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Archive for February, 2013


Back Again in Lisbon


Lisbon, Travel, Portugal

There is nothing like coming to a familiar place for the second time and feel like you never left it. This is what happened to me when I arrived at Lisbon in January for a shoot. I arrived at the airport at 11pm and took a taxi straight to Gat Rossio Hotel, where I was staying in my previous visit. When I got to the hotel, the concierge welcomed me with a ‘Welcome Back Miss Askayo’ so I knew it was going to be a great stay. I raved about Gat Rossio and its young and warm atmosphere in a previous post and it is just getting better.

In my first visit to Lisbon in June I stayed for 48 hours but discovered so much. In my second visit, I already knew my way around and still, discovered so many new places to write about. You can read all my previous posts and recommendations about Lisbon in the following links.

Here is a selection of some new places worth checking when you visit Lisbon; Mostly for their style, design and their great concept.

Hotel Fonte Cruz Lisboa

FonteCruz Hotels is part of the Marriott collection with five hotels in Spain, and the Lisboa hotel (2011) is the first one to be opened outside of Spain and marks the beginning of a new growth route in Europe. The five-starts hotel is located in the fashionable Avenida Liberdade, which makes it a great and accessible location to the city center. The concept of the hotel is an Autograph Collection of old Lisbon postcards. The designer picked original old postcards, enlarged them to a half-wall size and made them as the back of the bed. The hotel is built of two buildings; One is all white, which represents the old part of the city and the other one is all black, which is more modern. The hotel owners also manufacture the Spanish Pinot Noir, which, of course can be purchased at the hotel bar.

Hotel Fonte Cruz Lisboa, Avenida Liberdade 138, Lisboa 

Hotel FonteCruz, Lisbon, Portugal

Hotel FonteCruz, Lisbon, Portugal

LX Boutique Hotel 

If you are more interested in the night life of Lisbon, I highly recommend to stay in the area of Barrio Alto, known as the nigh-life and entertainment district of Lisbon. One of the most beautiful hotels in Barrio Alto is LX Boutique Hotel, which was a historic building, that turned into the current hotel.

Each floor in the hotel is designed and dedicated to a concept related to Lisbon; One floor is dedicated to the fado music, another floor is dedicated to the Tagus river, and others are dedicated to Barrio Alto, the Seven Hills of Lisbon, and Fernando Pessoa, one of the greatest poets of Lisbon. If you are looking for a great night hang out, just cross the street to Pensão Amor, one of my favorite bars in the city.

LX Boutique Hotel, Rua do Alecrim 12, Lisboa

LX Boutique Hotel, Lisbon, Portugal, Barrio Alto

LX Boutique Hotel, Lisbon, Portugal, Barrio Alto

LX Boutique Hotel, Lisbon, Portugal, Barrio Alto

The Independente, Hostel & Suites

This might be the most designed hostel in Lisbon, located just across the street from the São Pedro de Alcântara viewpoint, overlooking the Tagus river, Rossio area and Castelo st. Jorge. The hostel is designed and targeted mostly for young travelers who are used to ‘dormitory’ conditions and sleep on bunk beds. There are 90 bunk beds spread across 11 spacious rooms. Each floor has an airy living room with comfortable sofas, where young travelers can hang out and share their experience with other travelers.

If sleeping on bunk beds is not your style, you can stay in one of the four suites Independente offers. The suites are well designed with cute little sun balconies, where guests can enjoy a good breakfast. The hotel atmosphere is very young and hype, maybe because of the majority of the young travelers, and around night time, it is one of the most popular hang out, thanks to the The Decadente restaurant in the ground floor.

The Independente Hostel & Suites, Rua de Sao Pedro de Alcantara 81, Lisboa 

The independente, Lisbon, Portugal

Independente, Lisbon, Portugal

The Decadente Restaurant

I love that restaurant. It is known for its great young vibe, a modern Portugese kitchen and a retro-vintage chic feel. The restaurant, which is part of the hotel, is an attractive meeting place for lunch or dinner. Adjacent to the restauran there is a small bar with a DJ position that plays music every night.

I highly recommend to book Decadente either for a dinner or a brunch. Great fresh food, reasonable prices, fun atmosphere and friendly service (The waiter drew for me some directions around Lisbon on the restaurant’s napkins). If you are there on a Tuesday, Decadente offers a new Wine & Dine menu which displays a great selection of dishes and wine tasting by the chef Nuno Bandeira Lima.

The Decadente, Rua de Sao Pedro de Alcantara 81, Lisboa 

Decadente, Lisbon, Portugal

Can the Can

‘Canned Food goes Gourmet’ is the concept of this new restaurant, which was opened only three months ago in Terreiro do Paco, one of the central locations in downtown Lisbon. Some people might raise an eyebrow when they hear about canned food, but the final result is very surprising and delicious.

Portugal is blessed with fish and seafood, especially sardines, and considered one of the biggest canned fish exporter in Europe, so it was just a matter of time that a restaurant like that will be opened. The menu is rich and diverse, using only Portuguese products. It offers salads, sandwiches, Tibornas (spreads on bread) all presented in a very aesthetic way, accompanied with a range selection of Portuguese wines.

The restaurant was designed by one of the partners, who created a large chandelier, made out of cans. If you make reservations for dinner, you can also enjoy a live concert by a local Portuguese artist. Better make reservations ahead of time for dinner.

Can the Can, Terreiro do Paço 82/83, Lisboa

Can the Can, Lisbon, Portugal

can the can, lisbon, portugal

Lisbon is, no doubt, a surprising city with lots of new places and opportunities.

If you haven’t decided yet on your next holiday destination, or if you already booked Lisbon, I highly recommend to add this post to your list.

Boa Viagem!


Window or Aisle: Ashley Ludaescher


While Berlin is becoming a hot-destination on the globe, or at least on my agenda, I am getting inspired by Ashley’s images of the German city.

The first time I came across Ashley’s work was through Chasing Heartbeats, her website. There was something about the name that grabbed my attention, but her images were the ones who made me come back and check her website over and over again. With time, I started seeing more of Ashley’s work through mutual talented friends, such as Pret a Voyager, Sister Mag and Lost in Cheeseland, all in the same creative circle.

She moved to Berlin with her husband in December 2011 after living three years in Germany’s Black Forest, and she gets her inspiration from the vibrant city and the creative people living in it.

Ashley is a talented wedding photographer but she also capture her Travels in such a unique and ‘clean’ way. I believe living in the middle of Europe makes it much easier to travel to other countries and experience new cultures.

You can see more of Ashley’s work on her blog where she shares more of her travels, Berlin, and her personal life.

If you ever go to Berlin before I go, please check Ashley’s images for more inspiration, or even book her for a shoot. And by the time I make it over there, I’ll just keep staring at her beautiful pictures.

Thanks Ashley for answering my questions. Can’t wait to take some pictures with you one day in Berlin!

Where are you from?  I grew up in beautiful San Luis Obispo, California.  After a few years living and working in San Francisco and Paris, the last 4 1/2 years I have lived in Germany. I spent the first three years in the picturesque Black Forest and now call Berlin home.

Where did you study photography? I have a Bachelors in Commercial Photography from the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California.

What made you want to learn it?  I have played around with cameras for as long as I can remember.  I stole my father’s Canon A-1 during family trips and eventually got my own film SLR when I was a teenager.  When it was time to decide on what I wanted to study in college, I knew I wanted to do something with art and debated between studying ceramics or photography.  I think I made the right decision. I feel so blessed to call this my job.

If you weren’t a photographer what would you do?  Oh my word, I have no idea.  Maybe something travel-based.  Or somehow dealing with religious studies.  I have always found the the religions and traditions of the world completely fascinating.

where do you get your inspiration from?  the people I photograph and my surroundings.  Travel is endlessly inspiring.

What do you mostly love shooting?  weddings and my travels around Europe and the US

How do you usually approach a new project?  I don’t do a lot of preparation.  I do find inspiration on pinterest and sometimes I flip through my board, but mostly I just go out and shoot and get inspired that way.

What are you working on right now?  I just sent off some editorial images for a magazine with two Berlin based stories which was really fun.  I am booking weddings for 2013 and spent a lot of time last month planning for the year ahead.  I just opened a print shop and it has been really fun to go through my travel portfolio to find images to sell as prints.  I am going to Spain next week and really excited to take lots of photos and hopefully will have some new editorial work come from it.

Window or Aisle?  window.  Although I often sit in the middle and let my husband have the window



Featured Traveller on AFAR


Just a day after I saw my Vietnam image published in AFAR March-April issue , an interview I did as a Featured Traveller was highlighted on AFAR’s website.

If you want to know what can be my biggest travel mistake or where would I go if I had a whole month or a whole year to travel, read it here.

I’m really excited to be part of AFAR’s Local Experts, sharing some tips about Tel Aviv, Paris and Lisbon and probably more locations in the near future.

Afar, Travel, Feature Traveller


Featured in AFAR, March / April Issue


I’m thrilled to have one of my favorite images of Hanoi, featured in March-April issue of AFAR Magazine.

I was visiting Vietnam last February right after Tet festival and before the Vietnamese New Year celebrations. While visiting Hanoi, I was curious to see Ho- Chi Minn Mausoleum, mostly because people warned me about it. Some said it was a creepy experience, some said it was a ‘must-see’ because of its History, so I’ve decided to check it out myself. As the hours of opening were quite limited, by the time I got there, the Mausoleum was already closed.

I couldn’t go back without taking some pictures.

So I’ve decided to take a picture of one of the guards. I loved the white uniform with the red stripes. As the guard was not really happy to be photographed, I had to pretend I was taking picture of the Mausoleum behind him. I’ve pointed my camera toward the building, but the minute he was not looking, I’ve pointed my camera at him and took this shot.

If you have the chance, please grab AFAR Magazine and tell me what you think.

Afar, travel, Vietnam, Hanoi



A Long Weekend in Porto


Porto, Portugal, Travel

I didn’t travel to Porto for its wine, nor did I travel to Porto for its delicious sea food, or its beautiful churches and towers all covered in Azule tiles.

I traveled to Porto mostly because I had an image in my mind of colorful low-rise buildings streaming down the hills all the way to the river ; an image I had to see in my own eyes and shoot with my camera. (like the one above)

An IMAGE…This is what photographers are mostly after… The rest is just a bonus.

But don’t get me wrong. I loved the wine! – I drank three kinds of Port wine in one lunch and one dinner. I loved the food! – I ate in Rui Paula’s DOP gourmet restaurant a five-fish dish, which I had to eat only clockwise and I loved the Azulejo tiles! – I didn’t stop shooting them.

But Porto mostly fascinated me for its magical atmosphere of an old mysterious or gothic (as my friend called it) city.

Porto, Portugal, Travel

There was something quite special about this city. When I climbed to the top of the hill where the Cathedral is located and overlooked the red roofs of the old crumbling buildings, I instantly felt there are few sides to Porto; The Porto of the top-level, with the old churches and the bell towers and the one of the low-level, with the residential colorful buildings. I stayed in Infante Sagresa five-stars hotel in the center of the city, but I could hear through the windows the seagulls in the sky and the church bells beaming in the background. I felt as I was on an island.

Although it is not an island, walking along the Riberia of Porto, which is one of the oldest parts of the city and was classified as World Cultural Heritage by Unesco, might give you the feeling you are on one. The river front and the dotted ships on the Douro river are really close.

Porto DOES have all the right ingredients for a perfect long weekend or a short vacation in Europe;  Its gastronomy is a mirror of its cultural diversity and there are a lot of great chefs’ oriented restaurants in the city. The Port Wine, which stands out from ordinary wines thanks to its huge range of variety. The different kinds of architectural styles; from the Neoclassical to Art Nouveau (I specially loved the variety of the signs fonts) and of course, the comfortable weather.

When you book your next Porto vacation, I highly recommend to follow O Porto Cool blog. It covers almost every corner in the city and it is very up to date. I checked it on a daily basis and it really made my visit more enjoyable, knowing where to go, on a specific time of the day.

Porto, Portugal, Travel

There are so many things to do and see in Porto. A long weekend that lasts for three days obviously will not be enough, but beside the beautiful churches, the marvelous castles and other iconic buildings, here are some highlights I recommend not to miss.

Sao Bento Railway Station

Might be one of the most beautiful train stations in the World, Sao Bento Railway Station was opened to the public in 1916 and is well known for its walls covered with 20,000 splendid azulejo ceramic tiles which describe the  History of Portugal. It took Jorge Colaço, the artist, 11 years to complete this building. The railway station is located in the Almeida Garret Square, in the centre of the city. I happened to be there on a Saturday rainy morning, while I was looking for a place to hide from the heavy rain. It was quite interesting watching the people’s dynamics, which might look the same in every major Railway station, despite its location. This place is beautiful all year around and probably most hours of the day. Indulge in this beauty and pay attention to the little details.

Address: Praca Almeida Garrett

Porto, Portugal, Travel, Sao Bento Railway Station

Porto, Portugal, Travel, Sao Bento Railway Station

Porto, Portugal, Travel, Sao Bento Railway Station


This is a great spot for a Weekend brunch, especially if it is raining outside. (At least that what happened to me). I loved the contrast between the raw grey industrial walls and the warm chocolate-colored wood furniture and the green plants. The furniture and accessory have that vintage touch, which I found quite unique and surprising. The place serves as a restaurant and a bar, where at the back of it, there is a minimalistic clothes store.

And then, there is the guest house, which is designed in the same atmosphere of the restaurant; grey industrial walls and minimalistic wooden beds. I love that Miss’Opo is a multi-functional space that can offer both food, style and accommodation in style. It is definitely one of the great spaces that Porto has to offer to a young and hype crowd.

Address: Rua dos Caldeireiros nº100 (restaurant)/ Rua de trás nº 49 (guesthouse) 

Porto, Portugal, Travel, Miss Opo, Brunch

MissOpo, Porto, Portugal, Travel

MissOpo, Porto, Portugal, Travel

Casa da Música  

Casa da Música, designed by Rem Koolhaas, is the first building built in Portugal which is dedicated entirely to music in various aspects; presentation of music (concerts), education of music and creation of music. The building was intended to be finished on 2001, to mark the year in which Porto became a Cultural Capital of Europe but eventually Casa da Música opened its doors to the public on April 15th , 2005. I first heard about Casa da Música when I read my travel guide about Lisbon and Casa da Música was a suggestion for a weekend getaway. The VIP Room grabbed my attention right away and I knew it was something I had to shoot. It is a multifuncional space, mainly used for sessions for small groups, installations or ceremonial occasions. The room pays an homage to Portuguese tiles and each of its panels is a reproduction of an original panel to be found in different museums in Portugal and the Netherlands. When I got to the building I was quite surprised to discover that the next time I can see the room was at 4pm. Mind you, it was only noon, but eventually (thanks to my Journalist pass) I had the chance to be in the VIP Room by myself and shoot it as much as I want. When you plan your visit in Casa da Música, plan it wisely time-wise. And treat yourself to a concert. It is worth it.

Address: Avenida Boavista 604 

Porto, Portugal, Travel, Casa da Musica

Porto, Portugal, Travel, Casa da Musica

Livraria Lello

Another known architectural jewel in Porto is Livraria Lello, a bookstore well-known for its red stairways that look like a giant tongue. This beautiful bookstores, which was opened in 1906, was chosen one of the ten most beautiful bookstores in the world. The store was designed by Xavier Esteves and it is the flagship store for one of the most important Portuguese publishing houses. Co-owner Antero Braga is usually around, knows the Portuguese book market in and out, and will be glad to help you find exactly what you want even when you don’t have a clue about what that may be. Photography inside the store is not allowed but if you flash your Journalist card again and show up just before the store is opened, than taking pictures might be an option.

Address: Rua das Carmelitas 144

Porto, Portugal, Travel, Lello Book store

Porto, Portugal, Travel, Lello Book store

Book Restaurant 

Speaking of books, Book Restaurant (which is next door to Infante Sagres hotel) is designed as a library as well and reflects the connection between literature and gastronomy in a very contemporary way. The architect is Pedro Trindade and the chef is John Mendes serving Mediterranean cuisine. I first saw the restaurant from the outside and was curious to see the decor. When I got in and sat down, the waiter handed me the menu inside The Historia da Filosofia book. I knew my dinner couldn’t be better than that! 

Address: Rua de Aviz, 10 

Porto, Portugal, Travel, Book restaurant

Porto, Portugal, Travel, Book restaurant

Era Uma a Vez em Paris, Once Upon a Time In Paris

One of the busiest and fashioned streets in Porto is Rua Galerias de Paris, which, no wonder, is spotted by some cafes and restaurants that remind you of Paris. There is a cute cafe called Galeria de Paris which was quite busy during lunch time, and next door there was Era Uma a Vez em Paris, a dark cafe with great green lamps that grabbed my attention right away to get inside. When I got in, I could easily think I entered a Bohemian Parisian cafe back in the 20’s. No wonder. Era Uma a Vez em Paris, which means ‘Once Upon a Time in Paris’. I loved the decor. The dark room with the red walls, the velvet heavy sofas and the velvet green lamps transformed me immediately. Really recommended during night time, when the place becomes more intimate.

Address: Rua Galerias de Paris 106

Porto, Portugal, Travel

Majestic Cafe 

Might be one of Portugal’s most famous cafes with a beautiful interior, Majestic Cafe is one of the best historic cafes in Europe and one of the most beautiful ones in the World. The façade, same as the interior, enlightened the street with its Art Nouveau decoration, designed by architect João Queiroz. It has a great atmosphere and not only a touristic attraction. Come with your cameras because pictures are allowed but also sit down for a coffee and a Portugese cake.

Address: Rua Santa Catarina 112

Porto, Portugal, Travel, Majestic Cafe

More recommended locations: 

B & B hotel is a great alternative for the budget traveler. The hotel, which was opened in the end of 2011, is located right in the city center in an Art Déco building that used to be cinema “Águia d’Ouro”. The hotel has stylishly furnished rooms and a modern design and despite its luxurious facade, it offers an econo-chic concept with good price for travelers.

A Vida Portuguesa is a concept store I first discovered in Lisbon. I was quite happy to find a similar store on Rua Galerias de Paris and get some hand made olive oil soaps with funny wrapping. Definitely, get a glimpse inside the store.

DOP Restaurant which stands for ‘tasting and daring in Oporto’, is a gourmet restaurant owned by the chef Rui Paula, who combines traditional Portuguese cuisine with international flavor. The restaurant is located in Palácio das Artes (Palace of Arts), an original building from the 14th century, which used to be a youth foundation but recently was reconstructed and reopened as a restaurant. Highly recommended and preferred to book in advance.

De Castro Gaia Restaurant is located in The Porto Cruz Space  just acros the river of Porto. The chef Miguel Castro Silva, unites the Porto Cruz wines with the culture of gastronomic Portuguese cuisine. Better take your drink to the rooftop of the building and sip it while looking at the beautiful view of Porto.

Porto is by far, a very fascinating city to visit. You can see it by bike, on foot and even by boat. Take advantage of the great touristic information and plan a great vacation with Porto Card. It will make everything much easier.

Igreja dos Congregados, Porto, Portugal, Travel

Porto, Portugal, Travel, Rooftops

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