Lisbon, or Lisboa in my language, is one European city that has been getting a lot of buzz in recent years. The capital of my country was always perceived as the big city in my mind. The place where I was going in school trips to visit museums, palaces, convents and so on. Basically, the place to go for culture. But perhaps precisely because of that I’ve always hold a secret grudge for this city of which I wasn’t too far, but felt miles away. Everything happened in Lisbon. The culture, the shows, the concerts, the exhibitions. The big events. The airport. The best shopping centres.
Why would the citizens of one single city have access to so much, while others had to travel to get just a glimpse?
I guess this is the case of most countries. Portugal is making small steps in the right direction – more and more invested in tourism but also attracting foreign investment, Lisbon is still in the spotlight but, luckily for the Portuguese people, more has been done in other towns. Restoring the Old Town, polishing the tiles, promote cultural events for kids and grownups alike.
I never lived in Lisbon and I often wonder what would be like. I guess if I had stayed in Portugal those 4 years ago, I would probably be now in Lisbon, disappointed with my salary, but at least close to where the action is.
But, despite hold grudges, I understand the buzz around Lisbon.
It’s different from any Western European capital cities. In a way, it kept the vibe of a small town, which is probably because it is indeed the capital of a small country. It is colourful and playful, the sunshine often bringing the light of the buildings. There is a freshness to it, even though so many buildings are falling apart of elderness. the freshness comes from the Atlantic, that old friend of us, the Portuguese. That old friend that took so much away from us throughout History but has given so much in return. For some reason, I would always feel comforted by the ocean. The coldness of the Atlantic never made me fear it. Only to respect it.
And then you have that amazing coffee. There’s nothing better for me than the espresso of my home country, taken with a pastel de nata, so famous and international now, that I could have it in London on a daily basis. Not the coffee though. Starbucks does its best efforts, but not enough, I’m afraid.
Lisbon is becoming the best combination of loyalty to its roots and welcoming the new. The foreigners come, live, tasting, experiencing the city. But the new ideas come with them, and so the young minds of hundreds of avid learners who aim to become more in Lisbon and of Lisbon.
I have bene in Lisbon a few times after moving to London, but only for short visits. An afternoon of shopping and walking around the old town, or simply on airport visits. But the last time I actually spent some days there was in 2014 – 6 years ago. I was far from guessing I’d be moving to a much different capital city. That was only painted in my dreams. Not-so-secret ambitions growing intense in my heart.
P.S. While my plans for the year are somehow in standby due to the COVID-19, I’ve decided to go on posting about places I’ve visited. Sometimes, a little trip down the memory lane helps to shine some light over dark times.