingly simple, rustic-style restaurant offering traditional Portuguese cuisine. That’s restaurant D’Avis which offers wonderful 3-course meals for just about 20 euros.
Those wishing to dine in the beautiful setting of the docks, looking out to 25 de Abril Bridge may also book a table through GoLisbon.com at the Espalha Brasas restaurant. It has a spacious interior, but the tables to get are outside, standing right above the marina. Recommended is the Sopa do Mar no Pão, a delicious fish and seafood soup served inside a large bread loaf (pictured above).
Bom apetite!

(If you’re the owner of a restaurant and would like to offer your guests the convenience of online bookings, please contact us.)

Brown’s Cafe – A New Hangout in Lisbon’s Baixa

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Brown's Coffee Shop, cafe in Baixa, LisbonBrown’s is a new cafe, but it’s already become the most popular in the Baixa district, judging by the number of people always found inside. We just told you about the new Rojoo chocolate bar, so now you should add Brown’s to your list of places for a break in the heart of Baixa. It’s a modern Starbucks-style coffee shop with a large interior offering plenty of sitting space, but there are also tables outsides (you’ll find them on the street of one of the Baixa-Chiado metro station’s exits). Indoors the decor has dark coffee-colored tones and comfortable seats, with background music helping you chill out. In addition to refreshing drinks, you may also get a quick meal here, with a choice of pastas, salads, soups, and sandwiches. It’s open from 8AM to 11PM, so it’s an excellent choice for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or any meal in between.

“Rojoo” – Lisbon’s New Chocolate Bar

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Rojoo, Lisbon's chocolate bar and cafeLisbon has a great new cafe in the Baixa (downtown) district (it opened last December), and it’s not just another cafe. In fact, it’s a chocolate bar. Rojoo offers more than 140 varieties of Zotter’s handmade, organic, fair-trade chocolates together with coffee and smoothies. To accompany the drinks, go for a brownie, chocolate fondue with fruits, or a piece of homemade chocolate cake. You may also want to try the special Portuguese flavors, such as the only approved Port Wine chocolate. On colder days you’ll likely go for the hot chocolate, but on warmer sunny afternoons I recommend you sit at the outdoor tables with a delicious cold chocolate and mint drink. Other tempting choices include the “chococcino” and the dark chocolate ice cream.
But there are more than desserts and sweet temptations here. You can get a light meal made up of wraps, salads, and quiches.
The actual cafe is tiny, with space only big enough for little more than a counter inside. The sitting space is outside, with tables facing the Santa Justa Elevator. Now that the Lisbon summer has arrived, this is a stop you won’t resist returning to once you try it.

Rua de Santa Justa, 84 (Baixa)
9AM-8PM (closed Sundays)

The New York Times Highlights Lisbon’s Principe Real Neighborhood

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

Lisbon's Principe Real neighborhood in the New York Times

Described as “a haven for the artsy set,” Lisbon’s Principe Real neighborhood has been highlighted in this weekend’s New York Times travel section. This residential area mostly known for its antique shops and gay bars since the 1980s has now become a hotspot for some of Lisbon’s most attractive new stores, many of them related to fashion and interior design. One of those shops is Fabrico Infinito (GoLisbon Blog recommended its backyard café when it opened last year), and another is Emporio Casa Bazar, a shop recommended for its fun Portuguese designs. The article goes on to highlight the area’s nightlife options, including Cinco Lounge which GoLisbon recommends for mixing the best cocktails in town.
For the full New York Times article click here.

French magazine IDEAT highlights Lisbon, “one of the coolest cities in Europe”

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

IDEAT magazine

“Architecture, design, fashion, nightlife… The small Portuguese capital is now one of the coolest cities in Europe. Again, we fell in love. We want to live in Lisbon right now. And the Portuguese are so cool…”
That’s how the French magazine IDEAT begins its special article about “Lisbonne” in its special 10th anniversary issue. The magazine about “ideas, design, escaping, architecture, and trends” chose to highlight Lisbon in this special May issue for being one of its favorite cities. It finds that the city “less than two hours from Paris, is beautiful and ages tremendously well, it’s welcoming and with a real soul.” It sees it as “Europe’s rising capital,” a new “rival” for “Barcelona, Berlin, London, and Paris.”
The 8-page article then goes on to list the “10 reasons to go to Lisbon” which, according to the magazine, are:

  1. Go to the Chiado Museum for the best of Portuguese contemporary art
  2. Find design furniture in the Santos Design District shops
  3. Tour the city on tram 28
  4. Enjoy the best city view from restaurant Eleven
  5. Taste the tarts of Antiga Confeitaria de Belém
  6. Visit the Berardo Museum‘s collection of modern and contemporary art
  7. Shop in Bairro Alto and Chiado
  8. Dine at restaurant Olivier
  9. Dance at club Lux
  10. Sleep at the Bairro Alto Hotel

Lisbon Restaurant Week

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Lisbon Restaurant Week

UPDATE: We now have a permanent page for the Lisboa Restaurant Week.

Staring today and until the 31st, you can enjoy Lisbon’s best food at more affordable prices. This is the city’s “Restaurant Week,” allowing you to taste some of the Portuguese capital’s most sophisticated (and expensive) menus for only 20 euros per person. It’s a way of attracting people who don’t usually want to spend dozens (or even hundreds) of euros at the most expensive restaurants and give them a chance to sample the city’s best food. Not all restaurants are part of the event, as the idea is to highlight the best of the top-quality choices. So there are 25 of them in total, with Casa da Comida, Conventual, Cop’3, Eleven, Mezzaluna, Olivier, and XL among them.
No, you won’t be able to just choose anything if you want to only pay 20 euros. Each restaurant will have special menus at that price. Those menus include appetizer, entrée, and dessert but no drinks. One euro from each meal will then be given to charity. It is advised that you reserve your table in advance, and be sure to ask about availability, since some restaurants only offer the special menu at lunch time and others limit the number of people per table. Check all the information about the event at www.lisboa-restaurantweek.com

Get Paid to Experience Lisbon: Win 200 Euros in Cash and Get Free Accommodation, Dinner, City Tours, and More

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

LisbonNow there’s no excuse why you shouldn’t come to Lisbon. LisbonApartments.com and CasaMadragoa.com are collaborating to give you a chance to experience the city for free, and even giving you some cash to spend it wherever you want. All you have to do is provide your name and email address, and wait to see if you’re the lucky winner.
The complete free package is a 2-nights stay at an apartment in the center of Lisbon’s historical neighborhoods, a city tour on the charming Carristur tram, a ride on the Red Tours‘ segways or buggies, a trip around town on the fun 3-wheel Go Cars, two 24-hour Lisboa Cards giving you free entrance to Lisbon’s most famous sights, and dinner for two at the Espalha Brasas restaurant, beautifully sited on the riverfront and with postcard views of the landmark 25 de Abril Bridge.
Get the complete information and enter your details on the entry form here.

Lisbon in the Future: The New Comercio Square

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Comercio Square in the future

At the moment, Comercio Square, the largest, most monumental square in Lisbon is undergoing works in its entire central area due to maintenance in the city’s sewage system. Once that is over next month, the square will continue to be a construction site until late next year. It will get a long overdue makeover, removing traffic from two of its sides, allowing for more pedestrian use of the space. The other two sides will still be used for transport, with two car lanes by the river, and the side by the triumphal arch being used only by trams. As illustrated below, the sides no longer used by the automobile will be given broad sidewalks, most likely to be transformed into outdoor cafes. That pavement where tables and chairs will stand on will be crossed by lines inspired by coordinates on navigational charts used by the Portuguese explorers. The central area around the statue will be given an ocher color, supposedly so that the sun reflects less from the ground and the place becomes less blinding on sunny days. A lighter color will mark a walkway from the triumphal arch towards the river and the steps that descend to it. It is hoped that the complete renovation can be unveiled in time for the October 2010 celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Portuguese Republic, an event brought by the assassination of the king on this square in 1908 which led to the end of monarchy soon after that.

Other Lisbon in the Future posts

Comercio Square in the future

Lisbon’s Design Museum is Finally Opening

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

MUDE - Lisbon's Design & Fashion Museum

Lisbon’s acclaimed Design Museum is back. It opened in 1999 in the Belem Cultural Center but closed in 2006 when the Berardo Museum took over its space. Now it will relocate to a building in the city’s main pedestrian street Rua Augusta, and although the official inauguration won’t be until next year, it will be previewing part of its collection starting this week. The name has changed and is now the Design and Fashion Museum, displaying works collected by Portuguese businessman Francisco Capelo. The preview exhibition will consist of 170 pieces and will be appropriately titled “Preview.” You may see it until October 11, and during this time until next year the building will be undergoing a renovation to finally welcome to entire collection.
For now visitors can get an idea of what they can expect from the museum in the future, exploring some of the highlights of a collection that includes a total of 1000 design objects and over 1200 pieces of fashion by famous names such as Charles & Ray Eames, Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, and Christian Dior.