Unfortunately, Lisbon is not part of my professional travel repertoire, so I am rarely there. But when I do, this city flashes me every time. And I always feel like I’m in a second home. I like Portugal at all, maybe that’s also due to my early childhood imprinting.
In order for me to learn at least a little bit of Portuguese, my Brazilian mother used to send me to the “Mother Tongue Supplementary Classes” when I was in elementary school. Sounds important, but it was just hot air. I was the only girl among 8 Portuguese boys, because the offer was actually aimed at guest worker families from Portugal. Brazilian? They didn’t have them in our big city back then. And so I took the bus and train across the city once a week in the afternoon, so that I could watch the boys building shit for an hour, otherwise only understanding the station and trying to cover this up with consistent refusal to speak and the aid of a heartbreaking googly-eyed dog look. Because our grandmother’s teacher spoke Portuguese from Portugal, which I understood even less with my meager knowledge of the language. But at the end of each semester, we got a “B” (for the googly eyes, not for the Portuguese, but that wasn’t on the report card) and a big hug from our teacher for persevering.
Welcome to my travel blog!
Hey, I’m Tatiana, a German-Brazilian living in Berlin & the author behind The Happy Jetlagger. I’ve been writing about my travels since 2014. In addition to my job as a flight attendant, this blog is my passion project!
Lisbon’s 28: Nostalgia in the Alfama
Decades later, I stand in a crowded streetcar and ask myself why I really had to take this on. Crowded in small rooms with strangers is so not my thing. Occupational disease. It rumbles and pumps, creaks and cracks. With unexpected caracho, the miniature streetcar dashes through the streets of the Alfama, uphill, downhill, and with every rapid approach I fall with my nose into another strange man’s axel hanging from one of the handles dangling from the ceiling: One meter sixty in sneakers are not really advantageous in crowded means of transport. But a ride with line 28, that has to be, if you are in Lisbon anyway. That’s what the hundred other tourists I squeezed onto the train with – on the hunt for the real, authentic Lisbon feeling – are thinking.
Vamos passear! Vamos para a Feira da Ladra!
Of the locals, I guarantee that no one rides this line anymore. The 28 is something like the 100 bus here in Berlin – for little money you get a trip to the best sights and a load of local color for free. While in Berlin, however, the scolding for whatever from the bus driver is also free, our driver sparkles with Portuguese joie de vivre: “Come on in, everybody, get in, let’s go for a ride, today is such a great day! Go to the flea market! And take lots of pictures of the streetcar, come closer!” he shouts to the tourists who stand at every corner to take the typical Lisbon picture, proudly posing behind his streetcar wheel thing for each photo. Streetcar in narrow street, streetcar in front of Cathedral da Sé, streetcar coming around the corner, streetcar at Miradouro. No Lisbon without a streetcar photo. But these indestructible nostalgic railroads are also simply unique.
If you’re in Alfama on Tuesdays or Saturdays, be sure to stop by the Feira da Ladra, a flea market with some Lisbon kitsch souvenirs – but also some really nice junk.
Lx Factory in Lisbon: nostalgia for hipsters
The Lx Factory, an old factory site, is the counterpart to the historic Alfama – this is hipster Lisbon. And somehow a bit like all the other hipster places in the world. Hipster Cafe. Hipster restaurants. Hipster stores. Beards. Street Art. Worth seeing: the Ler Devagar bookstore. A bit out of the city center, but easy to reach by bus and train (a day pass for only 6€ or so is a good idea in Lisbon anyway, just for the spectacular streetcar rides through the old town).
However, I have to say: I wasn’t really impressed by the Lx Factory – maybe it was just because I was there at noon, in the evening it might be even more interesting. Or I’m just tired of the repetitive hipster stores of the world. Or: it just feels relatively little like Lisbon – or at least what I associate with Lisbon: this grandiose charm of a once pompous city, surrounded by sun and water and still full of history. Old factory or not – Lisbon can do much more.
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