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Lisbon’s comin’ at ya!

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Lisbon’s comin’ at ya!

In Lisbon, a new creative economy is emerging from Portugal’s economic disaster. Smart policy is partly to thank, but then again, Lisbon has few other options.

Lisbon’s Thriving Creative Economy

Will Dyer came to Portugal for the waves but ended up staying for the art. “I was expecting a poor country with a good surf scene, but Lisbon has blown my mind. There is so much cultural stuff happening here,” the 28-year-old from Melbourne, Australia, tells OZY.

He’s decided to stay a month to explore places like the LX Factory, the beating heart of Lisbon’s new creative scene. This once derelict industrial complex in Alcântara, near the port, now looks like a cross between a Western movie set and a trendy East London market, with long, dusty roads and warehouses buzzing with hip restaurants, shops, bookstores and galleries created by ingenious locals and frequented by design-savvy tourists. LX Factory is just one of the many artistic spaces popping up in Lisbon. Like the graffiti that grows on the city’s rundown buildings, a new creative industry is taking over Portugal’s capital.

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“I really do not know any other place with this atmosphere. It’s like a village, but our clients are from all over the world,” says Margarida Eusébio, owner of local interior design firm and concept store Wish.

This creative renaissance, it turns out, is not spontaneous, but rather the product of opportunistic public policy. In times of crisis, most governments take the knife to spending aimed at promoting art, design or publishing. But continental Europe’s westernmost capital decided instead to concentrate scarce resources on its “creative economy.”

There may not be much choice, given the sad state of Portugal’s economy. Still, investing in creativity seems to be paying off. “Lisbon is going through the same process that Barcelona or Berlin went through in the ’90s. It attracts creativity because it unites modernity to a rich cultural past and conveys a captivating liveliness”, says Bruno Gomes from the incubator Startup Lisboa. Creative types now account for some 20 percent of Berlin’s GDP.

And Lisbon’s has perks that established creative hubs just can’t touch. Unlike Barcelona, tourists haven’t completely overrun it. The cost of living is laughably cheap compared to London: $1800 for a small apartment and a $5 for beer, while in Lisbon it’s $470 and $1.50 respectively. And Berlin’s dreary skies can’t begin to compete with Lisbon’s 200 days of sunshine every year. Being a crisis-born agency allows us to adapt better to the market.

To be sure, Portugal’s economy is in the tank, and Lisbon’s creative scene is a lonely bright spot. Unemployment is still at 15.2 percent, GDP is expected to grow this year by just 1.4 percent, and the fragility of Portugal’s banks continues to scare markets and investors.

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The decline of local demand is also clipping the wings of these new companies. That’s why the majority of people roaming the dusty alleys of the LX Factory are foreigners, and many creative startups work mostly with clients from places like the U.K., France, Brazil and even Angola.

Still, creatives say the economic downturn has been good for them. “We wouldn’t have a business if it weren’t for the crisis,” says Nuno Cruces, an energetic 30-year-old who last year co-founded BeeInsight, a software development agency. “When you don’t have anything to lose and no jobs to apply for, you get the courage to create your own thing.”

“Being a crisis-born agency allows us to adapt better to the market,” says Lisboner Pedro Lago de Freitas from branding agency Brandworkers, which has designed PR campaigns for small companies since 2011. “People have lower budgets, meaning they are less interested in working with big, expensive agencies. So we created a small company but packed with talent.”

There are 22,000 ‘creative companies,’ which can now access Lisbon’s more than 20 co-working spaces, four fab labs and 13 startup incubators.

Many young Portuguese are seeking work abroad, but Lisbon might soon attract talent. “It’s the best city in the world to be a creative,” says Natacha Duarte, a busy 34-year-old freelance textile designer who spent seven years working in Spain and creates patterns for labels like Zara. “Lisbon is a great place to live and is not yet saturated like London or Berlin are. New ideas and creative business are always welcome.”

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Lisbon’s City Council is going all out to support it. “The ultimate goal is to create jobs,” says Paulo Soeiro de Carvalho, general director for economy and innovation. “We hope new companies will generate employment, bring investment and help economic recovery.” The Lisbon region already generates about 30 percent of creative employment and almost half the industry’s gross value in the country.

With money short, government strategy is to bring creative players together and nurture a supporting infrastructure. There are 22,000 “creative companies” — from fashion to architecture — and all of them can now access Lisbon’s more than 20 co-working spaces, four fab labs and 13 startup incubators, paid for by funds from private companies, foundations and the City Council, whose flagship project, Startup Lisboa, is downtown.

The growing industry has helped to rehabilitate historic buildings, reuse obsolete infrastructure and turn abandoned areas into ‘creative districts.’

The efforts have earned the city the title of Entrepreneurial Region 2015 from the European Commission.

The council has also packed the city’s calendar with cultural events like the Lisbon Architecture TriennaleLisbon’s Fashion Weekand the Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival. In August, Lisbon hosted the International Street Art Festival and will be home to the Global Shapers2015 in September, Coworking Europe Conference in November and European Creative Hubs Forum in January.

The growing industry has  helped to rehabilitate historic buildings, reuse obsolete infrastructure and turn abandoned areas into what the council calls “creative districts.”

Pensão Amor in Cais do Sodré is a renovated 18th-century house for prostitutes now with a bookstore and spaces for concerts and ateliers; the old Braço de Prata Factoryis now a legal artistic squat, in Poço do Bispo; the area of Santos is branding itself as Santos Design District; and even Intendente, a neighborhood notorious for drugs and prostitution, is getting a face-lift thanks to spaces like Casa Independente, a beautiful 19th-century palace.

The council is designing several microfinance projects to fund ventures and next year will launch the city’s own crowdfunding platform, in partnership with the philanthropic Foundation Calouste Gulbenkian, the bank Montepio and several universities.

Of course this creative renaissance could eventually boost prices, gentrify the city and price young creatives out of the market. That, however, looks like success and is unlikely to happen soon. Meanwhile, wake up, Barcelona. Watch out, Berlin. Lisbon’s comin’ at ya!

artigo de Laura Secorun Palet publicado no Fast Forward OZY

Source: A Cidade na Ponta dos Dedos

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10 Best Wine Region to Visit

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10 Best Wine Region to Visit

The corks are pulled, the votes are in, and readers of USA TODAY and 10Best have passionately voted Portugal's Alentejo the #1 'Best Wine Region to Visit,' from among 20 worthy nominees.  

Our well-travelled expert nomination panel - a wine educator and a wine buyer - made the original selections and then readers voted daily during the contest's four-week run.  While British Columbia's Okananagan Valley enjoyed an early lead, fans of Portugal's appealing Alentejo region eventually assured it took top honors.

Photo of Ronald Isarin

Photo of Ronald Isarin

"When most people think of Portugal, they immediately think of Douro," says Kerry, "but head a little further south to Alentejo and you won’t be disappointed. Boutique wineries, full service hotels, great restaurants and of course terrific wines (mostly known for hardy red wines) make for a great wine travel experience."

The vast Alentejo, stretching to Portugal's southwestern coast, is still off the radar for many travelers.  This intriguing rural region is like a trip back in time.  The diverse terrain holds olive groves and vineyards, quaint villages, flower-filled meadows and forests. 

"The Alentejo is best known for its hardy red wines made from a unique combination of indigenous varietals," says Kerry Woolard, who served on the expert panel.  "Now, more familiar vinifera such as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot are being produced there too."

The food in Alentejo is rustic and authentic, taking full advantage of the agrarian lifestyle in the area.  You won't find a developed coastline of hotels;  instead Alentejo's beaches - considered some of the most dramatic and beautiful in Europe - require visitors to seek out lodging in independent guest houses.  The Alentejo is like a trip back in time for wine lovers.  The Faro and Lisbon airports are each less than two hours away.  

The full list of winners in the USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice contest for 'Best Wine Region to Visit' contest category is as follows:

  1. Alentejo, Portugal
  2. Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
  3. Maipo, Chile
  4. Marlborough, New Zealand
  5. Croatia
  6. Napa Valley, Calif.
  7. Tuscany, Italy
  8. Oregon
  9. Hunter Valley, Australia
  10. Virginia

Source: 10 best

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Best European country to visit

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Best European country to visit

Portugal won first place at the USA Today “10Best Readers’ Choice” contest for ‘Best European Country” to travel.

According to the editors, “Portugal is less iconic than other well-known countries, but it offers a wealth of opportunities to travelers: charming villages, great food, fascinating regional music, cultural opportunities, a beautiful coastline and even world-class surfing.”

They also wrote, “Much underrated Portugal has all the trappings of a pretty European country: cobbled villages beneath the shadows of medieval castles, sun-kissed beaches, a delectable culinary tradition and plenty of history to explore. Whether swimming in the turquoise waters of the Algarve, sipping a glass of port at a Porto cafe or listening to the melancholy lament of a fadista in Lisbon, Portugal’s understated beauty becomes obvious.”

The other countries that made the top 10 list include Italy, Austria, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Ireland, France, Iceland and Switzerland. All nominees were chosen by experts in the Travel Industry.

The USA Today “10Best” provides its users with original, unbiased, and experiential travel content on top attractions, things to do, and restaurants for top destinations in the US and around the world.

Source: Portuguese American Journal

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The 7 wonders of Lisbon

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The 7 wonders of Lisbon

A few yers ago there was a worldwide internet vote to select the new seven wonders of the worls.The results were announced in Lisbon and that apparently inspired Portugal to conduct a popular vote for its own seven man-made wonders followed by another for the natural wonders.

In 2011 it was the “gastronomic wonders” vote, and one has to wonder which wonders are coming up next.

So we’ve made the list of Lisbon’s own marvels, a selection of what’s truly remarkable, outstanding or unique in the city.

1. BAIXA POMBALINA

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After the earthquake of 1755 destroyed all of central Lisbon, the city’s downtown was rebuilt following unprecedented state-of-the-art urban planning. This was before Haussmann’s redesign of Paris, using a neoclassical style (which became known as “Pombaline”) in a grid of streets. The structures of the buildings were built as a “cage” to make them earthquake-proof and each one was given modern sanitation — something quite rare throughout 18th-century Europe. It was the first time that anti-seismic design and prefabricated building methods were used in such a large scale in the world, and the strikingly modern, broad streets and squares were intended to serve as something of an 18th century shopping mall, each dedicated to a different craft (gold, silver, saddlery…)

Lisbon’s downtown is now recognized as Europe’s first great example of neoclassical design and urban planning, although an advanced state of decay has prevented it from being classified as a World Heritage Site.

2. MOSTEIRO DOS JERÓNIMOS

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With carvings inspired by India and other then-exotic lands, this World Heritage monument was built in the 16th century thanks to the riches pouring into Portugal from the East. Its extraordinary architecture is in the Manueline style unique to Portugal, and most magnificent of all is the stonework of the cloisters.

3. TORRE DE BELÉM

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This was just one of three towers that protected Lisbon’s harbor in the 16th century, including an almost-identical one across the river. This one survived the centuries, and although it looks more like a small fantasy castle for a princess, it was always used as a beacon for the city’s famous explorers. Its magnificent architectural details are reminders of the Age of Discovery and it’s protected as a World Heritage Site.

4. CAPELA S. JOÃO BAPTISTA - IGREJA DE SÃO ROQUE

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Built in the 16th century, this was one of the world’s first Jesuit churches, deceiving with a very plain façade but with a number of extraordinarily gilded and painted chapels inside. One of them (St. John the Baptist) is a unique masterpiece of European art which has become known as “the world’s most expensive chapel,” paid for with the gold discovered in Brazil (at the time a Portuguese colony). Built in Rome in 1742 using only the most precious gems (ivory, lapis lazulli, gold, silver, marble, gilt bronze, agate, porphyry…), the chapel was shipped to Lisbon to be assembled in this church where it can now be seen together with other seven side-chapels equally rich in ornamentation. Its most extraordinary feature is that its “paintings” are not paintings but actually very detailed mosaics!

5. COCHE DOS OCEANOS & COCHE DE LISBOA - MUSEU DOS COCHES

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While most royal carriages were destroyed over time in most European capitals (especially in Paris after the French Revolution), Portugal’s Queen Amélia had the visionary idea of preserving the ones in Portugal in a museum. Lisbon’s Carriages Museum is therefore now a unique collection in the world, and although there are a few carriages displayed in a couple of other cities such as Vienna, Lisbon’s stands out for assembling ceremonial and promenade vehicles from the 17th to the 19th centuries. It’s the world’s biggest collection, with most being the private property of the royal family.

The museum allows visitors to see the technical and artistic evolution of vehicles before the motor car, and the biggest wonders are the two magnificent ones used in an embassy to France’s Louis XIV and Pope Clement XI. They’re monumentally sculpted and represent the oceans and the glory of Lisbon.

6. MUSEU DO AZULEJO - CONVENTO DA MADRE DE DEUS

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Ceramic tile art is found all over the Mediterranean, but nowhere else in the world did it evolve as much or as imaginatively as in Portugal. Here, tiles became more than just geometric figures decorating walls, they also depicted historical and cultural images to cover palaces, street signs, and shops. There is only one place in the world where you can follow the history and evolution of this art form, and that’s Lisbon’s Tile Museum. Set in a magnificent 16th-century convent, this beautiful and unique gallery has a collection of tilework from as far back as Moorish times, and also presents modern examples by contemporary artists.

7. AQUEDUTO DAS ÁGUAS LIVRES

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The 1755 earthquake was able to destroy almost an entire city, but it was incapable of knocking down this monumental aqueduct. It stands today as it did in 1746 when it was completed and Lisbon finally able to have drinking water in practically every neighborhood, with reservoirs distributed through different parts of the city. These reservoirs are now used as exhibition spaces, especially the ones in Amoreiras and Principe Real, both part of the Water Museum.

With 109 arches (most in the Gothic style, and the tallest at a record-breaking 65m/213ft high) across a valley, Lisbon’s aqueduct is considered one of the world’s masterpieces of engineering of the Baroque period and one of the most remarkable hydraulic constructions of all time.

Source: Lisbon Lux

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THE 10 GREAT SUMMER ATTRACTIONS IN LISBON

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THE 10 GREAT SUMMER ATTRACTIONS IN LISBON

Visiting Lisbon in the warmer months should not be just another city break to see the cultural attractions of another European capital. It’s a truly unique and diverse destination, with countless spots to enjoy the sun and the higher temperatures on the beautiful, westernmost coast of Europe.

1. GUINCHO BEACH

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The largest and sandiest beach on the Lisbon riviera is windy but beautiful and never crowded. It also has some of Portugal’s best restaurants such as the Michelin-starred Fortaleza do Guincho and Porto de Santa Maria which has attracted celebrities like Brad Pitt and Bill Clinton. They all face the ocean, as do a couple of luxury hotels: Fortaleza do Guincho and the Quinta da Marinha resort.

2. PENA PARK

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When temperatures rise, cool down in the magical Pena Park in Sintra, home to Portugal’s most spectacular palace and to the haunting ruins of a Moorish castle. In between those two monuments are mansions and refreshing vegetation overlooking Europe’s westernmost coastline.

3. TAMARIZ BEACH

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Perhaps Portugal’s most famous beach in the 1950s when its castle illustrated countless postcards, it now suffers from overcrowding from tourists and suburban teenagers. The fact that it’s so easy to reach (with the train station right behind it, across from Europe’s biggest casino) doesn’t help, but it should still be your starting point for a search for a calm spot by the Atlantic. Walking west past the bars you’ll eventually find plenty of sand and calmer waters all for yourself, and just may end up following the pleasant boardwalk all the way to Cascais.

4. COSTA DA CAPARICA

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It’s not easy to reach by public transportation and in order to get to the best beaches on this 30-km coast south of the capital you’ll need a car. It’s Europe’s largest unbroken expanse of sand and you should avoid the overcrowded area around the town of Caparica, following the dunes to the beautiful and wild Fonte da Telha or Praia da Morena instead.

5. COMERCIO SQUARE

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Years of renovation gave Lisbon’s biggest square more pedestrian areas and new café terraces. Opening to the river and a wharf, it’s also where tourists sit to admire the estuary and 25 de Abril Bridge, with some even getting their feet wet. For refreshments and prolonged meals in the sun there are the cafés and restaurants.

6. THE WATERFRONT

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You could walk for about 45 minutes from Comércio Square, past Cais do Sodré to Belém along the waterfront, and find several cafés, restaurants and spots to sit in the sun. In between you’ll find the "beach" of Ribeira das Naus, and Docas de Santo Amaro, the docks with warehouses-turned-restaurants under 25 de Abril Bridge. Those who don’t feel like going to the beach but still want some time in the sun should simply follow the water.

7. THE TERRACES

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The top of Lisbon’s seven hills offer postcard-worthy views of the city and allow you to catch some sun. See this list of the best spots:The 10 Best Rooftop Bars and Terraces in Lisbon

8. PARQUE DO TEJO

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Created between 1995 and 1999 as a leisure area by Europe’s longest bridge, this waterfront park has the shade of over 15,000 trees and a large area for sitting in the sun. Perfect for a picnic or to rest after a walk along the waterfront past the city’s best contemporary architecture, it’s also used for working out, soccer games and open-air yoga

9. THE BIG PARKS

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Even locals don’t know about most of the green paradises in their city. Just above the main avenue is Edward VII Park which is much bigger than it looks at first sight, hiding a wonderful greenhouse by a lake. Then there are the secret gardens of Necessidades Park, usually mostly deserted with lots of space to lay in the sun. Even better is Europe’s largest urban forest on the edge of town, Monsanto. See the best green spots in the city here: 10 Beautiful Parks and Gardens

10. THE LONG NIGHTS

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Because the sun doesn’t set until just before 9PM in the summer, dinners in Lisbon often start at 10PM and drinks at way past midnight. The traditional nightlife neighborhood has been Bairro Alto but it now has serious competition down the hill in the seedy-cool Cais do Sodré district. Once the place for sailors to meet ladies of the night, it’s now where Lisbon meets for alternative music and lots of drinking on the street. The starting point for it all is Camões Square.

Source: Lisbon Lux

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Insider's Guide to Lisbon

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Insider's Guide to Lisbon

Palacio Fronteira Pedro Guimarães

Palacio Fronteira Pedro Guimarães

This city is often overlooked as a destination, considered an also-ran to Paris, Rome and other European capitals, with their iconic attractions and masses of tourists. But there's something to be said for Lisbon's subtler charms.

Lilac-hued jacaranda blossoms carpeting the stone benches in Largo do Carmo Square, for instance. Or melancholic fado music wafting from cafes in the twisting streets of Alfama. Or the perfume of sea spray along the waterfront in Belém, close to where the Rio Tejo joins the Atlantic Ocean.

Lisbon peaked as a global powerhouse in the 15th and 16th centuries, when Portuguese explorers sailed from its shores, returning with treasures from India and the coast of Africa. A devastating earthquake and tsunami in the 1700s humbled the city. The current economic crisis has put Portugal in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. An upside of centuries out of the spotlight is that Lisbon's gems weren't razed in the name of progress.

There are also advantages to the capital's lack of notoriety on the cultural front. Visitors can enjoy Lisbon's museums—the trendy (the Museu Coleção Berardo and the Museu do Design e da Moda) and the traditional (the fado and tile museums)—without crowds.

Yet the city isn't stuck in the past. Santiago Calatrava designed the futuristic Oriente metro station in Parque das Nacões. The new Beautique Hotels Figueira were created by acclaimed Portuguese designer Nini Andrade e Silva. And British architect Amanda Levete is creating a spaceshiplike EDP Foundation Arts and Technology Centre in Belém.

Back home, regale your friends with your discoveries. Better yet, don't.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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BEST ROOFTOP BARS IN LISBON

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BEST ROOFTOP BARS IN LISBON

SILK CLUB

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This club at the top of a building in the Chiado district is one of the most exclusive addresses in Lisbon since it opened in 2008. It offers a nearly-360º view of the city’s historic center, and has a minimalist decor and a sophisticated-yet-chilled-out ambience. It serves Mediterranean dinners from Tuesday to Saturday from 7:00PM to 11:30PM, and after that it’s time for music by the resident DJ, and cocktails late into the night.

SKY BAR

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Found at the top of the Tivoli Hotel, this is a lounge area with sofas where you may gaze out to the river, to the castle and downtown. It offers a good list of cocktails (including non-alcoholic) and there is also a choice of snacks. It opens late in the afternoon, but only in the warmer months, usually between May and September.

MEMMO ALFAMA TERRACE

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This bar is on the first floor and not on the rooftop of the building of the Memmo Alfama Hotel, but it is at the top of an entire neighborhood -- picturesque Alfama. It has some of the best views of the Tagus and of Lisbon’s oldest district, and a contemporary décor. It’s by the hotel’s outdoor pool, offering a selection of Portuguese wines and tapas, to be enjoyed along with the magnificent views. It opens every day, from 6PM to 11PM.

TERRACE

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It's not spacious but it's already been considered one of the most beautiful terraces in the world. The reason is the view that goes over the rooftops to 25 de Abril Bridge, and a comfortable, cozy atmosphere. Relax amid cushions and wicker chairs, and enjoy a glass of wine or a refreshing drink.

ROOFTOP BAR

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Be blown away by the view from this terrace on the 9th floor of Mundial Hotel. The castle is so close you can almost touch it, and you can see almost all of downtown and Chiado. It opens for pre-dinner drinks but also invites you to end the night with a cocktail to the sound of jazz.

ENTRETANTO

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The terrace on the 7th floor of Hotel do Chiado offers a breathtaking view of Lisbon. You may admire the old city and the Tagus, while enjoying a tea in the afternoon or a cocktail at night.

PARK

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The top of a car park at the doorstep of Bairro Alto instantly became an afternoon and night hotspot when it opened in the summer of 2013. Wooden tables and small potted trees facing 25 de Abril Bridge create the feeling of a garden suspended above the city, serving a variety of drinks and burgers into the night, to the sounds selected by a DJ.

LOST IN

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This colorful terrace faces east, also through its exotic décor inspired by India and zen ambiences. A Hindu goddess is illustrated on a wall, observing the service that includes light meals and drinks for a relaxed afternoon or evening.

VARANDA DO CASTELO

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The rooftop bar of the Vintage Lisboa Hotel opens during the spring and summer months for evenings of views over Lisbon to the sound of music. It serves tapas and a variety of cocktails every day, from 5PM to midnight.

UPSCALE

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While most other rooftop bars are in the historic center of town, this one is in the modern city, at the top of a luxury hotel. It's essentially a summer destination, with an infinity pool and fruity cocktails. While there's a charge for the use of the pool, anyone is welcome to sit on the lounge chairs and try the variety of cocktails together with snacks as they overlook the city. In the background there is always a mix of pop hits for a chill-out atmosphere.

Source: Lisbon Lux

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