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. 

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