Lisbon: elevation and sardines.

Lisboa! How I love you.

You smell funny, it’s true. You sit on the sea, you can’t help it. But you bask so beautifully in the ravenous sun, you roll your hills and alleys so seductively — how can any man think with his nose when faced with such a vision?

After a few busy months of traveling solo I snatched David away for a quick weekend together in Portugal.

We’ve both wanted to visit there for ages; David all the more so as his family had vacationed there in his childhood. It left enough of an impression that one year, for Sinterklaas, he made a papier-maché version of the Santa Justa elevator which, upon completion in 1902, offered easy access between the city’s distinct upper and lower levels.

I love coastal cities. You can smell the sea from a half-mile away, and hear the cries of gulls intensifying with every step you take. In Lisbon, you pass through tall gates to arrive at a square that smoothly segues into a nice blue sea.

Every evening we’d dine on tiny terraces, one occasion indulging in the local specialty of grilled sardines after a trek up the hill to see São Jorge castle. Difficult to eat, but so very, very worth it.

The Lisbon Oceanarium was also worth the visit. A dazzling feat of modern architecture, the centrepiece of the complex was a massive tank around which the whole main building was constructed, with a huge variety of ocean wildlife. The tank was large enough that fish common to different sea depths had comfortable strata to occupy, and by visiting the different floors you could get a closer look at them. Well-fed and placid, all, we saw otters from the adjoining habitat playing with each other with no regard for the sharks they brushed past. Oh, and a moonfish. Those things are huge.

Sun, music, food and architecture to die for. Lisbon, you beautiful broad, I’ll be seeing you again.

  • Nico



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