Friday, 31 March 2017

March is over...

Amazing how in just a blink of an eye, three months have already gone. Spring arrived, the time became warmer and the days invited to nice walks around the city. It's unbelievable that after so many years I can still find something that I had not discovered before in Lisbon.

Have been working on a new series on the modernist Portuguese artist Almada Negreiros and in April I'll start a series on a Lisbon itinerary of his works. For those of you passionate for art and architecture is a must see and a must go if you're visiting Lisbon.

Just before the month ended, the Barcelona City Guide went online and I hope it can became a success like the Paris and Lisbon Guides. I'll be looking forward for your feedback so I can keep improving the guides with your favorite features. Please take a look and tell me what you think about it.

I'm already looking forward to March and to the coming Spring. Until then leave you with the nine photos that are the Top 9 for March on our Instagram account. You can follow us there for daily photos and tips.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Chronicles from Barcelona | City Guide

Good weather, a great atmosphere, history and culture, great food and lots of activities and attractions, Barcelona has it all to offer to those who visit it. Visiting all the different neighborhoods and trying to figure out how the city has grown over the centuries is something that fascinates me everywhere I go, and Barcelona is no exception. From the medieval parte of the town to its modernists streets visiting this city its such an amazing experience that makes you want to stay.

On this post, I'll try to present you some of the must go places and my favorite spots in the city. Visiting more specific posts, that you can reach trough the links, will bring you further information (and photos) that you may find useful while planning a visit to Barcelona.


Barcelona was once a Roman city (Barcino, founded around 133 B.C.), surrounded by stone walls. Century after century, trough the Middle Ages  this village grow in size and importance. The Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter) is a well preserved  set of medieval buildings, squares, narrow streets  and windy alleys, where you should take your time wandering  about (actually, only a few street can be used by cars).  You can find roman arches and columns, the cathedral and many churches, beautiful and famous museums, concert halls, like the Palau de la Musica Catalana,  along with small boutiques and great places to eat.


Besides Barri Gòtic, the Old Town of Barcelona also includes El Borne district, and if you want to get out of the more beaten track wile still keeping close to the charm of the narrow streets and old buildings, this more artistic and fashionable neighborhood is the place to go.

Here you can find less conventional stores, nice cafe terraces and some of the most interesting attractions of the city. The  Picasso Museum, the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar, El Borne Centre Cultural i de Memòria and the Ciutadella Park (also home to Barcelona Zoo) are some of the places that you can't miss in the visit.

In the heart of the district is the  tree-lined Passeig del Born, once the site of medieval jousting competitions. Today with its numerous restaurants and bars is a place to go eat and drink, both day or night. 


Either its name comes from the Roman temple of Mons Jovis (Moutain of Jupiter) or from the medieval Jewish cemetery in the south side of the mountain, Montjuïc is an obligatory visit while in Barcelona.

The Palau Nacional, other palaces and infrastructures  in Montjuïc, including the wide mountain parc,  and the famous Mies van der Rohe Pavillion, were built for the World Exposition of 1929, but the full development of the hill come with the Olympic Games of 1992, with the construction of the stadium and of several sport facilities.

Just above the commercial port one can find the  17th Century fortress, the Castell de Montjuïc, which today houses the military historical museum. In the days of Franco, the fortress on the Montjuïc was a prison for political prisoners. Today it can be visited and enjoy some great views of the city.


When, in the eighteenth century, a part of the residents of La Ribera quarter lost their homes in order to built the Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona grew towards the sea and La Barceloneta was built to accommodate its new inhabitants, mostly fisherman and sailors. 

The landscape of the neighborhood changed dramatically with the 1992 Olympics, with the recuperation of the urban infrastructures, the creation of beautiful beaches lined with white sand and palm trees and rigorous standards of coastal water quality. Promenades, Shoppings, Hotels, a Marina (Port Vell) and an Aquarium, sportive infrastructures, trendy restaurantes and contemporary art  exhibits are among the attractions waiting for Barceloneta visitors.


In mid nineteenth century, with the beginning of industrialisation, Barcelona began to grow out off the city walls, extending the living and working space for the fast-growing population.  The Eixample district, with its large straight streets and its modernist architecture, testimonies a time of progress and prosperity that characterized the city trough the last decades of the 1800's and the beginning of the twentieth century.

The Passeig de Gracia, that connects the medieval city (starting at Plaça Catalunya) to the Gràcia district, is lined with admirable buildings, chic boutiques and great restaurants. There you can find two of the most famous monuments of Barcelona's architect Antoní Gaudì - Casa Milà  (also known as La Pedrera) and Casa Batlló. Casa Batlló is part of the Block of Discord, located in Passeig de Gràcia between calle Aragó and calle Consell de Cent. This block  features the most famous collection of modernist buildings sharing the same facade in Barcelona.  Further east, the Sagrada Família cathedral , also projected by Gaudì, is a place where is mandatory to go with plenty of time.


Las Ramblas is one of the main streets of Barcelona and, often, one of the first landmarks that most visitors identify with the city. This central boulevard, which cuts through the heart of the city centre,   is a vibrant and agreeable promenade of approximately 1,3 kilometers, connecting Plaza Catalunya  to Port Vell harbor. To the west it borders with El Raval area and east of Las Ramblas you can find the Barri Gòtic. 

There you can find La Boqueria Market, the first of Barcelona's local markets, opened on 1840 and where you can find a selection of fruits, fresh meat, fish and see food (you can also eat it on the place), and a lot of other products. The color and the diversity of products makes it a place to visit.


Situated in the higher part of the city, Gràcia is the bohemian quarter of the city. Its cosmopolitan caracter and strong political stance brings a special appeal. In this colorful neighborhood you can find one of the top attractions of Barcelona - Parc Güell - and some of the best view points o the city.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Lisbon Chronicles | José de Almada Negreiros - A Way of Being Modern

"Isto de ser moderno é como ser elegante: não é uma maneira de vestir mas sim uma maneira de ser. Ser moderno não é fazer a caligrafia moderna, é ser o legítimo descobridor da novidade."

"Being modern is like being elegant: it's not a way of dressing but a way of being. Being modern is not making modern calligraphy, it's being the legitimate discoverer of novelty."

José de Almada Negreiros, 1927

Recently visited the magnificent exhibition that Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian is presenting on the work of Almada Negreiros. This anthological exhibition, with about 400 pieces, is a comprehensive retrospective on the work of an artist who propelled the avant-garde in the 1910s and whose career spanned the 20th century.

Almada Negreiros (1893-1970) was a prolific and varied artist, being a master of multiple crafts. To him, every art was a part of the “spectacle” an artist was required to present to the public, so that every piece, gesture or attitude was a means to reveal a total idea of modernity.

Creative, provocative and autodidact, Almada Negreiros worked with different techniques, and artistic languages. He was a painter, an actor, a writer and an enthusiast of cinema.

This impressive exhibition presents paintings and drawings that are closely linked to the work the artist did in collaboration with architects, writers, publishers, musicians, set designers and stage directors. Some of the drawings and paintings are studies done in preparation of larger works that can be found all over the city. The exhibition presents a map of the sites where one can find these works of Almada Negreiros.

The exhibits are organized according to 7 key themes present in the work of the artist, beautifully presented in two galleries of the museum. The lobby of the Foundation presents itself one major work of Almada Negreiros, the mural with over 12 meters long is an ode to Geometry, one of the passions of the artist, and it was his final work. The title expresses once more his undeniable genius. Começar, which is the Portuguese word for To Begin!

3 February to 5 June 2017

Friday, 24 March 2017

Best Things to Do in Lisbon | Gastronomic Festivals

You may ask yourself what is the common denominator for sardines and cocktails. It's easy,  Lisbon in April is the answer!

Next month, both Lisbon visitors and locals will have the opportunity to participate in two different gastronomic events that have conquered the public attention and praise in previous years. Lisbon Fish & Flavours (Peixe em Lisboa) and Lisbon Cocktail Week will be expecting your visit with a diversified offer where quality and creativity are the key words.

Starting the 30th March and until the 9th of April, the 10th Lisbon Fish & Flavours week will bring together some of the best restaurants and Chefs of the city, celebrating one of the most emblematic of national products - our fish and seafood. 

In one single space (Pavilhão Carlos Lopes) you will find diversified and innovative fish-based culinary offerings. Of course that desserts and wine pairings have not been forgotten and you can visit the festival with the certainty of having a delicious meal.

There is also an auditorium where cooking workshops,  debates and other activities relating to gastronomy are organized. There will be a gourmet market area, with the exhibition and sale of food products and wine.

A number of Portuguese and international Chefs will participate, representing their restaurants. Visiting the festival can be a way of tasting some of their creations within a much friendlier budget. For instances, the Executive Chef of the Four Seasons Ritz Hotel Lisbon, Pascal Meynard, will represent the Hotel for the second time at this event. Therefore, while visiting Lisbon Fish & Flavours, don't forget to sample the Shrimp and Spinach Salad, with black truffle vinaigrette and parmesan, one of Chef Pascal Meynard's featured recipes. 

For the movies and TV shows fans there are some cocktails that had become iconic. Who can forget Mr Bond's Martini (shaken not stirred, of course!), Don Draper's Old Fashioned or Carrie Bradshaw's Cosmopolitan? Those and many other classical cocktails will be the stars of this year's Lisbon Cocktail Week, that takes place from the 21h to the 29th of April.

Along with the signature cocktails and the mocktails (cocktails without alcohol) every each one of the 62 participating bars will have a classic available for the Cocktail Moment. This Cocktail Moment takes place during the nine days of the event, from 6pm to 11pm. During this period it will be possible to have two cocktails for the price of one in all 62 spaces of the event. 

There will also be  a Shop & Mix itinerary, including shops and places where you can buy mixology utensils and ingredients to make cocktails at home. Finally, each venue will have its own program during the Lisbon Cocktail Week, with concerts, dinners with cocktail pairings and workshops.

The list of 62 participating bars includes some iconic places of Lisbon. The Ritz Bar and the Tempus Lounge  (remember our article on 6 Lisbon Hotels to Fall in Love?) are two of the participants and I'm sure their baristas will mesmerize us with some superb cocktails.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Lisbon Chronicles | The Secret Abbey

In the basement of Palácio Foz lies the secular space of the old Abadia Vínica Restaurant. This mysterious place (unknown to most locals) is surrounded by secrets, full of stories and all covered with symbols. Private clubs, secret societies, groups of conspirators are the ingredients of the stories your guide will tell you in the scenic ambience of this underground place.

After an opulent beginning, in the beginning of the 20th century the palace was repurposed and, in 1917 a Patisserie (Pastelaria Foz) was inaugurated in the ground floor. This posh establishment was the place of choice for the elegant ladies to reunite for the afternoon tea.  But, in the basement, there was happening something totally different.

The Abadia Vínica (Wine Abbey) was the place of reunion of a private gentleman's club known as the Makavenkos. The club, founded in 1884, presented gastronomic and bohemian purposes, but the rumors and stories associate its members to the masonry. In 1917, the Abadia Vínica Restaurant becomes one of the meeting points of the Makavenkos that held there amazing feasts while fraternizing with beautiful ladies (Makavenkas), some would most probably be of easy virtue, as one of the rules was that no Makavenko could relate to the same Makavenka for more than two weeks.

The interiors reproduce the Cloister and Refectory of a medieval abbey, both profusely decorated with all sort of symbols. You can find there revivalist decorative elements, so much to the taste of the Belle Epoque. An initiation well in the Cloister and the busts of 20 known masons in the Refectory contribute to the perception that the Makavenkos was indeed more than just a foodies and womanizers group of men.

Although the place is not open to the public, you can schedule a visit with Lx Secret Places tours that I strongly recommend. Jorge, the guide, has a deep knowledge of the place and of the Makavenkos club and will catch your attention with a detailed description of the past days of Abadia and of all of its decorative and architectonic features.

Lx Secret Places has regularly planned visits, but you can contact them to check if its possible to held a non-programmed visit in the days you are visiting Lisbon. The tour includes the visit to the Claustrum, to the Refectorum, without forgetting to go through the mysterious cells. This visit has a duration of 45 minutes and it can be held in English (for booking a non programed tour, please visit the site).

In this visit I was a guest to Lx Secret Places, but as you can read above, this article and all the opinions included are my own and result of my experience in visiting Abadia Vínica.

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