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Monday, January 26, 2015

Five Days around Lisbon. Part 1

For a quick November getaway, we met our friends Chi and Ryan in Lisbon.  [This is part 1 of the Lisbon chronicle. Click here to see Part 2]  We stayed together in a small, well-appointed "serviced apartment" called Lisbon Colours, on Traversa da Queimada.  It turns out this is pretty much the center of all-night partying in Lisbon, with live bands playing in several clubs within a stone's throw of our windows.  The narrow, cobblestone streets are pedestrian-only, except for a few taxis and delivery trucks, so groups of smokers and drinkers stand around talking just outside the doors of restaurants and bars.  The people weren't so noisy, but some of those live bands' drummers send sound through solid stone walls!  Overall, it wasn't too bad, thanks to the double-paned windows and shutters.

Lisbon Party-Central, morning edition.
We took a walk around town the first day.  The main attraction in town is the old fortress, fittingly situated on the highest point in town, overlooking the river.  It just so happened that our visit took place in November.  November is the rainiest month of the year in Lisbon, so there were a lot of gray skies.  

Looking down from the castle hill, across the rooftops to the river.
Walking through the streets near the castle, this cat came along and jumped onto the top of this old door.

Lisbon, or Lisboa, or Lisbonne, as it's known in various languages, is famous for its blue tile.   he blue tiles are known as "azulejos".  Azul is blue in Spanish, and I Portuguese too I'm guessing!  Everywhere we went, we saw hand-crafted tile decorations on the buildings. Here are a couple of the more elaborate pieces.

Someone said this all came about after a huge earthquake in 1755 that destroyed the center of town.  As Lisbon was rebuilt, tiles became the most popular way to decorate the new buildings.  This huge tile mosaic is a view of the city from the opposite side of the river.

In this closer view of the mosaic above, a large steel ship with big smokestacks dominates the river, while a fisherman and sailor look on from their boats.  

The elaborately carved tower below was the gatehouse at the mouth of the river where ships entered Lisbon.  It had rows of cannons on a lower floor.  They said the cannons were so low to the water that they more than doubled their range by skipping the cannonballs across the water!  

Another theme around Lisbon is graffiti.  Yes, there is some of the usual ugly graffiti, but there is also a lot of art.  In this public parking garage, the city held a contest to find the best artists to bring the interior walls to life.  Each artist got a whole floor of the garage to work with.  These were by my favorite artist.

On the way back to our apartment that night.  Wet pavements and colored lights are always nice.   

This article is Lisbon, Part 1.  Click here to see Lisbon Part 2, including Sintra palaces and Cabo da Roca ocean views.

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