Portugal: A morning stroll in Lisbon

May 14, 2013

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Our first morning in Lisbon was bursting with light and colour.

Travel is funny sometimes and kind of reminds me of dating.  Sometimes, like with a potential mate, you click with a destination upon first meeting: something about your pairing just feels right, even without really knowing why.  Other times, your passion for a place builds like a slow burn: only through repeated contact is the flame of love (or extreme like!) ignited, maintained, and cultivated so that it grows strong.

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Lisbon was like that for me. I’ve been twice before, in 2004 and 2006, but it wasn’t until my third visit last week that it really made an impression on me. I found myself continually surprised at its character and vibrancy.

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Thanks to a bank holiday in the UK, we quitted the doldrums of London– still cold and grey in early May, if you can believe it!– for three days in Portugal’s capital. We arrived too late on Friday evening to do anything, but were up bright and early  Saturday morning to explore a little bit before the spa appointment I had at our hotel at noon.

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In the 3 hours or so we had to kill we wandered aimlessly, choosing to save the bulk of our serious sightseeing for the afternoon.  Starting our stroll near the top of the the tree-lined Avenida de Liberdade, we made our way to the central square (officially known as the Terreiro do Paço, but referred to by locals as the Praça do Commerio), then slightly northward to the Bairro Alto.

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Lisbon is situated on the banks of the Tagus river.  The bright sunshine meant that the water was super blue.

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The architecture here is flirty, fussy, and romantic, so different from the industrial buildings in my neighbourhood in London, which are complemented by the mosaicwork of black and white stones that adorn the sidewalks. Every building in Lisbon’s centre seems to tell a story.

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We also stopped at a cafe in the Baixa district and were serenaded by street performers as we sipped on our cappuccinos. Despite the rowdy group of drunk Englishmen at the tables next to us, it was blissful.

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All this beauty before noon! Is it any wonder that I fell deeply in like with Lisbon on my third try?

Have you ever been to Lisbon? Have you ever only fallen for a place after visiting multiple times?

 

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Nailah May 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Great Photos, Oneika. I had my first trip to Lisbon last year and really loved the colors of the city’s buildings.
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Oneika May 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Thanks, Nailah!

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Naomi May 14, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I didn’t realise how pretty the architecture is in Lisbon! I’ve kind of have had the same slow-burn relationship with Paris. I’m still not fully in love with it, but after my third time, I do see myself going back there time and time again. Whereas the first time, I swore I would never go back!
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Oneika May 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Paris is one of my favourite places but I admit that it took me a while to warm to it also!

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Erika May 15, 2013 at 12:02 am

Lisbon is one of my absolute favorite destinations! I’ve only been there once, but I got to spend a week there… and by the end, I was definitely sad about leaving. It’s in some ways more understated than the bigger capital cities of Europe, but it has a flair and flavor that I definitely dug.
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Oneika May 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Lisbon is definitely a little off the radar in terms of popularity — a shame in my opinion, because it’s way cheaper and just as interesting as some of the better known European capitals!

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Julie Dawn Fox May 15, 2013 at 8:57 am

I fell for Lisbon the first time I visited in 2007. I’ve been back many times since then and fall a little bit deeper in love every time. So glad you enjoyed it – your photos are vibrant and really capture the essence of the place.
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Oneika May 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Appreciate your comment, especially since you have been so often!

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Adelina May 15, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Oneika,

I hope that you had time to hear some Fados in the Alfama district. I was born in the Azores, and have travelled to the Mainland quite often. I enjoyed your lovely photos of Lisbon, brought me back lots of memories. You need more than three days to appreciate Portugal and its environs. I am quite jealous of all your traveling, what a charmed life you lead. I hope you get to visit the Azorean archipelago which consists of nine volcanic islands. All the best to you, you should write a travel narrative of all your journeys.

Adelina

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Colleen Brynn May 15, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Gosh, what fabulous pictures! I loved the colourfulness and the “flirty, fussy and romantic” style of Lisbon…

For me, it’s a city for getting completely lost and going exactly where your heart takes you.
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Deidre May 15, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Never been to lisbon, but I love your photographs the beautiful architecture and all that colour!
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Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans May 16, 2013 at 4:46 pm

I’ve never seen such vivid photos of Lisbon – they’re making me want to wander the streets there even more!
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TammyOnTheMove May 17, 2013 at 6:57 am

Lisbon looks lovely! I have heard so many good things about it recently. It seems to be THE up and coming city in Europe.
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Casey-A Cruising Couple May 18, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Lovely photos! Lisbon left a lasting impression on me last time I was there-it’s such a beautiful and characteristic city! I love how you compared traveling to dating; I’ve never thought of it like that before, but I can’t remember how many times it’s been ‘love at first site’ for me and a new travel destination.
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Heather Cowper May 23, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Love the street life of Lisbon – perfect for strolling especially when the sky is so blue!
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Jay @ From There To Here May 27, 2013 at 9:19 am

You are most definitely right about the dating/city visiting comparison. It sometimes takes time to get to know a city – to really get a feel for it – and not always are we fortunate enough for return trips.

I’ve heard mixed reviews of Lisbon or perhaps more of an indifference. I’d love to check it out for myself one day.
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Christine May 29, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I felt the same way about Lisbon and thankfully I went there for a second time and fell in love. Lisbon grew on me and finally understood the charm of the city.
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Daniel May 28, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Hi…

I’m from Lisbon, and I have to thank you all your kind words about my home city. I have a few pictures I can share with you, in case you’re curious. I’ll try to post some more when I have some time.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/hiddenrainbow/sets/72157634745935469/

And by all means, do come visit us… you’re all welcome

Cheers

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Memoria August 12, 2014 at 4:26 am

I just returned from Lisbon about two weeks ago after having stayed there for about 2 months. Unfortunately I never fell in love with the city (I loved Sintra, Algarve (Portimão), Alentejo (Serpa), and Porto, though!), but my other expats friends thought it was so great and are still convinced I want to go back (I didn’t have the heart to tell them the truth). Anyway, your photos are lovely, and it is interesting looking at them and read your comments after having been there for such a long time (felt like a year! haha). Take care!!
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