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Lisbon: My kind of town

The author Jane Brocket enjoys the contrast between the cutting edge and the traditional in Lisbon, as well as the sea breezes and flaky custard tarts.

WHY LISBON?

It is unlike any other city in Europe and is a fascinating mix of cutting-edge modernity and time-honoured tradition, with plenty of respect for the latter. There is a huge variety of architectural styles and some spectacular buildings, including rare examples of Forties architecture. The people are charming, the seafood is delicious, the weather is mild, and the trees and flowers are beautiful.

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST WHEN YOU ARE AWAY?

The sea breezes, the old-fashioned shops with perfectly preserved interiors, the tile-covered buildings, the cafés with great coffee and atmosphere, and the strolls up and down the hills.WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU DO WHEN YOU RETURN?

I go straight to the A Brasileira Café in Rua Garrett for a milky coffee and a flaky, sweet custard tart (pastel de nata). Afterwards I cross the road to the Livreiros Bertrand, Rua Garrett 73 (00351 213 468646; www.bertrand.pt) for a browse in a classic Portuguese bookshop. Only then do I feel reconnected with Lisbon style and life.

WHERE’S THE BEST PLACE TO STAY?
The Hotel Britania (213 155016; www.heritage.pt; doubles from £180) is a wonderfully refurbished Forties hotel. It has fabulous period features and furnishings, large, comfortable rooms, and very friendly staff. If you want to be near the Bairro Alto shops and nightlife, the Hotel Bairro Alto (213 408288; www.bairroaltohotel.com; doubles from £265) is the best place. It’s calm and elegant, and has a rooftop bar with incomparable views.

WHERE WOULD YOU MEET FRIENDS FOR A DRINK?
Solar do Vinho do Porto on Rua de São Pedro de Alcantara. Owned by the Port Wine Institute, this is a popular place to meet for a glass of port.

WHERE ARE YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES FOR LUNCH?
One of the joys of Lisbon is the multitude of small, independent places to eat, so you can be sure of making your own discoveries. But for fresh seafood and cold beer, I recommend Ribadouro, Avenida da Liberdade 155 (213 549411; www.cervejariaribadouro.pt)

AND FOR DINNER?
Luca (Rua de Santa Maria 35; 150212; www.luca.pt) is a fashionable place with a mix of Italian, Spanish and Portuguese influences tucked away off the main Avenida da Liberdade. For a treat, go to the Michelin-starred Eleven (Rua Marques de Fronteira; 213 862211; www.restauranteleven.com)

WHERE WOULD YOU SEND A FIRST-TIME VISITOR?
To see the old city from a vintage yellow No. 28 tram; to the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian for its art collection and gardens; or to Belém to see the waterfront and museums – and a coffee and a warm custard tart at the most famous pastelaria in Lisbon, the Antiga Confeitaria be Belém in Rua de Belém.

WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THEM TO AVOID?
If you’re not keen on crowds, avoid the area around the castle.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT OR TAXI?
Using public transport is all part of a visit to Lisbon. There are trams, buses, cable cars, funiculars and an efficient metro.

HANDBAG OR MONEYBELT?
Lisbon is a safe city but it’s always best to exercise caution, especially on the trams as pickpockets frequently operate on the popular tourist routes.

WHAT SHOULD I TAKE HOME?
A Vida Portuguesa, Rua Anchieta, 11 (213 473060; www.avidaportuguesa.com), sells classic Portuguese products and brands. Buy beautifully designed and packaged soap, sardines, toothpaste, playing cards, pencils and stationery.

Article from: Telegraph.co.uk

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