It’s my second day in Lisbon and I am ready to discover this charming city from inside out, interested in learning more about its culture, food and people.
One of the things that makes this place so amazing it’s the geographical location near by Atlantic Ocean that has influenced many aspects of the local life including cuisine, architecture and tourism, Lisbon becoming a “must visit” for the Europeans willing to have their first “contact” with the ocean.
I am wandering the narrow streets of Lisbon amazed by the beautiful architecture of the buildings around me, most of them being covered head to toe in decorative tiles. A pleasant walk, similar with the one inside of a museum my eyes getting stucked to the art works that covers the exterior walls, mesmerized by the geometrical patherns and mix of colors.
While some of them depicts narrative scene and can be considered a real piece of art, others just give the impression of big toilets, however the tiles were not initially used for design but had a more practical purposes: protecting the buildings from the “salty winds” which carry with them drops of ocean water that in time can damage the structure of the buildings.
Another way of exploring the city if you are pressed by time or simply don’t fancy climbing the city’s hills, it’s the famous Tram 28. Alogside its rute are located some of the most charming neighborhoods of Lisbon and what used to be an easy way for locals to move around the city become now packed with tourists eager to catch a window seat.
The queues are long and the crowd inside make the Tram 28 resemble of a sardine can more than public transportation fact which made me find an alternative tram, more pricey (20 euro for full day journey) but more comfortable, faster to access and which follows the same route.
The fun thing about the tram rides are the really narrow paths, so tiny that most of the times you are able to touch buildings or people near by. At some point I was so close to an ATM machine that I could have easily withdraw some money if needed.
Lisbon ground transportation revolves around the use of tram and it’s very common to meet them on your way either you like it or not, the tram becoming in the past few years one of the most important symbols of the city and a real heaven for the photographers.
Talking about pictures, I am going to stop now to the most photographed street of Lisbon where another famous tram, the Bica funicular takes the tourists up and down the hill of Bairro Alto since 1892. The ride cost 3.60 euro but I decided to walk on its trail as it’s obviously extra packed with tourists.
I must admit that it wasn’t a brilliant idea as the path it’s really steep and I am not wearing the right shoes which makes me lose my balance often but the unpredictable journey totally worth the effort.
Lisbon it’s covered with slippery cubblestones and just a little moment of distraction might let you with a broken leg/arm, how I frecvently seen during my trip.
Lisbon’s pink light district
I am totally lost at this point but isn’t this the most beautiful part of a trip? Wandering the colorful streets with no specific destination and no worries on my mind, just discovering another page of the book which is now reaveling in front of my eyes? This is how I found, by chance, another famous spot of Lisbon, the Pink street.
How Lisbon’s red light district turned pink it’s hard to say but the scandalous buildings hosting bad famed personalities were transformed into art works and serve now as gathering points for the youth.
Another gem of Lisbon, much more popular and easy to find than the previous ones is located on the route of the famous Tram 28 and represent one of the oldest areas of the city and the most emblematic quarter for the tourists and locals on both sides. The medieval alleys and outstanding views from the terraces stretched over the hills make Alfama district rewarding for the walkers and photographers looking for the best face of the city… I wouldn’t be mistaken to describe it in a very metaphoric way: Lisbon in celebration clothes.
When it comes to cuisine, Sardines holds a great importance in Portuguese culture not only as a source of food, hundreds sardines being hanged around the city in order to attract good luck, love and prosperity.
As I am a declared fan of Sardines I couldn’t leave Lisbon before trying their beloved dish in one of the traditional places “Mercado da Ribeira“, that brings together some of the most notorious chefs around the country.
Final verdict: not impressed and overpriced.
Unlike the sardines, the traditional octupus dish that I had for dinner later on the day totally got me and it wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that the octupus could replace Sardines as the new symbol of the country.
Lisbon it’s a complex city which cannot be described in few words and I am going to end up my beautiful journey inside of the capital in the rhythm of the local music, Fado. Meaning “fate”, the Fado genre is caracherized by a profound feeling of melancholy that can be felt in the singer’s voice even thought you have no understanding of the lyrics.
Looking for an authentic experience I went back to Bairro Alto neighborhood, waiting in front of the closed doors of Tasca do Chido for the performance to be over and the access inside to be allowed. It’s a relatively small place that can’t fit lot of people and I had to find a spot by myself, sharing the table with other tourists. Nothing fancy when it comes to the place or the food but the atmosphere was just incredible.
Few tapas, a jar of sangria and Fado music had definitely contributed to a memorable end of my 7 days holiday in Lisbon.