Lisbon is for lovers (and Pan´s Labyrinth?)

July 22, 2009 at 11:11 am Leave a comment

I’ve said or thought this about pretty much every place I’ve been to so far, but…

Lisbon is for lovers!

(Well, not every town.  Santiago isn’t for lovers.  Santiago is for pilgrims.  Wouldn’t want to be ‘christening’ any holy places with secret trysts – blasphemy!)

I fell in love with this city (more like a town) as soon as we emerged from the metro station and I was hit by the perfect sun-lit sky, reflected off the shining uneven black & white stones patterning every path and road, the colourfully tiled external walls, the al fresco café umbrellas, more wrought iron balconies… *swoon* !!!

Interesting grafitti all over town

Interesting grafitti all over town

More cool grafitti

More cool grafitti

Mural walls in abundance too

Mural walls in abundance too

Entrance to Plaza de Comercial, the paths and buildings that cover Lisbon!

Entrance to Plaza de Comercial, the paths and buildings that cover Lisbon!

Our hostel is super awesome. It’s totally artist-designed and major kitsch 😀 Pammy and I the photo nerds were lucky enough to be put in a room called “Lomography” – with graffiti on the door “Don’t think. Just shoot!”  It’s a sign Pam! Get your Holga out!

Hostel room window – Lomo photos!

Hostel room window – Lomo photos!

‘The Shining’ child in a hostel hallway

‘The Shining’ child in a hostel hallway

Hostel dining & common area

Hostel dining & common area

My legs: internetting in the ‘Friends Garden’

My legs: internetting in the ‘Friends Garden’

Can I please open a place like this in Syd? Better yet – HK?

Had home-cooked hostel dinner, by the fun all-knowing all-Lisbon-loving Antonio.  Felt so good to have a wholesome healthy meal. Went exploring at night with one of our roomies Brenna.  Every few streets there’d be another gorgeous plaza!

One of the many gorgeous plazas

One of the many gorgeous plazas

Lisbon is for plazas?

Wandered up into Bairro Alto, the nightlife district, which is a network of steep tiny laneways where the party spills out onto the street.  Funky jazz places, gorgeous grotto-looking bars = love!

However, by the end of the night (and over the next few nights elsewhere), I felt like screaming:

YES, I AM ASIAN! GET OVER IT!

I got about 6 Asian-related comments/cat-calls just walking around (the average number per night). A few ‘konitchiwa’s, a few bows, a few ‘ni hao’s, and other forms of “I like Chinese girls” openers from the nightlife revellers. No malicious intent – just a mixture of ignorance and a place that is racially aware and distinctly lacking Asians?

– Granted, I got about 1 per day in San Sebastian –

Amusing at first, but got a bit grating by the end of the night.  Of course, none of it’s meant in harm or malie, it’s just weird to get attention by virtue of my race  – unwanted extra attention (DON’T FREAK OUT Mum & Dad – it’s FINE :p )

Lisbon & Sao Jorge Castello on the left hill (photo from Pam)

Lisbon & Sao Jorge Castello on the left hill (photo from Pam)

Late night Fado (traditional music) cavern

Late night Fado (traditional music) cavern

Portugese tarts from Belem – apparently the best in Portugal. They were AMAZING!

Portugese tarts from Belem – apparently the best in Portugal. They were AMAZING!

Pan’s Labyrinth?

Went to the Regaleria estate (name could be wrong?) in Sintra near Lisbon – mansion and convoluted gardens of a wealthy family, which is now a World Heritage site.  It’s all designed to be some magical fairytale – and it was!  The mansion itself is fairytale…

Breasted griffin on a mansion turret

Breasted griffin on a mansion turret

…but the gardens! Pan’s Labyrinth! They went on forever!!! They had so many paths, hidden grottos and creepy caves, fountains and fortresses, and a whole network of FREAKY underground tunnels – pitch black – no way I was going near them!

Algae covered grotto & black cave entrances - one of the many intricacies in the labyrinthine garden!

Algae covered grotto & black cave entrances - one of the many intricacies in the labyrinthine garden!

Down the freaky hidden underground tower

Down the freaky hidden underground tower

But the most amazing thing was a giant UNDERGROUND TOWER – meant to represent the ascent from darkness to light/earth to heaven/descent into hell, etc.

For something so grand, it was totally hidden from ‘ground’ level – we had walked right past it and didn’t notice, even though we were trying to find it!  We were total wimps and didn’t make it all the way to the bottom bc it got way too dark and creepy – then we bolted back up to the light!

Lisbon is for labyrinths?

For me, Lisbon will still be for lovers.

Was it as good for you as it was for me?

Xox

Ange

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