Archive for March, 2011

Another Week of Special Menus on Another Edition of Lisbon’s Restaurant Week

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Lisboa Restaurant Week

UPDATE: See our permanent Lisbon Restaurant Week page.

From March 31st to April 9th there is another edition of Lisbon’s Restaurant Week which happens twice a year. Once again, a number of restaurants are creating special menus and donating one euro per person to charity. In oder to have this special menu (all at a reduced price) you must book in advance.
The GoLisbon-recommended restaurants participating in this edition are:

Clara Chiado
Chiado Unique
Quinta dos Frades

3 Curious Messages in Lisbon

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Message, Lisbon

Tiles are used for everything in Lisbon, from street signs to door numbers, to covering entire façades to cool down the interior. But apparently someone also decided to use it for a personal message. It reads: “I’m better now, thanks.” It’s found on a wall outside one of the exits of the Baixa-Chiado metro station, and the more logical explanation is that it must be part of some kind of artistic project.

Tile message, Lisbon

Another tiled message is found on a hilltop, the Senhora do Monte viewpoint. This one says “Have a good trip, Lisbon waits for you.”

Strange sign in Lisbon, Portugal

Whoever created it, didn’t have the type of dirty mind that will misinterpret this sign at first glance. It’s found in a neighborhood park used for working out, and it’s just one of many indicating the type of exercise to be done on that spot. In this case that’s progressive jumps across a bar.

The Top 5 Mistakes Tourists Make in Lisbon

Monday, March 21st, 2011

From cultural faux pas to falling into tourist traps, there are always several mistakes tourists make when visiting a new place. Here are the top 5 in Lisbon:
Tourist in Lisbon
Not Buying the Lisboa Card
Most of the biggest tourist cities around the world have a tourist card that allows free or reduced admission to the main attractions and pubic transportation. Sometimes these cards are not worth the investment, but in most cases, it’s a must. In Lisbon it’s perhaps the first thing you should consider when planning your trip, as it ends up paying for itself. Not only do you save time since you don’t have to worry about metro, tram, or bus tickets, but you also end up saving a lot of euros when sightseeing. Here’s what you need to know about the Lisboa Card: Lisboa Card.

Speaking Spanish
TouristsRemember that Lisbon is in Portugal and the official language is Portuguese. You don’t have to speak the language when you visit the city, and you’ll do fine communicating in English. Unless you’re Spanish, Hispanic, or a fluent Spanish speaker, don’t speak Spanish (often bad Spanish) in order to avoid offending cultural pride. Although most Portuguese are able to decipher Spanish (apparently Spaniards have a harder time understanding the guttural sounds of Portuguese), having a tourist thanking with “gracias” instead of “obrigado” can offend the biggest nationalists who’ll remind you that Portugal has its own Iberian language, and that it’s one of Europe’s oldest cultures and nations, founded over three centuries before Spain. Also remember that it’s the castle of “São Jorge” and not “San Jorge” and the nightlife neighborhood is “Bairro Alto” and not “Barrio Alto.”

Eating at Touristy Restaurants
Most of the restaurants from Rossio Square to the riverfront Comercio Square cater to tourists. There are of course a few exceptions, but these restaurants serve mediocre food, the service is often poor, and they prevent you from exploring the city’s real cuisine. The restaurants to avoid are the ones with waiters standing by the door trying to persuade you into going inside, and the ones with illustrated menus (usually of tourist-friendly pastas and burgers) by the entrance.

It’s the Tagus, Not the Atlantic or the Mediterranean
TouristsLisbon stands where the Tagus River meets the Atlantic Ocean. It’s such a wide river, that many people think they’re looking at the sea. If you take the train to Cascais, you’ll see that it does become the Atlantic after you pass the Belem Tower, but in the center of the city, it’s still a river. With Portugal being a Southern European country, many tourists have also reportedly thought they’re standing by the Mediterranean. Other curious mistakes is thinking that the southern bank of the river is Algarve or the island of Madeira. It’s actually Almada, another city.

Not Respecting the Queues
When waiting for a tram or bus, the Portuguese line up and enter the vehicle by order of arrival. Apparently this is not common practice in other countries, and many tourists often just run inside in front of everyone else, leaving the typical old local ladies complaining about your bad manners. This is a tip that doesn’t come in most guidebooks, but it should.

5 Things to Do in Lisbon in March and April

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Dias da Música, CCB, Lisboa

If you’ll be in Lisbon in the next few weeks, there are some special events you may want to catch. Most of them happen every year, so if you return next year at this time, you’ll also be able to attend them. Those are film, music, and gastronomic festivals, but at the moment there is also a special art exhibition and the river cruises that start at this time of year and are offered throughout the summer months.

From March 21st to the 27th, this animated film festival will present long, short and “very short” features mostly from Europe, Asia and the United States. Most of the screenings will take place in the São Jorge cinema in Avenida da Liberdade, in the Cinema City Alvalade theater, and at the Gulbenkian Foundation. You can find all of the addresses and complete information on the website (click above).

Lisbon’s biggest gastronomic festival will happen on the 7th of April this year, and lasts until the 17th. As always, its theme is the art of cooking fish, and although full details haven’t yet been revealed, it has been confirmed that 13 restaurants and 12 chefs will be part of the event which will take place in the new Patio da Galé in Comercio Square.

This year’s “music days” are April 15th, 16th and 17th. It’s an annual event celebrating Spring with a marathon of classical sounds. In total there will be 65 concerts in seven different spaces of the Belem Cultural Center, and tickets cost between 3.50 and 10 euros, depending on the auditorium. This year’s theme is Western music from “between the death of Richard Wagner and the end of WWII.”

We said it was one of the things to do last December, but this exhibition has been extended to April 23rd. It’s being shown in the Ancient Art Museum, and it’s a collection of works from between 1450 and 1550, the time when Portugal was mapping most of the globe.
If you go on a Sunday until 2PM, you may see it all for free.

From April until the end of October you can always see Lisbon from the river. Take a cruise that goes past the city’s main monuments and under 25 de Abril Bridge, for some fantastic photos to always remember your trip.

“Feel Rio” – A Quick Healthy Taste of Brazil in Downtown Lisbon

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Feel Rio

For the health-conscious, açaí has become a much-sought-after fruit for its antioxidant properties. Native to central South America (or more precisely, Brazil), it is now found in juices and shakes all over the world’s health food stores, and at a couple of places in Lisbon, brought from the former Portuguese colony.
Since last week you can also enjoy it as a juice or in a bowl at “Feel Rio,” a new fast food restaurant downtown.
Brazilian-owned, the inspiration are the flavors of Rio de Janeiro, and in addition to the fruit juices there are salads, sandwiches, paninis, and muffins.
Unfortunately there aren’t many seats inside, but you can always take something to go, and perhaps enjoy it in Rossio Square not very far (it’s a great money- and time-saving option).
Feel Rio” is found on number 108 of Rua do Crucifixo, almost directly across the street from one of the exits of the Baixa-Chiado metro station and is open every day.