An American Girl in Washington

Lisbon, Portugal

Posted in Travel by AGinDC on 30 January 2012

Last weekend, thanks mostly to Bloomberg Businessweek and the amazing fellowship they gave me, I went to Lisbon, Portugal for the Sandbox Global Summit. There were about fifty reasons that I was excited about this, and not one of them came even close to how incredible the experience actually was.

First of all, I have been lucky enough to have been to most of Western Europe (not Spain yet and it’s killing me). I had not, however, been to Portugal and had no idea why everyone who has been there seems to be so in love. Well now I know.

Lisbon is covered in cobblestone streets, rolling hills, and beautiful buildings with iron gates and balconies. The government cares deeply for preserving the beauty of Lisbon. In the 70s, a man who is probably under the jail right now was going bankrupt so he burnt down his warehouse. Unfortunately, he took several city blocks with it. Rather than rebuilding with awful, ugly modern buildings in the center of town, they rebuilt the city exactly the way it was except with modern amenities like, you know, central heating. So now, walking through the beautiful shopping district, you can’t tell at all that the buildings are brand new. How many other governments would do that?

In the same spirit, the city of Lisbon was extremely kind and welcoming to the Sandbox summit because they are working hard to make Lisbon an entrepreneurial hub. Honestly, I can’t imagine they’ll have a problem. The city totally kicks ass. By the end of the weekend, we were all planning to move there.

The city wanted us to hold our summit in Lisbon because Sandbox is an international organization of young entrepreneurs. So perfect, right? Right. I expected this weekend to be full of talking about entrepreneurship, getting some ideas, and maybe making a friend or two. Instead, it was what I can only describe as ephiphanous. Yes, that’s right, I had to make a word up to describe the awesomeness of Lisbox. I had conversations like I’ve never had before with people I’ve never met before and found solutions I didn’t know I needed to problems I didn’t know I had. It was that kind of weekend.

Other than the awesomeness of the Summit itself, the city was also amazing on its own terms. My favorite thing, besides the unseasonable warm weather, amazing architecture and the fact that it’s right on the water, was the care and attention that every little shop paid to their customers. Every shop was absolutely delightful and when I bought something the item wasn’t just thrown in a plastic bag, oh no. It was wrapped in custom paper with pictures or stamps (one woman hand rolled a custom made stamp onto every piece of paper used to wrap my mug), then they put it in a perfect little bag (at the candy store (see below) they had bags with separate compartments for each type of candy) and then they tied a bow or ribbon on the bags. It was amazing. I almost didn’t want to open the bags!

Two of my favorite shops were Papabubble, where they hand-made absolutely delightful candy and Lisboa Carma, which is owned by a husband and wife who got tired of crappy tourist merchandise so they work with artists in Lisbon to create really unique and beautiful Lisbon-themed merchandise. Please can we do this in DC? Pics are below! Including of the super awesome candy art at Papabubble.

Anyways, Lisbon rocks. Below are some pictures, and, because I promised Bloomberg, a really embarrassing video that they did of me. Feel free to ignore. And go to Lisbon!!



The best tourist shop ever

The Raven

The candy store!

Cutting long strips of candy…

… to make candy roses

Candy Trolley!

Candy Punch and Judy!


The video:


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