“Do you remember this?” “I haven’t seen one of these in years!” Visiting this store was a walk down memory lane for my Portuguese husband… Which is exactly what makes it the best place to shop for authentic souvenirs.
With all the little lojas (stores) around the city selling the same postcards, magnets and bric-a-brac, it can be hard to find truly authentic souvenirs in Lisbon. A Vida Portuguesa (A Portuguese Life) is a lovely shop in the Bairro Alto, Mercado da Ribeira and Intendente (as well as in Porto). They feature a range of goods made and beloved in Portugal, including many that are a “blast from the past”. Some of their things are beautiful, some are more jokey, almost gag gifts, but all of them have some specific connection to Portuguese history or pop culture.
I was especially happy to visit their store in Intendente recently. Just a few minutes walk from our houses, this is an area of town that used to be sketchy–especially at night. But the Lisbon city government has made a significant effort at rehabilitation, and it’s working. So much so that the area was featured in a recent New York Times article!
The Vida Portuguesa store is a cornerstone of the plaza at the center of the rehabilitation. Sitting next to the Fábrica da Viúva Lamego, a tile factory that went out of business some years ago–leaving behind a gorgeous building (on the right in the picture), this store was considered the “prettiest shop in town” by TimeOut Lisboa.
Bringing new life to an historic part of town, showcasing the old and the modern side-by-side: this store gives you a real glimpse of Portuguese Life. And could there be a better place to shop for authentic souvenirs than one that the Portuguese themselves thoroughly enjoy?