Posts About 'Lisbon General'

Lisbon to Become Closer to More Destinations

Monday, March 19th, 2012


As Lisbon grows as a tourist destination, so do the number of airlines and cities interested in being connected to the city. The low-cost easyJet will have a base in the Portuguese capital next month, and starting this week the airport’s terminal 2 will be used exclusively by low-cost airlines.
Other non-low-cost airlines are also reenforcing their Lisbon services to meet demand this summer, and Emirates will fly to the city for the first time in July, from Dubai.
As for the new easyJet destinations they’ll be Amsterdam, Asturias, Bordeuax, Copenhagen and Venice.
Five other destinations will be operating to/from Lisbon airport for the first time this year, but those have yet to be announced. They’ll be from TAP (which will also begin service to Berlin this summer), Transavia and bmibaby.
This way not only residents of those cities will have more access to Lisbon, but tourists will also be able to better combine a trip to the Portuguese capital with another destination in a longer holiday or city break.

New Places to See in Lisbon Before You Die

Monday, February 6th, 2012

1000 Places to See Before You DieThe best-selling book “1000 Places to See Before You Die” by author Patricia Schultz inspired countless other copycat “…before you…” publications but it is still the original ultimate “traveler’s life list.” It was first published in 2003 and has recently been updated. A major update is for Portugal and especially Lisbon (“one of Europe’s most alluring capitals”), which now has three “must see” museums. The first book only listed the Gulbenkian but it now highlights “great museums of three collectors.” Those are the Gulbenkian, the Berardo Museum (opened in 2007) and MuDe (design and fashion museum opened in 2009). All three showcase “awe-inspiring gifts” from different collectors (Calouste Gulbenkian, Joe Berardo and Francisco Capelo) who “enriched the city with magnificent museums.”

Another Lisbon addition is Alfama, the “ancient neighborhood where history and Fado live,” and back on the list are Sintra (“the summer resort of palaces and castles”) and Obidos, “the town that belonged to the queens of Portugal.” Other places to see in Portugal “before you die” are the “hilltop castles” in the “ancient border towns” of Estremoz and Marvão, the “open-air museum of Portuguese architecture” that is the city of Evora, the “pleasure palace” of the Buçaco forest, and Madeira, “the pearl of the Atlantic.” New on the list is Porto and the Douro Valley, where “there’s magic in the air.”

After Portugal, you have other 991 places left to see around the world, and many of them are Portuguese-built, from “one of the world’s greatest enclaves of Baroque architecture” that is Brazil’s Ouro Preto to long-forgotten constructions like Ghana’s Elmina Castle.
Perhaps in a future edition the author will also discover Portugal’s Azores, the Coa Valley or the promontory of Sagres, all with a must-feel/must-see mystical atmosphere.

Year in Review: 2011 in Lisbon

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Lisbon, Portugal

News of bailouts and austerity measures would make you think that 2011 was quite a bad year for Lisbon, but despite all the negative reports, this was actually a good year for the Portuguese capital. Here’s why:

Lisbon was singled out as the best-value city in the Sunday Times’ Value for Money Awards and was awarded “European city of the year” by the Academy of Urbanism. It also ranked among the best shopping cities in Europe, and later in the year its Fado music was declared World Heritage by UNESCO. Another curious distinction came from Guinness which recognized the Bertrand bookshop in Chiado as the oldest in the world.

The big Oceanarium got bigger, the Patio da Galé courtyard became a stage for cultural events, the beautiful greenhouse was cleaned up and reopened, there’s a new alternative theater in Bairro Alto, and a new casino by the Troia resort south of the city.

The city’s main avenue gained new outdoor kiosk cafés, Comercio Square opened new restaurants, and the city’s top chefs created new hotspots: there’s Michelin star José Avillez’s Cantinho do Avillez, Vitor Sobral’s Cervejaria da Esquina, Olivier’s Guilty, and Paulo Morais’ Momo.
For drinks and lighter meals there are the trendy new cafés Le Chat (which won an architectural award for its glassed building), Poison D’Amour with its mouth-watering French pastries, Liquid for healthy smoothies, Naturalliving with its veggie meals, and the renovated Cultura do Chá tea house. These are just a few of the many new restaurants and cafés that opened in 2011, most of them reported here on GoLisbon.

Lisbon continues to attract media attention as an alternative to the beaten-track cities of Paris, Rome or Barcelona, especially from the United States. The New York Times alone dedicated about a handful of articles to the city, including a 36-hour itinerary, a report on its “culinary golden age” (with GoLisbon as a reference), the “reinvigoration of Fado“, and a suggested trip from Lisbon to Evora.

There’s a new rooftop bar and a series of new riverfront clubs, including Jimmy’z, Vintage Club, Happy and the Absolut Club. Also, the not-so-former red light district of Cais do Sodré continued its process of renovation as a new mecca of alternative music clubs and retro bars such as the recent Bar da Velha Senhora.

The World Heritage Fado and Other Sounds of Lisbon

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Portuguese music

Fado has just been given World Heritage status by UNESCO, meaning it’s protected as “intangible cultural heritage of humanity,” joining other unique cultural expressions such as the tango and flamenco. This musical style (which is actually more like a poetic recital) is strongly connected to the streets of Lisbon where it was born and has come to be symbolic of the Portuguese soul. Those interested in listening to Fado should look for the greatest Fado diva of all time, Amalia Rodrigues. She defined the style of the genre and has influenced an entire generation of young singers. The album to get is “The Art of Amalia Rodrigues” which should be available wherever World Music is sold. The queen of the new generation of “fadistas” is Grammy-nominated Mariza, and her album “Fado em Mim” is a great introduction to the singer and Fado music itself.

Not Fado but greatly representative of the sound of Lisbon is Madredeus, a band that received great acclaim and worldwide success in the 1990s. Their “Best Of” collection is called “Antologia” where you’ll hear their now-classic hits mixing the influences of Fado and modern folk. A former member has gone solo to great success, with his album “Cinema” having been considered one of the albums of the year by Billboard magazine in 2004. That’s Rodrigo Leão, a musician/composer with an obvious passion for Lisbon reflected in his music.
Also mixing Lisbon’s Fado with folk and pop is Dulce Pontes, a well-known name in World Music. Her biggest hit is “Canção do Mar,” first performed by Amália Rodrigues. You’ve heard that song if you watched the movie “Primal Fear” (starring Richard Gere) or the NBC/TNT drama “Southland” (it’s the theme song). Pontes’ “Best Of” CD is one of the top-selling Portuguese albums of all time.

To understand the relevance of Fado in Lisbon and on Portuguese culture in general, visit the Fado Museum whenever you’re in the city.

Lisbon’s 10 Most-Visited Attractions

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Based on official reports and semi-official numbers, these are Lisbon’s 10-most visited attractions. Some are understandably so, others less worthy of a visit than a few sites missing from the list.

Jeronimos Monastery, Lisbon

This World Heritage Site is Lisbon’s most important monument and naturally receives the most visitors. The church is free and is extraordinarily ornate, but the real attraction are the cloisters.

Attracting over one million visitors every year, this is one of the world’s largest aquariums and it just got bigger with a new extension this year, guaranteeing even more people through its doors for temporary exhibitions.

Locals and tourists (close to a million of them) flock to this ancient hilltop monument every year. It’s seen from almost anywhere in the city, so it constantly invites you to its ramparts.

Apparently everyone thinks “It’s free, so why not go inside?” The reward is one of Europe’s most important modern art collections and it’s now visited more than other famous European museums such as Bilbao’s Guggenheim.

Leaving Lisbon without seeing Belém Tower is like going to Paris and not seeing Eiffel’s. The city icon is on the riverfront almost by the Atlantic, but it’s a pilgrimage everyone must make.

This one is almost inevitable: It’s found halfway between the Tower of Belém and the monastery and is featured on almost every postcard and guidebook of the city. The colossal images of Portugal’s famous explorers also make it a must-stop for photos.

The ride only lasts a few seconds, but the real attraction are the views at the top of this towering elevator with an Eiffel Tower-like structure.

This is Portugal’s most-visited national museum and the reason is that everyone is told that it has the world’s largest and best collection of royal carriages. It’s like entering a Cinderella world that attracts visitors of all ages, making it a perfect family attraction.

The number of visitors has risen every year and that is due to a few important temporary exhibitions that have led many to discover its noteworthy permanent collection, in large part related to Portugal’s Age of Discovery.

Everyone who visits Lisbon will at least pass by on their way to the castle on tram 28. Many end up going inside, and although it’s far from being one of Lisbon’s most beautiful churches, it is its oldest and it is the cathedral.

Discoveries Monument, Lisbon

Now Playing at a Theater Near You: “The Mysteries of Lisbon”

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Mysteries of Lisbon
Now playing at theaters around the world: “The Mysteries of Lisbon.” In the United States it’s already playing in New York and will reach other cities soon (such as San Francisco on September 23rd at the Embarcadero Center Cinema). Apparently it’s already a box office success in Paris which has led to the novel of the same name to become a best seller at the FNAC store in the French capital.
This is a 19th century epic drama written by one of Portugal’s greatest authors, Camilo Castelo Branco, and takes place mostly in Lisbon. There are a few other scenes set in other European capitals such as Paris and Rome, but they were mostly filmed in Lisbon.
Directed by Raul Ruiz, this is a multiple-award winner at film festivals and awards shows, and has received only positive reviews by most critics, including those of The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly.

Filming locations in Lisbon included Foz Palace in Restauradores Square, used for ballroom dancing scenes. Other formerly grand spaces that are now mostly forgotten such as Palácio da Mitra and Quinta da Francelha doubled as other grand residences of the time. Palácio Quintela in Chiado is supposed to be a palatial home in Rome, and Quinta da Ribafria in Sintra served as a home in Portugal when filmed from the front, while the back was supposed to be a house in France. The scene of a duel supposedly set in Portugal’s Buçaco forest, was actually filmed in Lisbon’s own forest-park Monsanto.

You can admire these locations together with the acclaimed cinematography of the entire feature in theaters now (or soon, depending on where you are), and for a preview, here’s the trailer:

Pirates in 1924 Lisbon by Author Laurie R. King

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Laurie R. King is the bestselling author of 21 crime novels, including a historical series featuring young Mary Russell and her somewhat more famous husband, Sherlock Holmes.  King lives in California, but her upcoming novel Pirate King is set partly in Lisbon.

It is the unfortunate habit of crime writers to stumble across dead bodies wherever they go.

It began when my daughter’s husband arranged to spend his sabbatical year with Lisbon’s Instituto Superior Técnico, and I thought, Why can’t I go, too? Not to the Technical Institute — I’m a novelist, not a robotics engineer — but to Lisbon. After all, writing equipment is portable, basically a laptop and a chair.

The laptop I could bring with me. The chair was in a short-hire apartment two floors up from theirs, on Rua Santo António da Glória, a brief climb away from the São Pedro de Alcântara mirador. In the mornings, I would write; in the afternoons, I would explore the city with my daughter.

And since the series I was working on takes place in the 1920s all over the world, there was no reason why my fictional companions couldn’t join me.

In the story, my character, Mary Russell, gets dragged into a motion picture production about pirates — hence the name Pirate King — which for various reasons (this is not a solemn book, by the way) heads off to Lisbon and later, Morocco. Which meant that as I was shopping for fruit at Pingo Doce, riding the #28 tram, buying a printer at FNAC, having a bica and pastel de nata at Café A Brasileira, I was also seeing potential settings for action.

I brought with me a 1923 guide to Portugal, so that I would know what was around for my characters to see. I also brought a Lisbon guidebook by a gentleman named Fernando Pessoa.

Now, I like to use real characters in my novels—Lawrence of Arabia and General Allenby appear in O Jerusalem, Locked Rooms has Dashiell Hammett, and The Game is built around Kipling’s Kim. (Well, more or less real characters.) So I thought, why not a poet?

This being a post about Lisbon rather than Fernando Pessoa, all I will say is, if you haven’t been to the Casa Fernando Pessoa, put it at the top of your list. Only two or three of Pessoa’s 72 “heteronyms” — poetical multiple personalities — appear in the novel, but it was a battle to keep him from taking it over entirely.

Fortunately, as I said, this particular book would be a comic novel. (Thus, the riots and military coups taking place throughout Portugal during that time receive little place in the story.) But it was also a book about the silent film industry, and my crew needed a place to rehearse, so I borrowed the Teatro Maria Vitória. In 1924, the theater was new and dignified, although now it has a rather different personality.

When the picture crew later decides to practice some scenes out of doors, Sr. Pessoa suggests that they move to the adjacent Botanical Gardens, where a certain amount of blood is shed.

But things don’t really heat up until thirteen blond actresses, the makeup woman, the cameraman, and the male lead pile onto a charabanc (there’s too much equipment for the train) and head to Sintra.

In Sintra, I found an embarrassment of choices when it came to setting scenes in a novel (or a silent film, for that matter.) In the end, because the book is also about pirates (whom Sr. Pessoa adored) I decided that the Castelo de Mouros would do best for the purpose. As I left the top of the hill where that Moorish Castle broods, I saw a thing that confirmed that I was indeed making the right choices: a stone in which is carved a skull and crossbones.

So as you walk through the streets of Lisbon, as you survey the harbor and glance at the castle and think about hopping on the train for a day in Sintra, remember: You are walking in the footsteps of Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes, and the cast of that great film of the silent era, Pirate King.

Pirate King by Laurie R. King

The Pirate King book page includes an excerpt concerning Fernando Pessoa:

The VFM Awards — The Best City in Europe: Lisbon

Monday, May 16th, 2011

The Sunday Times Travel magazineThe June 2011 issue of The Sunday Times Travel magazine features its annual list of what it calls the “VFM Awards.” That’s where it highlights the most affordable places in the world that are also quite rewarding travel experiences (VFM stands for “Value For Money”). In the European category, the “best city” was Lisbon. Described as a “sexy-sultry” destination, this is the second year in a row that it’s been singled out in this category, and 2011’s biggest competitor was second-place Berlin.
Accompanied by a photo of the Bica elevator, the article also highlights the must-see Jeronimos Monastery and the obligatory stop just a few feet away, the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, better known as the Pastéis de Belém (custard tarts) shop.

Coming Soon to Lisbon: A New Cultural Center and Architectural Icon

Monday, April 11th, 2011

EDP Building, Lisbon

It’s just been announced that the neighborhood with the most cultural attractions in Lisbon will have yet another one by the end of 2013. That’s a new cultural center next to and managed by the Electricity Museum which will mostly present temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and also have an auditorium, a café and shop.
The 19-million-euro project will be designed by British architect Amanda Levete (who’s recently also been chosen for the expansion of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum), and will literally be on the river, with the water rising over the steps of the façade.
The top of the building will also be used as a big open space which you’ll be able to walk through and admire the views of the surroundings, further making this a future icon of contemporary architecture in the city.

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.