A good friend from High School and I wanted to get out of town and help the world economy. We decided to head to Europe and spend our money in Lisbon, Portugal. We're looking forward to seeing the city, learning about the history, meeting the people, tasting the food, drinking the wine and taking lots of pictures!
Lisbon Lights Up
Europe's cradle of discoverers, where the days last all night long, emerges as a city to be discovered. Bruce Stutz finds global style energizing an imperishable Iberian capital
The best street for concentrated, only-in-Lisbon shopping is the Rua Garret, which fittingly links the city's two prime style centers: the still raffish, boho Bairro Alto and the more polished, boutique-happy Chiado. Start at the Vista Alegre flagship shop, which showcases a line of Portuguese ceramics established in 1824. Especially tempting: the set of fey figurines symbolizing Portugal's provinces, including a peasant girl balancing a basket of pastel-colored flowers on her head (20–23 Largo do Chiado; 351-21-346-1401; www.vistaalegre.pt). Continue east down Rua Garret to the Armazens Do Chiado, which is as chic as a mall gets and a prime local hangout (2 Rua do Carmo; 351-21-321-0600; www.armazensdochiado.com in Portuguese only). The area's most sublime surprise, though, sitting just across the street from the mall entrance, is the doll-sized Luvaria Ulisses, where the proprietor still traces your hand on paper and makes perfectly fitted butter-leather gloves in colors like saffron, pistachio, and plum (87-A Rua do Carmo; 351-21-342-0295; www.luvariaulisses.com). If you're in search of a more substantial souvenir, head to Casa dos Tapetes de Arraiolos, which specializes in the hand-embroidered Portuguese wool rugs that originated as a folkish take on oriental carpets; the flower-strewn versions can look like Whitman sampler boxes, but the more geometric patterned renditions are guilelessly elegant (116 E Rua da Imprensa Nacional; 351-21-396-3354; www.casatapetesarraiolos.com).
Four Seasons Hotel Ritz, Portugal
Lisbon 1099-039, Portugal
Tel: 800 332 3442 (toll-free), Tel: 351 21 381 1400
Lisbon's Four Seasons may come as a surprise to the chain's fans. The ten-story, 1959 marble cube of a building, crowning one of Lisbon's seven hills, looks like a version of Eastern Bloc architecture at its most block-headed, and the swish 1950s interior doesn't conform to any accepted rendition of contempo chic. But anyone who appreciates genuinely quirky retro will lap up the Jean Cocteau meets Jackie O. glamour, starting with 282 epic-sized guestrooms that flaunt a dizzying mix of luxe references (everything from Louis XVI to a dash of Deco, swagged curtains to heated towel racks). The hotel really comes into its own, though, in the sweeping public lounges that double as galleries of Portuguese Modernist art; among the most eye-popping pieces are the neon-colored, Picasso-like tapestries of centauros by José de Almada Negreiros. Less of an acquired taste, especially in a city where service can seriously flag, is the impeccably efficient staff and an intrepid concierge desk that will do anything legal to snag that dinner reservation. Other big pluses: a new, state-of-the-art multi-sensory spa (try the nectar and papaya wrap for a fruity, organic glow) and the Varanda Restaurant's snaking lunch buffet, where you can sample every classic egg-based Portuguese convent dessert while watching the local power brokers make deals.