Friday, November 16, 2007

Lisbon

One could spend days exploring Lisbon, or as the Portuguese say, Lisboa. I had no preconceived ideas and knew very little about this capital city, and like my fellow visiting boaters in Marina de Cascais, I was surprised and impressed by her which led to many visits before continuing on our planned journey. Lisbon’s steep hilled streets and cable cars first remind you of San Francisco but her architecture, long history and culture are clearly European. What I like most about Lisbon is her old world charm (narrow backstreets lined with old and often tiled buildings, small shops, and no high-rises) and modern living. Thanks to a friend also visiting while I was in the area, I got to live a little in Lisbon staying in an apartment in the trendy Bairro Alto area. The uphill street climb and four flights of stairs to reach the modern apartment were rewarded with stunning city views complete with traditional terracotta roof-tops and laundry drying off balconies that extended past the Rio (river) Tejo or up the hill to The Castle. We were surrounded by old Lisbon, vibrant with residents, students and other modern explorers like ourselves. Short strolls gave access to some of my favorite Lisboan things including dozens of small traditional restaurants where it’s actually fun to try the house wine, Bairro Alto’s street party nightlife, Solar do Vinho do Porto which is Portugal's Port & Wine Institute located in an old home with an impressive tasting room, unique shops selling Portuguese made goods including beautifully made shoes, textiles & pottery, and outside caf├ęs & pastelarias providing strong coffee and local specialties such as custard tarts.

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