This summer I holidayed in Portugal; spending a lush few days lazing by a pool in the Algarve, followed by a three-hour bus journey to Lisbon. The three-hour bus journey was memorable… for all the right reasons surprisingly! The Notebook was playing! Yup, even with Portuguese Subtitles I spent the majority of the journey trying not to burst into tears. National Express take note.
But enough about buses. This Guide isn’t about my budget travel and accommodation. It is especially not about all the bug bites I got from my not so glamorous hostel; but the glamour and glitz that is Vintage Lisboa!
First off I couldn’t make it to all the places I wanted to visit. Unfortunately I only had one full day and felt it was necessary to fit some tourist moments in. As you can see in this photo TADA! Despite this I have spoken to Lisboa Vintage, who advised me on shopping destinations, as well as Swing Station who run amazing Lindy Hop events.
How else would one want to spend the day time? Once in shopping mode I headed straight to A Outra Face Da Lua. A beautifully titled shop, which translates as ‘the other face of the moon.’ Awh. I came across this shop whilst researching online, and it’s prominence in Lisbon for being a go to place for Vintage clothing, was reinforced by Vintage Lisboa. This shop specialises in 70s, 80s and 90s (CRINGE, as if people are calling 90s Vintage, ick!) and has a nice mix of women’s and men’s clothing. It also regularly has sales and I managed to pick up a bright pink daisy print playsuit for €15. I also really wanted to buy a fun navy and white swirly patterned 60’s shift dress at €45 but didn’t have enough spending money with me. Dohp! Not only is there a good mix of clothing at A Outra Face Da Lua, but the staff are lovely. Each member said hello, smiled a damn genuine smile and when I was trying things on came over to help. Simple things in life. Whilst chatting to one of them I found out that they have an outlet round the corner – more on that later. Anyway, this shop also doubles up as a café. A little expensive, but if I am honest the salmon and cucumber wrap was exactly what I was craving. Fresh and tasty, accompanied by the fresh orange juice that the whole of Europe seems to do better than the UK! (We should start a campaign for fresh orange juicing machines. #juiceme ?)
But enough about the awesome A Outra Face Da Lua. Opposite is a pristine Vintage Shop – who’s name I am sorry but I’m really unsure of. You will recognise it, as it will not only be staring you in the face, but it says The Vintage Shop on its windows. It is only a small but it makes up for this in quality. Most of the dresses were priced around €55 and it had amazing pieces from multiple eras; but the most interesting aspect of the shop for me was the 50s pieces. They were beautiful. The patterns were so right and the dresses were in such good condition, I literally didn’t want to touch anything! If you are looking for something special and no doubt one off, this is the place to be. If you changed a reasonable amount of pounds into euros this would be the shop to go to. Bad planning on my part.
You may have noticed I mentioned an Outlet earlier?
Well, and I am going to try and give my best bad directions now. If you walk out of A Outra Face Da Lua, turn 90degrees to your left, walk to the end of the pavement and turn the corner on your left… Literally about 8 paces up that road on the left hand side is the Outlet. (Just think left.)
Everything in the Outlet was €5! What? Yeah so I had a panic attack. After picking up half the shop I found out the changing room wasn’t open because, get this, it was full to the brim with more clothes. I ended up clearly making the shop attendant really uncomfortable as I pulled dresses over my head and pulled skirts up under my own clothes to try things on. As a result I came home with only 3 dresses from the shop. Mr or Mrs Outlet Owner, if you are reading this, get your changing cubicle in order. I would have bought most of the shop. Then again maybe that’s for the best. Honestly this is a great stop on a vintage lovers list of places to visit whilst in Lisbon.
I am also confident in recommending As de Espadas as I was advised by Vintage Lisboa to visit here. As a Blog specialising in Vintage around Lisbon I would take it as good advice, but unfortunately I didn’t have the time to visit that shop as well. Despite this I have added it to the checklist at the end of this post along with the location. If anyone has been before please let me know what you thought.
The market Feira Da Ladra which runs on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and is meant to be a great place to pick up pretty much anything, as well as the camera that got nicked in your first night out – a joke my tour guide told which fell a little flat since someone in the group had been pick-pocketed recently. Welcome to Lisbon 😉 Despite this little tit bit of information, I have heard it is a huge market which you could spend all morning getting lost and haggling in, so go and enjoy, although be prepared to inevitably also see a lot of junk.
Whilst doing more touristy things in Lisbon I went on a Free Walking Tour. One of the tours which are never actually free, and in this case to make matters worse it was one of the less inspiring ones I have been on. However the silver lining was that the guide was born in Lisbon and a Mecca of knowledge for places to eat and drink. She advised us that the most hip place to get a cocktail in Lisbon right now was… an old brothel. Let me tell you, whether you are into vintage or not, Pensao Amor place will not disappoint.
I won’t lie it was difficult to find. If you start off confused of its direction, be prepared to be sent down several different streets by the locals before you even come close. If your experience of this is like mine you may well start to wonder if it’s a game they play. But anyway, once you have found the pink street you will find some really cool bars with equally cool looking people. Two of these bars will have an empty door way between them. This is what you are looking for. There is no sign to state that Pensao Amor is there, which is cool because I guess it really hasn’t changed its style much since being a brothel.
Now I am in no way advising you to stick your head into open door ways in Lisbon. First off check is the road pink? Do you have a tunnel you can walk under to your far right? These are good signs. Now look up and see if you can spot some murkily lit rooms and the odd chandelier. Chances are you have found the place. Edge closer… I dare you. Inside the doorway is a set of stairs and the grafittied walls house images of suggestive women. Bingo, you have found it.
Its interior is beautifully decorated and it has table service, so don’t bother about queuing at the bar. The service was quite slow but it fits with the lazy and luxurious atmosphere. Yes I said it I felt luxurious, despite having already drank my way through several pints in the street. Pure class.
Maybe I’m being naive. But I’m going with the thought that people who used to come here would lounge around before being seduced and receiving their errr… happy ending. There are pictures of gorgeous women on the walls everywhere you look. The room I sat in had comfy armchairs and ornate mirrors with very little wall space as it was dominated by all the images of women and burlesque stars. My Mojito was marvelous and I would recommend it if you are stuck from all the choice. The drinks were a little pricey however you are paying for the ambiance and I was really suckered into it. Unfortunately since I’d bought more clothes than intended that day I could only stay for one, but I am sure it would have been quite a lively place to be by the end of the evening. There was also a mini stage set up so who knows maybe I missed some burlesque? Before leaving make sure you do a bit of a walkabout. Each room is out of the ordinary with over the top glamour, which for me was the highlight. The lowlight then would be the woman in the last room trying to sell me Poppers, but you know it gave the place a sense of authenticity…
Once you have had a few potent cocktails, why not get your Lindy Hop on and attend an event by Swing Station. Lisbon (and Porto’s) most popular School of Vintage Dance. They run workshops and classes but also hold dancing events. I was gutted that I missed out on this, although dancing on the street at one of the pop up bars was also fun I’ll admit it. (I cannot emphasise enough how badly I need to return to Lisbon and do it properly; with an extended stay in the beautiful Porto which was all anyone seemed to talk about in my Hostel.) As I mentioned, I wasn’t able to attend their event as I had clearly picked the wrong evenings to be in Lisbon. However after stalking their Facebook page I quickly picked up on the inclusive and excitable community they have formed, something reinforced by my emails with Abeth Farag, who first bought Lindy Hop to Portugal around 7 years ago. This is what she had to say about vintage and her thoughts on dancing.
“I’m drawn to what’s vintage, first through the music and the dance. The aesthetic interested me secondarily. The old movies drew me in first through dancing spectacles that I would see and try to copy. Everyone danced. Everyone sang. And that made smiles on their faces. That’s what keeps me dancing – you just feel young and happy!
I love Lindy Hop because it’s a dance that can challenge you technically and rhythmically and yet has so much freedom for personal expression. Using momentum in Lindy Hop is so exciting – you almost feel like you’re flying at times (and if you do aerials, you ARE flying!)”
Tell me that she doesn’t sound like a great person to be dancing around with in Lisbon late one evening. If you feel too tipsy to attend an evening event, and if you visited the numerous street bars beforehand I don’t blame you, why not check out one of their Sunday practice sessions? Failing that they also organise a Blues dancing festival in February in Porto and the Atlantic Swing Festival in Lisbon in June each year. Both are weekends filled with workshops, parties, concerts, outdoor practices and presentations for any ability. I am really hoping I can attend in 2015, to the point that I am almost wishing 2014 away!
So that is My Vintage Guide to: Lisboa. I hope if you visit this city that you make vintage a priority as there is a lot of bargains and fun to be had. My final piece of advice, on a less vintage related note, would be to walk the streets and spend your evening hopping between the street bars which always have different musicians and bands playing. I experienced traditional Fado music, was swung erratically around a dance floor and got to spend my evening with a fiery Brazilian lady. Lisbon is an exciting night city, I hope you have as great an experience as I did.
A handy re-cap…
- A Outra Face Da Lua, Rua Assuncao 22,
- As de Espadas, Rua Luz Soriana 18
- Feira Da Ladra, Campo de Santa Clara 1100-472
- Pensao Amor, Rua do Alecrim 19
- Swing Station
- The streets of Lisbon – there are so many night bars, go out and find your own!