Daily Archives: 9 September 2012

Postcard from Lisbon

So this is what Lisbon looks like from atop one of its many hills. It’s a nice city, on the north edge of a big giant bay at the end of the Tagus river. DrBob had a flat that was tiny but awesome and we stayed there two nights before heading up to our hotel.

I didn’t actually take a lot of pictures, but one of my favorite things was that so many of the buildings are faced with tiles, a holdover from the long Moorish occupation. They’re called azuleijos, and of course you can also see them in Spain and even in the Netherlands, which has its own tile traditions, but they’re much more frequent in Portugal, in my experience. (DrBob: that’s because you haven’t seen Sevilla yet. Alala: that’s because someone hasn’t taken me to Sevilla yet, despite 18 years of nagging…).

Here’s a thing I noticed: a much higher proportion of women in sensible shoes than you usually see in a European capital. The hills might have had something to do with that. And the fact that the sidewalks consisted of cobblestones. Marble ones.

We also took a train out to Belém and walked along the waterfront to the Monument to the Discoveries, which I find fascinating. Okay, fascist sculpture is always a little weird, and homages to superior humans should be looked at somewhat askance, but it is kind of remarkable that tiny, poor, peripheral Portugal did this amazing thing for a century and a half, and then went back to being tiny, poor and peripheral.

We also visited the Belém Tower, which was even cooler than it looks on the internet, and then wandered over to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, where we did manage to take a few photos, which I then could not identify once we were home because we went to so! Many! Monasteries! But this one was quite pretty, especially if you can ignore the stone penises decorating the upper arches in the cloister.

Song du jour of the day: Vida Minha by Filipa Sousa – Portugal’s Eurovision entry this year.