Archive for March, 2010

Lisbon Summer 2010 Preview

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Lisbon

Spring has barely sprung, but we’re already looking forward to summer in Lisbon. They are days of sun, sand, and a lot of partying, considering the special events scheduled. Perhaps the biggest one is another edition of “ROCK IN RIO – LISBOA” which happens every two years, this year bringing Leona Lewis, Elton John, Shakira, Muse, Miley Cyrus, Rammstein, and Megadeth among others to Lisbon. It takes place over 5 days and you can get tickets here: ROCK IN RIO LISBOA TICKETS

Another summer music festival is OPTIMUS ALIVE which this year has already announced Pearl Jam, Faith No More, Alice in Chains, and Gossip in the lineup of bands performing on July 8, 9, and 10. Get tickets here: OPTIMUS ALIVE TICKETS

Another annual event includes the FESTAS DE LISBOA, which start with the mass weddings blessed by St. Anthony and end with a parade down Avenida da Liberdade where every Lisbon neighborhood competes for best march (including costume and song), in between a lot of street partying. That’s on June 12, and around the same date the city celebrates its GAY PRIDE festival which this year should be extra special, as it seems Portugal will be permitting gay marriage starting this May.

Also of note is FESTROIA, a film festival in the Troia resort south of the city, and the FESTIVAL DOS OCEANOS, the ocean-themed festival with events and activities around the city in August, culminating with a parade of sea creatures in Parque das Nações.

Also in August is the JAZZ EM AGOSTO festival that takes place every year at the Gulbenkian Foundation, welcoming jazz musicians from around the world to perform over several days.

Added to all of this are the city’s beaches, warm weather cooled off by the Atlantic, and a lively street life with outdoor cafés and entertainment.

All upcoming events in Lisbon: LISBON EVENTS

The New “Irresistible” Lisbon in the San Francisco Chronicle

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Lisbon in the San Francisco Chronicle

Lisbon has just been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle’s travel section in an article that explores the city’s new edginess and historical charms. The author stumbles into the new Design and Fashion Museum and later finds the other contemporary attractions in the city’s design district, the Berardo Museum, and in the Parque das Nações district. The chosen hotel was Avenida Palace right off Rossio Square, the starting point for the classic tourist route of sights and cafés. The conclusion is that “new Lisbon stimulates, old Lisbon comforts.”
You can read the entire article here: Lisbon: Immovable city now irresistible force

Lisbon’s Triumphal Arch Is the City’s New Viewpoint

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Baixa, Lisbon

Lisbon is already known for its natural and man-made viewpoints from where you can admire the beauty of the city, but starting this May there will be yet another place from where you can get bird’s-eye views. That will be from the top of the city’s triumphal arch that links the riverfront Comercio Square to the popular Rua Augusta.
From the top of the arch you’ll be standing above the monumental square that is undergoing renovation to also be completed in May, and will be able to see Lisbon from every angle, from downtown to Alfama and across the river. To reach the top you’ll have to climb 80 steep steps, although there have been reports of a future elevator.
On the side of the arch that faces Rua Augusta, there is a large clock that was literally stopped in time until a renovation a couple of years ago. However, it’s still showing its age (it ‘s almost 140 years old), and is once again not willing to work properly. That should be fixed this week, although as you may know, in Lisbon time runs at a very different pace, which is actually refreshing, especially when it stands still from one of its many viewpoints.

Lisbon Wins Europe’s Best Destination 2010 – European Consumers Choice Awards

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Lisbon

European travelers have chosen Lisbon as Best Destination 2010. Competing in a list of 10 finalists (the others were Barcelona, London, Bilbao, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Lyon, and Helsinki), Lisbon was singled out by the European Consumers Association based in Brussels for having been able to preserve its soul and cultural riches. Other factors that weighed on the judging was quality of life and infrastructure, as well as cultural and touristic attractions.
The European Consumers Association distinguishes several products of different categories every year, but this was the first time it singled out cities. Special judges and European consumers make the evaluations.
This is not the first major travel distinction received by Lisbon in the past few months, having won Europe’s Leading Destination, Best City Break, and Leading Cruise Destination at the World Travel Awards last October.
More information about the European Consumers Choice Award: European Consumers Choice Award: Best Destination – Lisbon

“Artis” – Lisbon’s Newest Wine Bar is One of Its Oldest

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Bar Artis, Bairro Alto, Lisboa

“B’Artis” was one of Bairro Alto‘s trendiest bars in the 1980s, and after closing for renovation last year, it’s back with a new look and name. It has dropped the B and is now simply called “Artis,” while also concentrating more on wine — all Portuguese wines. The wooden interior has been maintained, and decorating the walls are some classic/vintage objects and a few musical instruments. It has always been known for its jazz soundtrack, and that continues to be heard along with chill-out sounds. The wine can be served by the glass starting at 3 euros, but if you prefer beer that’s just 2 euros. It also serves “petiscos” (snacks or Portuguese-style “tapas”), with the toasted chicken sandwich being the most popular over the years. Those “petiscos” range in price between €4.90 and €9.90, and according to the chalkboard list placed outside, they include the traditional Portuguese “caldo verde” (known in English as “green soup”).  You may also order a cheese or hams plate and sample some Portuguese liquors such as port and ginginha.
The bar closes at 2AM except on Fridays and Saturdays when it stays open until 3AM along with all the other bars in the neighborhood. The address is Rua do Diário de Noticias, 95.

The Civilizations of the World Unearthed in Lisbon’s Castle of St. George

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Archaeological site in Lisbon's Castle of St. George

Phoenicians, Celts, Romans, Moors, all left their mark on Lisbon. The Portuguese capital is said to be the oldest still-inhabited city in Europe after Athens, and every time a hole is dug, something from a very distant past is revealed. Many of those archaeological finds were unearthed around the Castle of St. George (it was given that name in the 14th century after King João of Portugal married the English princess Philippa of Lancaster), and the site includes a small museum with the most important finds. However, the archaeological site itself has remained closed since the mid-90s until today.
Lisbon is now the only European capital with an archaeological site showing remains from constructions dating back to the Iron Age all the way to the 18th century. This is one of the rare sites on Earth where you can see the presence of so many civilizations, and for those interested in archaeology or the history of Lisbon, it’s a site not to miss when visiting the city and one of its most beloved landmarks.

Archaeological site in Lisbon's Castle of St. George

The 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Azores Landscape

First it was the new 7 Wonders of the World announced in Lisbon in 2007. Then Portugal was inspired to choose its own seven (man-made) wonders in the country, the 7 Portuguese Wonders of the World, and is currently voting for its seven natural wonders. It’s now arrived at a list of 21 finalists in 7 different categories that range from protected zones to caves which can be voted at www.7maravilhas.sapo.pt. Among the nominees are sites already singled out by UNESCO as World Heritage — the Sintra landscape, the Douro Valley, and Madeira’s Laurissilva forest.
Not on the list are a couple of my personal favorites, the breathtaking scenery of Coa Valley in the north of the country, the mystical Cabo Espichel, and Cabo da Roca which is the Westernmost point in Europe. Still, the ones on the list are all worthy of the distinction.
The winners will be announced in the Azores (itself a natural wonder) on September 11. In the meantime, here are a few illustrated examples of the candidates:

Berlengas
Berlengas Natural Reserve

Arrábida
Arrábida Natural Park

Sintra Landscape
Sintra Hills

Lagoa das Sete Cidades, São Miguel, Açores
Sete Cidades Lake

Grutas de Mira D'Aire
Mira D’Aire Caves

Lagoa do Fogo
Lagoa do Fogo (“The Lake of Fire”)

Douro Valley
Douro Valley

A Fresh and New Café in Downtown Lisbon

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Quente e Bom, Baixa, Lisboa

Downtown Lisbon has a new café. While most of the ones you see in the neighborhood are the classic Lisbon cafés for coffee and the traditional local pastries, this one is a contemporary café with more than just pastries and drinks. “Quente e Bom” also serves light meals together with the sweet creations by an award-winning team, and has plenty of space outside to place tables when the sun is out. It’s open throughout the week until 8PM and opens at 8AM on weekdays and 9AM on weekends. If you’re staying at one of the apartments in Baixa, this is therefore a great place for breakfast or to grab something to have in the comfort of your Lisbon home.
You’ll find it on number 46 of Rua da Vitória, just about one block away from the bustling Rua Augusta.

Where to Go Now: Sintra on the Lisbon Coast, Say U.S. Airways and Conde Nast Traveler Magazine

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Sintra

The latest issue of US Airways magazine lists what it considers to be 12 European “gems,” and one of them is Sintra. The romantic town on hills by the Lisbon coast comes illustrated with a photo of its Pena Palace, and is highlighted for its “breathtaking scenery” and “romantic dwellings built for royalty.”

Sintra

Coincidentally, Sintra also makes the cover of Spain’s March 2010 edition of Conde Nast Traveler magazine. A Spanish model is shown on one of the town’s plant-filled steps with the main cover title reading “Portugal in Spring.” Inside, “Portugal” is essentially Sintra, with 12 beautifully illustrated pages showing the town’s fantasy palaces and gardens in an article titled “A Fairy Tale.” The cover model is seen walking through the gardens of the Quinta da Regalaira and Seteais palaces, and there are also shots of Pena and Monserrate palaces (you can find more about them in our Sintra guide.)
In Sintra the magazine also recommends a stay at the Iberian Peninsula’s oldest hotel, Lawrence’s Hotel, or at Tivoli Palacio de Seteais, and suggests the local pastries at “Piriquita” and going for coffee at “Café Saudade.”
The magazine is currently on sale in Spain, Portugal, and throughout southern Europe.

US Airways - Sintra

Spring Break in Europe: The Choice is Lisbon

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Lisbon

The weather forecast for the next few days may not show it, but springtime is just a few days away and with it comes Easter and the spring break holidays. Those looking to travel at this time of the year will either look for the warm waters of the Caribbean and Latin America, or choose a destination in Europe. The best choice in Europe is obviously Lisbon. It’s just a couple of hours away from the other major European cities, and it’s the closest European capital to the United States. It’s also the warmest, and the only one so close to the sea. While it may not exactly be beach weather yet, few other destinations offer such a variety of activities. In Lisbon you experience the atmosphere and culture of an historical European capital, and can combine that with a visit to a fairytale town (Sintra or Obidos), or with a walk by the beach, open-air dining, and all-night partying (bar-hopping or in Europe’s largest casino). And perhaps the best-selling point right now: it’s the best-value capital in Western Europe, with the most reasonably-priced accommodation and restaurants. Take a break to discover Lisbon, and you’ll agree that it’s the best spring break destination. Not to mention the destination for a city break in summer, winter, and autumn…