And I’m back! It’s been a bit more quiet here than usual, but that’s because I spent a couple of days in Lisbon. What a great city is this! I must say I didn’t know a lot about Lisbon. Yes, I knew it was a sunny southern European city. Yes, I knew there was a red bridge that looked a lot like the one in San Francisco. Yes, I knew there were a bunch of trams riding around the city. But that’s it. That’s the best I could come up with. Shame on me, because Lisbon has so much more to offer. I spent three days in the Portuguese capital, but I can easily come back for another weekend. This city is so versatile.
Lisbon is filled with idyllic neighbourhoods with old houses, cute cafes and narrow alleys. It almost doesn’t matter which way you go, you always end up somewhere nice. Still, there’s one neighbourhood that really caught my attention: the historical Alfama. When I reached Alfama I instantly noticed the different structure of the area. Whereas some areas like Baixa have a rectangular look and broad avenues, Alfama is all crooked and narrow and is filled with steep stairs. It also has tons of tiny alleys where you can still see and feel the typical Mediterranean life. Trees filled with sweet oranges, the smell of fresh laundry hanging outside and colorful flowers on each balcony. And don’t forget the typical Portuguese tiles. Complete walls are made out of these tiles and you can see them in all sorts of colors and patrons. I really fell in love with these tiles and I’m already browsing the internet for a tile wallpaper in my house.
It actually is quite special that Alfama still looks like it does today. It could have been a whole lot different. In 1755 Lisbon was struck by a heavy earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0. As if this was not enough already a tsunami hit the city an hour later. Many areas collapsed, others were destroyed because of spoliation and fires. Not Alfama. This is the only area that survived the earthquake and the tsunami. It’s now the perfect place for us to see what historical Portugal looked like.
The best way to explore Alfama is by foot. I hear you thinking: are you crazy? Isn’t that going to be exhausting? The answer: yes, it’s going to be just that. But know this, all the sweating is worth it. By wandering around Alfama you have the opportunity to come across the most photogenic alleys you wouldn’t see if you stayed at the main roads. And a nice break from all the stairs are the miradouros (view points) which give you an amazing view over the city. And if all the stairs really tire you out, you can always resort to tram 28, the famous tram of Lisbon. The 28 goes right through Alfama and is a perfect way to skip all those steep hills.
Have you already been to Alfama?