Those of you who follow my blog and my recent travels, know that I have a soft spot for Portugal in general, and Lisbon in particular. For the last three years I’ve been visiting Lisbon six times already and shot hotels, restaurants and street scenes for various magazines. You can see some of my Lisbon’s posts here.
From an outsider point of view, and as a photographer, it is great to see how the city has changed through these year.
The city is buzzing with tourists, the cafe’s are packed with people, new wine boutiques, boutique hotels, trendy restaurants, chefs’ restaurants, colorful tik-tok taxies, yellow trams riding back and forth the historic route of Lisbon. Even the sardines smell better. I call it The Revival of the City.
When Virtuoso magazine has asked me to shoot ‘Lisbon Tasty Renaissance’ a food story about Lisbon, I said Yes right away. Especially since the Portuguese kitchen is one of my favorite.
I was lucky to shoot some of the top chefs in Lisbon, such as Jose Avillez and Joao Rodrigues, who both won a Michelin star. I also shot the new Mercado da Riberia and some other great restaurants and bars. It was a great way to discover Lisbon through the food.
You can download the full article here, or scroll down for some highlights and addresses from the article, for your next travel in Lisbon.
Mercado da Ribeira
Start your exploration of the Mercado da Ribeira by nibbling on petiscos, the Portuguese equivalent of Spanish tapas, a tradition of small bites that is rising in popularity in Lisbon. These might be a vinegary octopus salad, fried green beans, or local cheeses. Sip wild cherry liqueur and eat a prego, or steak sandwich, served on soft, circular bolo do caco bread. Sample bites of cured ham and sausage, sourdough acorn bread, and creamy cinnamon gelato from Santini, and make sure to buy a small bottle of local piri piri chili oil. With around 30 stalls, you can easily wander and try whatever looks good. One of the best souvenirs is inexpensive but high-quality tinned fish at the Conserveira de Lisboa outpost. For kitchenware and other Portuguese-made finds, browse the shelves of local favorite A Vida Portuguesa. Rua Anchieta 11.
Cantinho do Avillez
José Avillez is the most visible chef in Lisbon’s evolving dining scene. At Cantinho do Avillez (Rua dos Duques de Bragança 7, Mártires; 351-21/199-2369), a buzzy, appealing spot in the Chiado neighborhood, diners linger over lazy lunches of green curried meatballs and chilled Portuguese white wine. Mini Bar (Rua António Maria Cardoso 58; 351-21/130-5393), inside a local theater, serves reasonably priced, elaborate mini portions, such as tuna tartare cones and a ceviche of Algarve prawns. Belcanto (Largo de São Carlos 10; 351-21/342-0607) makes for a grand night out. “Belcanto is one of my favorite restaurants in Lisbon,” says New York City-based Virtuoso advisor Martina Reznick. “The avant-garde food is delicious, fresh, and beautifully presented. The service, wine list, and ambience are excellent as well.”
If you’re feeling daring, call one-Michelin-starred Feitoria Restaurante & Wine Bar 48 hours in advance to book the “creative menu,” which leaves you in the hands of chef João Rodrigues’ whimsy, tailored to your preferences, such as a secret spin on Algarve shrimp or Angus sirloin. Located in riverfront Belém, Feitoria evokes Portuguese gastronomic history and traditions with its tasting menus. Doca do Bom Sucesso; 351-21/040-0207.
The latest restaurant to join the inter-national cuisine trend is A Cevicheria, a Peruvian spot by chef Kiko Martins specializing in ceviches. End the meal on a sweet note with the dulce de leche piña colada dessert. They don’t take reservations, so show up around 7 pm, before the dinner rush. Rua Dom Pedro V 129; 351-21/803-8815.
In an intimate sliver of a space in the bohemian Bairro Alto district, 100 Maneiras welcomes guests with a warm interior and an adventurous tasting menu (there is no à la carte menu). Well-known chef Ljubomir Stanisic shows off his quirky personality in dishes such as poached eggs with truffles and corn-bread “sand,” and dehydrated codfish with coriander oil. Rua do Teixeira 35; 351-91/030-7575.
By The Wine
Opened by one of Portugal’s oldest and most highly respected wine producers, lively By the Wine José Maria da Fonseca bar in Chiado serves even the most expensive vinhos by the glass in a space that resembles a futuristic subway tunnel. Small snacks include local cheeses, mussels, and a fantastic sirloin prego on bread from the Algarve region. Rua das Flores 41-43; 351-21/342-0319.
You could linger for hours at bright and airy Choupana Caffé, a local favorite and a welcome change from the red velvet and dark wood of the city center’s old European coffeehouses. Create your own treat at the organic yogurt bar for breakfast, or try Choupana’s crisp salads, homemade soups, and hot sandwiches for lunch. Avenida da República 25A; 351-21/357-0140.
Resource Magazine Summer 2013 edition is out! and my second article in the series ‘Productions of the World’ is now focusing on Lisbon, Portugal. (My first one was on Tel Aviv). If you are a photographer who is interested to shoot in Lisbon, than this article will definitely help you plan it. And if you are not a photographer but still, visiting the Portuguese capital, you will find some great tips and recommendations.
Some people might refer to Portugal as the ‘foster kid of Europe’, not necessarily for its southwestern location in the continent, but mostly for its comfortable Mediterranean climate throughout the year and the warm temper of its people. These two make Portugal as a popular destination to visit, explore and travel.
The Portuguese people love to travel. Therefore it is no surprise that Lisbon, their capital, is a sophisticated, global city with endless opportunities to offer visitors and its native residents. Recently the city has started to wake up to tourism and become more alive, more tourist-friendly and a desired destination among the younger crowds.
A new generation of venues has popped up in the last couple of years, upgrading the night-life and dining scene. More chef-oriented restaurants are being opened, more bars and clubs pay attention to the design scene and more trendy fashion boutiques are spreading around. Combine this with the history, the architecture, the beaches, and the fact it is a compact city and relatively easy to navigate, and you have a great destination to visit and a diverse city to shoot in.
To read the full article, please click here.
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.
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
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
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
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
‘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
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.
After I was so thrilled to be chosen as one of the Blogger of the Month for July on EasyJet Holiday Blog, I wanted to share with the readers some of my favorite places I’ve visited when I was in Lisbon.
I’ve decided to concentrate on four great places visitors should not miss when they explore this great city;
Mude, the new Fashion and Design Museum for the design lovers, A Vida Portuguesa Concept Store for shopping, Pensao Amor for the night scene and Petiscaria Ideal, for those who like to eat well.
To read the full post on EasyJet, please visit here.
Truth is, I’ve been wanting to visit Lisbon for a while now. In fact, last year around April, I was talking with a friend about visiting Lisbon for my Birthday. While I found myself in a different place on my Birthday last year, I actually made it to Lisbon THIS year, few days before my Birthday. I was there only for 48 hours; a really express stay as some may say, but thanks to some insiders precious tips and sleeping only four hours a night, I managed to do and see quite a lot.
I am drawn to Lisbon mostly because it is a mix of a European city with a Mediterranean climate.
It is a very laid back city, sometimes even provincial, and its compact size makes it relatively easy to navigate. Just take the legendary tram no. 28, and you can see all the touristic attractions in one day or two.
Rumors have it that the city has started to wake up recently and becoming more alive, so I figured I had to check it by myself.
Here is my express guide to Lisbon; Where to Stay, Shop, Sip, Party and Eat.
Stay: Hotel Gat Rossio
When I travel, I am always looking for these cute little places to stay in. I’m not looking for grand hotels with red carpets or velvet ropes. It is not my style. Especially not when I am traveling for work. All I need is a comfortable bed, warm shower, free Wi-Fi, a lot of light, friendly staff and a good breakfast. I found it all and more in the Gat Rossio hotel, part of the GatRooms hotel chain in Europe.
In fact, it was my sister who recommended me on the hotel (It is usually the other way around) as she stayed there on her honeymoon a few years ago. ‘They have a really good breakfast buffet’ she told me ‘and a spacious roof deck where you can eat your breakfast’ she added ‘and the staff are so helpful and friendly’. I didn’t have to look further. I loved the clean design, the simplicity and functionality of the space and of course, the great breakfast room where everyone gathered to sit around long tables, enjoying fruits and pasteis de nata, the well-known Portuguese cakes.
Hotel Gat Rossio, Rua do Jardim do Regedor nº 27-35 e Travessa do Forno nº 9-13. Lisboa
Shop: A Vida Portuguesa
When I am in New York, I love shopping in Anthropologie. It is sort of my ‘go-to’ store for design and inspiration for everything that has to do with my tiny apartment. In Lisbon I found the Portuguese equivalent in A Vida Portuguesa, an eclectic store that holds only Portuguese brands and products for the home; from hand-made olive oil soaps to home decor, shoes, pantry, pastry, vintage posters, you name it. There is also an online store, but there is nothing like visiting the store and smelling the soaps and candles.
A Vida Portuguesa, Rua Anchieta 11, 1200-023 Chiado, Lisboa
It is not a secret that where ever I go and travel, I keep looking for the best coffee in town. Some addictions apparently are hard to be cured. I found KaffeeHaus by chance, while walking in the streets of Chiado area, known for its elegant, sophisticated theaters, bookshops, old-style cafes and luxurious international brand names clothing stores. Even though KaffeeHaus is far from being an old-fashioned typical Lisbon cafe (on the contrary, it has more of a Vienna style) I loved its design, the colorful posters on the walls and the young crowd. Nonchalant, relaxed atmosphere with great coffee and friendly easy going service. (One of the barmen is hard to miss)
KaffeeHaus, Rua Anchieta 3 Chiado, Lisboa
Party: Pensão Amor
Definitely the hottest spot in the city, Pensão Amor, or ‘Guesthouse of Love’ is a chic boudoir style place in Cais do Sodré area, down the hills of Barrio Alto, the upper district in the city, also known also as the hub of night-life. It serves mostly as a bar that serves drinks and Peruvian food, decorated with frescos and endless images and art of nude women. Don’t skip the small bookstore at the back and the pole dance room, decorated with leopard and gold. Highly recommended to make reservations. The place is getting crowded quite fast.
Pensão Amor, Rua do Alecrim, 19, 1200-292 Lisboa
Eat: Martinho da Arcada
Martinho da Arcada is Lisbon’s mythological oldest cafe. Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I passed through it just to experience the phenomenon and look inside. The cafe was founded in 1778! as Café do Gelo (the Ice Cafe) and mostly sold beverages and ice. After having passed through the hands of a set of different owners, in the early nineteenth century it was called the Casa da Neve (the House of Snow) and sold ice cream to the best of Lisbon’s society. Only in 1845 it received its current name after its owner at that time, Martinho Bartolomeu Rodrigues, who turned it into one of the finest and most popular cafes in the city. Its history of over two centuries is closely linked to the social, political and cultural life of Lisbon. If you come for dinner, highly recommended to make reservations.
Martinho da Arcada, Praça do Comércio 3, 1100-148 Lisboa
Eat: Taberna Ideal
I happened to meet one of the owners of Taberna Ideal, a young energetic Lisbonnaire girl, who is running three restaurants at once with another partner. I really liked the vintage feel of the space, but yet contemporary, the eclectic style and choice of furnitures together with the wall decoration, that made the place feel very earthy and welcoming. I liked the simplicity of the design, a checkered paper as a table mate for example. So simple and yet, so brilliant. The menu keeps the regional taste; tibornas, snacks, salads, main dishes and pans (free-range chicken with almonds, quail pie with sausage, cod au gratin with bread) and a large variety of wine. The atmosphere is young and hip and it is always crowded during dinners and weekends. Make sure you spend at least one meal there when you are visiting Santos-o-Velho neighborhood in Lisbon.
Taberna Ideal, Rua da Esperança, 112-114 1200 Lisboa
A travel for me is not completed unless I find the best place to get chocolate, dark chocolate. I have this habit of looking for a good cup of coffee and the best chocolate in town. I found Xocoa while strolling one of the main streets in Baixa (I think it was rua Aurea) and the smell of the chocolate hit me that afternoon. I spotted the store sign and went right in. The highlight of Xocoa is chocolate bars covered with gummy bears and colorful candies; The owner of the store just told me it is their best seller. I bought a bunch of these to have as a snack while touring the city. All chocolate pralines are hand-made, with a Portuguese chocolate blend. Do not miss on that.
Xocoa, Rua do Crucifixo, 112-114, Baixa-Chiado,Lisboa
Lisbon offers a variety of good food in a good feel atmosphere all over. 48 hours are definitely not enough, but it left me with a taste for more. I will be back.
While I am having this Lisbon’s crush, here are some of my favorite images of the city that express the Lisbonnaire Flair as I call it and some essential information:
No matter how long you have spent or visited in Lisbon, there is always something new to discover and fall in love with. One rule of thumb when you visit the city- Don’t miss out an overview of Lisbon from one of the hills. Maybe you heard it before, but Lisbon is also called ‘The City of Seven Hills’ (even though there are more than seven). It is easy to navigate and locate yourself if you know on which hill you are standing;
São Jorge : Where the castle with the same name is still standing.
São Vicente : Where the São Vincente de Fora Monastery and the Alfama area stands.
Sant’Ana : Between Martim Moniz square and Rua Portas de Santo Antão (São José Hospital)
Santo André : Largo / Miradouro da Graça is the top of this hill.
Chagas : At Largo do Carmo
Santa Catarina : Around Largo Camões, Bairro Alto
São Roque : Around Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara, Bairro Alto.
While the legendary Tram no.28 will take you up the hills of the city, I highly recommend to get off when you reach a hill peak and walk around the area. There is nothing like discovering the city by foot and interact with the locals.
Don’t skip on snacking on sardines. This is what makes Lisbon so special and known for. I ate some grilled sardines with mayonnaise on top (even though a local friend told me she never heard of such a combination) and it was delicious. I hardly eat sardines, but those I ate in Lisbon are completely different from the canned ones I know from home.
My two favorite districts in the city are Alfama; a maze of cobbled stones streets with old houses and old churches stretched down the hills of this historic quarter and Bairro Alto – Chiado which is mostly known as Lisbon’s night life quarter, and one of the up and coming popular neighborhood, with new hip boutiques, trendy restaurants alongside old fashioned ones.
Oh, and one more thing not to miss; Have a Ginjinha! It’s a cherry-berry liqueur the locals drink in small plastic cups. Better hang out at Cafe ‘A Ginjinha’ in Largo de São Domingos 8 which became a tourist attraction.
There is no better way to end a busy day by having this Portuguese drink and feel like a real local.
I was fortunate enough to get some insider tips from my friends at Gat Rossio Hotel when I asked about the top places to go to while in Lisbon. One of the places I was encouraged to go and see was Pharmacia restaurant in Barrio Alto Santa Catarina area, one of the young and hype areas of the city.
My intention was to see the place and maybe take some pictures of its interior, as I’ve heard it was designed as a pharmacy. And when I walked in and asked for a permission to shoot, it turned out the woman I’ve asked, was not only, but one of the owners who is actually in charge of the restaurant’s design. (two birds in one stone)
Tânia was so friendly and helpful. In fact, after she showed me around Pharmacia and let me take as many pictures as I wanted, she drove me to her other two restaurants; Taberna Ideal and Petiscaria Ideal. (But this is for a different post)
The restaurant is located in a 200- years-building that was once belonged to a rich family in Portugal and served them as a family residential. For the last few years the building is a home of the National Pharmacy Association in Portugal and Pharmacia is located in the ground floor with a great outdoor lawn overlooking the river.
Tânia Martins is the creative person who is responsible for the interior design and the restaurant’s concept. She was working closely with a graphic designer who did the restaurant’s cards, designed the tabs, the medicine boxes that serve as decorative details and even designed the unique wall paper of the restaurant. She told me how much she loves wandering the vintage markets and look for furniture and articles to decorate her restaurants.
Susana Felicidade is the creative chef. She comes from a family where everyone cooks. She is originally from a small fishermen’s village (Arrifama) and spent her childhood in her grandfather’s restaurant that was passed to her parents. Her father is a fisherman as well. She never studied cooking professionally but she has been passionate about it all her life. She comes up with all the food and dishes combinations and tries out new things all the time.
But not only the design, the decor and the concept are appealing, so does the food. Both Tânia and Susana came out with a ‘sharing-food’ concept, which is quite new in Portugal. The menu is such that people can order few small plates and dishes of small portions to share with the other people around the table. Sort of tapas to share and not one main dish per person.
The favorite dishes in Pharmacia are * Tibornas: A toasted bread with garlic and olive oil, topped with brie cheese, arugula and roasted tomatoes with coriander sauce. * Duck croquettes with orange jam, Madeira bread with salted mushrooms thyme and fried egg. *Pica-pau – Sirloin meat with fried potatoes. * Lobster à bras served with egg, fried potatoes, onion, olive oil and parsley. I wish I had the time to try them all.
Next time you are in Lisbon, don’t skip Pharmacia.
Rua Marechal Saldanha 1. Bairro Alto-Santa Catarina area, Lisboa. 213.462.146
Drinking coffee at the local Starbucks but with a Portuguese flavor two times a day, running along the Tagus river instead of the Hudson. Climbing up the hills of Alfama all the way to Castelo S. Jorge just to have an amazing view of the city. Spotting a lot of Laundry shots to upgrade my photography series. Taking a random turn just to discover the artistic design of Belmonte Cultural Club Cafe. Joking around with the owner and getting a free access to shoot whatever I want in Palacio Belmonte Luxury hotel. Having a late lunch early dinner at Saint Antonio restaurant next to San Miguel church. Taking the yellow carreira number 28 instead of the yellow subway line in Manhattan. Croquette de Ovo for dessert. Joining a friend for a last minute call to watch the Companhia Nacional de Bailado. (The National Ballet). Two fish cakes during the break. Bolo de Arroz and Pastel de Nata for breakfast at the Gat Rossaio Hotel in Rua Jardim Do Regedor. Walking along Rua Augusta all the way to Praca do Comercio, Mudo Museu do Design in a Holiday morning. Grilled Sardines with mayonnaise twice at the same day. Another overview of the city but this time from Monumento Nacional. Empty streets of Baixa. Coffee break at the trendy Kaffee Haus in Rua Anchieta. Chocolate break in Xocoa Chocolate Place (Orange flavor). Walking along the streets of Bairro Alto, searching for A Vida Portuguese concept store. Pineapple virgin martini on a sunny afternoon in Pharmacia restaurant in Rua Marechal Saldanha. Having a special tour with the owner of Pharmacia to Petiscaria Ideal and Taberna Ideal. Sneak Peek to Pensao Amor, the newest sexy Nightbar in town. Drinking tiny cherry liqueur in the street with the locals, sleeping only 4 hours a night but walking the streets all day…Priceless.
I am already getting used to all the suspicious looks from people, when they see me standing under laundry wires, pointing my camera up or kneeling down to get a better angle. Deep down I keep telling myself that if they had known what I was looking for or what I was working on, they wouldn’t have given me these looks or maybe they would have understood me. But on the other hand, I can’t blame them; A photographer who is standing under laundry wires waiting for the breeze, is not a common view. I was visiting Lisbon for two days for a shoot, and during my free time, I was looking for laundry, so I could add and expand my ‘Intimacy under the Wires’ collection. It wasn’t hard to find. I was walking in the narrow streets and alleys of Alfama and Bairro Alto, and could easily spot laundry on wires. It really made me smile. And as for the suspicious looks I kept getting from the locals? I guess I have to get used to it, or just smile back.
For the last few years, or actually since my blog exists, I am trying to keep up with the tradition of writing a summary of my previous year in terms of my work and travels. Looking back at my previous posts from previous years (2012, 2013, 2014) is a great opportunity for me to see my growth personally and professionally.
2015 has been quite a busy year for me. I’ve been traveling to Europe, the US and Africa. The latest has been an eye opener experience I will not easily forget. And while I was back in Tel Aviv, I was busy shooting stories in the city for various magazines in Europe. Tel Aviv seemed to be a popular destination to write about.
In January I have travelled with my boyfriend to Val Gardena, in the Dolomites of South Tyrol. As a semi pro skier, he wanted to teach me how to ski. Since I have never skied before (not even when I was living in New York) and after three try outs that failed to keep me standing still on the snow, I have preferred to take pictures and document others skiing, then sliding the snow slopes myself.
The end of February took me to Portugal again, this time to the Azores Islands. First I flew to Lisbon’s airport and from there, a direct flight of SATA Airlines took me to São Miguel Island, the biggest island of the nine. São Miguel was a great combination of wild nature and old heritage. The island’s volcanic craters and green mountains were some of the most remarkable sights I have ever seen. I also visited Terceira Island for one day. It is a much smaller island than São Miguel, but also rich in terms of natural sights.
I tend to be a more ‘city-dweller’ traveller but the Azores experience has taught me to enjoy the low-key and slow paced kind of travel.
Right after The Azores, I took a flight back to the mainland of Portugal and straight from Lisbon’s airport, I hopped on a train, taking me to The Algarve. The Algarve is Portugal’s southernmost region, and is known for its sunny Mediterranean climate and its curvy beaches. I visited during the first week of March so weather was not that warm and I couldn’t really relax at the beach, but nonetheless, I could enjoy watching the brave surfers who attend the cliffy beaches of Sagres.
The month of April was one of the busiest months for me this year. And one of the most travelled.
I was lucky to have a great opportunity to join Safari Company for 10 days in Tanzania and Zanzibar to document some of the greatest and luxury resorts at the foot of the Kilimanjaro and around. It was not a typical Safari trip for me. In fact, I visited the Ngorongoro Conservation area only once and managed to spot lots of zebras and few elephants.
I have visited South Africa twice when I was a little girl, but back then, I was too small to carry a camera and too young to remember. But this visit to East Africa was an eye opener for me. The endless sights and photo-ops while we were driving from one place to another, left me awaken and alert most of the time. My mind was consuming so much colors and sights that six days in Tanzania seemed much longer.
One of the most memorable experience was to spend a night in Arusha National Park, in a luxury tent and wake up at 6am by a glorious sunrise overlooking the Kilimanjaro.
Right after Tanzania, we flew to Zanzibar for four days of relaxation and change of scenery. Seeing more shades of blue and turquoise than shades of greenery. We stayed in some of the greatest luxury hotels, including The Baraza Resort, which was quite magical, designed in an Aladdin’s style.
Zanzibar is beyond wild and beautiful. I wish I had more time to explore this reef. There were so many times I wanted to jump off the car and photograph all the sites I saw. The vivid colors of clothes and fabrics worn by the women there could be well captured by my lenses (if only I could follow them) but the locals were already sort of ‘trained’ and tend to hide or run away from the camera or even ask for money to be photographed.
I made a note for myself to come back there one day, but more for vacation, and less for work. Who knows… maybe in 2016.
Ten days after I came back from Zanzibar, I found myself on the plane again. This time to Sicily, with Meirav, a good friend of mine, who is the perfect partner for girls trips. We tend to have a yearly tradition and fly the two of us to a new destination we both wanted to visit.
Sicily was a destination we both wanted to explore and see. We didn’t even have to convince each other. We toured the island for seven days mostly in the East- North part of it. From Syracuse to beautiful Taormina, driving to Erice, staying at the beach side of Cefalu and the high light of the trip, Scopello, a tiny village on the coast between the fishing and resort town of Castellammare del Golfo and the Zingaro nature reserve.
If you plan to visit Sicily this coming year, I highly recommend to book a room at Tonnara di Scopello, an old tuna fishery village converted into a small hotel.
Beyond the beautiful sights of Sicily, the old Sicilian villages on the mountains and beyond, the rough and funny Sicilian characters, the food was great. Especially the desserts. Where else can you get a gelato in a brioche? or Cassata Siciliana? Not to mention the well known Cannoli.
Indeed, I saw only a small part of Sicily, and I wish I had more time there. Next time there I plan to explore the south part of Sicily or maybe one of its Aeolian islands. Even though I was there in April, which is an off season, I wish I could travel in a warmer month (despite the mass of tourists) and could have a dip in the ocean.
June was quite a big month for me. I turned 40!
I am not a big celebration person, and prefer to keep my birthdays very low key or hush hush, even if it is a round and significant number. Therefore, I have decided to celebrate it in New York (my second home) only with my boyfriend. It was his first time in New York and for me it was like coming back home.
We were in New York for a month. Even though I have been living there for 12 years, it is never enough for me. It was a great month catching up with my friends and colleagues and showing my boyfriend my favorite locations. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my big 40th.
On the day of my birthday I have decided to visit the new Freedom Tower observatory which was recently opened. It was a great opportunity to see the city from the 100th floor, a view I have never seen before. (in fact, not since September 11th events). This month flew by too quickly for me. A New York minute is always too fast and I can’t wait to visit it again.
During the first week of July I flew to Portugal again (second time this year) to participate and document the Festa dos Tabuleiros in Tomar, Central Portugal. Together with other photographers and journalists from Europe, we were invited by the tourist office of Central Portugal and got a special glimpse of the festivities and preparations. The Feast of the Trays or Festa dos Tabuleiros is taking place every four years in Tomar and the citizens of the city are getting ready for the big celebrations a few months in advance. They spend hundreds of hours making endless number of paper flowers to decorate their streets. While visiting Central Portugal, I have stayed in some great hotels, Eco Friendly hotels which became very popular recently. You can read more about them here.
I had only two days (or actually a weekend) in between leaving Portugal and flying to Spain, to photograph two stories for Wine Spectator Magazine, one in Priorat and the second in Costa Dorada, both in the Catalan region. Apparently, it was one of the hottest weeks of July and it was quite unbearable to be outdoors during noon time. Lucky Spaniards, they have their special Siesta, but it didn’t really affect me. I continued hopping from one vineyard to another, meeting interesting wine producers, vineries owners and sommeliers.
It was my first time shooting a wine story for a big and important magazine such as Wine Spectator. And I must admit, I have learned a lot about the importance of wine and the culture around it. This time I had a glimpse to a small region in Spain though and I hope to keep shooting more wine stories in the next years to come.
In the first week of October I traveled to the French Riviera with my mother. It was one of her dream destinations to travel. Monaco in particular, as she was curious to get a glimpse to the life of Princess Grace Kelly and her daughters. We stayed in Nice for five days and from there we drove the scenic roads along the coast. One day we drove west to the direction of Antibes and walked around the old city. The other days we drove east toward the Italian border and we stopped in various regions such as the colorful Villefranche Sur Mer with its great bay and fishing boats, Monaco and Monte Carlo with its high rise buildings, massive glitter yachts, the palace and the casino. My favorite towns were Cap Martin and Cap Ferrat, where we visited Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. On the last day we drove all the way to Menton, which is right next to the Italian border and known for its Lemon Festival.
Weather was great, even though it was already October, the beginning of off season. Indeed, we didn’t dip in the ocean, but at the same time, we didn’t get stuck in massive traffic jams along the coast, which is very typical for the Summer.
Traveling off season has lots of benefits. It is definitely a trend I would continue in 2016.
My last trip in 2015 was in the last week of October, when I traveled to Tuscany with my boyfriend. This trip actually made it my third visit to Italy this year. Not that I have planned it in advance, but that’s the beauty of traveling. I have never been to Tuscany. Few years ago I have traveled to Florence on my own for six days, but I have never stayed in the countryside of Tuscany.
We stayed in a nice resort in Fontebussi, and from there we drove around everyday to a different city; We spent one day in Siena, visiting its grand Duomo, drove to Florence to meet my photographer friend Peter, had a delicious long lunch in Arezzo and visited the tall towers of the medieval hill town San Gimignano.
I highly recommend to visit Tuscany in the Fall. The changing colors of the tress and the beautiful orange foliage add to a special atmosphere in this region. It matches perfectly with the yellow-orange-pink colors of the Tuscan buildings.
This time of the year I tend to read the various lists of the Travel magazines and their recommendations where to visit in the year ahead. I make notes to myself, I read more about the places I am curious about and sometimes I even start to make plans in advance.
However, the nature of my business is surprising and not always planned and expected.
I can only wish myself that 2016 will be as exciting, well travelled, inspiring and photogenic, like 2015 has been.
Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year