7 reasons Lisbon could be Europe’s coolest city

Source: The Telegraph

(CNN) — What makes a city “cool”?

If it means being loaded with atmosphere, charm, great food and nightlife, yet ignored by the bulk of travelers, then Lisbon deserves consideration as Europe’s coolest capital.

Here’s why.

1. Nightlife that can outlast Madrid’s

If you think Madrid stays out late, try a night out in Lisbon.

The city is less about heaving clubs and more about a roving nocturnal flow that ends (maybe) when dawn rises over the Tagus River.
The main action is in the Bairro Alto, where more than 250 appealing bars line a web of streets between graffiti-plastered walls.
Next is the riverfront, in the hip neighborhood around Cais do Sodré railway station.

Typical of the offbeat flavor here is the converted brothel Pensão Amor (Rua do Alecrim 19, +351 21 314 3399) where ace cocktails accompany erotica and DJ sets.

Capping a Lisbon night are pre-dawn traffic jams at Santa Apolonia docks — they’re created by the popularity of Lux, the king of Lisbon superclubs (Cais da Pedra +351 21 882 0890).

2. Experimental cuisine

Once known largely for bacalhau (dried cod), quaint old coffee houses and louche taverns, the Portuguese capital now claims a range of restaurants.

Seafood remains a staple, but the trend is for modern, sophisticated and affordable.

A high bar is set by wunderkind chef José Avillez at his Michelin-starred Belcanto (Largo de Sao Carlos 10, +351 21 342 0607) or his more casual bistro Cantinho (Rua dos Duques de Bragança 7, +351 211 992369).

Avant-garde European and Portuguese cuisine describes Avillez’s menu, which stretches from sea bass with seaweed to lamb with vegetable puree.

Further down the scale, Lisbonites love juicy bifanas (pork buns) in backstreet eateries.

No traveler to Lisbon should miss the famed egg tarts (pasteis de nata).

The little bundles of caramel-y custard in chewy pastry are eaten in style at the original tiled café, Antiga Confeitaria de Belem (Rua Belém 84-92, +351 21 363 7423).

3. Irony

You’d think Lisbonites would brag about their achievements — first global empire, world’s best custard tarts, sea bass with seaweed that actually tastes great.

On the contrary, along with the rest of the nation, they excel in that ages old literary device/defense mechanism: irony.
As Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa once eloquently summed up the prevailing national outlook: “I’d woken up early, and took a long time getting ready to exist.”

That old entertaining melancholy has resurfaced with the austerity of recent years, helping Lisbonites remain (almost) content and always witty, even in tough times.

4. Beaches and castles

Lisbon is a place to inhale salty Atlantic air, sunbathe and hit the waves.

Dolphins surf and ferries ply the River Tagus.

Half an hour away by train are the beaches and ornate casino of Estoril.

A bit further, Cascais is for eaters — lots of grilled fish and seafood stews served in domed cataplana dishes.

The other big day trip is to Sintra. Forty minutes from Lisbon’s main station (Rossio), it’s a time-warp town, located in lush, wooded hills peppered with whimsical palaces and mansions that epitomize centuries of aristocratic opulence.

5. Fabulous design

Wherever you look in Lisbon, sharp contemporary design is a hallmark.

Stylish leather goods, bold wine labels, interiors combining vintage with the latest designer pieces, spectacular buildings — this is a city that loves to look good.

Pritzker-prize winning architect Alvaro Siza Vieira set the modernist tone with his gravity-defying pavilion for Expo 98.

Lisbonites gather to appreciate good design at MUDE (Rua Augusta 24, +351 21 888 6117), their mutant fashion and design museum, where austere low-tech blends with baroque flounces.

6. Big art

Large European capitals such as London, Paris, Berlin and Madrid may have blockbuster art collections, but Lisbon’s half million inhabitants have access to their own rare panoply.

The classic is the Gulbenkian Foundation (Av. de Berna 45A, +351 21 782 3000), where superlative Oriental and Western art occupies an airy 1960s building and landscaped gardens.

In Belém, the Museu Berardo (Praça do Império, +351 21 361 2878) focuses on big names of 20th- and 21st-century art, from Picasso to Jeff Koons.

Museu de Arte Antiga (Portuguese site only; Rua Janelas Verdes, +351 21 391 2800) is a 17th-century mansion packed with 500 years of artwork that reflects Portugal’s globetrotting history.

Lisbon’s latest exclusive is the impressive Museu do Oriente (Avenida de Brasília, Doca de Alcântara, +351 21 358 5244), a superbly converted salt cod warehouse full of Asian exhibits where you can book a nighttime visit followed by dinner in the riverfront restaurant.

7. Fascinating streets

There’s no getting bored wandering in Lisbon, thanks to the intricately patterned cobblestones under your feet — a civic point of pride that blossomed after Lisbon’s 1755 earthquake and continues today.

Even Lisbon’s walls demand attention, thanks to an obsession with azulejos (ceramic tiles).

Top examples are found at the Museu Nacional do Azulejo (Rua da Madre de Deus 4, +351 218 100 340), while the peeling façades of the Alfama and Mouraria districts show dozens of variations.




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Europe’s IMI Looks to Portugal and Finland to Lead Scientific Committee

Europe’s Innovation Medicines Initiative (IMI) has appointed experts from Portugal and Finland to chair the IMI Scientific Committee. Professor Maria Beatriz da Silva Lima of the University of Lisbon in Portugal will be the new Chair; Professor Markus Perola of Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare will be Vice Chair.

The IMI is the world’s largest health-related public-private partnership. The European Union (EU) contributes €1 billion to its research program; this is matched in contributions worth another €1 billion from member companies of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). The Initiative currently supports 42 projects.

The Scientific Committee provides the IMI Governing Board and Executive Office with strategic, scientific advice and participates in the consultations on new topics for calls for proposals. It also plays an active role in reviews of ongoing IMI projects. “The Committee represents the voice of the scientific community within IMI, and their input is vital to our success,” said IMI Executive Director Michel Goldman.




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Portuguese scientists discover cure for ‘broken hearts’

A ground-breaking, blood-resistant surgical glue which allows for easier reparation of cardiovascular anomalies has been created by a group involving two Portuguese scientists – Maria José Pereira and Lino Ferreira.

“When the adhesive is applied on the walls of a beating heart, they remain firmly placed despite the strong pressure that the blood applies on the heart and its blood vessels,” Maria José Pereira told the Science Translational Medicine magazine.

With a PhD in bioengineering, Pereira worked on the project with Lino Ferreira, from the Portuguese Centre for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, and a number of other international researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The glue gives scientists new hope for a number of complicated heart surgery procedures. It sticks well to wet tissue, repels blood and water, and is strong enough to bind major blood vessels even when they are pumping – but so far it has only been used on animals.

The light-activated glue could also allow surgeons to perform minimally invasive surgeries, making healing times faster and decreasing the risk of infections.

The method is expected to be tested soon as an agent to seal holes created by sutures during cardiac surgery.

This is the first and safest place to begin to test the glue in patients because the adhesive will not be holding the vessels together, said the scientists.




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Portugal summer holidays guide: 2014

Source: The Telegraph

Mary Lussiana, Telegraph Travel Portugal expert, has put together a complete guide for a summer holiday in Portugal.

“There is much to discover in Europe’s most westerly country, for while golfers and sunseekers flood to the southerly Algarve, swathes of the rest of Portugal remain unexplored. Regions vary enormously in their weather, cuisine, architecture and wines, so a journey from north to south yields a rich bounty of different experiences.”

Source: The Telegraph
Source: The Telegraph

The reporter explores locations and activities for all tastes, from Golf to Surf, Fado to River Cruises, etc.

The guide groups the suggestions under the categories “Coast & Country”, “Beach”, “Villas”, “Art & Culture”, “Food & Wine” and “Activities”.

You can read all the suggestions here.

15 Minute At-Home Test Could Detect Alzheimer’s Symptoms

Worried your constant forgetfulness could be more than just a series of “senior moments?” A quick 15-minute test could provide some answers.

Researchers are saying a new pen-and-paper test that can be taken in the convenience of your home could be key in spotting the early signs of cognitive decline and dementia. Over 1,000 volunteers ages 50 and up were given the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) as part of a study by the Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. Researchers found the test was successful in detecting 4 of every 5 people tested with mild cognitive decline.

The 22-question exam measures orientation, language, computation, visuospatial skills, problem solving, and memory. Sample questions include:

How many nickels are in 60 cents?

How are a watch and a ruler similar?

Write down the names of 12 animals.

What is today’s date?

Draw a large face of a clock and place in the numbers.

“What we found was the SAGE self-administered test correlated very well with detailed cognitive testing,” researcher Douglas Scharre said in a release. “If we can catch this cognitive change really early, then we can start potential treatments much earlier than without having this test.”

Experts stress the importance of early detection with Alzheimer’s and dementias, providing the chance to get the full benefit of treatments sooner and also to allow for future planning. Researchers say the SAGE test shouldn’t be used to diagnose, rather to detect symptoms.

While there is no single way to diagnose Alzheimer’s, a number of physical and neurological exams are given for diagnosis. Late last year, one study showed some success in using a peanut butter sniff test to distinguish people with cognitive impairment.

Test-takers can take the assessment then share the results with their primary care physician. Researchers say the at-home test could be more effective in detecting early symptoms of cognitive decline than a standard office visit, as doctor’s often can’t observe subtle cognitive impairments during a brief visit. Missing 6 or more points on the test means there should be additional medical follow-up.

Download the test here.


Jaunted awards a Jaunty to Lisbon for Destination of the Year 2013

It’s that time of the year again, the time when the year just plain ends. Alas, we can’t just let 2013 go that easily, especially since travelers spent it both up in the air and up in arms over a crazy range of topics. Needless to say, we’re ready to get going into 2014, but first we’re taking a brief look back at the best of 2013 with the Jaunted Travel Awards,—or as we fondly refer to them—The Jauntys.

Jaunted, “The Pop Culture Travel Guide”, part of Condé Nast Traveler Network, has given a Jaunty to Lisbon for Destination of the Year 2013, following Santiago, Chile as 2012’s Destination of the Year.

The writer states that, for some reason, Americans have been ignoring Portugal and that reflects on the reactions colleagues have had over some comments – a good example being that Lisbon looks just like San Francisco. As a result, they’ve put together some basic travel packages to help you get to know the city.

Lisbon | Photo: Ryan Dearth | Jaunted
Lisbon | Photo: Ryan Dearth | Jaunted

Apart from Lisbon, Jaunted has also visited the South of Portugal in 2013 and has already plans to come back in the Spring.

You can read the article in full here.

Have you been to Lisbon yourself? Share your experiences and thoughts with us below.