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domenica 16 ottobre 2011

Canção de Lisboa

These are the words which come to your mind when you listen to the cancao de Lisboa the famous song about this eternal, magnificent and impressive city. Actually from a first glance Lisbon can certainly give you that impression. At the same time though while walking aroung in the narrow streets and the beautiful and alittle decednt buldings your soul gets pervaded by a certain intense melancholy (at least that's what it did to me).. I always thought that a movie about Lisbon should be called Melancholia. You can hear it in fado, Potuguese traditional music which inspired also modern icons like Madredeus and that music and its intense sadness pervade the streets, the air and most of all the sky. Yes: the sky in Lisbon has a colour I have probably not seen anywhere- not in Europe anyway- but I don't recall seeing it in other places either. And although I come from a city of narrow streets and hills overlooking the sea,I have to admit the hills and streets of Lisbon are quite impressive but in order to see them properly you definitely have to take a tram. That's the best way to go around in the city: so old and fragile looking, sometimes you really wonder how they can get up on those steep hills and make those turns the way they do. Just take one and stay on untile the last stop: while you are shifted from one side and the other you will see drivers taking people to their doorsteps, find out about corners you would imagine and taste a little bit of local life.
Another thing that makes you appreciate the city is going for a meal in a taberna where you get a lot (seriously :a lot ) of food (make sure to ask for half portion if you're not that hungry ) and try all Portuguese typical dishes . Now if you don't like bacalhau that could be a problem because you will find it served in any possible way and by the end of the vacation you probably will not want to hear about it for months... A good place where to go is Restaurante Alto Minho or the really good Casa de India where you can find a lot of locals. If you want to try something more touristic you could go to the Casa de alentejo home of the carne de puerco a l'alentejo ( pork meat with clams- oh my). For a vegetarian option you could try Restaurant O sol. Now, as far as dessert are concerned Lisbonians are very proud of a famous creation which is in Belem one of the neighborhoods situated in the lower part of the city, next to the sea called o pasteis du Belem . You just have to take a tram and get to Belem and yo'ull be guided by the huge line of people standing outside the patisserie which carries the same name. You might end up lining up for a very long time but your turn comes up you'll be taken inside to sit at one of the many tables and taste this delicacy.It looks like a little muffin coated by sweet custard cream and soft sugar and you can try to guess the ingredients, wondering what is really made of, but guess all you want. The recipe ia apparently top secret. After your sweet break you can take a stroll in the area where there is a big cathedral and the Museu do design, a very nice museum of modern art worth seeing at least in its exteriors.
When you take the tram back to the center of the city Baixa that's where you can walk around the huge Praça do comercio then to Rossio and Praça da Figueira
Once you take the tram back up to the hills direction Alfama the oldest part of the city you will end up at the Castelo de Sao Jorge and I suggest you take a drink at Resto , the restaurant-bar of modern theatre Chapito where you can have a wonderful view of the city maybe after seeing a play or a dance performance . Speaking of that I managed to see one of most famous Pina Bausch Tanzteater in the most modern part of the city Parque das naçoes built fot the Expo 1998, "For the children of yesterday, today and tomorrow". If you are a dance enthusiast you know exactly what i am talking about. On the other hand if you want to enjoy something more typical then you might just enter of the many places where you can listen to fado which may turn out to be quite an expensive experience. In order to do that you will have to walk the streets of the Barrio Alto which is very nice during the day with its design boutiques, art galleries and bohemian bars but very crowded at night . You can just sit at one of them and get a nice glass of port wine or if you want to dare of aguardiente. The beauty of it all is getting lost in the less touristic places (during the day because at night as everywhere in the world you have to pay a little attention) , have a look in the little shops and breath the crispy air coming from the ocean . In my experience my staying in Lisbon was one of the loneliest: Portuguese people are extremely kind and helpful but when it comes to talk to strangers they are not very keen. Their dark green eyes sometimes communicate the melancholy I talked about. This is the feeling I brought back with me when I left : a touching intense melancholy which I Iearnt can also be pleasant. Muito muito obrigada Lisboa.
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