It's our first time in Portugal, a welcome holiday after working intensely for the last several months on the gallery. Here are some of my thoughts, images, and feelings from the trip thus far...
First impressions: The city is incredibly calm. Wide streets, lots of trees, next to no traffic even at rush hour. Rico and I both came to the conclusion within several hours that Lisbon is a place we could easily imagine calling home...perhaps in retirement, because we're in no hurry to leave Casa Cali anytime soon.
Tourism wins: Walking around aimlessly, stopping at beer gardens in leafy plazas, admiring the architecture and the ubiquitous tiles, eating tapas. Lisbon is an exceedingly pleasant and easy city to navigate, and they are totally prepared for tourists. The city is multi-lingual and its inhabitants are very friendly.
Fails: I got offered drugs several times while walking around and minding my own business...sketchy dudes that rushed at me with outstretched hands and insistent voices (hash, marijuana, coke). Also, we had a horrid meal (bad food and service) in a super touristy spot in Rossio, but I think it was what you would expect from that type of establishment anywhere in the world, not anything particular to Lisbon.
If you go there do this: Hop on the Elétrico 28 trolley car and ride it to the end of the line, or get on and off as you please (go early so you don't stand in line). Also go see a Fado show, but make sure to get a reservation.
Food and drink highlights: Grilled octopus and caipirinha crème bruleè at Darwin's Café at the Chapamilaud Foundation, a colorful and modern spot on the shores of the Tejo River that we certainly would have never found on our own (we were taken to lunch by Rico and my mother-in-law's distant Portuguese relatives).
Interesting observations: Lisbon often felt exactly like the older parts of Rio's downtown (centro antigo) and Santa Teresa, as well as parts of Maputo. I have never felt so at home in a place I've never before visited. And the city is notably diverse...Europeans from all over the place, Africans, Indians, Chinese...seemingly a mix of residents/expats as well as visitors. Oh, and the hipster vibe is strong, but not overly annoying.
A selection of photos below...