Previously – My Lisboa Encounters: The Pickpocket
Portugal was once a great Empire in the world stage. The country is now a small country and an attractive travel destination, with its subtle culture remained a legacy – and my discovery of its distinctive character first-hand was rewarding and delightful.
A highlight of a visit to Lisbon is the ride on the Tram route 28. It seems the world has yet got bored with the “Top 10” of everything – so National Geographic has recently released the classic Top 10 Trolley Rides and the yellowish Electrico #28 in Portugal is among the top 10.
Open Hours: 5:40 am – 9:15 pm
Ticketing: Single Trip €1.4; One-day Ticket €6
For €1.4 tourists could get around Alfama with ease as the route passes through many of the city’s attractions and scenic spots. After the face-off moment with a pickpocket on the tram, we immersed ourselves in the old Alfama district. Here, we became maze runners. It is the oldest area of the city with spider-web alleys in between the terracotta-roofed houses, shops, and cafés along the way. More, there were monasteries, (Monastery of São Vicente de Fora), churches (Church of Santa Engrácia), museums and flea markets (Thieves Market) scattered within walking distances. Exploring Alfama was fun as we would be surprised by the breathtaking sceneries at different lookouts at different turns.
The highlight of the district would probably be the São Jorge Castle, a fortification standing on the hilltop. Just consider the property value of its prime location and spectacular view. The castle was severely damaged by the 1755 earthquake and the site was left in ruins with shambles of physical evidence how the ancient Portuguese established the city in the medieval times. Climbing up the wall of the castle, modern-day tourists could be benefited from the unobstructed panoramic view of the Lisbon city center to the Tagus River.
There is another amazing treat. While we were wandering in the castle, we suddenly heard beautiful melodies coming out from the courtyard. Someone was performing on his folding chair, with his guitar case and a stalk of is CDs in front of him. In an instant, we were drawn into his relaxing music wonderland. He was really fantastic. We were not drawn by his masterful skills (he has the skills), but it was because his guitar playing was so approachable and so natural to the surroundings. Every note from each strumming was bouncing on the stone wall and echoing in the courtyard as if the music was filling up the gap of the ruins; the castle has no background music better than these amazing tracks.
Music is always the best medicine. After the trip I sometimes still go back and immerse into his music world, listening to the recordings and videos on Youtube recorded by other castle visitors. I wondered why on earth this self-taught, civilian master-guitarist is not world-famous, and then convinced myself that it was probably for the best to leave such artistic and sensible performance to where it truly belonged.
If you are interested – look it up, I was talking about Pedro Godinho.
After our day in Alfama we went back to the Santa Justa Lift and appreciated the beautiful sunset as the sun goes down. We went back to the commercial Baixa district and looked for food – and that’s another story to tell.