Archive for October, 2010

Lisbon Christmas Advice from the New York Times (and

Friday, October 29th, 2010

New York Times - Christmas in LisbonThe weekly travel Q&A column of the New York Times travel section will this week answer a question about the holiday season in Portugal.
I have contributed to this report which will be published in this Sunday’s printed edition and is already available on the newspaper’s website.
It highlights the events scheduled for this year in Lisbon, but also tells you about the city’s annual traditions at this time.
Outside the capital, the biggest celebrations in Portugal take place in Obidos and in the island of Madeira.
More specific information about the holidays in Lisbon will be posted here when it’s fully scheduled and confirmed, and you can now read the entire New York Times article here: Q&A Portugal for the Holidays

“Lisbon Top Chefs” – A New Gastronomic Event Coming to Lisbon

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Lisbon Top ChefsFrom the 30th of this month to November 5th, ten of Lisbon’s top chefs will be presenting some of their most creative menus in their restaurants.
This event (in part organized by Lisbon’s tourism bureau) was created to create awareness about the recent innovation, diversity and excellence in Portuguese cuisine, and the importance it has on local culture and tourism.
Unlike those created for the Lisbon Restaurant Week, these will not be special “low cost” menus. They will be for those willing to splurge on the luxury of fine dining and enjoying signature dishes. For that you’ll have to go to each chef’s restaurant (listed below).
The criteria for the selection of the top 10 chefs for this event was not announced but I’m personally surprised to not see at least a couple of the city’s most prominent chefs on the list, although any of the selected ten surely merit the distinction. They are:

5 Lisbon Cafes for Rainy Days

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

If you happen to be in Lisbon on a rainy day, here is where to seek refuge. These are cafés that could also be destinations themselves, either for their ambience, décor or simply for the food and refreshments they offer.

Your day will be brightened as soon as you enter and see the inviting interior where everyone enjoys an excellent piece of cake and a good drink. The cakes are the first temptations you see, and then you’re given a long list of teas to choose from. Because you’re in Portugal, look for the only tea produced in Europe, in Portugal’s Azores, the Gorreana green tea.
Address: Rua das Salgadeiras 38

Café Fabulas, Lisbon

It’s big but cozy thanks to a very charming décor made up of old furnishings. Not much light comes in from outside, so no matter how gloomy it is on the street, here it’s a wonderful escape where you can eat, drink, and spend some time relaxing, perhaps carefully planning your itinerary. It’s found in Chiado, and a metro station is nearby, where an underground train on the blue line can take you to your next destination — perhaps the Gulbenkian Museum.

Esplanada Café Portas do Sol, Lisbon

Lisbon’s favorite summertime terrace can also be the place to be on rainy and colder days. That’s because there is also a nice interior with large windows that still allow you to look out to the city. Relax as you watch the rain fall over Alfama‘s rooftops and church towers, have a drink and a light meal, and then hop into tram 28 just a few feet away to get to the following attraction on your sightseeing list.

This historic café is known for its monumental interior and as a pastry shop offering some of the city’s most sugary confections.
Dating from the 1920s, its name comes from the obvious inspiration for the mirrored walls and stucco ceiling decorations, and is easy to reach on the yellow line of the metro, the best way to get around the city on rainy days.
Address: Avenida da República 15A

Pois Café, Lisbon

This is one of the favorite cafés in the city to stay sitting with friends, or reading a book and periodicals. It’s found close to the cathedral where tram 28 stops, and it serves daily specials that combine Portuguese and Austrian dishes. It’s also a good place for brunch on a rainy weekend. The best spots, if you are lucky to find them unoccupied, are the ones with sofas and not the less-comfortable wooden chairs.

“Taberna Tosca” – A New Café-Restaurant in Lisbon for Portuguese Wines and Flavors

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Taberna Tosca, Lisbon

There is a new place to try Portuguese “petiscos” (“tapas”) and wines in Lisbon. Open from noon to midnight (2AM on Fridays and Saturdays), Taberna Tosca tries to revive the “taberna” (tavern) concept and update it for modern times. It’s a restaurant for lunch and dinner, but throughout the afternoon and after-dinner hours, it’s also a relaxed space (much more like a café or bar) to enjoy a glass of Portuguese wine accompanied by a special “petiscos” menu.
The décor is very contemporary but the menus are of traditional Portuguese specialties. There is a meat, fish and vegetarian option for lunch, although the “petiscos” menu doesn’t seem very veggie-friendly. If you enjoy a good wine accompanied by cheese, however, this is a great spot for you.
It’s found in a long-forgotten but currently-reawakening location in the city, a square by the Cais do Sodré station, not far from Chiado and Baixa.
The prices are reasonable, making even more of an inviting spot to discover in the city.

Address: Praça de São Paulo, 21
Closed on Sundays

“Café do Rio”: Lisbon’s New Burger King

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Café do Rio, Lisbon

If you crave a good hamburger in Lisbon, skip the well-known American franchises and try a new restaurant that just opened.
Located next to Conceição Velha Church on a street that links Comércio Square with the landmark Casa dos Bicos, Café do Rio is the new king of burgers, with all kinds of gourmet hamburgers using organic meat.
They come with Thai rice, fries, lettuce, tomato and arugula, and if you’re vegetarian don’t think this is not the place for you — there are also two veggie burger options.
And for something different, how about fish burgers? There’s a tuna burger, salmon burger and cod burger.
The menu also lists pastas and salads, as well as a few dessert options.
Here it is possible to have a fulfilling meal for about 10 or 15 euros, although this is mostly a lunchtime restaurant. Dinners are served only from Thursday to Saturday. It closes on Sundays.

Address: Rua da Alfândega, 114
Phone: 21 886 8050

Portuguese Sushi? Yes — In Lisbon’s New “Kampai” Restaurant

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Kampai Restaurant, Lisbon

The islands that make up Portugal’s Azores have long been known for its fishing and whale hunting. Since whale hunting became illegal and the activity became whale watching, the export king of the Azorean shores became the wild tuna. That tuna mostly ends up in Japan, whose fish used for sushi and its other specialties is often Portuguese.
With that in mind, a new restaurant in Lisbon is all about sushi but 100% from and inspired by the Azores.
Found steps away from São Bento Palace, right by the “tourist tram” 28 tracks, the dining area is simple and contemporary, with a few nautical motifs.
On the plate you’ll have that wild Azorean tuna sushi and sashimi, which can be accompanied by Azorean beverages — the green tea (the only tea produced in European territory), the passion fruit juice or the white wine.
In the end you’ll be saying “kampai” (“cheers”) to all of it.

Address: Calçada da Estrela 35-37
Phone: 213 971 214
Closes on Sundays

Lisbon’s Chiado Celebrates Autumn on the Streets

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Festa no Chiado

It’s officially autumn in Europe, but it only gets really cold in Lisbon in December. So, rain or shine, it’s still a wonderful time to walk around the city, and for that reason the Chiado district throws a party every year at this time.
Taking place from the 9th to the 16th of the month, the “Festa no Chiado” is a variety of events and activities which will include special exhibitions in the neighborhood’s galleries and oldest bookstores, outdoor concerts in Praça do Camões and inside São Carlos Theater, and free guided tours of the São Roque Museum and of the Carmo Convent ruins (must be booked in advance to join).
There will also be guided walking tours of the neighborhood which will take participants into the most historical shops and back in time into some of the city’s most historical moments of the last century such as the regicide of 1908.
Everything is free and an excuse to discover little-known or forgotten sides of Lisbon’s favorite neighborhood.
The entire program for each day is found here: Centro Nacional de Cultura

Lisbon Wins “Europe’s Leading City Break Destination” at the World Travel Awards — Again

Monday, October 4th, 2010

LisbonLisbon has just won, for the second consecutive year, the title of “Europe’s Leading City Break Destination” at the World Travel Awards, the so-called “Tourism Oscars.”
The votes come from travel industry executives and agencies who apparently feel that currently Lisbon is an unbeatable destination in Europe.
The Portuguese capital certainly does have its strong points, from an international airport in the very center of the city to where all the major airlines and low-cost carriers fly every day, to travel-friendly weather throughout much of the year.
Then there’s the quality of the accommodation, with 3 and 4-star hotels being of a high standard, and the possibility to stay at a 5-star for less than 100 euros.
Budget travelers will also find what are classified as the world’s best hostels year after year, as well as the choice of beautifully-furnished apartments in the center of the city.
Lisbon’s attractions are also outstanding, with World Heritage monuments from the Age of Discovery and their singular architectural style, to surprising museum collections, to the breathtaking views from the top of hills and major landmarks.
For young travelers another plus is the nightlife, with cheap drinks and all-night socializing on the streets which are also generally much safer than other European capitals.
Everything is also still much more affordable than in the rest of Western Europe, and in not too many other cities will you find such a variety of activities, from beautiful beaches to golf.