They're Going Again!

Aix-Cours-Mir.jpg

Aix-en-Provence

Four Days

Embracing nearly half of all  Iberian peninsula beaches on the Atlantic, is Portugal. Grand in expansive dreams and past conquests of empire, this smallish European country remains something of a mystery to us — not that it is mysterious, but that we simply know very little about it. And here we will lodge for four nights in an Old Town apartment, gladly accepting counsel about where to dine and what things we simply must not miss, within walking or bus or trolley (!) distance. I really prefer to experience Portuguese cuisine at a casual sidewalk eatery: not "dining posh" in some need to feel prosperous, so much as enjoying the ordinary stuff that residents partake of daily.

Aix-fountain.jpg

As much as seeing the sights in Lisbon, I am expecting to spend hours reviewing and adjusting the upcoming several weeks' events, as clearly as possible, so that all may unfold smoothly with no untoward surprises. Which tweaking will have been happening all along, but more so now that our feet are actually touching European soil.

 

Or pavement.

 

Or (preferred) cobblestones.

Of course there is Lisbon's Grand old cathedral to wander through, to appreciate architectural nuance but also to try and sense the mood of the place itself. It rises very near our apartment! My subjective impression of what I'll call Iberian Gothic, is that structures are meant to convey strength (even if that means presenting the place as an intimidating fortress), rather than showing the grace and majesty of God's kingdom on earth. Interesting.

St-Sauveur-baptistry-column.jpg
St-Sauveur-baptistry.jpg

On the topic or rather surface of cobblestones, here is a courtyard outside the castle of Sao Jorge, within view of almost everywhere in the old part of the city. By no means is this the only stone-paved roadway to  be walked upon, but arguably will be one of the most dramatic and historic.

St-Jean-de-Malte-Aix.jpg

It's hilly in Lisbon, really (rhyme for the nonce) hilly. One wonderful part of that fact, is the proliferation of sturdy and colorful trolleys that ply those hills. Their design seems to vary according to the steepness of the particular line whose tracks they ramble along every few minutes. One can of course simply walk everywhere. Aerobic virtue and all that.

Memorable, colorful neighborhoods await thereabouts. I do not expect to be dazzled by this kind of tile-work at every bar and bistro here; but such dazzling vertical paving does convey an unmistakably exuberant  Portuguese charm.

Our approach. Upon studying the picture above and the one below, I became convinced of a need to adjust my thoughts about lodgings and move this particular apartment-option to the top of the possibles list. From online listings photos, really, it appeared to be merely one nice Lisbon apartment among many other nice Lisbon apartments offered. But let me explain why we ended up selecting it, why we're glad we did.

 

Seen from the broad avenue that runs along the wide water of the Tagus River beyond, the building's more public side is a handsome but otherwise unremarkable facade, with this unit just one in the grid of apartments that peer out — several floors of identical windows that overlook that peaceful water (where large cruise ships like our Riviera tie up). Looked at from the sidewalk out on that busy-traffic side, the place didn't seem adventuresome enough, somehow, to invest our days in. But then I looked at the actual approach one would take to reach the entryway — the building's backside, if you will. And discovered that in order to arrive at this Number 17 address you must first navigate a twisting street or two, which will place you at the above scene; then stoop under those bright Coca Cola umbrellas; and then keep winding along as the alleyway narrows and — voila, there's a splendid green door. Or it's possible to reach our porta verde from the river-side avenue by way of a cutout entryway to the alley behind. Very cool. We will become friends of that door. Meanwhile we know it's there ...

 

... waiting for us.

Aix-farmers-market.jpg

DETAILS

MORE

Another train, then, to the next week

ALT-plan-routing-diagram-for-HOME-4.jpg

They're Going Again!