What a pleasure to spend Summer`s end in the sunniest capital of Europe!
Almost deserted at midday, when temperatures still reach 40 degrees, the city becomes crowded as soon as the night falls, with people walking up and down the streets, enjoying the soft breeze.
As I have previously said, walking on the streets of central Lisbon could get very exhausting (especially during the day, like a good turist does) as you have to climb at all times one of the seven hills the city is built on. Bairro Alto (Upper Neighborhood) and Alfama, in my opinion the most beautiful parts of Lisbon, are both situated on such hills, at higher altitude compared to Baixa (Downtown).
Bairro Alto, known as the artistic and bohemian part of the city, is the place to be at night, with its narrow cobblestone streets full of people walking up and down with Mojitos in their hands or just sitting down the doors`s entrances, talking, laughing and watching other people passing by. The restaurants in this area are among the best in town and you have to wait in line to get a seat at one of the tables placed right on the street. I finished one glass of beer waiting for a table one night, but it was definitely worth it!
Alfama is quite different from all other parts of Lisbon, actually being a village within the city. It is considered the soul of Lisbon and, after seeing it with my eyes, I understood why. It`s a place where time stands still, where the old houses are keeping each other shadow (as built by the Moors) and are covered in beautifully colored azulejos (tiles) to protect themselves from the sun (another Moorish influence). A lot of old people are living in the area and you can tell that they`ve been living here forever.
I first visited Alfama on a Sunday early afternoon: church bells, a soft breeze making the hanging clothes wave, bakeries with doors wide open and the locals doing their groceries. The second time I went there was to enjoy the wonderful panoramic views from one of the many miraduros (viewpoints) located in Alfama. And I`ll surely go again.
Lisbon`s Baixa or downtown area (which is literally lower as altitude) is more comercial, hence full of shops and terraces and less cozy, bohemian or romantic. Nevertheless, at the end of it lays a huge plaza (one of the largest I`ve seen) – Placa do Comercio – graciously facing the Tagus river. The locals are sunbathing with a book in their hands or with their legs playing in the water.
The rest of the places I`ve been to in my first 5 days here, such as Belem tower or Sintra palace, are also to be seen is the slideshow I`ve prepared.
But I am still not over Bairro Alto – by far my favorite place in this city – and I`ve been climbing stairs and hills almost every day and night to be in the heart of it, to get the best sense of what it feels like to be living in Lisbon. Sitting on a door step on a late Summer night, with a Mojito in my hand, definitely helps.