Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sources of inspiration: Lisboa // City of music and a great creative energy // 5 must-see places for creatives

The city of Lisbon has been on the top of my list to visit for years now but I never got around to do so. I managed to squize in a little trip this November. Where I got to know a little bit about the city, the music, creative spots and I got to meet some lovely people to share some great memories with. When I arrived in my apartment in Rua Augusta, the main shopping street in the old part of town, there was a band playing some amazing jazz right at my front door. A great start for an even better week.

I travel quite a bit for my work but also every spare minute I have I like to discover new things. I love traveling alone when it is just me to worry about. Wandering the streets of a city I don't know gives me a sense of freedom. Everything is new and this is a way for me to open up and get inspired. Feel. Taste. Letting go of my routine. Lot's of designs I have made in the past are little memories from my travels. Peacocks from India, water tanks from new York City, Toucan birds from Costa Rica, the world is such an amazing place with such great diversity. I can not wait to book my next trip. But first it is time to reflect. Take a moment to appreciate what I have seen the past week.

Here you can find a little top 5 of places I think a creative mind would appreciate while visiting Lisbon. Hopefully it will be a little list of inspiration. I sure loved what I have seen.

1 // Streetart
From the old city center, downtown, you can walk up the hill to the St. George's castle. On the Rua Madalena you can find the first stairway. But you will have to search for it a bit, you will pass it easily without noticing it is there. You can also take the famous tram 28 that will bring you up this glorious sight but I recommend a little walk through the steep stairways that go all the way up to the ancient castle. The stairways are all covered in street art and traditional Portuguese tiles. You can see street art with typical Lisboa themes, fado singers and musicians but also fantasy characters and beautiful abstract and figurative art pieces by local artists. The stairways are little streets itself where people leave there front doors open to chat with their neighbors and you can have a little peek inside their daily lives. If you are a fan of modern art you can visit the Berardo Collection in Belém but there is also a lot to discover in the city itself. Walk around and discover all it has to offer.

2 // Romantic city view
I love traveling alone but some things are just a little more awesome when you can share it with a special someone. You can visit St. George's castle for a great view of the city but a little more down hill you can also enjoy the view from the Chapitô y Restô terrace with a little wine, Port of course, and watch the sunset from up hill. A great place for a romantic rendezvous. If you are not up to climbing the hill enjoy a little stroll near the river downtown and have a drink in Bairro Alto to set the mood.

3 // Belém
Enjoy the amazing old architecture that is part of Unesco's Heritage list. Visit the Torre de Belém on the river banks and take a walk through the park. This is a great area to visit on rainy days too. Belém has a few museums like the Museu Berardo in which you can easily spend an entire afternoon looking at amazing art. From Pollock to Picasso, a great collection of fine art. But take a look around and check out the rest of the museums too. There is so much to do and see. Don't forget to take a little stroll through the narrow streets and take a look inside the handicraft shops. Hungry? This is the place to eat Portugal's famous pastries: Pastel de Belém. Don't order just one, you will regret it later. This little custard pastry will be the foodie highlight of your trip.

4 // LX Factory Alcântara
This is where my studio will move to in the future. Well, probably not but I can see myself working from this creative little melting pot under the shadow of De Ponte 25 de Abril, the suspension bridge that connects Lisbon to Almada. LX factory used to be an old industrial place and every little shop, restaurant and creative studio that is now located here will remind you of it's history. Nowadays it is a place where young professionals settle. During the night the place transforms into a trendy hang out. There is a restaurant near the bookshop in which you can dine next to heavy machinery. It tends to get a bit too trendy though. You can also have a quick lunch in the old cantina which is furnished with second hand items. The place might be a bit overpriced for Lisbon standards but the experience itself, exploring these grounds, is worth the extra money.

5 // All night Fado
Lison has a great musical scene. Street musicians playing on every corner and play every type of music you can imagine. You can go to a classical concert or dance in a night club. But if you visit Lisbon, a night of Fado is a night to remember. I was taken to Tasca do Xico by a dear friend, a little bar that was packed with people. But there was no music. After a few minutes they closed the main door (you are not allowed to interrupt fado!) and a 91 year old man stood up and started to sing. It turned out to be a magical night with great wine, great music and great memories.

Of course there is way more to Lisbon than just this Top 5. The Museu Nacional do Azulejo is still on my to do list. I would love to see the Jeronimos Monastery, Madre de Deus Convent and São Roque Church. But I will have to go and do that on my next trip. This city has so much more to discover. I got trapped in the creative energy and I never plan my day by day activities. I travel without any expectations and things just cross your path when you're open to them.

A little note on the side: In Lisbon I stayed with Sara, an amazing host. She has a great, sunny apartment in the city center. You can book one of her rooms via airBNB. Check her profile here.