Three Perfect Days: Lisbon - United Hub
Hemispheres

Three Perfect Days: Lisbon

By The Hub team , July 21, 2016

Story by Boyd Farrow | Photography by Pedro Guimarães | Hemispheres Magazine July 2016

It's easy to see why so many people are besotted with Lisbon. It's as gorgeous as Paris, without the attitude; it's as enchanting as Istanbul, without the traffic; and it has the vibrancy of Berlin, with better weather. Each year, more than 4 million visitors come to the city—home to a mere 550,000 people—to get lost in its lively neighborhoods, marvel at its exquisite architecture, and indulge in its thriving culinary and cultural scenes. Indeed, many are moving here permanently, lured in part by the proliferating startup companies, but also by the way of life. The Portuguese capital is steeped in history, much of which concerns the devastating earthquake of 1755 and the subsequent reconstruction—but this former naval power is in the midst of a different kind of revival, one that has as much to do with the spirit of the place as it does with the infrastructure. Famously gloomy Lisbonites, it seems, are rediscovering their sense of fun.

Day 1 Reclining in my Empire-style suite at the Pestana Palace—a fondant-iced mansion in the riverside district of Belém—I'm torn. Do I go for a dip in the garden pool or read the paper in my clawfoot tub? I don't often get to soak under a chandelier. I can swim later.

Breakfast is in a salon that has even more frescoes than my room. Anywhere else, the monster ham burdening the buffet table would be a talking point. I refill my plate so many times I'm pretty sure a cherub is glaring at me.

A short cab ride takes me to Torre de Belém, a dinky fort at the mouth of the Tagus. A launching point for many naval adventures, the structure bears as much symbolism as Game of Thrones—and is just as camp. Maritime motifs meet Moorish and Italian touches in an exuberant architectural mashup known as Manueline, after the 16th-century king Manuel I. Near the fort's tiny drawbridge, a busker plays the Star Wars theme on an electric violin.

the Padrão dos Descobrimentos monumentPadrão dos Descobrimentos, in Belém

In the 1520s, the fort was farther from the shore, but the 1755 earthquake, which leveled much of the city, also shifted the river. A stroll along its bank leads to Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a 180-foot-tall, ship-shaped monument to the Age of Discovery. Nearby is Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, the blingiest symbol of Portugal's status in that era. With its gables and pinnacles, its lavish altar and atmospheric chapel, the Mosteiro could rival any cathedral in the world. The big draw is its network of cloisters, not least because the delicate stonework withstood the quake. As I pass through a vaulted archway, a boy thwacks a soccer ball against a spindly column. The structure endures this, too.

Outside is another hallowed site, Pastéis de Belém, which has made Portugal's insanely delicious pastel de nata custard tarts since 1837. You see the line snaking around the tiled shopfront long before the buttery waft hits you. With monklike abstemiousness, I buy just one and realize my mistake with the first warm and wobbly bite.

Next to the monastery is Lisbon's blandest building—though, admittedly, the Fundação Centro Cultural de Belém was built to accommodate EU officials. At its core is the Museu Berardo, which houses one of the world's most impressive modern art collections, with around 250 works from the likes of Picasso, Warhol, and Dalí. Amazingly, security seems nonexistent. I resist the temptation to leave with a Miró in my tote.

José Avillez, who is a chef in LisbonJosé Avillez, chef

A 20-minute ride on a pleasantly tilting yellow tram takes me to Pap'Açorda, a popular restaurant recently transplanted to premises above the Mercado da Ribeira, the city's historic food market. Pap'Açorda is named after its specialty, açorda, a massively filling bread-and-vegetable stew. I get one as a starter, followed by a fillet steak, sautéed Portuguese-style in wine and bacon. Dessert is chocolate mousse, which the waiter serves from a mixing bowl, encouraging me to scrape off the spoon. It would be rude not to.

I walk off the mousse by exploring Praça do Comércio, the mosaic-cobbled waterfront square, where custard-colored 18th-century buildings flank a statue of King José I. At the northern end looms the Arco da Rua Augusta, a 100-foot-high, dizzyingly ornate archway celebrating the city's post-earthquake reconstruction. From its frilly summit, reached via corkscrew staircases and an elevator, I survey Baixa, the dense downtown heart of the city, and the rust-roofed clutter of Chiado and Bairro Alto. Chiado, with its theaters, bookshops, and cafés, has long been seen as the city's Montmartre, a magnet for creative types. Bairro Alto is known for its bars, graffiti, and laundry draped on ornate balconies.

“Portuguese food culture is so rich because it is based on stories and history—two things we are hardly short on—and of course there's our fantastic climate. What the Portuguese are not so good at is promoting ourselves. This is why there are French and Italian restaurants everywhere." —José Avillez

No matter where you go here, everything is far more beautiful than it needs to be. The streets are lit by Baroque lanterns. The trams are basically Art Deco cocktail cabinets on rails. Refreshment kiosks are fairground carousels. That tiled facade? The entrance to an underground garage. The shop with the carved columns? Oh, they repair dishwashers. That magnificent Eiffel Tower–like structure? That's the Elevador de Santa Justa; it transports passengers in polished wooden carriages to a wrought-iron skyway, so they can explore the sublime ruins of Carmo Convent without schlepping up the hill.

It's almost a relief to duck into the Igreja de São Domingos, the world's unluckiest church. Having been patched up after two major quakes, the interior was destroyed again by a fire in 1959. This time they just left it: a cavernous, sooty—and poignant—shell. As I leave, a heavily sweating man enters and crosses himself so vigorously I suspect he might have done something really bad.

Outside, the air is aromatic with dried cod, shards of which are stacked in the crammed Manteigaria Silva produce shop, as they have been for more than a century. Inside, the ancient Mr. Silva points to a framed photograph dated 1923. “My father," he explains. “The shop looks exactly the same."

The aerial view of a busy street in LisbonThe bustle of Rua Augusta

I've arranged to meet 36-year-old super-chef José Avillez outside the 18th-century São Carlos opera house. Avillez owns five restaurants within a mile of here, including the two-Michelin-starred Belcanto—a first for Lisbon—and a snazzy pizza joint. He lives in Chiado, too, with his young family. “It's my favorite area," he says. “Everything you need is within a few blocks—a cinema, ordinary shops, an old-fashioned barber. Lisbon is not showy or frantic like other cities. You still see people getting their shoes shined in the street, or their umbrellas repaired." We pass a chichi interior design store, and Avillez frowns. “That's new."

While Lisbon is clearly becoming a global city, Avillez says locals are increasingly returning to tradition. “The recent economic woes reminded people what is important: food, family, history, shared experiences." We pass a group of youngsters stumbling into a bar. “See," he says, drily. “We are learning to go out and enjoy ourselves."

For dinner, I visit Avillez's Mini Bar, in Chiado's old Teatro São Luiz, now an arts venue. The tasting menu is as much magic show as gastronomy. It begins with the “Caipirinha," a small green sphere with a crisp shell that bursts in my mouth, and continues through several courses that include a Ferrero Rocher made of foie gras and a scoop of spicy raw tuna in a rolled seaweed cone. It ends with lime cream and dry ice inside another green sphere.

Feeling pretty spherical myself, I'm ready to roll down the hill to my bed. I vow to eat far less tomorrow.

Day 2 I'm having breakfast at Delfina, an all-day Portuguese deli in the AlmaLusa, a stylish hotel recently opened on Praça do Município. I'm here with Miguel Simões de Almeida, who acquired the property in the aftermath of Lisbon's most recent quake—the financial one of 2008. The 18th-century building, with its stone floors and exposed beams, had stood empty for years. Simões de Almeida wants my opinion on the entire menu, which is a worry. Everything's great—including the two types of açorda—but the dishes keep on coming. I smile at the waiter, but my eyes are screaming.

I plod outside and cab it to the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, which houses a vast collection of Ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Islamic, Asian, and European objects. I browse a mishmash of busy rugs and dainty furniture until I can browse no more. It's like being in Ancient Ikea. In the garden outside, I glimpse a rhinoceros. I'm hallucinating. No, it's part of the sculpture park. Close by, in the modern wing, I also spot a Renoir and a Hockney.

From here, I walk south to Mãe D'Água Amoreiras, the “temple of water" that was once Lisbon's main reservoir. The interior comprises a huge marble chamber with central columns and a deep, clear pool replenished by a waterfall fountain. Now I want that swim—but instead I make do with the view from the building's panoramic terrace. With all these interwoven roofs to scamper over, surely they'll shoot a Bourne movie here.

the red rooftops of Alfama, LisbonThe Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora and the rooftops of Alfama

Just west of Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon's chic shopping boulevard, is leafy Principe Real, which has recently seen an influx of antique shops, designer boutiques, and well-groomed men walking French bulldogs. Several people proudly tell me this is “Lisbon's Soho," sweetly unaware that Soho is now all chain stores and underwear billboards. Here, every inch of pavement is abuzz with artisanal startups and collectives, many showcased in the Embaixada, a new emporium fashioned out of the Venetian-style Ribeiro da Cunha Palace.

I pop into a padaria (bakery) for a caffeine hit and discover that for an extra buck I can get a ham and cheese sandwich. I buckle. As I guiltily chew my second breakfast at the stand-up counter, I realize the ceiling is painted with an exquisite fresco of some 18th-century babe. With bakeries like this, who needs palaces?

two nightlife entrepreneurs surrounded by albumsFrancisco Rebelo de Andrade, nightlife entrepreneur

Just east of here is Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara, a lovely lookout terrace that has gardens, a fountain, and a load of statues I'm too tired to investigate. I'm starting to understand that in Lisbon the phrase “amazing view" is redundant. I pop into the Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Encarnação, built in 1708 and rebuilt after the quake. It's low-key on the outside, like Liberace's boudoir within.

I buy some Cohibas from the nearby Casa Havaneza, a grand old cigar store next to A Brasileira, an Art Deco café that opened in 1905. Its historic rival, the 19th-century Café Benard, is two doors away. Many locals say the Benard has better coffee, but visitors are inevitably drawn to A Brasileira's sunny outdoor tables. I sit at one and am immediately set upon by a toothless accordion player. The Benard crowd looks on smugly.

“The financial crash actually did a lot of good. It made young people very proactive and entrepreneurial. It seems everyone here is launching their own business. There is a real creative buzz in Lisbon now, which feeds through the whole city." —Francisco Rebelo de Andrade

Now, onward to the Castle! Well, to lunch, inside the castle walls—at Casa do Leão, a stone-arched restaurant on the site where the Romans kept their lions. First, I have to catch my breath. As if the hills leading to the Castelo de São Jorge weren't steep enough, security-conscious royals have periodically increased the gradient. I recuperate over a seafood risotto, cod steak with vegetables, and most of the dessert trolley. There are no lions here these days, but I do spot a couple of peacocks.

It turns out that most of what I've been admiring for two days was rebuilt in the 1920s, based on medieval plans. While the oldest part dates from the sixth century—before the Visigoths and Moors—most of the walls collapsed in 1755. I light a Cohiba and take in the view for a bit. Then I hop on a tram back to the AlmaLusa to freshen up. I'm hoping Simões de Almeida hasn't left a selection of mints on my pillow for me to try.

Shortly afterward, I'm back in the hilltop muddle of Bairro Alto—life in Lisbon really is a roller coaster. The cab driver is perplexed dropping me at a seven-story parking lot. I squeeze into a graffitied elevator with six excitable Eastern European lads and ascend to Park, the rooftop bar, which, inevitably, offers fine views of the city, including the bell towers of the nearby Santa Catarina church.

Among the improbably beautiful people at Park is Francisco Rebelo de Andrade, a former lawyer who has augmented his food and club empire with the annual music festival Lisb-ON. “We don't have a nightlife in Lisbon," he says over vodka tonics. “We have a multiday life. People surf, work hard, eat well, then go out." On cue, three attractive young women breeze past. “People aren't moping around listening to fado anymore," he adds. “There is a real get-up-and-go spirit."

The ruins of the Convento da Ordem do CarmoThe ruins of the Convento da Ordem do Carmo, which was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake

Speaking of get up and go: Dinner tonight is at Duplex, in Cais do Sodré, once one of Lisbon's seedier areas but now transformed by the forces of hipsterdom. The moody, modern restaurant is the latest from hot young chef Nuno Bergonse. I opt to eat at the chef's table, in the tiny kitchen, where the music is loud and the tattooed chefs take the odd slug of wine. The result is creative comfort food: scallops with hazelnuts and coconut, grilled octopus with a vegetable fricassè. Afterward, Bergonse joins me for a drink and a mille-feuille with honey custard. “We make exactly what we want to eat," he says. “That's our business plan."

For all its rejuvenation, Cais do Sodré is still raw in places—hipsters in other cities can only dream of such soulful decay. I roam around for a bit, stopping off at a couple of artfully decrepit bars, including one that, as far as I can tell, doesn't have a name. I have a shot of ginjinha, a traditional sticky-sweet cherry liqueur. Then I have a couple more. Then I leave the bar-with-no-name while I can still remember my own.

Day 3 Midmorning at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, and I'm jumping up and down with some children, trying to jiggle a priceless antique. (Hey, they started it.) The wonderfully named Monstrance of Belém is a sacrament repository bearing figures of the apostles under a swinging dove. The kids want to see it move. Clearly, all these big meals are paying off: The enameled bird practically leaves the building.

An hour ago I left my third hotel, the Santiago de Alfama—a delightful boutique in a 15th-century palace near Castelo de São Jorge—to wander the knotted streets of Alfama, Lisbon's oldest quarter. Every turn brings another crooked alleyway, another expanse of exquisite tilework, another ledge of precarious flowerpots, another near-vertical flight of steps. Thankfully, I'm heading down.

Few buildings have had such a tortuous history as the Igreja de Santa Engrácia, whose sky-high, chalk-white dome is a fixture of the Alfama skyline. Begun in 1681, the church wasn't completed until 1966, as a succession of monarchs and municipalities lost interest. Today, it's a pantheon of national heroes, such as the 15th-century explorer-by-proxy Henry the Navigator and Amália Rodrigues, the country's most famous fado diva.

View of The Praça do Comércio, from the top of the Arco Rua da AugustaThe Praça do Comércio, seen from the top of the Arco Rua da Augusta

Next, I check out the Sé de Lisboa, the city's oldest cathedral. Though its Romanesque towers have been a landmark since 1150, its significance has increased with the discovery of Roman ruins in the cloisters. After I've explored these pre-Christian relics, the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, opened a mere 132 years ago, feels like an Apple store. The museum has several major artworks, spanning from medieval times until now, including pieces by Bosch, Dürer, and Raphael. Portugal's most important painting—Nuno Gonçalves's Veneration of St. Vincent, which depicts prominent 15th-century Portuguese figures—is also here. To my eye, it looks as if one face has been repeated, like a Baldwin family photo. I round off my visit with a stroll through the cathedral's beautiful statue garden, with its view across Alcântara's harbor.

After a rustic ham sandwich and a hot chocolate at Café Tati, a shabby-chic joint in a warehouse close to the Cais do Sodré railway terminal, I take the short train trip to Cascais, a coastal suburb 20 miles west that has long been a summer playground for Lisboners.

In its psychedelically mosaicked town square, I meet Miguel Champalimaud, of the Montez Champalimaud wine dynasty, which owns a nearby equestrian center and five-star hotel. We spend an hour pootling around the cobbled old town, but Champalimaud wants to show me the sea. “This is the best thing about Lisbon," he says as his Volvo tears up the coastal highway.

Miguel Champalimaud at his hotel in LisbonMiguel Champalimaud, hotelier

We pass Praia da Crismina, a small, sandy strip bracketed by cliffs, before reaching Praia do Guincho, which is popular with surfers. There are about 30 people out on boards right now, and they are on them only briefly. We lounge in the sun for a while, savoring the salty air. Then, to my dismay, Champalimaud produces a wetsuit. “Do you surf?" he says, politely ignoring my physique. “Only the Internet," I reply. “Who's hungry?"

Lunch is a feast of fresh hake fillets with cockle rice, consumed on a terrace overlooking the Atlantic at Monte Mar, one of the world's top seafood restaurants. Watching all that surfing has given me an appetite. “Lisbon is so crowded," Champalimaud says, as if it were Tokyo. “Many visitors are now staying in Cascais and going into Lisbon at night. My family has a big responsibility to preserve the beauty of this place and restrict development."

“Everyone leaves Lisbon impressed with our work-life balance. We work hard, but we will go surfing before going to the office, or leave the office to enjoy the sunset. We are also conservative: We might go out on Saturday night, but most people still sit down with their family for Sunday lunch." —Miguel Champalimaud

Fish is still on my mind when I return to the city. Never one to pass up a good cannery, I'm back in Baixa to visit the Loja das Conservas,or House of Canned Goods, a colorful shop-cum-museum that celebrates Portugal's love affair with seafood. There are about 300 varieties of canned fish for sale here, each container adorned with vivid colors, retro images, and exquisite typography. There is also a vending machine shaped like a giant tin and a machine that lets you can anything you like. “Anything?" I ask, and the assistant eyes me suspiciously.

Carrying several tins of incorruptible seafood, I swing by Rua do Carmo to buy gloves at Luvaria Ulisses. The shop has a big reputation, but is only four feet wide. The owner, Carlos Carvalho, studies me for two seconds before stretching a fine black calfskin pair over my hands. In this cubbyhole are 1,200 pairs in tiny drawers. “Organization is everything," he says. I pop my purchase into my pocket, suddenly aware that my fingers smell faintly of sardines.

From here, I head to hilly Mouraria, the former Moorish ghetto, which still resembles a medieval medina. The cobbled Rua São Cristóvão, named after the sweet 16th-century church at one end, might be the last place you'd expect to find the experimental and exceptional cuisine served at Leopold, a white-tiled former bakery. Then again, six months ago a gallery called Ó! opened a few doors along, and the area is being tipped as the city's next hotspot.

Several sand dunes leading to the beach at Praia do GuinchoThe beach at Praia do Guincho

For a maximum of 12 people, chef Tiago Feio offers a seven-course menu that reinterprets Portuguese standards. For one thing, there is no stove here. Instead, all food is either served raw or cooked the sous vide way—placed in vacuum bags, given a hot bath, then seared if necessary. The idea is that the flavors are preserved more fully, and the first bite bears this out. I have blowtorched beef, with mizuna and seaweed, which is so good that only the proximity of other diners stops me from licking my plate. The same goes for the soft-boiled egg with shiitakes, buckwheat, and thyme, and the banana cream dessert with shavings of São Jorge cheese. The most impressive thing of all is how they carry the ingredients up all those steep hills.

I leave Leopold after midnight, but the air is still balmy, bathed in a yellow glow. As I stroll toward my hotel, I hear a twanging acoustic guitar. It's late, but there are moments in Lisbon when you hardly know what century it is, let alone what time. I find the source of the music—a small, dim bar on a ludicrously precipitous hill—and head inside. As Vasco da Gama might have said, “It would be a shame to turn back now."

Berlin-based writer Boyd Farrow was so thoroughly fed while in Lisbon that he can now do a passing impression of the city's Eighth Hill.

If you go

Come see why millions of people visit each year. Visit united.com or use the United app to book your getaway to Lisbon.

Taking action to make a global impact

By The Hub team , January 17, 2020

Following the devastating wildfires in Australia and powerful earthquakes that shook Puerto Rico last week, we're taking action to make a global impact through our international partnerships as well as nonprofit organizations Afya Foundation and ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency).

Helping Puerto Rico recover from earthquakes

Last week, Puerto Rico was hit with a 5.2 magnitude earthquake, following a 6.4 magnitude earthquake it experienced just days before. The island has been experiencing hundreds of smaller quakes during the past few weeks.

These earthquakes destroyed crucial infrastructure and left 4,000 people sleeping outside or in shelters after losing their homes. We've donated $50,000 to our partner charity organization Airlink and through them, we've helped transport disaster relief experts and medical supplies for residents, as well as tents and blankets for those who have lost their homes. Funding will go towards organizations within Airlink's partner network, which includes Habitat for Humanity, Mercy Corps and Americares, to help with relief efforts and long-term recovery.

Australian wildfire relief efforts

Our efforts to help Australia have inspired others to make their own positive impact. In addition to teaming up with Ellen DeGeneres to donate $250,000 and launching a fundraising campaign with GlobalGiving to benefit those impacted by the devastating wildfires in the country known for its open spaces and wildlife, our cargo team is helping to send more than 600 pounds of medical supplies to treat injured animals in the region.

Helping us send these supplies is the Afya Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit that seeks to improve global health by collecting surplus medical supplies and delivering them to parts of the world where they are most needed. Through Airlink, the Afya Foundation will send more than $18,000 worth of materials that will be used to treat animals injured in the Australian fires.

These medical supplies will fly to MEL (Melbourne) and delivered to The Rescue Collective. This Australian organization is currently focused on treating the massive population of wildlife, such as koalas, kangaroos, and birds, that have had their habitats destroyed by the recent wildfires. The supplies being sent include wound dressings, gloves, catheters, syringes and other items that are unused but would otherwise be disposed of.

By working together, we can continue to make a global impact and help those affected by natural disasters to rebuild and restore their lives


Help us (and Ellen DeGeneres) support wildfire relief efforts in Australia

By The Hub team , January 08, 2020

Australia needs our help as wildfires continue to devastate the continent that's beloved by locals and travelers alike. In times like these, the world gets a little smaller and we all have a responsibility to do what we can.

On Monday, The Ellen DeGeneres Show announced a campaign to raise $5 million to aid in relief efforts. When we heard about Ellen's effort, we immediately reached out to see how we could help.

Today, we're committing $250,000 toward Ellen's campaign so we can offer support now and help with rebuilding. For more on The Ellen DeGeneres Show efforts and to donate yourself, you can visit www.gofundme.com/f/ellenaustraliafund

We're also matching donations made to the Australian Wildfire Relief Fund, created by GlobalGiving's Disaster Recovery Network. This fund will support immediate relief efforts for people impacted by the fires in the form of emergency supplies like food, water and medicine. Funds will also go toward long-term recovery assistance, helping residents recover and rebuild. United will match up to $50,000 USD in donations, and MileagePlus® members who donate $50 or more will receive up to 1,000 award miles from United. Donate to GlobalGiving.

Please note: Donations made toward GlobalGiving's fund are only eligible for the MileagePlus miles match.

In addition to helping with fundraising, we're staying in touch with our employees and customers in Australia. Together, we'll help keep Australia a beautiful place to live and visit in the years to come.

20 Reasons to Travel in 2020

By Hemispheres Magazine , January 01, 2020


20. Spot Giant Pandas in China

In 2016, giant pandas were removed from the endangered species list, and China would like to keep it that way. This year, the country plans to consolidate the creatures' known habitats into one unified national park system spanning nearly 10,500 square miles across Sichuan, Gansu, and Shaanxi provinces—about the size, in total, of Massachusetts. —Nicholas DeRenzo


19. Follow in James Bond's Footsteps in Jamaica

Photo: Design Pics/Carson Ganci/Getty Images

When No Time to Die hits theaters on April 8, it marks a number of returns for the James Bond franchise. The 25th chapter in the Bond saga is the first to come out since 2015's Spectre; it's Daniel Craig's fifth go-round as 007, after rumors the actor was set to move on; and it's the first time the series has filmed in Jamaica since 1973's Live and Let Die. The Caribbean island has always had a special place in Bond lore: It was the location of one of creator Ian Fleming's homes, GoldenEye (which is now a resort), and the setting for the first 007 movie, 1962's Dr. No. Looking to live like a super-spy? You don't need a license to kill—just a ride to Port Antonio, where you can check out filming locations such as San San Beach and colonial West Street. Remember to keep your tux pressed and your Aston Martin on the left side of the road. —Justin Goldman


18. See the Future of Architecture in Venice

Every other year, Venice hosts the art world's best and brightest during its celebrated Biennale. But the party doesn't stop during off years, when the Architecture Biennale takes place. This year, curator Hashim Sarkis, the dean of MIT's School of Architecture and Planning, has tasked participants with finding design solutions for political divides and economic inequality; the result, on display from May to November, is the intriguing show How Will We Live Together? —Nicholas DeRenzo

17. Celebrate Beethoven's 250th Birthday in Bonn

Photo: Universal History Archive/Getty Images
Catch a Beethoven concerto in Bonn, Germany, to celebrate the hometown hero's big 2-5-0.

16. Eat Your Way Through Slovenia

When Ana Roš of Hiša Franko was named the World's Best Female Chef in 2017, food lovers began to wonder: Do we need to pay attention to Slovenia? The answer, it turns out, is definitely yes. This March, the tiny Balkan nation about two hours east of Venice gets its own Michelin Guide. —Nicholas DeRenzo

15. Star- (and Sun-) Gaze in Patagonia

Photo: blickwinkel/Alamy

Come December 13 and 14, there will be no better spot for sky-watchers than northern Patagonia, which welcomes both the peak of the Geminid meteor shower and a total solar eclipse within 24 hours. —Nicholas DeRenzo

14. Explore Miami's Game-Changing New Park

About 70,000 commuters use Miami's Metrorail each day, and city planners aim to turn the unused space beneath its tracks into an exciting new public space, a 10-mile linear park aptly named The Underline. Luckily, the Magic City is in good hands: The project is being helmed by James Corner Field Operations, the geniuses behind New York's High Line. “Both projects share similarities in their overarching goals," says principal designer Isabel Castilla, “to convert a leftover infrastructural space into a public space that connects neighborhoods, generates community, and encourages urban regeneration." When finished, Miami's park will be about seven times as long as its Big Apple counterpart. The first half-mile leg, set to open this June, is the Brickell Backyard, which includes an outdoor gym, a butterfly garden, a dog park, and gaming tables that call to mind the dominoes matches you'll find nearby in Little Havana. “We envision the Underline dramatically changing the way people in Miami engage with public space," Castilla says. —Nicholas DeRenzo

Photo: philipus/Alamy

13. Kick Off the NFL in Las Vegas

Photo: Littleny/Alamy

Former Raiders owner Al Davis was famous for saying, “Just win, baby." His son, Mark Davis, the team's current owner, is more likely to be shouting “Vegas, baby!" Swingers-style, as his team becomes Sin City's first NFL franchise, the Las Vegas Raiders. After years of threats and lawsuits, the Raiders have finally left Oakland, and this summer they're landing just across the highway from the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in a 65,000-seat, $1.8 billion domed stadium that will also host the UNLV football team, the next two Pac-12 championship games, and the Las Vegas Bowl. Construction is slated to be finished July 31, just in time for the NFL preseason—and just in time to lure football fans from the sportsbooks to the grandstand. —Justin Goldman

12. Celebrate the Suffragettes in Washington D.C.

All eyes are on the ballot box this year, but the electorate would look quite different if not for the 19th Amendment, which was ratified 100 years ago this August. Many D.C. institutions, such as the National Archives Museum and the Library of Congress, are honoring the decades-long struggle for women's suffrage with exhibits. In particular, the National Museum of American History unveils Sarah J. Eddy's portrait of Susan B. Anthony this March, before putting on a 'zine-inspired show on girlhood and youth social movements this June. —Nicholas DeRenzo

11. Go for a Ride Through Mexico City

If you want to get somewhere quickly in Mexico City, try going by bicycle. During peak traffic, bikes average faster speeds than cars or public transportation—which might explain why ridership has gone up almost 50 percent since 2007. And riding on two wheels is getting safer and easier. In 2019, the city announced plans to invest $10 million (more than it had spent in the last six years combined) into the construction of about 50 miles of new paths and lanes. Now, you can cycle on a two-mile separated path along the Paseo de la Reforma, from Colonia Juárez and Roma to Chapultepec Park and Polanco. Future plans include a route along the National Canal between Coyoacán (where Frida Kahlo once lived) and Xochimilco (with its floating flower farms). “The goal is to finish the six-year [presidential] term with 600 kilometers of bike infrastructure," says Roberto Mendoza of the city's Secretariat of Mobility. Time to start pedaling. —Naomi Tomky

10. Consider the Mayflower's Legacy in Massachusetts and Abroad

Photo: Thianchai Sitthikongsak

Before they came to America in 1620, the religious separatists now known as the Pilgrims lived in England and the Netherlands. This year, the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing will be commemorated not only by those nations but also by a fourth: The Wampanoag, the confederation of tribes that live in New England and whose role in this world-changing event has been at best left out and at worst distorted.

“We're challenging the myths and stereotypes," says Aquinnah Wampanoag author Linda Coombs, a board member of Plymouth 400, Inc., which is planning cultural events such
as an Ancestors Walk to honor the native villages pushed aside by settlers, as well as
an indigenous history conference and powwow (plus an $11 million restoration of the replica Mayflower II).

Kerri Helme, a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag nation and cultural programs manager at Plimoth Plantation, says that “people want to hear the whole story." She notes that it's a commonly held belief that the Pilgrims were welcomed by the natives, when in fact their first encounter was violent, since the English had been stealing the Wampanoags' food.

“The Wampanoag are key players in all of this," says Charles Hackett, CEO of Mayflower 400 in the U.K. “It's a whole other aspect of this history." In England, a Mayflower trail will connect Pilgrim sites in towns such as Southampton and Plymouth, and in Leiden, the Dutch town where the Pilgrims took refuge before embarking for the New World, the ethnology museum will run an exhibit about the natives.

“The most important thing for us, as the Wampanoag people," says Paula Peters, a former Wampanoag council member, “is to be acknowledged as a vital tribe comprised of people that, in spite of everything that's happened, are still here." —Jon Marcus

9. Discover Lille's Design Scene

Photo: Mark Bassett/Alamy

Previous World Design Capitals have included major cultural hubs such as Helsinki and Seoul, so it came as a shock when Lille, France's 10th-largest city, beat Sydney for this year's title. Judges cited Lille's use of design to improve its citizens' lives; get a taste for yourself at spots like La Piscine Musée d'Art et d'Industrie, a gallery in a former Art Deco swim center. —Nicholas DeRenzo

8. See Stellar Space in Rio de Janeiro, the World Capital of Architecture

Rio de Janeiro is renowned for the beauty of its beaches and mountains, but the Cidade Maravilhosa's man-made structures are as eye-catching as its natural features. For that reason, UNESCO recently designated Rio its first World Capital of Architecture, honoring a city that boasts such landmarks as the stained glass–domed Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading, the fairy-tale Ilha Fiscal palace, and the uber-modern Niterói Contemporary Art Museum.

"Rio is an old city by New World standards, having been founded in the mid–16th century," says architectural photographer Andrew Prokos, who took this shot. "So the city has many layers of architectural styles, from Colonial and Rococo to Art Nouveau, Modernist, Brutalist, and contemporary." In the case of this museum, which was designed by perhaps Brazil's greatest architect, Pritzker Prize winner Oscar Niemeyer, Prokos was intrigued by how the 24-year-old building interacts with its surroundings. "The upward slope of the museum complements the slope of the Pão de Açúcar across the bay," he says, "so the two are speaking to each other from across the water." – Tom Smyth

7. Join the Avengers at Disneyland

This summer, Disney California Adventure unveils its Marvel-themed Avengers Campus, with a new Spider-Man attraction, followed later by an Ant-Man restaurant and a ride through Wakanda. If the hype surrounding last year's debut of Disney+ is any indication, Comic-Con types are going to lose their fanboy (and -girl) minds. —Nicholas DeRenzo

6. Listen to Jazz in Cape Town

Photo: Eric Nathan/Alamy

Cape Town's natural wonders draw visitors from all over the world, but there's a hidden gem beyond the mountains, beaches, and seas: music. Much as jazz was born from America's diverse peoples, Cape jazz combines the traditions and practices of the city's multiethnic population, creating genres such as goema (named after a type of hand drum) and marabi (a keyboard style that arose in the townships). Cape Town has hosted an International Jazz Festival for
20 years (the 21st edition is this March 27–28), and now UNESCO is giving the Mother City its musical due by naming it the Global Host City of International Jazz Day 2020. The theme of the event—which takes place on April 30, features an All Star Global Concert, and is the climax of Jazz Appreciation Month—is “Tracing the Roots and Routes of African Jazz." During the dark days of slavery and apartheid, music became an outlet through which repressed people could express their struggle for freedom. What better way to mark a quarter century of democracy here than with a celebration of that most free style of music? —Struan Douglas

5. Take a Walk Around England

Many hikers love walking around England—but how many can say that they've truly walked around England? When it's completed, the England Coast Path will be the longest managed seaside trail in the world, completely circumnavigating the coastline, from the fishing villages of Cornwall and the beaches of Nothumberland to the limestone arches of the Jurassic Coast and the sandy dunes of Norfolk. Much of the trail is already waymarked (the 630-mile South West Coast Path is particularly challenging and beautiful), with new legs set to open throughout the year. If you want to cross the whole thing off your bucket list, be warned that it's no walk in the park: At around 2,795 miles, the completed route is 605 miles longer than the Appalachian Trail and about the same as the distance between New York and Los Angeles. —Nicholas DeRenzo

4. Get Refreshed in the Israeli Desert

Six Senses resorts are known for restorative retreats in places like Fiji, Bali, and the Maldives. For its latest location, the wellness-minded brand is heading to a more unexpected locale: the Arava Valley, in the far south of Israel. Opening this spring, the Six Senses Shaharut will offer overnight camel camping, off-roading in the surrounding desert, and restaurants serving food grown in the resort's gardens or sourced from nearby kibbutzim. While the valley is said to be near King Solomon's copper mines, the Six Senses is sure to strike gold. —Nicholas DeRenzo

3. Say konnichiwa on July 24 at the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, which plays host for the first time since 1964.

The Japanese capital plays host for the first time since 1964. This year, softball and baseball will return after being absent since 2008, and four new sports—karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding—will be added to the competition for the first time. Say konnichiwa at the opening ceremonies on July 24, which will be held at renowned architect Kengo Kuma's New National Stadium. – Nicholas DeRenzo

2. Score Tickets to Euro 2020

Still feeling World Cup withdrawal? Get your “football" fix at the UEFA European Championship. From June 12 to July 12, 24 qualifying national teams will play games in stadiums from Bilbao to Baku, culminating in the semi-finals and final at London's hallowed Wembley Stadium. Will World Cup champion France bring home another trophy? Will Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal repeat its 2016 Euro win? Will the tortured English national team finally get its first title? Or will an upstart—like Greece in 2004—shock the world? —Justin Goldman

1. Soak Up Some Culture in Galway

Photo: Ian Dagnall/Alamy

Galway has long been called “the cultural heart of Ireland," so it's no surprise that this bohemian city on the country's wild west coast was named a 2020 European Capital of Culture (along with Rijeka, Croatia). The title puts a spotlight on the city (population 80,000) and County Galway, where more than 1,900 events will take place throughout the year. Things kick off in February with a seven-night opening ceremony featuring a fiery (literally) choreographed celebration starring a cast of 2,020 singing-and-drumming locals in Eyre Square. “This is a once-in-a-generation chance for Galway," says Paul Fahy, a county native and the artistic director of the Galway International Arts Festival (July 13–26). “It's a huge pressure. There's a heightened sense of expectation from audiences, not just from here but from all over the world." Art lovers will no doubt enjoy Kari Kola's illuminating work Savage Beauty, which will wash the Connemara mountains in green light to coincide with St. Patrick's Day, or the Druid Theatre Company's countywide tour of some of the best 20th-century one-act Irish plays. Visitors would also be wise to explore the rugged beauty of Connemara on a day trip with the charismatic Mairtin Óg Lally of Lally Tours, and to eat their way across town with Galway Food Tours. But beware, says Fahy: “Galway has a reputation as a place people came to 20 years ago for a weekend and never left." —Ellen Carpenter

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