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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Decadenteeither 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.
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.
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 breakfastbuffet’ 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
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)
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.
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
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 andBairro Alto – Chiadowhich 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 8which 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.