Open thread for last minute questions

This Site Has Been Archived

You're browsing an archived site from the 2011 Urbansketchers Symposium. This site is no longer active. Login and comments have been turned off to prevent spam comments and user registrations. Feel free to look around, though. Don't forget to visit our main site at for all future Symposium plans as they develop.

With the Symposium just two weeks away, you may have started to pack your suitcase. Are you agonizing over how many watercolors and sketchbooks to pack? Should you change some of your workshop choices? (please consider that if you are in an overbooked session!) You may also have other questions not necessarily related to the workshops. How hot will it really be? Will it cool off at night? What shoes are a better fit for Lisbon's cobblestoned pavement? What other cities should I visit? Where can I find a vegetarian restaurant?

Use this post to ask any questions you can think of and we'll do our best to answer them. I bet you'd get some answers from the local participants too. No questions are bad! If you have tips, feel free to leave a comment as well with your insights, or do a blog post, just like Pedro Cabral has done already sharing tips to protect your sketching gear, and what things not to forget to pack.

Still shy to start blogging here? I say read this post with instructions and give it a go, you're among the most supportive group you're going to find. You'll get nothing but nice and positive feedback!

Not confident about your written English? Leave your questions in Portuguese, Spanish, French, German... I think we have more than enough people who could translate. And there's always Google Translate!


Hi Marcia,

there are a number of places you could go to. Try the FNAC (you can find it in the Chiado, there is another one by the Colégio Militar/Luz metro station, and here you can find other options such as MediaMarket, Worten and Vobis).


Help! My pocket-size digital camera broke beyond repair today--my first day in Lisbon. Oh no, I have drawings to share from my Portugal travels thus far. Does anyone have suggestions on where to buy a new one here in LIsbon? I've had and liked my Canon.PowerShot 1200is

I like eating vegetarian food although I'm not a vegetarian. Today, my husband's and my first day in Lisbon, we happened upon Restaurante NovaMesa and had a delectable no-meat late lunch: Greek Salad and then Tofu Curry. YUM! And the locale along a small, shady neighborhood park between Bario Alto and Rato was delightful

Hi Manuela, and thanks! You guys are great!

I am actually a "vegetarian-in-progress", so I sometimes eat fish, and sometimes other stuff tho very rarely (and never pork). I guess at this point I am just happiest with a big plate of fresh vegetables.

This is an interesting subject in any case, and I guess I was most worried about any pitfalls/"traps". Like ordering what I thought would be vegetable or salad and having it turn up with pork in it. That is definitely something to watch our for here in France, and would be a bummer for me on my vacation.

I am pretty excited about the new food thread that's been posted. I DO eat snails (moving down on the food chain to invertebrates now ;) ) and sardines are my favorite. But I will definitely go to Yin Yang for lunch and check out Pedro's link for more.

Thanks again, and see you Thursday!

Hi Kim,
adding some tips to Pedro's post: there is a vegeterian restaurant in Rua dos Correeiros, not so far from fine Arts University (nearer than Pedro suggestion, Praça da Alegria).It's Yin Yang in Rua dos Correeiros,nº 14.In the University, the canteen offers you a vegeterian meal too, but I'm not sure if the symposium participants can eat there.Price for students is 2,40 € (don't no if it's the same for others)and I hear it's usually OK.
You can find a supermarket named Celeiro in Rua 1º de Dezembro where you can buy vegetarian food (others serve meals but I think this one doesn't).
Hope this helps.
See you thursday!

Thanks Pedro! And thanks also for the warning re the olives, cheese and co. This is probably going to spare us from some possible kerfuffles over bills :)

I am looking forward to the desserts. And I heard you have great sardines over there!

Hi Kim,

gone are the days in which, if asking for something that didn't included fish or meat, you'd be looked at as if you were suffering from some sort of mental condition (OK, it can still happen) - and for those who denied meat or fish in their plates, there were three options:

a) lettuce salad (oddly enough, generally with onion, though onion is the unsung vegetable of that dish)

b) tomato salad

c) mixed salad (which was, of course, tomato and lettuce - and onion).

Soups are also normally vegetarian friendly, and these are fairly easy to find - but do ask what they contain. Oh, and pork rarely finds its way into salads - though there is a noteworthy exception, the pig hear salad (but I suspect you will not be trying this one...). Usual (lettuce, tomato or mixed) salads often come seasoned with olive oil, vinegar - sometimes lemon - and salt (sometimes you do the seasoning).

I would assume you would have little problems finding vegetarian options in the Bairro Alto neighbourhood (uphill from Chiado). It often passes for a fancy thing, so trendy restaurants will most probably offer options (and would probably be a bit pricier than your average bitoque). I have done little exploring in this field, so others might have better advice to offer. There is one which I cannot seem to remember neither name nor street, located near Praça da Alegria, some 25min walking (including toping hill) from the Fine Arts University. But while I was looking for it, found this link that might be useful.

I hope that helps.

A cautionary note: there will be a number of things on the table (like bread, olives, cheese) - these are not free. Touch them and they will show up in the final bill.

Another cautionary note: deserts are wonderful and should be tried - but are also over-priced, sometime aggravating your meal's price by 1/3. Just a warning - though you might be passing something rather nice if you decide not to go for them.

Hope someone else picks this thread to offer more precise tips.


OK, I guess I'll go ahead and ask :p ! What are the prospects for vegetarians in Lisbon? Are there any veggie - or veggie friendly restaurants - that anyone can recommend in the Chiado, and/or near the Faculdade de Belas-Artes ?

Any advice on this subject? For example, if I order a salad or vegetable side dish, is it likely to turn up with ham or bacon in it? Or do restaurants generally offer some kind of option - one main dish on the menu that would be veg?


ps: I really like the idea of this post. Is there any way it could be made a "sticky", or maybe a direct link from the home page? Or... I could just bookmark it I guess!

Omar, I will ask to see if there's a scanner that we can use but don't get your hopes up. An alternative may be to take photos of the sketches for live posting.

I got a question about scanning, where can we scann our sketches? I would like to post in my blog while being there.

Pedro, thank you very much for such a useful information. You are a pretty good and practical "Cicerone" for all of us.
See you soon !

parabéns pelo post que eu chamaria: "Tudo o que um visitante precisa de saber sobre preços em Lisboa!".A comparação de preços com Banguecoque dada pelo Asnee é quase chocante: transportes e combustível!?
Até 21!

Pedro, thanks for all your helpful information!

Pedro, your list of prices is SO useful - thank you! And thanks Asnee for asking, I never thought to do that. Great stuff! :)

hi, pedro, you've just given us the BEST stuff ever found any where in this symposium, i wonder how and why we come along this far without discussing this earlier. For this, I think I deserve a cup of nice coffee from every one for making it happen, and of course, pedro should have double of mine, coffee or beer of his choice. thanks so much, pedro, i like your observation and style, exactly what a great sketcher is made of:-)

just for fun. 1 EU=43 Thai Baht this morning

- first thing first: medium/grande STARBUCKS latte: 110 Bht=2.6 EU (bica=.60 EU)
- decent mid class dinner: 500 Bht=11 EU (your simple meal=10 EU, thai simple meals will be 4 EU)
- BTS (metro in bangkok) about half of lisbon's
- taxi in Bangkok starts at 0.89 EU and one goes about their business for 2-3 EU
- our gasohal 95 is currently about 35 Bht=0.80 EU a litre, diesel is slightly cheaper
- etc etc

thank you again, pedro for the exchange (of cost of living;-), i'd bring EU enough for a few cups of coffee for you while we sketch.
cheers and see you soon

Hi Asnee,

everything but wages increases here, so prices should be a tad higher. The most important thing to know is that above 60c. a coffee should be considered expensive. 55c seems to be the standard these days -- and that is for an espresso, or bica as it is locally known.

And now that we've covered the important stuff, other prices:

- a return ticket on the metro is roughly 2euros (and you have to buy a card in which you can later add more money). For the bus, I am unsure, I prefer the metro - faster and cheaper, and easier to draw at.

- a non-fancy meal can be obtained for 7.5 - 12.5 euros. Tips are optional and no one would give you a filthy look if you decide not to leave one. You can make do with less than that, most snack-bars in busy parts of the city offer mini-pratos, which, together with a soup can make a nice meal.

- roughly any cake should be less than a euro, beverages seem to be around the same prices. When we changed to the euro it seems a non-issued law was adopted: one item, one euro (which had a tremendous effect on our pockets as it increased prices). Of course tourist traps and fancy places would triple you this figures.

- a taxi ride in Lisbon could vary from 5 to 10 euros, depending on how far you go and what time you go. It is a bit expensive, I find - and am unsure if you pay more for luggage, but suspect so.

- beer (20cl - ask for an 'imperial' for tap beer) can go from less than a euro to 2 euros or more (robbery! but common at night). Other useful terms: for tap beer, in Lisbon, Imperial will do - sometimes called Fino or Túlipa (depending on the shape of the glass). For quantity, an Imperial will give you 20cl, a Caneca will deliver 33cl (or is it 40c?), a Girafa will bring you 50cl (I think) and -- if you find it, the now exceedingly rare Lambreta will present 10cl of beer. There is no tradition of having pitchers and I am yet to see them being offered. Other popular option if you are not a purist is to ask for a Panachê (7Up and beer). There are other mixes, but I am unsure what they are - I think there is one called Tango (beer and gooseberry syrup..?).

- wine is much more affordable than, say, in the US. Without much fanciness involved, on a restaurant, from 10 to 20 euros per bottle - way cheaper in the supermarket. And you can always play russian roulette and ask for the Vinho da Casa (house wine) -- normally cheaper and sometimes a nice surprise. Rarely will it stain your tongue blue, but it has been known to happen.

- cinema prices are around 7.50, higher for 3d movies, but I assume no one will be visiting a movie theatre in such a short trip. Still, if you do, know beforehand that most movies (if not all but children movies) are subtitled. Giving these figures as a random reference.

- CD prices vary a lot, depending on how 'hot' the cd is. 20 euros would be on the top end of the scale (for a single). Books are also expensive, a nice coffee table book would be around 45euros. Prices don't vary a lot from place to place.

- gas prices are expensive, consider this if renting a car. One litre of diesel is roughly 1.35, the other fuels more than this; motorways are also bloody expensive, from Lisbon to Porto you will be paying some 18 euros each way (if memory serves me well).

- museums should vary from 5 to 10euros, a bit more I suspect for the Lisbon Aquarium and Zoo. Last time I visited, most palaces and castles in Sintra were 5 euros, but prices might have gone up.

- art supplies are not cheap, generally speaking. As an example Sakura Pigma Micron will be around 2.5 euros.

- have no idea on what prices for lodging are, particularly now that it is 'high season'.

Hope this helps - let me know if you need more particular info.


thank you pedro, your two cents certainly are useful and gladly taken.
BTW, your two cents also prompted me of something I have wanted to but never really got to ask. I would appreciate to refresh myself on cost of things in lisbon today. i was there some 5 years back and thought things may have changed some what. it would also allow me to better prepare myself in terms of how much euros i should change for pocket money too.

how much should i estimate for a simple meal in lisbon, how much do you think a sketcher should spend per day, etc... some general suggestion would do, pedro for this is really up to the individual, no doubt.

thanks and hear from you, and, others from lisbon are welcome too, for this topic. sorry if this sounds a little domestic:-)

Barry, art supplies are something rather unpredictable here. I assume that large paper can be found without much hassle -- but if you have a fancy for a particular type or brand that might be a bit more difficult. I normally work with small format paper, thus am limited to provide with better advice, hope it helps!

Hi all,

this is an excellent idea for a blog entry.

Adding my two cents to this thread, I would like to mention that most of the state museums (there might be exceptions) are free every Sunday Morning, if anyone is considering a trip to one. I like to use this oportunities to save me some euros and do a bit of drawing - sometimes going for just a few pieces can be costly otherwise! The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is free during the whole Sunday, and the Museu do Oriente is free every Friday past 6pm (stays open until 10pm, unusual in Portuguese museums). The Museu Berardo in Centro Cultural de Belém is also free. A bit off Lisbon, the Casa das Histórias (museum dedicated to Paula Rego) was also free and open until a bit late - am unsure if that status still lingers.

I assume most will prefer to stay outdoors and enjoy the city -- but in case you are thinking about a visit to the museums, I hope this helps.


Arte Timorense, Museu do OrienteArte Timorense, Museu do Oriente

Hello Asnee,
One year in Évora is a short time for drawing there. One day in Évora is just for saying «I was there», but it's great to feel that we are talking about a a city that was one of the most important cultural cities of the Portuguese Kingdom, in the 16th century; and we are talking about a great country at the time.
And don't forget what Manuela Rolão said: in Summer Évora is too hot, in the afternoon temperatures can reach close to 40º Celsius, nothing that a cold beer or a drawing does not balance...

Marcia and Asnee, you made very good choices to visit some beautiful cities in our country: Porto is important for its monuments, the Douro river and bridges, but also the Serralves Art Foundation (Siza Vieira architect) or Casa da Música (Rem Koolhaas arqchitect)...Óbidos is an ancient little white town inside a castle where you can see paintings from Portuguese seventeen century painter Josefa de Óbidos ...Évora has an ancient town inside its castle with beautiful cathedral and roman temple,city museum, good food from Alentejo (pork and desserts) and excelent spots to sketch in town or around in the country near with pre-historic monuments(be careful, Évora may be too hot).
Asnee, art suplly shops: besides the one José told you in his post, you have Chiado art's place inside Fine Arts University (good prices because for students)and in the same square a brand new shop...
Hope my english is good enough...I could help you more if it was better!
See you all in 2 weeks!
Welcome to Portugal!

There is no problem, cause the Symposium will take place in an Art School (Faculdade de Belas Artes) where you will find a shop (I think they will be open). And others on the surrounding streets.

I'd be interested to know if there's somewhere in Lisbon I can buy a cheap drawing board and large paper - A2 or A1 size would be fine. That would save me trying to carry one there. I'd happily donate it to one of the Lisbon-based participants when the symposium is over.

I arrived in Portugal on July 4th. We took the train from Lisbon to Porto on the 5th. The train leaves from the Entrcampo station. We had purchased our tickets on the Internet before leaving the US. The train departed from platform #3. Initially, we had a difficult time finding someone to ask and found the signage unclear. The trip is 2-1/2 hours and was very pleasant and scenic.

For those who might be interested in going further afield from Porto, we took advantage of a reduced car rental rate through InterRent (office right on the platform at Porto station) for those who have a train ticket. We're staying in Barcelos for several days.

Bus is the best way to go to Évora, from bus/metro station Jardim Zoológico (LX).
Take the center (Praça do Geraldo) and you will discover a lot of nice sites to draw.
Bus is still the best way to go to Óbidos, from bus/metro station Campo Grande (LX).
I my experience the best way to go from Óbidos to Porto is to return back Lisbon by bus and then take the train to Porto.
Two days in Porto is not too much for a so delightful city. If I were you I would considered leave Óbidos for the next visit.
Look forward to see you soon.

thank you so much jose for your link, i would check them up and look forward to meeting you soon:-)

Hello Asnee
Here are some links to places where you can take coaches to diferent places in Portugal:
You can see on google earth where it is.
Also there some art shops around the place of Symposium and I saw one in Lg Luis de Camoes:
I hope you have a pleseant staying in Portugal and you enjoy our beatifull sun, which lets hope is not going to be too hot.

thank you, this is the best thing next to being there!
pramote and i are from bangkok,

1 we planned a one day visit to Evora on 24, what best transport should we get from Lisbon, bus, train or rent a car? We suppose one whole day in evora is good enough for sketching, will appriciate some suggestion sketching site for evora, please. thanks

2 we'd leave lisbon to obidos on 25 morning and spend a night in obidos. What train or bus could we take from lisbon to obidos? Again, will appriciate some suggestion sketching site for Obidos, please. thanks

3 then the same question on transport from Obidos to Porto, please. We would spend 2 days in Porto. What is best way to get back to Lisbon from Porto: we will spend a night back in Lisbon befor flying back to Bangkok on the next day.

4 Would appreciate some advise if we are interested to visit art supply shop in Lisbon for some nice sketching/painting stuff. Shop names, where about, are they resonable priced compare to other part of the world, etc.

thank you so much look forward to see all soon.