Lisbon, Portugal Photo Essay- Ten twenty Euro notes come tumbling crisply from the machine. As you reach for your money, you're jolted forward. A gruff hand is on your right shoulder. Your fingers form a tight fist around your money as you swivel around.
"Please, I'm hungry, I need money for food."
A filthy hand is thrust in your face. You step backwards and stare dumbfounded at the dark pleading eyes before you.
"Excuse me." You wave the skinny unshaven man away with your free hand.
"Please, I'm so hungry." He steps closer.
His teeth are brown, you can smell his breath.
You step backwards,shoving your money into your bag without sorting it into your wallet. "No."
You wonder if you should break and run.
"I need money for soup. Please you have money."
"I'm sorry." You shake your head nervously, he's too close.
"Soup. I just want soup." He reaches for your arm again.
The ferocity of your response startles you. Moreover, the ferocity of your response startles him. He steps back, looking confused as you grab your belongings and run-walk down the street.
You follow the acute right angles of the narrow glossy streets. Moorish architecture towers above you. There are so many colors- multiple shades of coral and yellow, jade and blue. A network of wrought iron balconies hover above. An odd violet or rose sneaks between the bars. You begin to relax.
You trek uphill, then downhill, up again, then down. The soles of your shoes fight for tread against the slick tiles covering the ground in black and white marble-like patches. Around every corner, a bookstore, a cafe- this is a place where thoughts, ideas, words, are sacred. You stand, face pressed against glass, like a child at an aquarium, admiring the dark textured wood of the bookshelves. Now this, you think, this is a bookstore. Volumes of fresh books, not a kindle in sight, just a sea of crisp paper and sturdy wood. Breathing in the literary spirit of Lisbon, you feel in kindred company with the faces you pass as you continue your trek uphill.
Lisbon is a city of contrasts and colors.
A city on the water, a city of seven hills.
A city of wealth, a city of poverty. Immaculately polished streets supported 16th century buildings covered in graffiti.
Lisbon is the place to go for a slow alfresco lunch or dinner. Savor the wine, the flavors, an after dinner espresso.
On the streets of Lisbon, music, entertainment and culture are rich. The Nitty Gritty About This City- Airport: Lisbon's Portela Airport is centrally located- about a 15-20 minute drive to the heart of the city. The close proximity was convenient and meant a taxi ride was only about 6 Euros from our hotel to the airport. Upon arrival, we took the local bus from the airport to our hotel. We paid 2 Euros for the thirty minute bus ride. The buses in Lisbon are clean, spacious (stroller plus bags) and easy to navigate! Getting Around: Lisbon is a walkable city and is pretty easy to navigate once you understand the grid. Old fashioned streetcars roll through the city and can take a load off of tired feet as the city is full of hills. Taxis are a ubiquitous site and they're very easy to hail off the street. You will find many taxi queues as well. Beware of Beggars! We were followed by some extremely aggressive beggars. Be sure to watch your bags and assert a clear and non-negotiable "no!"Exercise caution at ATM machines. In one instance, I was withdrawing money, my sister was standing right behind me with a baby stroller to block me and a beggar still ended up beside me, way too close for comfort. As a New Yorker, I thought I was used to things like this, but in Lisbon, a simple no, or an ignore, means beg harder and follow even closer, you have to be aggressive.
Have you traveled to Lisbon? What were your impressions?