Virginie da Conceiçao, beaming woman, bold and creative is head of visual design at Maje. She’s taking us on a 24h (or more) journey in a Lisbon that matches her image, lively and full of energy! 

Haaaa Lisbon, a portuguese city that walked my youth. I have my little habits, places are like landmarks that reminds me of my childhood. Once a year, since I was a child, I meet my cousin there for a few days before meeting my family near Figueira da Foz.

However, I always find nice places and, each time, I am surprised and moved by people kindness, the easygoing way life that emerges from the atmosphere and the changing light that goes with rides and give the river a pale straw colour.

Waking up with a view at the Indepente, ideally situated at the top of the Barrio Alto mirador where you can admire the golden river Tejo and the city colors at dawn. I love to have breakfast in the restaurant patio the Decadente (where you should absolutly have some squid for diner!). Super cool place and adorable staff.

From that point it’s walk, walk, walk, walk, walk! Don’t you ever take transports or wear stilettos in Lisbon! You can walk for hours to discover hidden lanes. It is in fact at the bottom of the charming little square Doutor José Figuriredo that I sometimes find shelter in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga hidden garden . A haven of peace with a stunning view on the Tejo.

Change of scenery: in 20 minutes I am in the new neighbourhood LX Factory, under the 25 de Abril bridge with a super exciting project in a former fabric factory where you will find an amazing library, some restaurants, bars, workshops and, particularly a gagiantic street art mural. I sometimes come back at night to dance in a the unlikely open pit nightclub, the Village Underground, with its piled up containers. It is impossible to miss it, there is an old bus hung to the ceiling!

I keep on  following the Tejo banks, the river is always near, I go to Belem and the unmissable Pastelaria, they are preparing pasteis de nata with the same ancient recipe. 2 pasteis, one expresso, cinnamon , this heady scent that I only find here. A compulsory step that evokes my youth with tenderness.

I love to have lunch at La Taberna Moderna, near Alfama. They offers revisited portuguese dishes. You have to have a cocktail with it: an iced Gin from their bar. I keep a  moving thought for that squid black rice to share with friends and eat from dish.

After lunch, I go up to Castelo Sao Jorge, I take the little narrow and sinuous lanes for a wander and  to admire one more time, the peaceful view of roof tiles reddened by the sun.

I never miss a chance to go to the Museo do Design e da Mosa exhibitions, next to the Chiado square. It was a bank back in the days, it still has  the raw structure with its cemented walls and there is  always has a good show to enjoy. It is perfect to cool down after luch and during the warmest hours.

I go up the neighbourhood by Rua da Conceiçao , it is my family name but it looks like it doesn’t have anything to do with it. It is just a ritual that I can’t get rid of. It takes me to the perfect gift store « para matar saudades » that can be translated by  » to ease the feeling of a lack » of Portugal. Tin canned sardines, rugs made of traditional fabrics, lavender linen mist, granny’s soaps, post cards, this real Ali Baba’s cave is perfect for souvenir gift.

In the middle of the afternoon I often go to the Jardim Botinaco for a good shot of freshness and a wander in the verdant setting. I also like to spend sometime in the butterflies greenhouse.

It’s time to get ready for the sunset at the Skybar. A huge public square next to a delicious Cap Verdean restaurant that you can access with a lift hidden at the back of a supermarket, if you can’t be bothered to climb up! You can see the whole city from up there, grazing lights on the horizon turning pink, local Gin Tonic pool….. sigh of happiness.

For diner, I love a big table at la Pharmacia with my friends to discover the surprise menu in revisited laboratory atmosphere. It’s always amazing and the decoration does remind us of the Museum next door with its recreational concept, very surprising sometimes.

I very rarely go out clubbing in Lisbon, I’d rather feel the Lisbon sadness that La Mesa de Frades releases. A magic place, hidden in the Alfama. If the door is closed, you have to knock gently and wait for someone to open it for you at the end of the song. Inside, the room, covered with azulejos, is crowed with people listenning to this fascinating young lady’s fado. I am still shivering remembering the first time I ve heard her.

Before heading back to the hotel, I like to go to improbable bar that looks out of time: The Pavilhao Chines, founded by a pathologic, obssessive and mono maniac collector that accumulates in his windows lead soldiers, ceramic frogs, disjointed dolls and a thousand of other knick-knacks. An art deco wonder to have a golden years cocktail and end with  a rough snooker game.

If I could do it in one day, the Sintra escape is an unforgettable experience! Princesses castles in technicolour, gothic mansion, mezzes garden, a real travel through the ages.

So, when are we leaving?

Pic © Alice Balas

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