Last week, I had the opportunity to get out of cold, wintry Vermont and spend some time in Portugal with friends from college. Of the five girls, four of us are designers and we were loving the gorgeous, colorful city of Lisbon. The city has such an intriguing mix of architectural styles and influences. Unlike most of Europe, Portugal was a neutral country during WWII and escaped the sweeping destruction that most countries endured. Portugal is located on the Iberian peninsula bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Spain. It feels like a Mediterranean country with white washed exteriors painted vibrant colors and clay tile roofs but at the same time you can see many examples of Moorish and Islamic influences. Everywhere you turn, buildings and sidewalks are clad in thousands of stone and ceramic tiles in all shades and patterns. Lisbon is very supportive of street artists and graffiti can be found often, giving the city a gritty and lived in feel. As for interiors, we were struck by the amount of respect Portuguese designers give to the existing structures. The new blends seamlessly with the old and the result is bursting with history and character.
Not only is the city an architectural gem, the culture is hard to beat as well. We visited during Carnavale celebrations so people were especially festive. Carnavale is a celebration similar to Mardis Gras and people go all out with costumes, parades and the atmosphere is electric. Children dress up for school and we saw many lines of little ducklings marching through the streets in their adorable costumes. The food was simply prepared but beyond delicious and the wine was bright and cheap. Best of all, the time spent with friends was the most memorable part of the vacation. What could be better than abundant wine, marvelous company and an unforgettable city?