quarta-feira, fevereiro 13, 2008


Lisboa é capa da edição January/February 2008 da revista americana Virtuoso Life.

No artigo com o título Pink Dreams and Port Wine publicado por Marika McElroy Cain, que divulgamos na integra, Alfama é mencionada 3 vezes, destacando o atelier de Teresa Segurado Pavão que fica na Rua de São João da Praça, bem como o restaurante Bica do Sapato e a discoteca Lux na zona ribeirinha.

Pink Dreams and Port Wine
Portugal serves up an enticing cocktail of sun, city, scenery, and special treatment.

Portugal’s central coast serves up an enticing cocktail
Our first glimpse of Portugal’s coastline slices through the bleariness of the six-hour transatlantic flight. On the horizon verdant cliffs materialize, plunging seaward to where the Atlantic crumbles at their feet. As we descend, golden slivers of beach grow into wide half-moons, and clusters of red tile roofs here and there become denser until Lisbon takes shape, hugging the Tagus River in all its hilly, rose-hued glory. It’s not hard to imagine the twinge of regret the explorers of yore might have felt shoving off from these welcoming shores and forging into the vast expanse of ocean toward lands unknown.
My own mission is somewhat more modest than, say, Vasco da Gama’s. Accompanied by my husband, Ben, I’m searching for a well-rounded, low-key European vacation. We want a weeklong escape that balances local insight and flavor with relaxation, leisurely sightseeing, and top-notch accommodations. Given our destination, we can’t lose.
Among Portugal’s attributes: relatively untrammeled attractions; one the best values anywhere in Europe (an espresso still costs around $1.50); a host of natural beauty, from coastal pine forests and near-tropical inland hills to sandy Atlantic beaches; an increasingly cosmopolitan capital that keeps high-rises at bay and cobblestones polished; mild weather year-round (temperatures range from the mid-50s in winter to the mid-70s in summer); and a surfeit of charm. What’s more, all this can be found within 45 minutes of Lisbon, which means it’s possible to add relaxation to the wish list and forgo the fatigue that comes with trying to see an entire country in a week.

Insider’s Lisbon
At the airport a driver ushers us into a waiting Mercedes and whisks us to our first hotel. The Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon is a modernist monolith atop one of Lisbon’s seven hills. Its austere facade belies the opulence within: an expansive lobby with tapestries by the artist José de Almada Negreiros and a Volkswagen-size flower arrangement, a spa with an indoor swimming pool overlooking the ground-floor patio and fountain. The glassed-in rooftop fitness center is the prettiest gym I’ve ever seen, with views across the city to Lisbon’s Alfama district and its Moorish castle, an outdoor track, and tranquil Zen cactus gardens. Our room, with its marble-walled bathroom, complimentary bottle of port, and private balcony faces the same spectacle, and despite our best intentions, we collapse and nap for three hours.
In search of dinner that evening, we stroll down the Avenida da Liberdade, over the polished limestone cobbles – calling cards of the country’s once-mighty empire that are found around the world wherever the Portuguese flexed their exploration-age muscle, from Brazil to Macao. As we descend the avenue toward the Tagus River, we pass Longchamp, Burberry, and other purveyors of the finer things, occupying buildings that once served as various airline headquarters.
By all accounts, Lisbon, a port city of 564,000 people perched on the north bank of the Tagus River just eight miles from where it meets the Atlantic, is transforming into a chic capital. There’s the revitalization of waterfront warehouses into lofts and glam restaurants (including John Malkovich’s Bica do Sapato and the famed Lux nightclub). There’s the trend among wealthy lisboetas toward renovating buildings in the city’s older quarters. And there’s the profusion of irresistible shopping – everything from bleeding-edge boutiques in well-heeled Chiado and club-drenched Bairro Alto to the big-name (and big price tag) designer stores we’re currently strolling past on Avenida da Liberdade.
Luckily for visitors, Lisbon’s cosmopolitan airs haven’t come at the expense of its charm. At the bottom of the hill in the Baixa district, we settle in at a sidewalk table at the art deco Café Nicola for gazpacho and cured meats. In Baixa, the old Lisbon thrives. Streets named for the tradesmen who once plied their crafts here (Rua dos Sapateiros for the shoemakers, Rua dos Douradores for the goldsmiths, and so on) are lined with tiny shops, each with a single ware to peddle: One sells just buttons, another only lace, another mixes custom perfumes from hand-labeled bottles. Grandmothers haggle with the aged shopkeepers for their goods, and a visitor gets the impression that within these walls, daily life has changed little since the Salazar regime’s dictatorship ended in 1974.
I find further evidence of the old Lisbon’s presence the next morning. I’m surveying the city from our balcony at the Ritz, looking down past the Marquês de Pombal roundabout to the Tagus and up the hill to the ramparts of the Moorish castle. As I turn to go inside, I hear the unmistakable sound of a rooster crowing.
Isabel Lage, our guide from Valesa Cultural Services, is waiting for us in the hotel lobby. An energetic woman in crisp white linen and giant sunglasses, she greets us with kisses on the cheek and an excited “So! What are we doing today?” She knows, of course, but she’s giving us the option to throw in our own requests. The greater Lisbon area is officially our oyster. Isabel’s lust for life, wide circle of friends, and 30-odd years in the tourism business make buzzing around with her less like traveling with a guide and more like tagging along with a well-connected cousin. Before the day’s end, we’ve privately toured a Lisbon artist’s studio, hopped lines all over town, and rubbed shoulders with one of the country’s preeminent landscape architects.
“Portuguese people love pink,” Isabel tells us, as we glide through the city in a black Mercedes sedan, our driver, Antonio, at the wheel. This is no revelation, except perhaps to the color-blind. Stucco buildings in shades of salmon, dusty rose, flamingo, and cotton candy line the streets like so many blushing sentries. “In the U.S., you say, ‘Have sweet dreams.’ Here we say, ‘Desejo sonhos cor-de-rosa,’” she tells us. “Have pink dreams.”
At the Jerónimos Monastery in western Lisbon, she sweeps us past the queue of visitors with a few words to the ticket taker, and we’re inside the cloisters of this sixteenth-century edifice where long-ago seafarers prayed for safe passage beneath the limestone columns with their signature ropelike decoration. This hallmark of the Manueline style is affiliated with nautical exploration and King Manuel I, who oversaw Portugal’s golden era during the late 1400s and early 1500s, earning the nickname “Manuel the Fortunate.” The embellishments are appropriate to a country whose most prosperous age stemmed from the discoveries of sailors such as Vasco da Gama and Pedro Alvares Cabral. Isabel shushes a gaggle of laughing Germans who have congregated near da Gama’s tomb in the monastery, and then we’re off.
On a whim, Isabel takes us to the atelier of Teresa Segurado Pavão, a by-appointment-only workshop housed in a former bakery on a back street of the Alfama district. Teresa has exhibited her ceramic and textile work in galleries and museums around the country. She greets us at the door of her shop and ushers us into the back, where gorgeous, tidy groupings of ephemera – antique glass bottles, metal coils, brass buttons – line the shelves. Her spare goblets, bowls, and boxes are reminiscent of bone, and the fact that we would never have stumbled across her workshop on our own makes me love them even more.
We stop for coffee and pastéis de nata at Pastéis de Belém, the city’s most famous purveyor of the ubiquitous and delicious custard tartlets. Women in white caps turn out dozens of the creamy pastries, and a cadre of waiters delivers them to patrons, along with bica (espresso) or meia de leite (café au lait), just as they have since 1837. I remark that I haven’t seen a single Starbucks since we arrived. “We don’t want Starbucks,” Isabel says. “Our coffee is too good.” I’m tempted to believe this, because Portuguese coffee’s flavor is the rich, bold stuff of a caffeine addict’s dreams, but it’s also possible that Portugal simply hasn’t registered on the radar of Howard Schultz and his Venti-size endeavors – which is a major part of its allure.

Courtly Escapes
Our next fortuitous encounter takes place outside the city in the mountain town of Sintra, 30 minutes west of Lisbon. This is the former holiday haunt of Manuel I, who summered here to escape Lisbon’s heat and, no doubt, to bask in the town’s riot of green: Ivy, maples, palm trees, and cypresses serve as a backdrop for moss- and bougainvillea-covered walls. There’s not much to do in Sintra beyond eating, walking, and relaxing, and therein lies the beauty of this leafy enclave. The centerpiece of the town, the Palácio Nacional, a yellow and pink confection that served as a royal palace in some form or another from Moorish times until 1910, stands out in Technicolor relief against the vegetation on a precipitous hillside. The palace is open to visitors, but the weather is so pretty that we admire it from the outside, then wander Sintra’s lovely cobbled streets.
Serendipity next takes us up a steep, windy road to the home of one of the country’s most renowned landscape architects (and Isabel’s dear friend), Francisco Caldeira Cabral. Thanks to a chance encounter between Caldeira Cabral and Isabel, we spend a pleasant hour at his house, a magnificent converted stable at his family’s former estate (now a home for senior citizens). His garden is an ode to green, a free-form collection of tropical and subtropical plants that flourish in Sintra’s lush climate, and I’m not surprised to find out that he’s responsible for designing the Zen plantings I admired at the Hotel Ritz’s rooftop fitness center, as well as several other well-known gardens around the country and many more in Macao.
Fifteen minutes west of Sintra, the landscape morphs from a Jungle Book backdrop into arid expanses of pine and eucalyptus. This leads toward the blustery seaside of Guincho (named for seagulls, whose call, in Portuguese, sounds like guinch, guinch), which is home to the westernmost point in continental Europe. George Lazenby as James Bond plucked the woman who became his ill-fated bride from the shore at Guincho in the 1969 movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. There’s no sign of Bondian activities here now, just acres of fine sand, the sea, and families enjoying the sun.
We lunch at Porto Santa Maria, a traditional restaurant on a stretch of beach beloved by windsurfers for its flat water and brisk breezes. Bow-tied waiters fill our table with petiscos, a tapaslike array of meats, cheeses, cod fritters, and olives, which, per Portuguese custom, diners pay for only if they eat. Coastal Portuguese fare is simple: Most restaurants offer an impressive array of cod dishes, as well as a few additional fish dishes. Spices, in our experience, don’t get much more exotic than salt, which is surprising for a country whose empire once extended to India, Africa, and Asia.
The key to eating well in Portugal is eating fresh, and Porto Santa Maria offers no shortage of prime seafood, not to mention a port cellar with special blue lights installed to best preserve the national elixir. We gorge ourselves, snacking on the petiscos, then moving on to delicate steamed clams with butter, garlic, and parsley. The pièce de résistance arrives on a pewter platter the size of an atlas: a whole sea bass, which our waiter, expertly wielding an oversize fork and spoon, liberates from its baked-on rock salt crust, as well as its bones and skin. He serves us giant portions, along with the standard Portuguese sides of broccoli and potatoes. We drizzle on olive oil with parsley and eat until we can’t anymore.
Heading back along the coast toward Lisbon, the side-by-side resort towns of Cascais and Estoril beckon. Once a humble fishing village, Cascais and its harbor became the playground of royalty in 1870 after King Luís I and his wife Maria Pia spent the month of September frolicking on its sheltered shores. The influx of wealthy summer visitors has hardly ebbed since then: Those who could afford it bunkered down here during World War II – the list of exiled or deposed royalty who took up residence runs the gamut from the Duke of Windsor to King Umberto I of Italy. The Espirito Santo banking family’s palatial pink mansion is here, next door to Umberto’s former home. Fishing boats still bob in the harbor, and Gelados Santini, the ice cream shop where King Juan Carlos of Spain has indulged in summertime treats with his family, still scoops gelato for the warm-weather crowd.

Untamed Arrabida
There’s a less developed side to the Lisbon area, too, we discover one day during a trip along the scenic route. We wend south through the village of Azeitão along roads lined with olive groves. An old man pedals an equally ancient bicycle past a burial quoit, the remnant of some Iberian Flintstones civilization.
As the car begins to climb uphill, houses and towns disappear, and the landscape gives over to swaths of squat oak, laurel, juniper, pine, and wild olive punctuated by limestone outcroppings: an old-growth Mediterranean forest. This is the 26,000-acre Arrábida Natural Park, a preserve officially designated by the Portuguese government in 1976, but first claimed by the Duke of Aveiro, D. João de Lencastre, in the sixteenth century. The duke, a sort of proto-environmentalist, forbid building on the mountainous land, with the exception of a Franciscan convent. Later, in the nineteenth century, the Duke of Palmela bought the land and also refrained from building on it.
I silently salute their stubbornness as the car rounds a bend 1,600 feet above sea level, revealing deep green hills that descend to the crystalline Atlantic shores. A cluster of whitewashed buildings that make up the convent lies below us; above, a procession of domed chapels marches up the mountain, one for each station of the cross. There were no “pink dreams” here in the convent’s heyday, only pious living. Other than the convent, it’s just steep forested terrain and the occasional flash of a cyclist whizzing down (or struggling up) the precipitous road.
The beaches of Arrábida far below are speckled with late-summer baskers. In contrast to the tony boardwalks of Cascais and Estoril to the north, these are untamedstretches of sand. Here, in protected coves, the water is clear, and the forest bumps up against the beach: Portinho da Arrábida with its calm bay and Figueirinha with its gold sand are two favorites among beachgoers. Guidebooks barely mention this majestic region (score another one for Isabel and her insights). Accommodations here, in the town of Sesimbra and the port city of Setúbal, are scarce, and those who want to dip their toes in the Arrábida surf should consider a day trip from Lisbon rather than an overnight stay in the area.

Fairy-Tale Ending
For our final night in Lisbon, we’re looking for a different perspective on the city, so we check in to the Lapa Palace. Green parakeets swoop through the hotel’s tropical gardens, over the pool and the three-story fountain that cascades down the outside of the palace. (The gardens were designed by none other than Francisco Caldeira Cabral.) Set amid embassies and dignitaries’ homes in the quiet Lapa district, the hotel – refined, intimate, and gracious – embodies old Lisbon.
Our room, on the other hand, embodies my idea of a place I’d like to stay indefinitely. Yes, it is located in the Palace wing of the hotel, part of the original 1883 home of the Count of Valenças, with a spectacular view of the city, river, and the Golden Gate-esque 25th of April Bridge. It is stocked with pastéis de nata, chocolate truffles, fresh fruit, and a decanter of complimentary port; the bathroom has an ornate blue-and-white azulejo tile mural of lords and ladies; and the pillow menu lists seven options. But it’s the tower that makes me want to cancel our return flight and hole up playing prince and princess. Our tower, actually. The private outdoor lookout hewn from limestone is as perfectly positioned for ogling Lisbon today as it was when the count and his family resided here.
It’s a fitting place to wind up a trip that has revealed to us the benefits of putting ourselves in the hands of locals, and we turn the rest of our stay over to Lapa Palace indulgences. We lounge by the pool writing postcards, then order room service for lunch. We manage to leave for a few hours in the afternoon for one last espresso at Café a Brasileira in Chiado and to stock up on souvenirs at two other Chiado institutions: fine linens at Paris em Lisboa and glass goblets at Vista Alegre. But the tower lures us back, and we spend a mellow evening dining in the hotel bar amid a gaggle of cruisers preparing for their sailing the following morning.
I wake up early on our last day and go out to the tower. The city is hushed and misty. A pallid sun reaches through the fog, and Lisbon glows – what else? – dreamy pink.

Veteran guide Isabel Lage dishes on the best of the Lisbon area.
Why visit Portugal? It’s still the unknown pearl of Europe, a combination of tradition and modernity with friendly, easygoing people who are quite fluent in English.
When in Lisbon, don’t miss: The Belém area (home to the Jerónimos Monastery), the Gulbenkian Museum (classical and European art), and the Azulejo Museum (showcasing Portugal’s famed painted tiles).

Top Lisbon restaurants:
Gambrinus (Rua das Portas de Santo Antão 23, tel. 351-21/3421466) for classic seafood and the best crêpes suzette in the world,
A Travessa (12 Travessa do Convento das Bernardas, tel. 351-21/390-2034) for excellent Portuguese cuisine in a former convent,
Alcântara Café (Rua Maria Luisa Holstein 15, Tel. 351-21/363-7176) for trendy cuisine in a revamped warehouse.

Linens from Madeira House (Rua Augusta 131-133, Lisbon; Tel.351-21/342-6813 ) and Bazar Central (Praça da República 37, Sintra; Tel.351-21/924-8245), jewelry from Sarmento (Rua Aurea 251, Lisbon; Tel.351-21/342-6774), and ceramics and textile art from Teresa Pavão (by appointment only, Rua S. João da Praça 120, Lisbon; Tel.351-91/963-7895).
Local dishes to try: Shellfish rice; bacalhau (cod) à brás (with onions, potatoes, and eggs), lagareiro-style (served with olive oil and garlic over smashed red potatoes with grilled onions and peppers), or one of the other thousands of preparations; and desserts such as pastel de nata in Lisbon and travesseiro in Sintra.
Valesa Cultural Services guide Isabel Lage has worked in the travel industry in Lisbon for 38 years.
Getting There » US Airways flies nonstop from Philadelphia to Lisbon from May through October.

DOING IT » Valesa Cultural Services gives travelers ten leisurely days in and around Lisbon, beginning with a three-night stay at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz. A daylong privately guided orientation includes lunch at the traditional Estufa Real restaurant and a port and cheese tasting. Two days in Sintra follow, with time for wandering, a short guided tour, and lunch at Porto Santa Maria in seaside Guincho. Up next: time in the neighboring resort towns of Cascais and Estoril, then back to Lisbon for two nights at the Lapa Palace hotel and an excursion to the coastal Arrábida Natural Park. Departures: Any day through 2008; from approximate $5,995 per person, including accommodations, driver, and guide. » Fans of foot travel can take a six-day walk through Lisbon and surrounds with Tours For You. The Lisbon-based operator kicks off the trip with a stroll through Lisbon’s Bairro Alto, Chiado, Baixa, and Alfama neighborhoods. Hikes through the hills of Sintra and along the adjoining coast are up next, as well as a detour to Arrábida and a night in the medieval inland town of Evora with a stay at Convento do Espinheiro, Heritage Hotel & Spa. Departures: Any day through 2008; from approximate $5,480, including accommodations, driver, and guide.

STAY » Set in a quiet residential district, the 109-room, Orient-Express-owned Lapa Palace has tropical gardens, stunning views of the Tagus River and city, and a graciousness that comes from its past as the home of the Count of Valenças. Doubles from approximate $534, including breakfast, parking, and complimentary port. » Walking distance from the neighborhoods of Baixa and Chiado, the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon is a spacious retreat. The 282 rooms (272 with private terraces or balconies) complement the clean lines and unmatched views of the top-floor fitness center and bottom-floor spa. Doubles from approximate $585, including breakfast and one $100 spa credit.

Sem comentários: