7 Wonders of Lisbon: An Airbnb Online Experience

Nuri sardines, Arca Nova Rose Vinho Verde, Pastel de Nata, and Trader Joe’s Tunisian fouta towel.

I signed up for “7 Wonders of Lisbon” and spent the week preparing for my virtual journey to Portugal. After visiting Fine Wine & Good Spirits, placing an order on Amazon, and swinging by Trader Joe’s, I declared myself officially ready with a bottle of vinho verde, a can of sardines, and the ingredients to make pastéis de nata. I followed this recipe for Portugal’s famous custard tart but had to convert the measurements from metric to USCS. It took me two days to bring the tart to fruition, but the effort was worthwhile. The description of the experience instructed participants to bring a bottle of their favorite wine, a tin of fish, and something sweet to eat, but I took this a step further by acquiring authentic Portuguese products. I wanted to get as close to Lisbon as possible.

When the time came (5:00 PM EDT / 10:00 PM GMT+1) to join the virtual session, I picked out an outfit (long navy skirt, white button-up shirt, and sandals) that would have been suitable for Lisbon’s temperature (66 °F) that night. As the Zoom session loaded on my computer’s screen, I imagined my husband and I leaving our nonexistent Lisbon accommodation to meet up with the group in person. Maybe I’d bring my pashmina, I thought.

The group was composed of six participants and an engaging host named Andrea, who waisted no time getting the session started. We began with a round of introductions and briefly discussed our personal experiences as they related to the current state of things. Then, we traveled virtually to the spot where the in-person version of the tour begins, Estação de Rossio. Andrea led us through the history, culture, and cuisine of the city she calls home in the seven segments of her presentation. Her personal stories and recommendations made me look forward to visiting Lisbon even more. Here’s a list of fifteen places that have piqued my interest during the course of my online exploration of Portugal’s capital city.

Shopping Destinations

  • LX Factory / An artsy village of sorts with shops and eateries. I’d especially like to browse the books at Livraria Ler Devagar. Here’s some footage of the complex.
  • Embaixada / A gallery of shops located in the architectural gem Palacete Ribeiro da Cunha. Take it all in (00:35).
  • Charcutaria Moy / A provisions store selling a wide variety of tea. They also carry chocolate, sauces, spices, coffee, and more. Have a look around.
  • Conserveira de Lisboa / I’ll be buying canned sardines from this shop that was founded in 1930 as a grocery store. Although canned fish was at the core of the company’s business from its inception, today it specializes solely in this type of product. It has three in-house brands: Tricana, Minor, and Prato do Mar. Here’s an interview with Tiago Ferreira, one of the shop’s partners.
  • Bettina & Niccolo Corallo / This family-run coffee and chocolate cafe doesn’t seem to have a website beyond its Facebook page. As you can see (11.16), the establishment is small…not somewhere you’d sit for an extended period of time. I’ve heard the chocolate here is the best in Lisbon.

Restaurants

Museums

Works Sighted: Nuri Portuguese Sardines in Olive Oil; Arca Nova Rose Vinho Verde; Pastel de Nata (made by me); Trader Joe’s Tunisian fouta towel

Packing for Lisbon

Dresses, skirts, tank tops, Superga sneakers, Margaux ballet flats, and Cole Haan Anica sandal.

I signed up for my first Airbnb Online Experience: 7 Wonders of Lisbon. I bought a bottle of vinho verde, two tins of Nuri sardines, and all the ingredients to make pastéis de nata. Cue the fado! Thanks to a number of online resources, I’ve been able to introduce myself to the history, cuisine, and shopping establishments of Portugal’s capital city.

Whenever I am considering a new travel destination, I always start with Rick Steves (provided that he’s filmed an episode in the city I am interested in). I’ve seen every season of Rick Steves’ Europe (several times), and I never get tired of them.

Experiencing the local cuisine is one of travel’s many rewards. I began my research on Lisbon restaurants with a list curated by the blog Eater. I watched a video on Conservas Pinhais, the canning company that produced my Nuri sardines. Then I moved on to obsessing over the Portuguese custard/egg tart, pastel de nata. I browsed several recipes before setting on one from Buttermilk Pantry. Making this tart was laborious (I had to convert the measurements from the metric system to USCS), but I enjoyed the experience.

You can’t leave Lisbon without experiencing fado. I discovered the artist Camané and watched a documentary on Mariza and the history of this particular genre.

Perusing shops abroad is one of my favorite pastimes. I came across an informative article on Culture Trip, a helpful Lisbon-based blog named Lisboa Cool, and a few YouTube videos (by Air Transat) profiling shopping destinations in Chiado, Bairro Alto, and Príncipe Real.

When the time came for me to pack my virtual suitcase, I took two things into consideration: Lisbon is hot in the summer and has more than a few hills. You’ll find lightweight clothing and footwear made for walking in my carry-on along with a sunhat, sunglasses, and a straw tote.

Works Cited

Bondi Born belted linen midi dress; Cole Haan Anica sandal (sahara)

J.Crew tie-shoulder linen top; Le Kasha Gizeh belted linen midi skirt; Cole Haan Anica sandal (black)

Jason Wu Collection gathered cotton-sateen midi dress; Margaux Demi flats (platinum)

J.Crew tie-shoulder linen top; Grace Karin skirt; Superga 2790 Acotw (navy)

LL.Bean women’s signature poplin dress; Superga 2750 Cotu Classic (white)

Airbnb Online Experiences: The Europe List

Over the UK en route to London Heathrow.

Since a number of factors are preventing me from flying at present, I had to come up with an alternative method of travel. That’s when I discovered that Airbnb Experiences have gone virtual. Typically, experiences are hosted in person around a specific theme. In the not-so-distant past, you could only enjoy them if you were physically present in the cities in which they were taking place. But due to the state of things, some opportunities are available via Zoom.

Not all in-person experiences are available in a virtual version, but the selection of online options is extensive nonetheless. If you don’t already have an Airbnb account, I highly recommend that you create one so that you can build a proper wish list. I recently discovered that you can only have 30 items on a list; I’m due to start my second one. It’s a good idea to check the lineup periodically because new online experiences are added quite frequently.

Here are the top 15 experiences from my Europe wish list:

Works Sighted: Somewhere over the UK en route to London Heathrow (September 2018)

The $20 Amazon Skirt With Two Thousand Reviews

Grace Karin A-line skirt from Amazon, ASOS top, and Superga 2750 Cotu classic navy.

Pleats are the epitome of my aesthetic. They make me look polished, buttoned-up, tidy, put together…all qualities I strive to exude. Have you ever had a moment when an item of clothing, a pair of shoes, or an accessory just appeared before you? I don’t mean in a box marked free at the front of someone’s house. My colleague wore this Grace Karin skirt to the office one day, and I knew I had to have one too. She sent me the Amazon link, and just like that, I owned three of them (one in navy and two in black). This style is one of my biggest steals. Apparently, a lot of other women thought so too; 2,352 of them decided to write product reviews.

Although this skirt is rated 4.2 out of 5 stars, it’s worth all 5. There are a plethora of skirts under the same listing (including three dissimilar ones made of polyester), so read the description carefully before ordering. Also, follow the size chart provided in the product’s image lineup, not the one provided by Amazon. As I’ve already mentioned, I own this style in navy and black. Both colors have the same composition: 95% cotton and 5% spandex. The spandex helps to keep the skirt free of wrinkles. It doesn’t need to be ironed; a good steam will do the trick (here’s the steamer I use).

According to the description, you are supposed to hand-wash this skirt in cold water, but I refused. I chose to launder it in a garment bag in the washer on the cold setting, and it turned out fine. After a few washes, I noticed that the coloring of the navy skirt appeared to fade a bit even though I always let it air-dry. I don’t know if this would have happened if I had followed the washing instructions to a tee, but I’m really not concerned. For the record, I didn’t notice any fading in the black skirts after washing. Furthermore, the laundering process hasn’t damaged any buttons or zippers.

The skirt has a hidden zipper on the side, which zips up to the bottom of the waistband. There are two buttons at the waistband, and you may use either of them to secure it. The zippers aren’t made by YKK, but they are of sound construction. The product’s description says that there are two versions of this skirt, one with a zipper and two buttons (as I have described) and another version that zips all the way up through the waistband (without the buttons). Unfortunately, there isn’t an option to select your preferred version. All things considered, I really can’t think of a better skirt for $18.99.

Works Sighted

Grace Karin skirt; ASOS top (old); Superga 2750 Cotu Classic (navy); LARLiving large French market basket; Kate Spade sunglasses (old)

The Straw Market Basket

LARLiving large French market basket

My straw market basket inspires me to pursue adventures of a culinary nature. Large straw baskets are commonly found in the hands of market shoppers all over France. Aside from being stylish, they make a statement about the way the French shop for their food; les Français value fresh, quality ingredients and eating together in an unhurried fashion. My food goals exactly!

I used to go to the farmers’ market every Saturday morning. I enjoyed surveying all of the options around the perimeter. The Amish selling meat, eggs, and milk. The self-made cheesemongers. The produce. Everything at the market was deliciously fresh, but the prices were significantly higher than those at Trader Joe’s (my most-frequented grocery store). It wouldn’t have been economical of me to buy everything on my grocery list from local vendors, so I limited my market haul to a few items each week.

When I lived in London, I’d buy produce from the market on Church Street. In central London, I found the prices to be lower at the market than they were in the grocery stores. I’d buy everything else from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, or Tesco, but the market was consistently my one-stop-shop for all produce. Rarely did I spend over £7 on fruit and vegetables for the week.

My husband and I buy most of our groceries from Trader Joe’s, but I intend to start visiting the farmers’ market again for the experience. Ultimately, the outing is an opportunity to take a stroll in a pleasant outdoor environment, something that has been difficult to come by in Philadelphia as of late. Of course, I’ll be pretending to be in Paris the whole time anyway. You’ll recall that savoring the last days of summer is pretty high up on my list of priorities. Not only is the straw basket a farmers’ market staple, it is also roomy enough to hold picnic essentials. Think of throwing down your blanket in the Parc du Champ-de-Mars! I’ll be dinning en plein air at least once a week until the autumn chill sets in.

Works Sighted: LARLiving large French market basket

 

How to Get Ready for a Virtual Meeting

Warby Parker Jennings glasses, GLDN Yue Necklace; and J.Crew slim perfect shirt in linen.

It has come to my attention that some people aren’t dressing appropriately for their virtual meetings. Although you may not dress as professionally as you did when you were going to the office, I implore you to put an adequate amount of effort into your on-screen appearance. Connecting with your coworkers via Zoom or a similar platform instead of face-to-face doesn’t give you license to show up unkempt. It goes without saying that you should be fully dressed from top to bottom. Please don’t skip the bottom half because you think no one will see it. Anything could happen; you could be asked to stand up for a brief team stretch one day. Footwear is the only aspect of your look that is optional.

For meetings of a professional nature, a button-up shirt will look just fine. I usually opt for a white or blue shirt and an A-line skirt. Aside from my everyday stud earrings, I accessorize with either a dainty gold necklace or a silk scarf around my neck. I make sure my hair is ready for the camera, and if the situation warrants a little extra polish, I’ll take a few minutes to apply a bit of tinted moisturizer, brow pencil, eyeliner, and mascara.

When the time comes to turn on the webcam, I utilize a white wall with decorative molding for the background. I want people to pay attention to me (not my belongings) when I speak. I level my laptop with my face and shoulders for the best vantage point. My standing desk has been particularly useful to this extent, but, even when the desk is raised fully, I still require a few books to elevate the computer the rest of the way.

I realize that most people who started working from home due to the current state of things may not have a home office or a space that lends itself to a makeshift one. As with everything in life, you’ll have to do your best. You may not be able to orchestrate every aspect of your setup perfectly, but you can put on a clean, wrinkle-free outfit, do your hair, and make sure your face is presentable. With a bit of creativity, you should be able to raise your laptop or webcam to a height that flatters your face. Also, I shouldn’t have to point this out, but I will for good measure: attending virtual meetings whilst in bed is not professional behavior. Your coworkers shouldn’t have to look at your bedsheets, no matter how nice they are.

If you’re congregating with friends, no one should care what you or your background look like; a friend is someone who accepts you regardless of your appearance. However, I suggest that you show up to your virtual happy hours looking presentable so that those closest to you aren’t left to unnecessarily question your wellbeing. Of course, if you haven’t been doing so well in the current situation, it’s a good idea to confide in trustworthy friends and family members. But, if you’re thriving, there’s no need to give those closest to you the impression that you are unwell.

Works Sighted

Warby Parker Jennings glasses (old); GLDN Yue Necklace; J.Crew slim perfect shirt in Baird McNutt Irish linen