November 28, 2013 § 5 Comments
It’s very easy to have fun in Lisbon. But, to have an unforgettable vacation, you have to make this city your own. All it takes is a little effort: choose a window and write a story about it. Suddenly, Lisbon will be more than just another tourist destination. It will become your city, a place where you have a window.
The photo shows our window. Our story is about a couple that can live anywhere in the world, for their talents are many. He and she came to Lisbon for a short stay and rented this apartment in the Campo d’Ourique neighborhood.
One late afternoon, they were enjoying the view of the Tagus river, when he said: I think we should move to Lisbon; this place should be our home. She smiled tenderly at his impractical idea. Then, she noticed that his eyes had the same color as the Tagus river. And, from that day on, she called him river.
She began to notice the same blue color everywhere, in the ancient tiles, in the hydrangeas sold by florists, in the old pottery on the windows of antique shops. And she began to wonder. Isn’t blue the color of heaven? Can you keep a river from flowing to the sea?
November 1, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Casa dos Bicos is famous for its pyramid-stone facade. Brás de Albuquerque built the house in 1523 with the riches accumulated by his father, the Viceroy of India, Afonso de Albuquerque.
Like so many other homes, Casa dos Bicos was severely damaged by the earthquake that hit Lisbon on November 1, 1775. The house’s first two floors were restored after the quake, but the top two floors were rebuilt only in the 20th century.
In a poetic twist of fate, Casa dos Bicos became the headquarters of the José Saramago Foundation. Saramago received in 1998 the Literature Nobel prize for his brilliantly original novels. So, a house built with the spoils of imperial conquests is now devoted to celebrating a writer’s feats of imagination. Is the pen mightier than the sword?
Casa dos Bicos is on Rua dos Bacalhoeiros, near Terreiro do Paço. Click here for the José Saramago Foundation web site.
October 13, 2013 § 1 Comment
The Hot Club of Portugal is a famous gathering place for lovers of improvised music. The club, founded by Luiz Villas-Boas in 1948, has welcomed many renowned musicians, including Count Basie, Dexter Gordon, Max Roach, and Sarah Vaughan. The Hot continues to thrive, hosting regular performances by a new generation of jazz artists.
If you’re visiting Lisbon and you enjoy live jazz, head to the Hot Club and watch what happens.
The Hot Club is at Praça da Alegria, 48, Lisbon, tel: 213460305. Click here for the club’s web site.
July 29, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Why would an Italian couple move with their children from Rome to Lisbon to open a gelato store? And why would they name it after a 1950s actress that no one remembers? We don’t know, but what’s important is that they came.
They use Italian technology and the best Portuguese ingredients, such as water from the Estrela mountain, Vigor milk, Delta coffee, Pantagruel chocolate, rocha pears, Port wine, and Óbidos ginja. The result is gelato so indescribably delicious that we feel the urge to sing: con Nannarella la vita è bella!
Nannarella is located on Rua Nova da Piedade, 68 in Lisbon in the Principe Real neighborhood.
July 18, 2013 § 1 Comment
Any nutritionist will tell you that breakfast is the most important meal. It gets our body ready and sets the mood for the day. A lousy breakfast is like a bad haircut, it makes us look weird and feel awkward.
If you’re staying near Chiado, you can start your day with the right foot by walking into Tartine, a wonderful new café. We like to order coffee with toasts made from one of the delicious whole grain breads that are so healthy. After being nutritionally savvy, we reward ourselves with one of the amazing pastries or fruit tarts. When we walk out, the sun is shining and the future looks bright.
Tartine is located on Rua Serpa Pinto, 15-A, tel 21-342-9108. Click here for their web site.
July 11, 2013 § 3 Comments
Bartolomeu Gusmão, a priest born in Brazil in 1685, was probably the first human to fly. On August 8, 1709, in the presence of King John V and his court, Gusmão soared four meters above the ground, held by a paper balloon full of hot air.
This moment of triumph was followed by years of failure and disappointment. Gusmão worked tirelessly on an airship called Passarola. He planned to fly it over Lisbon, but his invention never left the ground. Gusmão’s contemporaries considered him a fool for thinking that a heavy machine could fly. What would they say if they saw us land in Lisbon aboard a modern version of the Passarola?
June 26, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Ribeira das Naus is the place where the caravels were once built and repaired. These ships sailed as far as Goa and Cochim in search of cinnamon and other spices. Lisbon has recently transformed the Ribeira das Naus site into a wonderful promenade that extends from Terreiro do Paço to Cais do Sodré.
The part of the promenade close to Terreiro do Paço, has a beautiful esplanade. Here, you can drink a cup of coffee and eat a “pastel de nata” while enjoying the wonderful river view. Don’t forget to ask for a sprinkle of cinnamon on your pastel, for old time sake.
June 20, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The Portuguese call locations with great views “miradoiros,” which means golden sights. Lisbon is blessed with many miradoiros, but none is as exciting as the top of the Santa Justa elevator. The elevator was built in the beginning of the 20th century by Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, a Portuguese engineer of French origin. It is the kind of futuristic building that belongs in a Jules Vernes novel.
We remember entering the elevator for the first time and imagining the view during the slow ascent. When we reached the top, we realized how limited our imagination had been. We saw Lisbon in all its glory: the Tagus river, St. Jorge’s castle, Rossio, Terreiro do Paço. It was simply unforgettable!
June 12, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Being a tourist in Alfama, the neighborhood of St. Jorge’s castle in Lisbon, can be exhausting. After a few hours of walking up and down the narrow streets, we deserve to stop for a refreshment. There’s no better place to enjoy a cold, draft beer than the esplanade at Cerca Moura. That’s the name of the defensive wall first built by the Visigoths and then rebuilt by the Moors. Here you have the same same view of the river Tagus that was once enjoyed by Romans, Moors, Suevi, and Visigoths. But, unlike them, you don’t have to be on the lookout for hoards of invaders.
Cerca Moura, Largo das Portas do Sol 4, Lisbon, tel. 21-887-4859.
June 5, 2013 § 1 Comment
Quinoa is a new organic bakery in the Chiado neighborhood that produces incredibly satisfying bread. What is their secret? The water, the flour, the yeast, the oven? They won’t say. But, they give us a clue by inscribing on their wall the words of Mia Couto: “Cooking is not work. Cooking is a way to love the others.”
Mia Couto is a wonderful writer from Mozambique. Everybody knows that he just won Portugal’s most prestigious literary award (the Camões prize). But how many people know that his words inspired one of the best bakeries in Lisbon?
Quinoa, Rua do Alecrim, 54 – Chiado, Lisbon, tel. 213 473 926.