I was up early for a sunrise rendezvous with magificant Lisbon.
My new fellow canadian friend, Maddy, and I made plans to find the beaches. We took the ferry from Cais do sodre port to cacilhas; then an hours bus ride to costa da caparica on the almada coast.
The coastal town was a welcomed contrast to the excitement of Lisbon. We first grabbed a bite and a glass of wine in a cafe viewing the half mooned golden beaches near us. I ordered a bowl of clam soup with rice and fresh mint. Portugal is the mecca for those, like me, who love fresh seafood.
We made our way to the beach, both eager to plunge into the atlantic.
I dove head on into a swollen wave and relented to the eddy below me. The water was cold in comparison to the croatian waters but still warmer than back home. The current seemed to compress the salt into every pore..my skin was sticky, my hair entangled and immediately hardened and for a moment I felt like I was home in my pacific waters.
The beaches here run for miles. The complaints of yesterday brushed away by the undeniable serenity that surrounded me now.
We stayed for the day. I strolled, I swam, I napped under the warm sun. Relaxed and ready for the night ahead. I planned to meet one of the Fado singers I had met for a drink before dinner and learn more about this hauntingly beautiful music. We took a drink on a terrace outside of the touristy districts, marvelling at the sun that burnt its way down to settle in for the night.
I asked my Fado friend, who was born here in Lisbon, what he loves most about his city. “The colour” he replied, without hesitation. I understood.
He was raised with Fado-both parents sang-even his brothers. “It’s in my blood”, he says. I jokingly tell him I was told the songs were inherently complaints. “No no no”, he corrected me; “They are about emotions-all of them. Not just happy or sad”..he was referring to the spectrum of emotions nuanced in every aspect of life. “Some people have difficulty with this..push away from these emotions”, he says. Fado celebrates them. They are traditional, these songs, each one tells a story. Naturally, being the story teller I am, I am drawn to Fado.
Maddy and I met up for dinner. We ordered wine and grilled sardines.
..then pork loin wrapped in jamon and served with a stuffing of sorts and collard greens.
We both were unable to finish. A note about food and drinks here in portugal-very inexpensive. You can a buy beer for 1 euro, for example.
We were eating outside in the alley of the cafe. Musicians were scattered in various corridors-music grew louder at one end and the sound of trumpets and drums approached us.. it was the white night event-noite branca.
One couldn’t help but jump up and dance amongst them..it was jovial and energetic.
But..I was still drawn back into the Fado and found my way to it. I finished the evening drinking port, eating port ice cream (because one can’t get enough of any variation of port in this country)
..and listened to the achingly enticing melodies of Fado. Eventually my eyes grew heavy. All that emotion just tuckered me out..in a good way.
I’m falling for Lisbon, for Portugal. It’s a place without pretence. It’s raw but still charming. It holds space and even celebrates all that makes up humanity. It’s eclectic, it’s passionate, it’s emotional, odd, a little crazy, authentic, traditional, contemporary.
It’s an interplay of all these things. I see myself here… one day… maybe.