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Two Lisbon Gems: Lost In and the Chinese Pavilion.
Some of the most valuable travel tips come from a very obvious, but often overlooked source: your taxi driver. It was from my taxi driver that I learned about two of Lisbon’s gems, located right next to my hotel: Lost In and the Pavilhão Chinês. My daughter and I had just arrived back in Lisbon after visiting Madrid, Spain, for a couple of days, and I had booked a hotel room in a different part of the city to mix things up and expand my Lisbon experience. On our last days in Lisbon, we enjoyed the amazing view from the neighborhood of Bairro Alto, situated on a plateau overlooking the neighborhood of Baixa below, and Alfama on the slopes across the lower town. While we were only a short walk from the city’s center, we were tucked away from the tourist hot spots. Once again, I had managed to find a small, private hotel with charm, Pensão Londres. Our panoramic window view included Castle of São Jorge situated across town, illuminated in the night. Our hotel occupied part of an aging building with high ceilings and decorative moldings. We didn’t mind climbing the steep stone stairs inside the entrance, leading to the old iron cage elevator and the continuing wooden staircase. The hotel personnel were friendly and more than happy to go out of their way to ensure that we had the best possible stay at their hotel and in Lisbon.
Rua D. Pedro V – 58, 1200-094 Lisboa
Lost In is a boutique and restaurant that was located right across the street from our hotel. Its colorful interior had a bohemian feel with the aroma of incense and silky batik imports from India. Beautiful scarfs, tunics, dresses, shirts, jewelry and other small handmade knick-knacks tempted me to purchase some of the most unique souvenirs so far. You can view their virtual tour of the boutique here. But Lost In is more than a boutique – it connects to a bar and restaurant. If you walk through the store to its back, you may enter their outdoor terrace which offers a grand view of the city below. With a continuous Indian theme, you can enjoy lunch surrounded by Indian furniture, murals, sculptures and a canopy of colorful textiles. The menu, too, is exotic and completes the experience of the themed environment. If you’d rather enjoy your meal inside, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a cozy oriental interior, where you can enjoy a window view of the city. You can take a complete virtual tour of the bar and restaurant here. While the Principe Real district, where Lost In is located, seems tucked away from the city’s center, it’s a short walk away up a laborious hill. But this is Lisbon, where a tram can save you from the extra strain of the constantly shifting elevation of the city.
Pavilhão Chinês – the Chinese Pavilion
Rua D. Pedro V, 89/91, 1250-093 Lisboa
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Another neighboring gem could be found down the street from our hotel – Pavilhão Chinês. Step inside, and step back in time. This unique bar has over 4000 collector’s items from the 18th – 20th century. The bar is a museum, and as you wander around looking at all the curious items, you’ll discover that one room leads to another, and another, and another – and that the bar is much larger than first expected. The interior of heavy carved mahogany also uphold the feel of the time warp, to a time when foxtrot was trending and phonographs could be heard playing; when the Wizard of Oz was playing the theaters and children played with tin toys. The bar has tons of these and other early models on display: soldiers, cars, model airplanes, and other collector’s items such as mugs, flags, world war medals, helmets and more. Art can be found everywhere: framed on the walls, as busts, as lamps and as sculpture. Art – oh yes, I do need to mention a little thing about the art. This is Europe, and if you are easily offended by nudity, this might not be the place for you. That being said, all the art is tastefully matching the rest of the décor and the 1930’s atmosphere.
A beer and a simple ham sandwich at the Chinese Pavillion served as my last meal in Lisbon. I feel that I hit the main city marks during my short visit, and I certainly recommend you add Portugal to your bucket list if you haven’t already been there. If you love to travel, your bucket list might perhaps resemble mine: a long list of travel destinations. Let’s go!