Friday, September 12, 2014

Encantada, Lisboa!

Day 4 is essentially a travel day. I only had enough time to enjoy a liesurely breakfast. So, I leave you with some thoughts about Lisbon.

Indeed, three days is too short a time to enjoy this place.  But, I think that even a month is still not long enough to enjoy it. In spite of my short trip, I made the most of it, sleeping at 4 am and getting up at 8 am to really experience the culture as best as I can. - something I would not recommend doing for long periods of time.  Hence, I felt that I got to see enough to know that this city has heart at its center.  I've been to many beautiful places, which I leave with a promise of coming back.  But, there's something different about Lisbon. 

Front of Jose Saramago's house (top)
Lisbon Cathedral's entrance door (bottom)
On the way to Sintra, an acquaintance from Oxford, UK asked how I liked Lisbon. I casually replied, "I want to live here." She looked at me in surprise, and said "Are you serious?". As it turned out, she didn't care for the graffitti-covered walls (art, to me), and the loudness (festive conversations, to me).  I guess our coversation spoke volume.  Depending on your background and interests, you will like it here or you won't.  Some may see the old buildings as poor, and some will see it as preserved history.  Remember that crazy driver that I spoke about on Day 1? Who am I kidding? They all drive crazy! Anyway, he was lamenting the construction of tall glass buildings. And I completely agree with him. In streets lined with intricate period architecture next to glass and steel buildings, those glass buildings just look blah. Unmemorable.  In the city center, Praca Rossio, you will find a few of these, but in the intimate alleyways, you will see nothing but charm.

Streets and alleys
The atmosphere is friendly but not suffocating, and as you walk Alfama, you're bound to hear someone breaking into a song. If you need more art in your life, you don't even need to go to museums. All you need to do is take a walk.  Walk in Alfama, and see the Fundacao Jose Saramago's structure, or walk up to the Lisbon cathedral.  As you take these walks, look at the tiles defining Calcada Portuguese, a point of pride for the locals, and the Azulejo-covered walls of houses. On Tuesday, prior to my Tuk-Tuk tour, I just wandered the hilly cobblestone-covered streets. Some alleys are lined with the equivalent of banderitas even. Combined with locals gathering to play cards at the park, tourists milling around with maps on their hands, and Fado at night, the festivity seems to run day and night.

I was told that Lisbon is experiencing a renaissance of sort.  I just hope that it preserves its culture and history.  But judging from how it's done so far since the 8th century, I have no doubt that it will.  This city is laid-back, but buzzing in activity, historic, real, and beautiful. It was a privilege to visit. Encantada, Lisbon!

Now, to go home and convince my husband to move here.  Dum-dee-dum. And this picture is for my kids, who again sent me traveling with a trustworthy and adorable companion, "Up Above", to keep me company. You can say that he's the star of this show!


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