Archive for July, 2009

Where To Go Next: Lisbon, Says the American “Travel & Leisure” Magazine

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Travel and Leisure magazine, Lisbon

In its August 2009 issue, the American “Travel & Leisure” magazine has chosen Lisbon for its regular “Where To Go Next” feature. It’s a 4-page article highlighting the best of the city, from classic sights to the latest attractions.
It points out Lisbon’s “provocative mix of forward-thinking design and centuries-old architecture” that is making the Portuguese capital move “into the spotlight.” The article then goes on to list examples of how the city is “embellishing its inimitable, gilded history with world-class venues for contemporary culture, art, and dining,” choosing to highlight Santos, the so-called “Design District.” It recommends the area’s best shops and eateries, and when it comes to accommodation it suggests stays at stylish hotels for all budgets, from the reasonably priced Vincci Baixa to the hip Fontana Park Hotel.
As for dining out, among the interesting choices it lists Sommer (already reviewed here), and Verde Perto, one of GoLisbon’s favorite but still relatively unknown cafés by the Castle of St. George (great toasted sandwiches served with salad!).
The well-researched article is filled with excellent choices, which you may discover by picking up a copy of the magazine (it’s on newsstands in the U.S. and will soon be available internationally), or by reading it online at the magazine’s website: Where To Go Next: Lisbon.

Thursdays – The Best Day to Be in Lisbon This Summer

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Berardo Museum, Lisbon

Today is Thursday, and that is the best day of the week to be in Lisbon this summer. Sundays and Mondays are the worst, as you’ll find that (as is the case elsewhere in Europe) most of the shops and restaurants close on Sunday, and monuments, museums, and all other restaurants close on Monday. So when planning a trip to Lisbon, be sure to avoid those two days of the week, or know how to plan your itinerary carefully so that you can choose alternatives that actually remain open.
Thursday is the best day to enjoy the city because that’s when many museums stay open until midnight (until September 24), and offer a 50% discount on admission after 6PM. That’s also when they’ll host a number of activities from live music concerts to theater performances, so be sure to check in advance. This actually happens at most national museums around the country, and in Lisbon it’s your chance to stretch your sightseeing schedule and not miss the collections of the Chiado Museum, Ancient Art Museum, Coaches Museum, or Ajuda Palace.
Thursday night is also the unofficial start of the weekend, when for many it already feels like a Friday night and the city’s bars and clubs get larger crowds than on other weekdays. Many of the clubs even host special theme nights on this day.
An extra-special event today happens not at a club, but at one of the city’s most important museums. The Berardo Museum is celebrating its second anniversary with a 24-hour party that began last night and will continue throughout the day today. It includes live performances, DJs, and street art — all for free!

Lisbon’s City Museum Celebrates its 100th Birthday

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Museu da Cidade, Lisbon

Lisbon’s City Museum is celebrating 100 years of existence today. It’s only been at its present location since 1979 but
was created on July 15 of 1909, having several homes after that which included the city hall palace on Municipal Square and Carmo Convent not too far away.
To mark today’s anniversary, it is hosting special free events but is also announcing its future plans. Among them are several new branches around the city concentrating on different themes and historical periods, hoping to attract a larger number of visitors to its collection. Its current home is located in a busy, mostly-business area uptown close to roads leading to the city’s suburbs, and is therefore often forgotten by local and foreign tourists, and even by the most dedicated Lisbophiles. But it is easy to reach, using the green line of the metro, and found right across the street from one of the Campo Grande station’s exits.
The collection consists mostly of archaeological finds and paintings, and tells the story of Lisbon from past to present, with special attention going to the 18th century. That’s when the city was destroyed by the Great Earthquake of 1755 and there is a large model showing how it looked before that disaster.

And a reminder: Today is also the opening day of a major new exhibition in the city organized by Washington DC’s Smithsonian, now also presented in Lisbon’s Ancient Art Museum, as previously reported here: New Exhibition Shows How Lisbon Started Globalization

Lisbon’s World Music Festival

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Lisbon's World Music FestivalLX Factory is a series of old factories and warehouses that have recently been turned into a hub of creative activities. There are design shops, cafés, bookstores, and a number of small companies related to arts and media. Starting today it will also be the site of Lisbon’s first World Music Festival which will last until the 19th of this month. It hopes to highlight Lisbon’s (and the world’s) multiculturalism with live music performances from several countries, from the Congo to the Ivory Coast to Brazil. The exact spot is Sala das Colunas, a hall with the capacity for 2000 people, and there will be two acts per night. That will include percussionists, jazz musicians, and a showing of all the traditional instruments and sounds from around Portugal.
Together with the concerts, the festival will also host debates, as well as present street art and literary works.
LX Factory is located in the Alcântara district, both a residential and industrial area halfway between downtown and the monuments of Belém.

Old is the New New in Lisbon

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Taberna do Chiado, LisbonWe’ve told you about Lisbon’s new kiosk cafes serving long-forgotten drinks, but that’s just one example of how the city is nostalgic for what it has always done best over time. The same owner of those kiosks is also responsible for “A Vida Portuguesa,” a shop selling Portuguese products that every Lisboeta remembers from their grandmother’s house and tourists love for their authenticity. In fact, shops bringing the traditional to modern times are a new trend, as in the case of the new Jimmy Portuguese Styleshop that we also told you about recently.
Then there are the restaurants which are bringing back the “taberna” and “tasca” spirit. Those roughly translate to “tavern” and a traditional, very informal, usually family-owned neighborhood restaurant serving home-style cooking. The new tabernas and tascas place traditional touches in contemporary spaces and serve slightly more refined versions of classic Portuguese dishes. One of them is Taberna Ideal in the Santos district (Rua da Esperança 112-114), only a few months old but that is packed every night by crowds sharing traditional dishes and some excellent desserts. It has a very welcoming and relaxed ambience, which is also what Taberna do Chiado is hoping for. Also a few months old, this restaurant is located in the city’s trendiest neighborhood (Calçada Nova de São Francisco 2A), but instead of fusion cuisine it serves time-tested Portuguese dishes in a very contemporary-designed space. That formula apparently works, and the same owner has taken over an old “tasca” in Bairro Alto, transforming it into a new bar serving tapas-sized food as you drink. The name is “Tendinha da Atalaia” (Rua da Atalaia, 4), and you can listen to loungy sounds as you take bites of cheeses, prawns, or sausages, and have a beer, wiskey, or a wide range of alcoholic beverages. The decor was kept simple, adding only the names of Lisbon’s poets throughout much of the walls.
Yet another new old-is-new space is Tasca da Esquina, a restaurant in the Campo de Ourique neighborhood, on a corner where the popular “tourist tram 28” passes by towards the end of its journey. The man behind it is Vitor Sobral, a well-known chef who’s been at the acclaimed Terreiro do Paço restaurant downtown which is temporarily closed due to the construction works in Comercio Square. At this new restaurant, Sobral transforms “petiscos” (a Portuguese equivalent of the Spanish tapas) into full-blown dishes and serves them in a sophisticated yet informal environment.
While contemporary spaces offering fusion cuisine or the biggest international fashion labels quickly become favorites among the city’s hippest and youngest crowds, these new businesses offering a taste of a more authentic past are gaining an equal number of fans. And for tourists they are even more attractive, as they can be the quintessential Lisbon experiences.

Nosolo Italia Belém: Lisbon’s New Riverfront Café

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Nosolo Italia Belém, Lisbon

There’s a new riverfront café in Lisbon. It’s found in the Belém district, facing the Discoveries Monument, and is a good place for a refreshing drink in between seeing Lisbon’s most important landmarks. It’s called Nosolo Italia, it opened a couple of weeks ago, and is the first in Lisbon of a franchise which has several cafés by the beaches of Algarve. As the name indicates, it serves an Italian-inspired menu of light meals, from sandwiches and pastas, to pizza. It also has a variety of ice creams and a wonderful view of the river and surrounding monuments from its indoor and outdoor tables. I wouldn’t call this a “destination café” like “À Margem” and the cafés of Altis Belém Hotel nearby which you go to Belém on purpose for, as it offers the typical, unoriginal cafe fare, but it’s an inexpensive alternative to those others if all you want is a drink and a quick bite in between your sightseeing. It is also a good stop for families, as it has a special children’s menu and the irresistible huge ice creams. Another plus are the opening hours, from 9AM to 1AM meaning you can either go for breakfast or a midnight snack.

Sushill Out in Alfama

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Sushill Out - Ultima Sé, LisbonGo Lisbon has already recommended Ultima Sé bar by the city’s cathedral in Alfama for quite some time. But it has now been renovated and if you haven’t yet discovered it, now is the time. It’s been renamed to Sushill Out – Ultima Sé, but the same laid-back ambience has been maintained, and the only difference is that the delicious sushi has been given extra attention.
The building dates from the late 19th century and includes a medieval wall that once surrounded Lisbon. The proximity to the cathedral has also inspired many of the details of the decor, which you can admire as you enjoy the sushi which is imaginatively and artistically presented on your plate. It also offers good wines and cheeses if you’re not a fan of sushi and just want to go for drinks at night (interestingly, there is also a varied selection of teas). It closes at 1AM (opens at 6:30PM and has the day off on Mondays), and in the background are always jazz and chill out sounds.

A New Low-Cost Restaurant by One of Portugal’s Star Chefs Opens in Lisbon

Monday, July 6th, 2009

JA à Mesa Restaurant, LisbonJose Avillez is one of Portugal’s star chefs and the creator of the refined menu at Tavares, Lisbon’s (and Portugal’s) oldest restaurant. His success has led to the publication of cookbooks, and now the opening of a fast(er)-food restaurant to bring his art to the general public that can’t always afford a meal at Tavares. Called “JA à Mesa,” this new restaurant is found hidden in a courtyard in the Santos district. It’s a modern, clean space serving the chef’s creative Portuguese dishes, offered in four different menus ranging in price from €6 to €12.50. In addition to meat and fish dishes, there is a variety of salads and toasted sandwiches, which you can simply grab to go from the “Take Away” counter. This is a daytime restaurant, and closes on weekends, which means that for a complete Avillez dinner you’ll still have to go to Tavares. A second restaurant, this time in the neighborhood of São Bento is opening soon.

Address: Largo Vitorino Damásio, 3C (Pátio Moreira Rato)
Monday to Friday, 8:30AM to 8PM

Nights of Free Music, Dance, and Theater in an Outdoor Festival in Lisbon’s Chiado

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

São Carlos Theater Festival in Lisbon

The square faced by Lisbon’s São Carlos Theater is the stage for some of the city’s most special events this summer. Almost every night at 10PM until the 19th of this month, there will be various musical, dance, and theater performances in the open air, bringing culture to the street and to audiences that don’t usually go to these types of shows. São Carlos is Lisbon’s opera house, but for this festival it presents performances by other cultural institutions such as the national ballet company and the Dona Maria II National Theater. So this weekend the Portuguese Symphony Orchestra will be accompanied by São Carlos’ choir, while all of next week will be dedicated to the performances of the national ballet. From the 16th to the 19th it will be nights of theater, staging three different plays.
This festival is free, all you have to do is walk around Chiado for your ears to lead to São Carlos Theater. There will be seats available, but unless you show up really early, they’ll likely all be taken. Still, you’ll always find standing room to enjoy shows for which you usually have to pay dozens of euros if you wish to see them inside the theater.
If you like the experience, be sure to buy a ticket for São Carlos’ next regular indoor shows, as it is worth seeing the interior of the theater. It’s an 18th century construction filled with rococo decorations inspired by the similar San Carlo in Naples, although the façade resembles Milan’s La Scala.
For more details about the outdoor festival, see its official website:

A Photo Marathon in Lisbon’s Alfama

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Maratona de Fotografia de Alfama

If you pass by Alfama this Saturday, you’ll probably see an unusually large number of people with cameras in their hands. They’ll be taking part of the third Alfama Digital Photo Marathon, where between 10AM and 10PM they photograph all the details that give this Moorish, medieval neighborhood its special charm. This year’s theme is the five senses, so participants will have to have their eyes, ears, nose, hands, and taste buds extra sensitive to capture a special instant or often-overlooked sights. In order to participate you must sign up here or at the Fado Museum. It costs 20 euros and in the end there will be different prizes ranging from a photography course plus 100 euros and dinner for two at an Alfama restaurant, to a special offer from a local bookshop.
But the prizes should not be the incentive to go up and down Alfama’s lanes and alleys. Those who enjoy photography will want to do it for the experience, and to spend a day in the parallel world that is Alfama. Although it’s right next to downtown, a trip to Alfama is like escaping the chaos of the city into a village where old ladies chat from their windows, laundry hangs drying from balconies, kids play on the streets, dogs sleep in the corners, and fantastic river and city views are seen from unexpected places. It’s not a place to see, but a place to be felt, and that’s part of the goal of this event. In between the photo sessions there will be short theatrical performances, live music, art installations, and crafts on display along the way.