Archive for June, 2009

Le Marais Café-Bar: A Piece of Paris Arrives in Lisbon

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Le Marais Cafe-Bar, Lisbon
A slice of one of Paris’ most charming neighborhoods has just opened in one of the most charming Lisbon districts. Found down the street from the Santa Catarina viewpoint, Le Marais Cafe-Bar opened this weekend as a hangout for the afternoon, and a place to relax in the evening. It offers comfortable sofas and chill-out music to invite you to stay and drink, or even have something to eat. It serves French specialties such as croque-monsieur (a grilled cheese and ham sandwich), French cheese plates, salads, and desserts, as well as wine by the glass although you may also order a bottle (and yes, champagne is one of the options). If you’re showing up for drinks after dinner you may also go for the cocktails and the one to try is the “Le Marais” made with champagne.
Try it as an alternative to the bars nearby in Bairro Alto and Bica and it will likely become a favorite.

Rua de Santa Catarina, 28
12PM-2AM (4AM on Fridays and Saturdays)

A Classic Festival and a Renovated Museum of Ancient Art – More Reasons to Visit Evora this July

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Roman Temple of Diana, Evora, PortugalAs if there weren’t already enough reasons to visit Evora (its landmark Roman temple, its creepy Chapel of Bones, and its elegant and well-preserved streets), there is a wonderful festival and the reopening of a great museum this summer. The museum opens today, while the festival takes place from the 7th to the 11th of July. This year it’s the 15th anniversary of this special event, the Classic Evora Festival, presenting 5 magical days of music, art, and cinema, taking visitors to the cultures of the Orient. There are artists from India, Tibet, China, and other regions of the East, with the events taking place at the Palacio Cadaval, a palatial building by the Roman Temple of Diana. Take a look at the official website for the complete program: www.festivalevoraclassica.org
As for the museum, it’s been closed for five years for renovation works, and is now reopening with never-before-exhibited pieces. The Museu de Evora’s (or City Museum’s) rich collection consists of paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and archaeological finds, all housed in a 16th century building now cleaned-up after works costing six million euros. The most impressive display is a series of 13 paintings making up one single work measuring 36 square meters, representing the life of the Virgin. It’s one of the largest Flemish retables in the world, having cost a fortune for the Evora Cathedral where it was to be displayed in 1500.

Stay at an Apartment in Lisbon’s Newest Neighborhood

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Lisbon Apartments in Parque dasNações, the former Expo site

GoLisbon.com offers the most Lisbon accommodation choices online, including hotels, hostels, and apartments. Most of those apartments are found in the most central and historical neighborhoods, but now we’ve just added a few in the former Expo site, Parque Das Nações. That district was born in the last decade and that’s where you’ll find the most modern and futuristic architecture in the city. Many of those buildings offer apartments using the latest technology and many have fantastic river views. Some of them are available for tourists to enjoy, and range from 55 to 125 euros on low season. The center of the city is just a metro ride away, and the airport is reached in about 10 minutes. Check our Lisbon apartments page and click on “Near the Expo/Parque das Nações” on the menu you’ll see on the left: Lisbon Apartments

Is “Kaetano’s” Lisbon’s Best Value Restaurant?

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Kaetano's Restaurant, Lisbon

UPDATE: THIS RESTAURANT HAS MOVED. NEW LOCATION: Rua Cardal de São José, 9 by Avenida da Liberdade

Last night I dined at Kaetano’s, a restaurant in the Graça district. It is not exactly easy to find and although there is an ordinary sign at the door, the entrance is a little nondescript. Yet inside it is a very well designed space, with contemporary decor and welcoming ambience. The menu lists Portuguese cuisine but none of it traditional, using alternative ingredients in classic recipes. Some of the dishes were international or contemporary but given a Portuguese twist. The dishes ordered at my table were exactly like that, a vegetable açorda (a bread stew usually made with seafood) and a cod risotto. They were priced at €8.10 each, but came presented in a style expected at a much more expensive gourmet restaurant. I tried them both and they were excellent. For dessert both my friend and I made the same choice — a warm chocolate cake with a mousse interior and a ball of ice cream on the side. The staff was very efficient and attentive, with a waiter even explaining how that dessert is made, and letting us know that it takes some time to prepare because it needs to stay in the oven (as opposed to the microwave) for some time before it is served.
With drinks and an appetizer of a small cheese plate and bread, the total came to €33.40 for two people. Considering the quality of the food and service, that is probably the best value meal I’ve ever had in Lisbon, especially when there don’t seem to be any decent restaurants left with dishes at 8 euros.
This is a place to be discovered, despite its location in a residential neighborhood, on a street that feels like the middle of nowhere or the end of some place.

www.restaurantekaetanos.com
(Closed Sundays)

Sky Bar: A New Chill Out Lounge Overlooking Lisbon This Summer

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Sky Bar, Tivoli Lisboa Hotel
When you want to go for a drink while overlooking Lisbon at night there’s the Silk bar, Entretanto at the Regency Chiado Hotel, or the bar at Bairro Alto Hotel. This summer you can add the new Sky Bar at the top of the Tivoli Lisboa Hotel. It’s found right in the center of the city in Avenida da Liberdade, and will be open only on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights until September. It has a fantastic view of Lisbon, looking out to the river, the castle, and the downtown rooftops. It’s open from 7PM to 1AM, and if you end up feeling hungry, you can move on to the restaurant which has been serving refined Portuguese cuisine and Lisbon views for some time now. The lounge area has a Moroccan or North African ambience with low tables and cushy seats, while a DJ mixes chill-out beats. Along with cocktails you can be served finger food, with the drinks going for around 6 euros all the way to 18.

Lisbon in Amsterdam

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Go Lisbon has told you where to find Lisbon in London, Paris, New York, and San Francisco. Now we let you know about the Portuguese presence in another major world city — Amsterdam. When you visit the Dutch capital’s most important museum, the Rijksmuseum, you not only see some of the best Old Masters but also get a history lesson on the role of the Dutch in world trade after the Age of Discovery. As written on one of the walls in the museum, and explained next to many of the pieces on display, the Dutch took over much of the Asian and American trade started by the Portuguese, leading to their capital becoming one of the richest cities in the world. Later, as a result of the Iberian persecution of Jews, many Sephardic (Portuguese and Spanish) Jews fled to Amsterdam, and that’s how the city’s most important synagogue was born. Today the Portuguese Synagogue has a beautifully restored interior and is open to visitors.
After that, if you’re still in the mood for something Portuguese-related, dine at Portugalia, a Portuguese restaurant in the center of the city. Those nostalgic for Lisbon and its music have had the chance to hear Fado on some special nights, while any time they show up there is always a wide range of Portuguese specialties available on the menu, from the “Seafood Festival” dish to the good-old cod in cream, “bacalhau com natas” which is always a favorite.

Portuguese Synagogue, Amsterdam

Portuguese Synagogue, Amsterdam

Portugalia, Portuguese restaurant in Amsterdam

Suite Airoldi, the New Restaurant in Lisbon’s Casino

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

UPDATE: THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED. CLUB “VOYEUR” HAS TAKEN OVER ITS SPACE.

Suite Airoldi restaurant in Lisbon's casinoWhen Lisbon’s casino opened in 2006 it offered one of the city’s best restaurants. That was “Pragma” which was able to get Fausto Airoldi, the acclaimed chef of the renowned “Bica do Sapato” restaurant. It served some of the city’s most innovative food at prices suitable for high gamblers, so perhaps because of the global economic crisis, that restaurant closed last year, only to be renovated and reopened with a new name and concept. It’s still the same chef cooking creative contemporary cuisine, but the prices have gone down. It’s all presented in a loungy space with low tables, sofas, and comfy chairs, where the idea is to invite conversation and lounging as you eat through the night. The menu lists almost three dozen mini-dishes, tapas-like portions to be shared at the table. They range in price between 3.50 and 7.50 euros and each plate has two pieces, so how much you spend depends on how much you eat. You may order until 2AM which means that you may try your luck at the slot machines or gaming tables, perhaps catch a live show, and return to try another dish. The name “Suite” is to evoke the idea of “room service,” where you can order anything at any time, a concept much more suitable to the environment of a casino.

A Trip to the North of Portugal: The Axis Viana Hotel

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Hotel Axis Viana, Viana do Castelo

It’s been over 30 degrees celsius (around 90F) here in Lisbon in the last few days, and with July and August approaching many travelers are already looking to head to the shores of Algarve. We suggest you consider heading in the opposite direction and explore the north of Portugal instead this year. It will be less crowded, it will be cheaper, and there are plenty of attractions to discover, including beaches for sunbathing. After a stop in Porto, continue north and you’ll soon be in the Minho region. The greenest of all Portuguese provinces is home to some of the country’s most elegant and best-preserved cities, and one of them is Viana do Castelo. That city has just opened a brand new hotel, a contemporary, slightly futuristic space that’s already been mentioned in Wallpaper magazine. That is the Axis Viana Hotel (which you may book through GoLisbon), the city’s best accommodation for both business and leisure travelers. It’s also a SPA hotel, and has quickly become a city landmark. You can walk to the beautiful historical center in just a few minutes and the beach is not too far away, although you can always stay at the pool in the outdoor terrace. The price is also incredibly reasonable, and for those staying some extra time in the area can also stay at the pousada nearby which offers wonderful views.

Lisbon’s Special Summer Parties

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Festas de Lisboa 2009Lisbon’s most popular festival takes place every June on the 13th of the month. That’s Saint Anthony’s Day (the saint was born in Lisbon), and this year was no exception, with thousands of people filling the streets and alleys of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. But although that is over, the partying continues throughout Lisbon in the upcoming weeks. Until the end of the month you can still catch the Fado Festival which includes concerts in Saint George’s Castle, ending with a show by the current Fado queen Mariza on the 27th. That’s also the day of Lisbon’s Gay Pride parties which this year start at 4PM in the Belem district by Belem Tower. Several DJs will provide the soundtrack to the city’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that led to the annual gay pride festivals around the world, and Lisbon will also be remembering one of its biggest gay icons, a popular singer from the 1980s, Antonio Variações, who died 25 years ago.
Special events continue days later with jazz performances in the city’s three famous funiculars (Bica, Gloria, and Santa Justa) every night at 11PM from July 1st to the 12th.
And until the 15th you may check out Combo Lisboa, a special event organized by the recently-opened Design and Fashion Museum where 13 shops downtown present Portuguese design pieces while also being turned into stages for theater performances.
Finally, on the 15th and 16th of July, the Berardo Museum marks its second anniversary with a non-stop 24-hour celebration with various dance performances, live DJs, and a special bar service. And best of all, it’s free!

Lisbon in the Future: The IMOCOM Building

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Edificio IMOCOM, Lisbon

Lisbon’s Parque das Nações district will soon have another daring piece of architecture. That’s the IMOCOM building, an environmentally-friendly project for a real estate company that will have its headquarters in one of the seven floors. The rest of the space will hold other offices, while the ground floor will be for street-level shops. In total this construction will cost 40 million euros and will include a multimedia façade on which those passing by will see audiovisual information.
The design is by Nuno Mateus and José Mateus, two Portuguese architects of ARX Portugal Arquitectos, and will be standing next to the Vasco da Gama mall behind the twin São Gabriel and São Rafael towers as pictured above.

See more projects for Lisbon in the future.