These Portuguese Streets - A Photojournal
Lisbon. Two days. There was only one way I was really going to do it. Ditch the maps, ditch any preconceptions and just walk. It's my number one priority when arriving in a new city. To walk for hours, not putting any pressure on myself to see this museum or that attraction, but to just let the moment arrive as it will. It means I can slow down, be more curious with my camera and ultimately try and get a more wholesome sense of my new environment. So one January morning, just passed, I set off from my mosaic tiled apartment in Bairro Alto with a vague knowledge of the city's layout and a thirst to see what the streets would throw up. Here I detail what I saw that day, fuelled on nothing but short coffees and a few of Portugal's famous pastéis de nata (custard tarts) - highly recommended!
The views - I'd heard that Lisbon was hilly. But such an adjective is quite the understatement once you're stood at the top of one of these hills with a view to the ocean at the end. The last time I'd seen streets this steep were in San Francisco, but what differentiated these ones in Lisbon from those in Northern California were how utterly narrow and jam packed together they were. It led to bottom jaw-to-the-ground views of Portuguese architecture stretching out for miles in its various textures and layers. Living in a completely flat city, the hills really left their mark on me and forever left me standing at their tops for just a few minutes longer, for just one more picture.
The trams - Again, I'm without trams in my home city so I love visiting cities that have them. Introduced in 1873, the tram network in Lisbon weaves its way through the streets adding a real sense of tradition and a hark back to days of old. Hearing the trams creaking by and watching their gentle unintimidating pace gave the impression that I'd stepped into a portal to the 1930s. And what's more, due to the close quarters of the trams through residential neighbourhoods, one can get very close to them. So it provided the chance to get a really good look into these trams and to see the faces of those on them. With my camera in hand, it allowed me to try some different shots as I was able to get more lens up and inside the trams for a different perspective.
The people - One thing I love about cities in Southern Continental Europe is just that slower pace of life they all seem to show off. Though very close to the centre of town, the district of Bairro Alto felt very residential and it did not feel at all like I was in the midst of a bustling capital city. The streets tended to be very narrow and tightly packed, so it often felt like I was intruding when passing people's front doors. But this also meant that locals were everywhere; sitting outside their houses swigging on coffee, hanging washing outside of windows or just standing in the middle of a street to take a breather whilst they contemplated the rest of the steep incline to climb. The neighbourhood allowed me to get up more close and personal with these people in their own comfortable surroundings where they were at ease - so often difficult in many cities. And more than that, everyone had something to show - there was a distinct expressiveness to peoples' mannerisms and postures which got me so curious about the people I saw along the way. It was as if they were all actors playing a part in a movie yet to be premiered or even to be filmed but one that was playing out in my head as I walked Lisbon's cinematic streets that morning.