Photo: Filipe Paiva, “i“
Lisbon’s “A Vida Portuguesa” became a favorite of every Lisbon travel guide soon after it opened and is now a shop that no tourist misses. However, its success is also in large part due to the Lisboetas themselves who nostalgically go there looking for the authentic Portuguese products from the past and present that are difficult to find elsewhere. Its popularity inevitably would lead to the opening of a second shop, and the city of Porto was the most obvious choice. It has been reported that owner Catarina Portas took more than two years to find the perfect place in Portugal’s second city, and has finally done it in the downtown district. It just opened on the corner of Rua Galeria de Paris and Rua das Carmelitas, in a former textiles shop, on the first floor (second floor in American terms), as there is another shop on the ground level. It will soon take over the floor above that, which will make Porto’s shop bigger than Lisbon’s.
Just like in Lisbon, most of the products are straight out of the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s, ranging from toothpaste to soaps, pencils, and coffee. Their retro packaging is what attracts most shoppers and make practically every product the perfect gift for those already familiar with Portuguese culture and those just curious about it.
Address: Rua Galeria de Paris, 20 (Porto).
Tel. 222 022 105.
Open every day except Sundays; 10AM-8PM
If you’re taking our recommendation and going to Porto during its restaurant week, be sure to also consider a visit or a stay in the city’s newest hotel and attraction — Palacio do Freixo Hotel. Classified as a national monument, this baroque palace was recently renovated to become a Pousada (the special chain of Portuguese hotels in historical buildings or atmospheric areas), and is now open to guests and those curious about the monumental building.
Non-guests may also dine at its excellent restaurant (which, incidentally, is participating in the Porto Restaurant Week), and admire the beautiful architectural details of the faÃ§ade and interior.
This is the largest of all Pousadas, offering 87 rooms accessed through a grand entrance. Past the reception is a business center and a chapel, as well as the “Hall of Mirrors” which is connected to the bar. There is also an area devoted to wine tastings (you’re in Porto, after all), and of course the restaurant serving refined dishes of Portuguese cuisine.
As you pass through these different spaces you’ll see painted ceilings and walls, satins, and wooden floors. You’ll also want to look for the indoor pool with a spa, as well as the terrace and gardens outside offering river views.
In the rooms you’ll find classic Portuguese furnishings mixed with contemporary decorative pieces, meaning Baroque or 19th century chairs and fine Portuguese porcelain together with works by local contemporary artists.
In the end, you’ll see that the 10-million-euro investment was a reasonable price to pay when the result is providing one of the most memorable experiences in the beautiful city of Porto.
Get complete details, including booking information here: Pousada do Porto – Palacio do Freixo Hotel
SEE ALL OF PORTUGAL’S POUSADAS
After Lisbon, it is now Porto‘s turn to have its own Restaurant Week. It’s the first time that the capital of the north of Portugal hosts this event, so now is the perfect opportunity to not only get to know this beautiful city by the Douro River but also savor top-quality gastronomy at more affordable prices. Just like in Lisbon, the participating restaurants have created special menus of just 20 euros (without drinks), of which, one euro will be given to charity.
Porto Restaurant Week is happening right now, and lasts until the 31st of the month. Among the participating restaurants are ArtemÃsia, Bull & Bear, CafeÃna, Foz Velha, GÃ³shÃ², Itamae, Le Coin, Portucale, and Sessenta Setenta, all recommended in our Porto Restaurants Guide, part of GoOporto.com, the complete Porto City and Hotels Guide.
The October issue of the American “Travel & Leisure” magazine lists what it calls “the world’s sexiest affordable destinations” for this year, and one of the nineteen choices is Porto. Portugal’s second-largest city stands out at the moment for the “21st century design” in its “medieval landscape” by world-renowned architects, such as Rem Koolhaas’ Casa da Musica and Alvaro Siza Vieira’s Serralves Contemporary Art Museum. The magazine suggests a stay at the Pestana Porto Hotel which overlooks the Douro River, and recommends the seaside Shis restaurant for an Asian-Portuguese meal. A couple of other suggestions are the classic and historical landmarks that are the Majestic cafÃ© and the Lello & IrmÃ£o bookshop.
If you want to find out more about these attractions, be sure to check out the Go Oporto website, which has just been completely updated, listing more restaurants, hotels, hostels, shops, and all that’s hot in Portugal’s increasingly-cool city.
Another Portugal-related article in the October issue of Travel & Leisure is one entitled “Exploring Goa’s Glamour,” which highlights some of the best of the former Portuguese colony in India, saying that “on India’s west coast, travelers can find rugged beaches, Portuguese-inspired architecture, and a handful of impeccable hideaways.”
As GoLisbon previously reported, Hollywood has a new home in Portugal, and this week it was announced that a new movie starring Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, and Penelope Cruz will be filmed around Portugal next year. Most of the scenes will be shot in Algarve, but will also move up the country to Lisbon, Porto, and Aveiro. It’s a remake of the classic “Le Mans” which starred Steve McQueen in 1971, and this time it will be directed by Wolfgang Peterson who directed 2004’s “Troy”. The scheduled dates for filming are the month of August, as the script is still being worked on at the moment. The total budget for this film is 52 million dollars and is expected to have a crew of 600.
Another production planned for Portugal is a movie starring Richard Gere playing the role of Aristides Sousa Mendes, a Portuguese diplomat who allowed over 30,000 Jews to escape the Nazis during WWII. Other productions include a vampire thriller with Kevin Bacon, a science-fiction film starring Sigouney Weaver, a western with Val Kilmer as the star, and a Larry Cohen thriller starring Ethan Hawke.