Not so long ago someone asked on Trippy.com about the best city to live in covering the following attributes:
- Good public transit
- Good Food
So here is my answer, a bit more refined than before, but better have it posted at once before I remember again that I’ve left something behind. 🙂
My answer is, move to Lisbon, not indefinitely, but at least temporarily. It should be on everyone’s bucket list: to do once in a lifetime!
Lisbon is a city where you feel you’re constantly projected back in time. The trams, the old neighborhoods, the typical tascas, the big diversity of azulejos (tiles) beautifully preserved, they all give Lisbon an air of a far-off culture.
There are also the modern parts of the city like Vasco da Gama Bridge that is perfect for walks/jogging by the river, shopping, or dinners with a perfect view. We’ve recently discovered a remote area below the bridge, not many people including Portuguese know about, where you can have a different and stunning panoramic view of the bridge.
Back in the centre, you’ll be passing through Avenida da Liberdade, known as the Portuguese Champs-Elysees. The association is made due to the fancy shops, hotels, boutiques and cafés. During the summer, when the trees make an oasis guarding the large avenue from the sun, it is wonderful to just sit at one of the terraces and cool off with a Ginger Ale com gelo.
- In terms of diversity, it is a multicultural city with minorities from Cape Verde, Brazil, Angola (all former Portuguese colonies) that turn Lisbon into an exotic setting. Take for instance Martim Moniz, a neighborhood inhabited by various ethnicities, marked by a large square where regular live music shows and exhibitions of international traditions take place.
- Good public transit. Anyone can agree that Lisbon has all means of transport – metro, bus, trams, train.
Needless to say the tram is the highlight of the city. It takes you through a journey back in time and no matter the corner and the angle, with a tram it always makes for a perfect photo.
If you opt for the metro, you will discover the stations are gateways to art. I invite you to stop, look around, admire the decorations and find out by yourself how travelling by metro can become an alternative underground tour.
Ah, I almost forgot the other means of transportation – your almighty FEET! How can you not intentionally lose yourself on these streets?
Other than that, to walk in Gulbenkian Park or until Jardim do Torel is unmissable! A must is also strolling around the oldest district, Alfama, and have a spontaneous chat with the locals, peek into tiny shops or drink a bica. The best part is that you’ll always leave behind one unbeaten narrow street – the magic of Alfama (that we’ll explore more in another post).
- Wondering whether it’s a clean city? It certainly has all the conditions to be clean. There are artsy garbage cans all over. Recycling is a buzz word in Portugal with famous Portuguese street artists creating amazing things out of recycled trash, like this guy here or this guy here. Curious fact: Lisbon has been nominated a lot of times as running the world stage of street art (if you’re into it).
- Talking about art, Portugal is so culturally rich that I don’t even know where to start from. In Lisbon you can choose from museums of modern art, contemporary art, puppets, navy, aqueduct, tiles, carriages…what am I missing?
In between, you’ll have many chances to attend, and marvel at art shows by the amazing Atelier Joana Vasconcelos, or go to outdoor concerts on the streets and in the parks during city festivals like Faz Musica Lisboa, OutJazz, or indoor’s to casas de fado (fado houses) that are to be found all year-long and where you should spend at least one evening. GUARANTEED that you’ll have a profound local experience. The one that I can recommend, because it’s the only where we’ve been to, is Guitarras de Lisboa. Speaking of music, Portugal is famous for hosting many international festivals (Rock in Rio is probably a top reference).
Home to many writers? Yes it is! There are quite a few Portuguese writers whose work received international coverage, among whom the famous Fernando Pessoa, António Lobo Antunes and Jose Saramago come to my mind.
Another “little” detail that occupies most of Lisbon’s idyllic scenery is the buildings dressed in tiles. How can I explain this better than through pictures? It’s fascinating how well preserved they are and how much personality they give to each street.
- FOOD. Meu Deus! So many restaurants and cafés to have some delicious pastry or fish/meat/seafood based meals. Just to have an idea, on a 300m street you can come across five-six or even seven restaurants/cafés. Food is something nobody can complain about in Portugal. Wherever you go, there’s a traditional dish and dessert. It’s heaven for all the incurable foodies! 🙂
Never-have-enough-of: on Sundays, go to one of the different viewpoints (Lisbon is also the city of seven hills) to have a coffee, a conversation / a good read and to lay your eyes over the sleepy city.
Then in the evening, you can take a walk by the river (of course it’s not the ocean, silly!), sit on the kiosk’ terrace and watch the sun setting over the 25th April bridge, a bridge that spreads its splendour over Tejo and doesn’t cease to amaze even the locals.
Most people would probably recommend you big capitals like Rome or Paris, but in Lisbon you don’t feel the tiring buzz of a capital – I refer mainly to the traffic and that already makes a whole lot of a difference. That of course, if you are not a big fan of a city’s buzz. But then again, Lisbon has been quite in vogue with more and more tourists coming all year long and that can often turn things slower.
Instead of being a tourist, why not be a local? One more thing: We ( & many others) can tell you that this place is a source of inspiration, perfect for the creative souls.
Uff, and I just realized the amount of things I left behind! Well, in another post then. 🙂