Occupying five separate sites spread across the city, the Museu de Lisboa is not the kind of museum where you’ll be able to see everything within a day. And you wouldn’t want to, if our experience at the museum’s primary collection in the Palácio Pimenta was any indication.
Largely unknown outside Portugal, the musical style of fado is a big deal in Lisbon, where it was born in the early 19th century. On a chilly Sunday night, we were introduced to the mournful music at the TascaBeat do Rosário, a tiny joint tucked away in one of Alfama’s many hidden corners.
The Ascensor da Bica is both the newest and the most popular of Lisbon’s three remaining funiculars. It connects the party zone of the Pink Street to the party zone of Bairro Alto, along the party street of Bica… the operative word seems to be “party”. Friday night seemed like a good time to take a ride.
Lisbon is known as a melancholy city, and this is especially true in winter. It rains all the time, apartments are cold and damp, the tram never works, and that wind! But Lisboans have figured out the best way to combat depression: by getting good and drunk.
The Teatro Nacional São Carlos has been staging operas, ballets and concerts since it was built in 1793. It’s survived the centuries in remarkable shape, managing to evade the disasters which ravaged the rest of the city, and looks almost the same as it did on opening day.
One of the most distinctive bars we’ve seen in all our years of travel is Lisbon’s Pavilhão Chinês, or Chinese Pavilion. With its billiards tables and plush old sofas, along with the hundreds of antique toys encased in the walls, this instantly became one of our favorite places in the city. We visited it, as well as a couple other bars owned by the same proprietor.
Considering the extent to which it rules our lives, how much do any of us really understand the concept of “money”? We spend the majority of our time in pursuit of it, and it can inspire us to deeds both brilliant and contemptible… but what is it? We’re not exactly bartering arrowheads for pelts, anymore. To help us get a better grasp on an increasingly abstract concept, we visited the Bank of Portugal’s fantastic Museu do Dinheiro, or Money Museum.
During our first month in Lisbon, we lived in Mouraria. The ascent to our apartment required the lungs of a deep sea diver and the legs of a cyborg, and although the trek always destroyed us, we had to concede that it could be worse. High above us, the residents of another neighborhood sneered at our exhaustion. While gasping for oxygen, we’d shake our fists at them. “Maybe not yet, Graça! But we’ll be ready for you soon!”