Why getting leather gloves at Luvaria Ulisses in Lisbon isn't worth the hype


For the traveling inclined, travel magazines are a vicious cycle.

There is a simple reason for this.  Hidden within the pages of fluff and ads, there is always one article or feature that is speaking to you

A hidden bar in a city you are visiting next month? 24 hours in that city where you have an impending layover?  A dish you must try in the next state over? You're hooked.   

I purchased the September issue Travel + Leisure magazine at the Pittsburgh airport for the first leg of my flight to Portugal.  It was fine, mostly re-highlighting some big name cities around the world.

...but then.... BEHOLD. On the very last page on the magazine I found that page that was speaking to me.

luvaria ulisses

The tiny feature detailed the unique experience of buying leather gloves at Luvaria Ulisses in Lisbon, Portugal. Luvaria Ulisses has occupied the same spot on R. do Carmo in Chiado, Lisbon, since 1925.  The shop has long been the spot for society's finest to protect their fingers from the cold.

The feature was only one paragraph, but just like the tiny shop, it was jammed with the details of the Luvaria Ulisses experience. 

Velvet elbow pillows, finger measurements "to the millimeter," canary yellow leather...

Do I need leather gloves? Does that even matter?  I nudged my mother and handed her the article. Her eyes lit up.  

"Well, we will have to do that."

Suddenly, it became a center point for our days in Lisbon.  We planned lunches and tours around making sure we could get to "the glove shop" while it was open.   

lisbon portugal

Travel + Leisure's article details the red-carpet treatment patrons experiences at Luvaria Ulisses.  Well... they detailed the red-carpet treatment Travel + Leisure gets at Luvaria Ulisses. 

They article didn't lie about the tiny size of the shop.  As soon as you walk in you have already reached the back wall. All available glove styles are on display, with the 'for sale' versions hiding down a tiny storage hallway just out of sight.  The hallway looked exactly like Ollivander's Wand Shop.

Yes, there were velvet pillows, but no one asked me to put my elbow on them.  I assume there was measuring tape somewhere in the shop, but it wasn't used. My hands were given a half-hearted, 2-second glance from the sale's person to determine their size. 

And what gloves were available to purchase in that size? Practically none. I pointed to style after style of gloves, and received the same, one word response every time: 


I would point to another pair.


Maybe the article gave the tiny shop too much publicity to maintain their stock . Maybe I was too sweaty from the hot day and didn't seem 'high society' enough.  Regardless of the reason, my experience could not have been more different than the one I read about in Travel + Leisure.  

I was dumbfounded that the shop was listed under "Worth Flying For" in Travel + Leisure.  My experience was hardly worth walking a few blocks out of my way. 


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