Streets of the city were so charming. Although steep and narrow, almost always cobblestoned, they often had elegant mosaics made out of dark stone cuts. Mosaics were frequent – what if I tell you that I went into various metro stations just to see the mosaics? They were so vibrant and colorful, genuine art on the walls!
And what about small “decorations” like ceramic tiles street and square names, advertisements for shops or cafes, colorful tiles embedded in building walls!
Local, but wordly
Don’t get me wrong, I love European cities, but Lisbon is special, not like any other metropolis in Europe. It contains that local vibe that sometimes make you feel like being in some small fishermen town.
Especially if you are in one of those curvy, steep streets in Alfama district and you cannot see where it goes or that there is a vast square at the end of it. All you see is laundry hanging from small windows, old buildings with plaster peeled off and maybe tram track that curves down along tiny cobbled street.
But than again, you keep walking and you get out to great big square with central statues of Portuguese poets, kings, explorers or generals, huge fountains, restaurants, metro stations, churches and theatres.
There are popular brands, banks, companies you recognize everywhere in Europe, and it’s obvious that this is another European capital in the West.
Small shops and steep streets
One thing that I have noticed (and loved) is the fact that there are shopping malls in the center of the city, but they are often adapted to the city’s architecture. Modest entrances to typical Lisbon buildings with the name tag above the door, and not always those huge shopping centers with glassy walls and enormous revolving doors, stretching on five floors and who knows how many square meters etc.
Those are all the same – all glass, marble and brass, outside and in. Here, however, somewhat different scenery.
Loved the fact that you can come across small bakery or charming souvenir shop, those specialized in sweets, or bookstores, but also world famous brands and big stores.
Walking up those narrow streets you even feel isolated. But than again, there is that feeling that you do not know what is yet to come, behind that next curve going steeply up (so much so that you almost touch your chest with your knees). Suddenly, you can be thrown into crowd and the bustle of the city!
Cruising by yellow tram
It is hard to overlook the famous yellow tram that cruises the city. There are lines very practical for tourists to go around, see it all while the tram creaks and turns, hawking to passagers on the street by ringing instead of using a horn.
By purchasing traffic ticket (all the city’s transport included) for few days or a week, you can hop on and off the tram whenever you see something interesting outside. I even bought a small touristy watercolor painting with yellow tram on it. Well, while in Lisbon, right!
From the square of Mirador of Santa Catarina you can take the so called Bica funicular, one of the area’s means of transport that you will need to use if you want to avoid steep hills. You can also use Elevador de Santa Justa in Ouro Street (the landmark that greeted me to the city, remember!).