She’s warm, bright, joyful and tipsy on young wine. She smiles when others are angry or melancholic. She likes freshly grilled sardines, dances when others sleep and has snails with her beer. She’s my soul mate.
She tempts her guests with the mouth-watering aroma of coffee and pastries. When she opens her windows in the evening, you can hear the nostalgic notes of fado. She spends her weekends on the beach, sometimes surfing, sometimes resting with a book in shade. Lisbon loves the sea. And she understands it like no one else.
Visit her and stay for a week, a month, a year. Get to know all the places described by the wise guide books: Belém, Alfama, Praça do Comércio, Rua Augusta and the route of the famous tram 28. And then find out that Belém has the most stunning dusk view over the Tagus river, one of Alfama’s corners hosts the remarkable flea market, Feira de Ladra, twice a week. Behind the doors to one of the buildings in Praça do Comércio, in Vini Portugal, you may participate in wine tastings from all regions of the country. A bit after the last stop of the tram 28 there’s an old, unique, magnetic cemetary – Prazeres. And you need to climb a steep cobbled street starting from Rua Augusta to find your new favourite restaurant that didn’t really splurge on an interior designer, but serves fantastic bream.
Go have a drink in Bairro Alto around 8pm and be surprised that no-one’s there. Come back at 11pm and be surprised that you can’t squeeze your way through all the crowd. Observe the sun flash the ginger rooftops with the red setting light, every evening from a different view point –miradouro. There are enough to choose from. Order a glass of bitter almond liquor with lemon in a kiosk that looks like a newsagent’s stand. Watch the Brazilian expats practise capoeira, the most dangerous of dances and most beautiful of martial arts. Receive contemptuous looks while you munch on lupine beans without having a beer with them. Go to see a football game, even if you’re not the biggest fan and only heard about Benfica there. Count how many bottles of Moscatel de Setúbal and cans of squid you can fit into your luggage and get sad that it’s only that few. Don’t worry, you’ll be back sooner than you think.
Pictures courtesy of Magda from pyszne-to.pl, who is even better at baking than at taking photos.