I’ve been a wanderer these past couple of days. Without any clear agenda for my time in Portugal, I am quite literally taking it minute by minute. I walked to the breakwater with music in my ears creating a soundtrack that will inevitably remind me of this colourful city.
I’m staying in Bairro Alto-known for its night life and restaurants-yet very bohemian. I ventured further to Alfama-one of the oldest districts in Lisbon-crooked cobblestone streets lined with old taverns and colourful buildings that become canvases to impressive graffiti and street art that pays tribute to the cities history- including that of Fado.
Elderly women sell homemade ginginja (sweet cherry liquor) on small wooden tables-a sort of lemonade stand for grown ups. Nothing like a shot to make those colours pop.
My growing curiosity and affinity for Fado brought me to the legendary graffiti portrait of Maria Severa Onofriana-a prostitute, and Fado singer, born to a gypsy father-died at 26-but who’s legacy still thrives in this city.
I finish the afternoon with a strong shot of espresso and a pastel de nata-Portuguese creamy custard tart.
Maddy and I met up for dinner to share our adventures of the day in a cafe overlooking the city.
I finally try Mariscada-seafood rice-a traditional, must try, portuguese dish. Similar to a paella but more moist. Large chunks of fish, clams and mussels seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper and portuguese paprika.
We made plans for the following day to visit the Pantheon…
…and hit up the flea market early before the storm of masses flooded the squares.
We took a trolley to the Feira da Ladra-also known as the thieves market. Dozens of tents line the roads; some artisan stands; some merely trash stands-but enticing all the same.
Also in our list was to visit the statue of St. Nicholas-legend has it if you flip a coin and it lands on his book your wish will come true. We find the statue and Maddy and I take turns flipping our euros high in the air-eventually creating a mob of curious tourists. Finally after many failed attempts, my coin lands. It felt as though St. Nicholas let it drop out of shear sympathy for my undying tenacity-he could see I wasn’t leaving until it happened. I jumped up and down, hooting and highfiving anyone who would share this feat..many cheered though I’m sure still uncertain for what. And so on I skipped, me and secret wish, certain, or at least naively hopeful, it would indeed come true.
We finish the night snacking on boards of sliced cured meats, olives, fresh bread and an array of local cheese.
We muse about abandoning conventional expectations and just making a move abroad one day. “At this stage in life there is still time..but still..no time to lose”, says Maddy. I’d have to agree on that.
I say farewell to my new friend and walk back to my flat. Those words lighting up like a billboard sign in my psyche. No time to lose…