I don’t know what possessed me to leave my “good” camera out of my hand luggage and take a sewing project instead. I did not touch the sewing and regretted not having a camera around my neck in a really photographic city. The kids and I flew from Norwich via Schipol then called for an Uber taxi to take us to an apartment in the Bairro Alto (high town) area of Lisbon. The streets were narrow, cobbled and on steep hills. We settled in for the afternoon on our little patio-balcony after a visit to the mini-mercado for ripe peaches and beer.
The week was spent wandering the streets of Lisbon and I reckon my legs were far stronger by the end of the week. It was hot but not sticky and I always wore my hat. There was so much to do but we only did a fraction of it. It would have been easy to have spent the entire time in museums, finding out about Portugal’s history of exploration and colonisation. One evening we went to a lovely, old cinema to watch a strange French film with Portuguese subtitles which would have been difficult enough without a surreal plot.
The city was mostly rebuilt after a huge earthquake in 1755 and the neo-classical buildings were all crammed in, some now painted and many covered in a facade of tiles. I have never been in a city where there was so much graffiti but nobody seemed to be bothered by it and it certainly added character. The city felt multi-cultural and welcoming, teeming with tourists.
We did not rush around and used fun local transport such as the tram for a leisurely city tour, a funicular tram down a steep slope, a train to get out to the impressive contemporary Art Gallery, and even an electric Tuk-Tuk.
We had Tapas snacks a couple of times and bony sardines at a family street-side cafe but mostly we enjoyed the fresh fruit and veg. There were many shops full of tourist-tat and handicrafts but with hand-luggage only we had to be careful. I was interested to see so many bags made from cork fabric and I liked the fabric sardines that hung from balconies. The girls each bought an up-cycled lamp from the Thieves Market, a huge Saturday market selling everything from ceramics, Catholic icons, half-used bottles of perfume, old shoes, to gas stoves and table-cloths.
It was a really nice week spent exploring Lisbon, not being in any hurry, people-watching, enjoying the balcony and drinking cheap wine. I left a day before the kids to get back to Norwich where I had left my car full of camping gear and everything necessary for the next phase of my Summer Tour, Festival of Quilts in Birmingham!