The Alfama Life

In Lisboa,  Alex and I are for the first time renting an apartment for this leg of the trip. We wanted to see what it would be like living amongst the locals. I have to say it is pretty awesome. Upon arriving at the apartment we get a little taste of local as we are greeted by our neighbour popping her head out the window and s an elderly lady and her grand daughter ( I think].

Here, in the oldest neighbourhood of Lisboa dating from the times of the moors, you walk past men gathering in squares playing cards and making a huge racquet, and families out with their kids to get a bit of sun.  Clothes hang from lines outside the window.  Some decorations of yellow, red, green  crisscross across the narrow streets. A world heritage courtyard with an orange tree in the middle is just picturesque. Up narrow winding becos and cobblestoned alleys, there are still the traditional fishmongers, fruit stalls  and the pasteileires where you can stop for a quick cup of ‘bica’.

At these coffee shops you don’t have to sit and most just stand over the counter.  Some places are so small you don’t even have the option. Take away in a paper cup is unthinkable. Coffee is drank black and in a ceramic cup.  Request lattes, americanos or other versions and you might just get something else. Hot chocolate comes ready mixed in a bottle.  Not rich and dark. Portugese like sweets. Mars and snickers are sold everywhere next to sweet egg tarts that raise your sugar level.

The becos are so narrow it is pedestrians only and anything said may be heard by the neigbours if you have the window open.  Nevertheless, there are still plenty of dogs and cats here. People grow up and die here says my host though it is now not as common.

I wonder how different life is here in Lisboa.  I think of cinema paradiso and the village life. I think of the narrow alleys of venice yet here it is hilly.  I wonder how elderly people manage to walk here.  Yet this is the life here.  This is the alfama life. 

Lisboa Lisboa

Lisboa is a city full of hidden treasures and one that shines of its former glory. Coming here you feel as if you are transported back in time to when Portugal was once a naval empire spanning from Brazil to Africa and Asia. One of the oldest capitals in europe it predates London and Paris by hundreds of years. It was part of the roman empire, conquered by germanic tribes and then by the moors before the crusaders came. Their influences remain to this day.There are castles, canons, alleys, monastries and so many world heritage sites you are at a lost as to which one to visit. Lisbon lies at the mouth of the Tagus river and the Atlantic ocean. Life here revolves around the ocean and its no wonder why so many great explorers have set sail from here. Vasco da gama discovered India and was later named Governor. What is there to see in Lisboa? There’s a large castle ( Castelo Sao Jorge) where you get stunning views of Lisbon and the river. The castle walls are still intact and as you walk along the walls, climb towers and peer through holes, you wonder if soon knights would appear. The Praca Commercio is breathtakingly beautiful looking out towards the ocean and the arc exudes Lisbon’s former glory. My favorite though is the Monasterio Jeronimos and the Belem tower which are also both World Heritage. Its magically beautiful and at first sight I literally gave out a sign of amazement. I had not expected this much beauty in Lisbon. Foodwise on almost every corner are pastelieras where you can stop for a quick cup of ‘bica’ or black coffee. Snack? Egg tarts or pasteis de nata are everywhere. Amazing how they traveled all the way to asia… I’ll post pictures and more later.. For now, good night from Lisboa! !