Subsequent mails and phone calls went unheeded. Now I'm informed - in passing, mind you - that it has indeed been published, I know not where.
Even if it hasn't, here goes. I mean, how long can I hold in 2200 words?!]
One o’ clock on a Saturday afternoon and the streets of
Strolling down the Liberdade, it’s hard to believe that most of this city was wiped out in the 18th century. On
Given a free hand by King Joseph I, the Marques rebuilt
Despite the late hour, the city is just stirring to life. Friday nights in
Even the sidewalks are special in
I am, of course, an oenophile of some standing, with considerable expertise in distinguishing between the two main types of wine. To wit, Wine I Like and Wine I Don’t Like. Since Port is Wine I Like, buying should have been a simple operation. Until the man behind the counter asks me what KIND of port I want – tawny, vintage or (with a faint shudder) ruby? Or would I like some Garrafeira? Even, if Senhor is a connoisseur, some Reserve? (The capital letter was evident from his reverent enunciation) I mumble something about coming back later and beat a hasty retreat.
As one rounds the corner from the
Across the Rossio, through an old archway and down the Rua dos Sapateiros, the Street of the Shoemakers. Curlicued balconies muse in the noonday sun as it creeps into this canyon of quiet. Turn right at the first crossroad (cross-alley?) and you face the
Turn left, cross the Rua do Ouro or Street of the Goldsmiths and you find yourself in the
To the opposite corner of the Praca, where a red tramcar serves as a tourist office. Directions, and then down the crazy cobbled street to catch a real tram, the fabled No. 28. This route goes all the way up through the winding streets of the old district, down the other side and ends in a square beside the Rossio. (I discovered that this square is about a 5 minute walk from where I boarded the tram on the other side of the Alfama!)
800 years ago, the Alfama was
Round a corner, a huge church appears, looking down over the sprawl of tiled roofs to the sea. On the landward side a building’s cheery red façade is punctuated with a cheeky line of washing. This, notwithstanding the drying clothes, is the Museu de Artes Decorativas or
As the light lengthens and the day fades, I bestir myself in search of the Castello. Round a corner and up another series of precipitous lanes, past a little square where a couple while away the late afternoon on a terrace, and finally the gateway to the Castle is in sight. The gatekeeper, musing on the line of tourists filing past his window, is an equally interesting relic. As are the two ladies who chat through a window, framed prettily by the ceramic tiles or azulejos that adorn the facades of so many houses here.
Evening is drawing in as I pick my way down from the Castle. My sense of direction, confronted with the random serpentine meandering, soon gives up. The lane is deserted, nobody from whom I could ask directions. (Even if they understood English, which is not very likely considering my experiences through the day. Friendly, yes. Helpful, yes. Charming, yes. Intelligible, no. The vigorous hand-waving is reassuring, though. They MEAN well.)
As I pause for breath, a most intriguing doorway catches my eye. I push the door open and peek in. I am initially confronted by a male posterior, which soon turns into a friendly Irishman who assures me that I can get some, aahh, refreshment on the premises. I find a table in the colourfully kitschy mess, a coffee appears, Eamon joins me and we light up our cigarillos. His Portuguese friend
On the last leg through the Alfama, a name and a frame. I shall be back for more.