Archive for August, 2009

Lisbon’s Oldest Restaurant is Turning 225 Years Old

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Tavares Rico Restaurant, Lisbon

Lisbon’s (and Portugal’s) oldest restaurant is Tavares Rico, opened in September of 1784 in the city’s Chiado district. It’s also one of the world’s oldest and although its name has been shortened to just “Tavares,” most people still know it by its original name. It has maintained all the refinement from over two centuries ago despite a recent renovation, and the kitchen was taken over by one of Portugal’s most promising young chefs. Although the restaurant remains one of Lisbon’s best choices for the most sophistiated Portuguese dishes, the menu has also been given some contemporary international flavors served in a dining area that is a true Lisbon landmark. It’s a palatial space with an opulently gilded interior that is classified by the Portuguese Architectural Heritage Institute, but the outstanding service is much more relaxed than you’d expect at such a fancy place. Now is a perfect time to check it out, to understand what has made it survive for 225 years despite all the younger competition over the decades.

A Lisbon Shop for Gifts “Made in Portugal”

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Meio da Praça shop, Lisbon

Since last March there is a new shop in downtown Lisbon offering only the most special products “made in Portugal.” Meio da Praça is found on Rua da Prata and has everything from quirky souvenirs to special gourmet products. You’ll see tshirts saying “Portugal is a country right next to Spain!” or the best of all Portuguese olive oils, and you’ll likely stay at the shop browsing for a while. Best of all is that everything is really inexpensive and you can find some traditional products that are disappearing from most other shops.
For some ideas of what you’ll find at “Meio da Praça,” see the shop’s website:

Lisbon’s Future Museum of the Discoveries

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Pavilhao de Portugal, Lisbon

Of the many striking structures built for Lisbon’s World Fair in 1998, the Portugal Pavillion is perhaps the one that remains the most talked about today. It was designed by Pritzker Award-winning architect Siza Vieira, and has a huge undulating roof that instantly catches the eye of everyone passing by. Yet it remains surprisingly empty inside, although there have been numerous ideas about what to do with it over the past decade. Many of those ideas were for museums, but they have never gone beyond the planning stages. That is until now, with the government announcing it is turning it into a contemporary museum relating to the world discoveries. The tentative name is the Museum of Voyages, and it is hoped to be able to open its doors in 2011.
The idea is for it to mix culture and science, showcasing pieces that are currently found in different museums around the country, while also incorporating multimedia displays. It won’t therefore be a traditional museum, but essentially a cultural center that will also include temporary attractions. A restaurant is also being planned, although everything that has been reported is still in the pre-planning stage, and the official project will only be revealed later this year.  Of course will tell you about it as soon as that happens.

“Gat Rossio”: A New Affordable Contemporary-Design Hotel in Lisbon

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Gat Rossio Hotel, Lisbon

Lisbon’s latest hotel opening is found just around the corner from the city’s most central square, Rossio. That square is part of the hotel’s name, which belongs to the Spanish “Gat” chain. Like at all the other “Gats,” Gat Rossio is design accommodation and an excellent value for money. It has one of the best locations in Lisbon and its ultra modern style will attract young guests looking to be in the middle of the city’s action to experience the best of it.
This is also an unusually pet-friendly hotel, allowing small domestic animals to stay at no extra charge. Another plus is the free wireless internet available throughout the space.
There is a total of 71 rooms, all with uniquely designed furnishings and bright colors mixing with shining white. Diasabled guests have some rooms with easier access and special facilities available.
For additional details, plus price and booking information, see GoLisbon’s Gat Rossio booking page.

Lisbon Street View

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Lisbon on Google Street View

Before you visit Lisbon you can see a lot of the city through photos and videos online. You can check out GoLisbon’s photo galleries or video of the city, but now you may also see what a specific address you’re searching for looks like on street level. That’s thanks to Google’s Street View which has just added Lisbon to its list of cities offering that service. As an example, here is a view of Rossio Square, right in the center of Lisbon: Rossio Square on Google Street View.
But Lisbon isn’t the only Portuguese city on Street View. Porto has also been photographed and here’s an example of that city’s most central avenue, Avenida dos Aliados: Avenida dos Aliados on Street View.

Lisbon’s New Multi-Million Euro Marina

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Lisbon marina

Lisbon has a couple of marinas along its riverfront, with the most central found under 25 de Abril Bridge in Docas de Santo Amaro, and the other next to the Discoveries Monument. Now there is a new one in the Parque das Nações district, opened last Saturday after a 14 million-euro investment. This is not exactly a new marina, since there had been one on this spot during Expo 98, but it closed soon after that and had been boat-free for eight years. It now has space for 602 boats, allowing visitors to do some sailing, jet-skiing, or some recreational fishing on the Tagus, and a special nautical club is being planned for water and boat fans to get together.
Overlooking the marina is an apartment building shaped like a ship, which also includes space for businesses. That is where you’ll find a couple of cafes where you can get a refreshing drink as you look out to the river and the boats.
If you have a boat and think this is a marina to check out, note that it is closed between 8:30PM and 8:30AM, and any activity between those hours requires a special permission from the staff a day before.

Lisbon marina

MOTELx: Lisbon’s Horror Film Festival

Friday, August 14th, 2009

MOTELx, Lisbon Horror Film Festival

September marks the start of Lisbon’s film festival season, with a number of cinema-related events happening until the end of the year. The first one is the Lisbon International Horror Film Festival known as MOTELx, taking place in São Jorge Cinema between the 2nd and the 6th of September this year. There will be 14 short Portuguese features competing for the Best Portuguese Short prize, while all the other screenings will be films from several countries and are not competing. There will be big-budget features and small independent films, all meant to provide big thrills, scare, and excite viewers. The grand total is 36 films, and audiences will be able to interact with directors through master classes and/or workshops.
This is the third MOTELx, which is placing Lisbon on the map of international horror film festivals and stimulating the national production of the genre. The winner of the Best Short Feature prize will be announced on the 6th of September, during the last screening at 9:45PM. Tickets are 3.50 and can be bought at the São Jorge Cinema counter until the last minute before each film. For complete festival information check out the official website which includes information in English:

Lisbon in 48 Hours and 12 Stops

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Edge BostonThe latest extensive article about Lisbon comes from “Edge,” a Boston publication for the gay and lesbian community. Although its travel section is obviously aimed at LGBT travelers, the article covers Lisbon hotspots that everyone will want to check out. It is written by Megan Smith, a travel writer based in Australia who has written for international publications such as the Let’s Go travel guides. She’s recently visited Lisbon with her partner, and has decided that the Portuguese capital is her “new favorite European city.” She stopped by the city’s most famous sights (the castle, the tower, and the monastery), but also didn’t miss the city’s newest major attraction, the Design and Fashion Museum which she concluded “embodies the edgy Euro attitude of Lisboa, combining the cool underground sensibility of Berlin with the flair of Parisian haute culture.” She then looked for some additional Lisbon style at the shops of Rua do Norte in Bairro Alto, and stayed in that lively district at night for some caipirinhas and to seek out the neighborhood’s best bars. She also highlights a meal at “O Faia,” a Fado restaurant with an “overwhelming” wine list and memorable Fado performances.
In the end, the author found the essence of Lisbon to be evidently “artistic, creative, laidback and engaging,” and to understand why, you can read the entire article: Lisbon in 48 Hours and 12 stops
And also be sure to see the other major article about Lisbon this month, found in Travel and Leisure magazine, as reported here: Where to Go Next: Lisbon

The 50th Anniversary Renovation of Lisbon’s Discoveries Monument

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Lisbon

Lisbon’s Discoveries Monument will close for a few months after this summer in order to be renovated for its 50th anniversary. That will be in 2010, and when it reopens it will be revitalized with a new cultural program focusing even more on the Age of Discovery. This monument featuring gigantic sculptures of Portugal’s famous explorers was unveiled in 1960 on the 500th anniversary of Prince Henry the Navigator’s death (the leading figure on the monument), although an identical but temporary monument had already been standing on this site in 1940 when Portugal hosted a special exhibition called “The Portuguese World Expo.” In 1985 an elevator was added inside to take visitors to the top, a terrace offering bird’s-eye views of Lisbon’s most emblematic monuments and the river. Today it’s one of the city’s most visited and photographed landmarks, including the pavement around it which features a large map of the world showing the territories around the globe discovered and/or colonized by Portugal.

5 Alternatives to Lisbon’s Beaches this Summer

Monday, August 10th, 2009

There are still a couple of good beach months left in Lisbon, but you don’t necessarily need to leave the city in order to catch some sun and escape to a more tranquil setting. By the riverfront, on top of one of the city’s hills, or in a green oasis, here is where to go when you want to enjoy the warm, sunny weather in the center of Lisbon.

Meninos do Rio, Lisbon

Meninos do Rio
This riverfront café is found right in the center of the city, but you can easily imagine yourself standing in a non-urban resort. Behind you are tall palm trees, the water is right in front, and you can sit or lie back on a long chair enjoying fresh juices or nibbling on some excellent snacks and light meals. It is open throughout the year, but it is an essential stop in the summer.

O Terraço, Lisbon

O Terraço
There are many terraces overlooking Lisbon, but this is “the” terrace. It’s found right below the Castle of St. George, and serves sandwiches, salads, and fruit juices as you overlook the city and the river. It’s open after the sun sets too, so you may also admire the city when the moon is shining on the Tagus.

Vasco da Gama Bridge in Parque das Nações, Lisbon

Parque das Nações Lawns
Parque das Nações is known for its contemporary and futuristic architecture, as well as a number of attractions left behind after the World Fair of 1998. But this is no concrete jungle, especially when you get closer to the riverfront, which is ideal for joggers, cyclists, and lovers. There are a number of gardens and lawns along the way, and the longest and sunnier green spaces are found past Vasco da Gama Tower towards Europe’s longest bridge. Put on your beachwear, spread your tower, and make that your suntanning area.

25 de Abril Bridge, Lisbon

Alcântara Riverfront
With the train tracks running along the riverfront from the center of the city to seaside Cascais, it is often forgotten that between those tracks and the river are miles of lawns, restaurants, and bars. It also includes a new cycling path, and on weekends it’s the preferred destination for joggers. By the Alcântara district, right by 25 de Abril Bridge and the Santo Amaro docks is a large green area where you can simply lay down or sit on a bench allowing the sun to hit your face, and where your only concern should be putting on some sunscreen.

Parque Eduardo VII, Lisbon

Edward VII Park
Unlike Londoners, New Yorkers, or Parisians, Lisboners rarely spend much time in their city’s parks. The beach is just too close by, and an outdoor café is also a better place to watch the world go by. But there are several wonderful green spaces in the city, and the “central park” is Edward VII Park. It separates downtown from uptown, and includes an attractive greenhouse, clipped box hedging, and plenty of space to lay down, catch some sun, and listen to the sounds of nature mixing with those of the city.