This time of year finds many of us thinking we need to get some plans together for the coming summer and beyond.
Maybe it is “spring cleaning,” that certain period where you are incentivized to act. The days are longer, brighter, warmer and full of looking forward.
With the euro dropping practically daily against the dollar, Europe seems an obvious choice of where to go. Previous calculations for our trip next month have dropped dramatically. And I have only focused on the hotels, but obviously the benefits extend to meals as well!
Who knows, maybe the hubby will be less inclined to focus on the shopping expenditures (there goes the “mystery savings”) …
For fun facts and great travel recommendations, my go to is the WSJ’s Life & Culture sections. Herewith I share some of their experts’ recommendations for Poland, Greece, and Portugal:
From: Wojciech Amar, owner/head chef of Michelin-starred restaurant Atelier Amaro
TO MARKET // My favorite market is Hala Mirowska. I buy all my fruits, vegetables, seeds, wheat and nuts from there. I can also order unusual ingredients like herbs, wildflowers and berries. Plac Mirowski 1
WINE OF THE GODS // Winosfera is a very nice place to go for a great glass of wine. You can also buy some wine to take home with you. Chłodna 31, Winosfera
SOUTH OF THE BORDER // At Salto, in Hotel Rialto, you can find the winner of the first Polish edition of “Top Chef” cooking. Martin Gimenez Castro creates fantastic seafood and has some great culinary skills. Wilcza 73
Guilty Treat // We make our smalec [spreadable lard] infused with juniper, prunes, apple and marjoram, then pacotize [Pacojet] it to achieve the white snow and airy consistency that will blow you away. We serve it with burnt hay bread. Atelier Amaro, Agrykola 1
From: Tomek Rygalik, Designer and architect who runs Studio Rygalik
SIT DOWN // Comforty is one of the best furniture showrooms in Warsaw. It’s a loft space filled with some of the best contemporary design made in Poland. B4 Design Corner, Burakowska 4;
LONG HISTORY // The Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews is one of the most important cultural centers in the city. It is a stunning piece of architecture by Finnish architect Rainer Mahlamäki.
SLEEPAWAY // Between Us is an ideal hideaway in the center of Warsaw, catering to admirers of fine design and discreet luxury. I find it a captivating blend of classic 19th-century architecture with contemporary interiors. Bracka 20
FOOD AND WINE // A great place to watch the world go by is Charlotte Chleb i Wino. The concept of the place includes an everyday ritual: The tabletop is lifted and the chairs are replaced with tall stools to change the atmosphere of the space in the evening. Great tartines on the delicious bread-we like the chèvre chaud. Plac Zbawiciela
From: Katarzyna (Kasia) Adamik, Filmmaker
LOST IN FILM // My favorite cinema is Kino Muranów, where there are two theaters and they have a great film selection. Generała Władysława Andersa 5
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD// Butchery and Wine is a great meat place, with a great wine selection (Zurawia 22 ). And Papu is a Polish fusion restaurant. With a warm interior, it makes you feel a little bit like Christmas every time.
Aleje Niepodległości 132/136
ART AND SOUL // I like the Museum of Modern Art. It is in an old furniture store from the 1960s and I love the building. Panska 3
ACTING OUT // Teatr Nowy is one of the best places to go to see a play (
Madalińskiego 10/16;). The National Opera is worth going to-great productions, great performers (Plac Teatralny 1; ).
From: Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Curator at the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews
BLAST OF THE PAST // The Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery is the closest you can get to the historic Jewish community of Warsaw. I am responsible for this exhibition of 1,000 years of the history of Polish Jews and I walk into that cemetery and there is my 19th-century gallery, there is my interwar year gallery. For me, it is a living place. Okopowa 49/51; +48 22 838 26 22
SECRET PARK // Jazdów, behind embassy row on Ujazdowska, is a hidden oasis, a dense idyllic village of Finnish houses…. Wandering the paths of this silent little forest is just bliss.
From: Argiro Barbarigou, Chef and owner of Papadakis and Homey
TREAT SPOT // Sweet Alchemy Parliaros. There is no better baker or pastry chef in Greece than my friend Stelios Parliaros. When I wanted to learn how to up my game with pastry, I studied with him. He makes perfect truffles, which you can taste and buy at this chic bakery and shop.
INTERNATIONAL ACCESSORIES // Luisa. There are two locations in Athens, but my favorite boutique is in Kolonaki, where my restaurant is. It’s my go-to shop for designer handbags and shoes. I usually go once a season and stock up on a few perfect items. Skoufa 15
GREAT INGREDIENTS // Moiropoulous Dimitrios. This tiny shop is filled with treasures: dried figs, the best feta cheese in Greece, thyme honey from the Peloponnese. Hundreds of products. Emmanouil Benaki, 31, 30-210-3818846
TOP COIFF // Love Is in the Hair. Christos Michailidis is the best hairdresser in the city. He cuts the hair of many of the country’s biggest celebrities. Kifissia 146
From: Prince Nikolaos of Greece, Son of King Constantine II
MORNING RAMBLE // Parnitha. When I’m feeling adventurous, I wake up before sunrise and head to Parnitha, a forested mountain range north of Athens, for the stunning scenery. On the way back down, the air is filled with the smell of freshly baked bread from little bakeries that offer very tasty koulouria pastries, which I love to have with my morning coffee.
MONUMENTAL GALLERY // Acropolis Museum. It is truly impressive and one of my favorites-a sleek, modern building housing of some of the earliest examples of architecture and sculpture, which were made with one of my preferred materials: marble. Dionysiou Areopagitou 15
HISTORIC STROLL // Plaka and Monastiraki. During warmer months I love to walk around these neighborhoods in Central Athens, with their many little shops and restaurants. The walk ends up at the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos in the ancient Agora. It is the oldest part of the city; it has an intimate feel to it.
CHARISMATIC CAFE // Athinai Bistrot. Very close to the Acropolis Museum is this affordable restaurant, which serves excellent Greek dishes with a twist. The produce is all sourced from within the country. Makrigianni 3, 30-21-0922-9210
MOVIE SCENE // Cine Paris. In the summer months, there’s a marvelous open-air cinema in Plaka called Cine Paris. It is unique because it’s in a rooftop garden and has a view of the Parthenon.Kydathineon 22
Plus, don’t miss….
Odeon of Herod Atticus This open-air theater, on the south side of the Acropolis, hosts a number of performances during the annual Athens Festival.
Nixon A new hot spot in Kerameikos that’s a cocktail bar, restaurant, cinema and concert venue all in one.
Queen Calliope Greek-American photographer and stylist Calliope Karvounis just opened a boutique that sells boho-chic clothing and accessories.
Nice ‘N’ Easy This spot serves delicious salads and other dishes made with ingredients sourced from small organic farms.
Lalaounis For beautiful modern versions of ancient Greek jewelry, visit this upscale shop.
A for Athens From the terrace of this new boutique hotel, you have stunning views of the city-including the Acropolis, Plaka and Monastiraki Square.
From: José Avillez, Michelin-starred chef/owner of five Lisbon restaurants, including Belcanto and Café Lisboa
Old-World Transit // Tram 28. Take this vintage yellow tram through old Lisbon. It offers hop-on, hop-off service. But be vigilant; pickpockets are known to work the line.
Authentic Finds // A Vida Portuguesa. This beautiful shop was created by journalist Catarina Portas, who had been investigating old Portuguese brands, some of which faced extinction. Don’t miss the soaps, the handmade notebooks or the Portuguese Sanjo sneakers. I come here a lot to buy gifts; I also buy a lot of things for my restaurants. Rua Anchieta 11
Romantic Digs // Memmo Alfama Hotel. A hidden treasure, and absolutely perfect for couples. The terrace has one of the best Lisbon views. I’m sure you will enjoy taking a glass of wine there. Travessa das Merceeiras 27
Glorious Vistas // Belvedere São Pedro de Alcântara. This little park is located at the top of the Elevador da Glória funicular. You have a beautiful view of the east side of Lisbon, including Graça, São Vicente de Fora and the Castle of São Jorge. Rua de São Pedro de Alcântara
Canned Delights // Conserveira de Lisboa. A traditional tinned-fish shop with amazing wrapping and the joy of a family business. I love the Ventresca tuna fish in olive oil, smoked mackerel fillets and Portuguese sardines in olive oil. Rua dos Bacalhoeiros 34
From: Alexandra Champalimaud, Lisbon-born interior designer of high-end hotels, homes and restaurants
Antiques Atelier // Ricardo do Espirito Santo Silva Foundation Workshop. This workshop is one of the few remaining places where you can learn the rare art of furniture carving. Discover how to hand-tool a reproduction of an 18th-century piece-or purchase one.
Day Trip // Sintra. Drive to the town of Sintra and stop by the 12th-century Palacio da Vila in the center, with its extraordinary painted ceilings. Lunch on the terrace at Tivoli Palácio de Seteais, or stop by the cafe Piriquita for a queijada (a typical pastry) and a bica(espresso). Then move on to Casa Branca, where I buy fine linen and cotton embroidered sheets.
Royal Wonder // Palacio Fronteira. A private tour of this late-17th-century house and garden, en route to Sintra, cannot be missed. I have enjoyed many enchanting moments there. Rua São Domingos de Benfica 1
Gem for Jewels // Leitão & Irmão. A great destination for modern silver, elegant porcelain and jewelry at astonishingly fair prices. I buy wedding presents and special gifts here and ship them all over the world. Largo do Chiado 16 e 17
Grand Dining // Restaurante Belcanto. Have lunch next to the opera house in the Chiado district. This place is wonderfully Old World. Sit near the window and order the bacalhau with a glass of simple red wine. Largo de São Carlos 10
Plus, don’t miss:
LX Factory An old factory complex has been turned into a space for cafes, shops, ateliers and galleries. Don’t miss the stylish Ler Devagar Bookstore, which retains an original press from the printing shop that used to occupy the space.
Campo de Ourique This under-the-radar neighborhood northwest of the city center brims with a sense of community. Meander tree-lined streets, checking out spots like Casa Pélys, a former photo studio turned into a vintage shop, and Hamburgueria da Parada, a craft-burger kiosk.
Júlio Pomar Museum This tiny new museum, designed by star architect Álvaro Siza Vieira, showcases the oeuvre of Portuguese painter Julio Pomar.
Whatever you decide to do, enjoy your travels!
Read more, Travels with Teri B.