I Saw Henna Everywhere

Detail of a tiled wall in Lisbon that reminded me of a henna mandala design


Henna in Portugal

In 2018, 54% of American employees gave up 662 million vacations days collectively. That’s according to a study published by the U.S. Travel Association’s Project: Time Off. And, not surprisingly: women took 4% less time off than men. My question is Are we crazy or something? I’m married to a Frenchman, and taking advantage of leisure time is embedded into France’s DNA. The French have long understood that simple concept we seem intent on ignoring: We need vacations, people. That’s when we get creative and come up with the best ideas. Why? When we’re not crazy busy focusing on problems, a restful space is created, giving divine inspiration a chance to slip in and hand us that elusive solution on a silver platter.

Portugal has been on our must-see list for a long time, so off we went for a long, well-deserved holiday to the land of magnificent, cobblestoned cities, baroque castles and palaces, golden beaches, phenomenal coffee, and unbelievably-affordable restaurants within a laid-back culture that makes it one of the hottest European destinations today. So what happened while I was supposed to be away, not thinking about work? I saw henna everywhere!

I saw the curvature of henna designs in the gorgeous tile work that defines the architecture of Lisbon and Porto’s historic city centers. (This is a detail of a building’s facade.)

I could not look away from the henna mandalas that shouted at me from the vaulted ceilings and medieval walls with Islamic elements that formed the personal chambers of King Ferdinand and Queen Maria II in the Palacio da Pena constructed in the municipality of Sintra in the 1800s.


Everywhere I turned, the graceful curves of wrought iron doors and railings of churches and neighborhood balconies reminded me of the sinuous curlicues that make up a majority of henna tattoo designs.


This sealed side entrance of a beautiful church in Porto (Portugal’s 2nd biggest city after Lisbon) made me think of the geometric henna designs that come out of Morocco, as did the exquisitely ornamental cobblestone sidewalks of Lisbon.


And how could I not see the art of henna in the lace that covered the fantastic ceramic sculptures of renowned Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos? Her unforgettable exhibit at the Serralves Art Museum in Porto left its mark. I won’t soon forget it.


In all, we LOVEDLOVEDLOVED our Portuguese vacation. It also served to remind me what I love about the business I’m in—mostly how beautiful it is, and how lucky I am to be able to make it available to people. That’s what a good vacation is all about.

Henna design by @hennabyblu


  1. Mohit Agarwal

    Hi we are planning a wedding in Regua (Portugal) and would like the henna artist to come for 1 evening. Let me know if it is possible? Thanks
    Mohit Agarwal

    1. Post

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