Anecdotes from Lisbon
Some supplementary experiences and thoughts about my time in Lisbon which I didn’t include in my last post, like No.28 Tram. Not all are related, some made me laugh and others added to the experience of travelling!:
- I was on the bus heading to the promenade and we went past the Lisbon Alfa Romeo Club, not a single Alfa Romeo in the parking lot and I could help but think that was because they were all at the mechanics shop with breakdowns? !!!
- Looking down almost every road, especially the little quiet one’s, you would conclude that there is nothing there, but walk down and they are filled with little cafés, shops and restaurants which from the outside at a glance look very like the residential buildings/houses. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many restaurants and they appear to be long established too. I ate at quite a few of them, looking inside to see if there were any tourists or locals, if the latter then going in. The decor is similar in them all; like a house kitchen in the ‘60s or ‘70s with flower print plastic table cloths, chipped plates and none of them had matching knives and forks. The food however is like eating a heartily home cook meal with a beer or glass of port and the locals make you feel like you are sitting around the dining room table with your extended family.
- I read somewhere about the famous or was it infamous No.28 Tram in Lisbon.
I had seen it a few times and didn’t think much of it but eventually thought I should give it a try. One of the reasons that made me give it a go was because of the steep inclines and declines of many of the roads not to mention how narrow many of them are too! Well, I’ll start off by describing it; the coaches are old, exactly how old I have no idea but must be from the 1940s or 50s at least – maybe with a few updates through the years.
Think of a thin tin can cab shell around a wooden frame, the frame exposed inside as part of the design, an upgrade from an ox-wagon just with a tin outside. It’s hot (end-June) so thank goodness the windows open fully which gives some respite when packed in like sardines. The driver only seemed to know two speeds, fully steam ahead and slamming on the breaks which would give anyone with issues of “self-space” nightmares – if you aren’t holding on to something of what little there was to hold on to considering how many people were inside for most of the journey you are likely to end up sitting on a stranger’s lap. Back to the trip……undulating steep inclines and declines means you are constantly trying to stay vertical, that all the while the rickety coach creaks and groans to the extend that you cannot help think and wonder how they hell this thing stays in one piece! The suspension must be made out of the stones they use to pave the roads, added to that the rails on the grounds must have been installed by a blind drunk as it rocks from side to side and corners like jolts of electricity jerks it around. The No.28 Tram is indeed a legend!
The journey is an absolute joy to experience and it would be top on my list of first things to do if I go back to Lisbon. What could be a better experience than going through a city on a stop start wooden roller-coaster!
- Seems like throughout Portugal the architecture there are only three categories (slight exaggeration) Blood old, new and Art Deco. If you like Art Deco there are plenty of amazing examples in Lisbon, some are hidden behind garish bright pastel colours but the lines of design still visible. There are others not tarnished with paint and they really do show the elegance of the 1920-30s Art Deco movement.
- If you even plan to go to Lisbon or Portugal it is worth deciding what you would definitely like to see by creating a list. The reason for this is because everywhere charges you, not a lot, the average is around €3 and the most I paid was €10 but that was an exception, even so it starts to add up so go see the things you would like to first and then the peripherals.
- If you like desserts like pastries and ice creams then Portugal is the land of your dreams and are sold everywhere, like every second store!
- I popped into a museum by chance as I had gotten a little lost and walked past it, they had a special exhibition of “The Madonna” with some exhibits being loaned from the Vatican. They had some lovely things on display but even for me it was mildly interesting except they did have a marble sculptor by Michelangelo, wow! I’ve been amazed by his work since the first time I saw some in the UK. The marble has a flow to it like curtains blowing in the wind, hair with volume and detail and skin like silk. If you’ve never seen any of his work, any medium, and you get chance then do so
- If you keep an eye out throughout Lisbon you will see loads of graffiti, it’s a pity I didn’t get more time to explore around and there really are some super bits of work on display throughout the city. As with graffiti the best pieces are not on the high street so some searching is required.
- Apart from the Metro, Trains Trams and busses there are plenty of alternative transport methods including but not only the Tuks which zoom around the city on guided tours; a nice private tour of the city in a three-wheeler convertible to the chugging of a two-stroke motor. Another alternative is to hire bicycles, mopeds and little electric three-wheeler sportster!