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"East best, home West"
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Of all the places and cities in the world, Lisbon is the one where I seem to have left a piece of myself. One that makes me return over and over, to the same places, trying in vain to be part of a past that only returns in haunting memories.
When I first visited, Lisbon was a stranger, a misunderstood place that few people visited. There was no internet available, or low cost airlines, and the only way seemed forward, to progress and prosperity. Misery was apparent on the streets, especially around the Praça do Comercio, the main pedestrian (nowadays) artery to the river. Nowadays, the beggars have disappeared, only to be replaced by more numerous homeless people…
Portugal has had its ups and downs, and although this may be a very superficial way to see things, it seems to have mostly overcome the crisis that only a few years ago put it in the infamous PIIGS group of countries (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain). People basically flock nowadays to Lisbon that has become a victim of its own attraction, to the point that it has become complicated to enjoy the decrepit beauty of the love-or-hate city among the crowds. The trams are packed, tuk-tuks are everywhere (as of 2018 they will all be electric though) and although housing prices have soared, the everyday cost of living remains at a surprisingly low level, starting from your perfect morning espresso at around 60 cents of a euro (except in tourist traps as the famous A Brasileira). Middle income pensioners from around Europe come to live in Lisbon, inflating real estate prices to a frustrating level for locals. Gentrification is omnipresent, especially in places once poor but nowadays becoming more expensive by the day as the Mouraria(the quarter below the Castelo do S. Jorge).
In Lisbon you need to walk to get the feel of the city, always keeping in mind that the city is built on 7 hills and your walks involve necessarily some climbing. Try and commute by tram early in the morning, or late at night (beware of pickpockets, a chronic problem of the preferred tram lines, namely the 28 from Prazeres (the famous cemetery) to Graça). There is a huge number of restaurants and coffee shops. It would be impossible to suggest even a few. In newly created places like the Ribeira market  (renamed The timeout market nowadays, at Cais do Sodré) you will find around 40 restaurants that will satisfy even the most difficult customers, or The Docks (as Docas), right below the 25th of April bridge (date of the Portuguese revolution against Salazar). An excellent, albeit slightly off-centre choice of a hotel nearby  is As janelas verdes, "The Green windows", that looked promising even during my early years as a visitor and has become a boutique hotel. While being there, I always get "saudades" (nolstalgic) of the famous, nowadays closed Alcantara mar (bar/restaurant/disco/you name it…) Without exaggeration, no other multipurpose space I have visited anywhere else in the world even came close to this former customs building, designed by the Portuguese architect Pinto.
Ascensores and Elevadores (my favorite: Elevador da Bica) have become insanely expensive to use, but you need to take them at least once; it is a life experience! As for the rest of your commuting, take the No 28 tram all the way from Estrelha to Graça and start your walk downhills (you will thank me afterwards…), through Alfama, the (once free, but today over expensive, around 8€pp) Castelo do Sao Jorge, and have a meal in one of the out-of-time small restaurants, starting by default with a selection of small cheeses (my favorite, A Tasquinha, shut down recently). If you have time, cross the river to Cacilhas and walk along the quay (during daytime!) towards Almada to my favourite restaurant, Atira-te ao rio,  knowing that on a warm summer late-afternoon there is no other more romantic (and probably secret) place to be in Lisbon, facing the sun setting under the bridge and illuminated Lisbon. A Brazilian caipirinha (the restaurant is Brazilian) can put you in an oneiric mood, but beware, no swimming in the river! For your hangover after your turbulent night out, use the Pastelaria do Belem, in Belem, facing the Monument of the discoveries. Don't be put off by the huge queue, walk in and sit (the people are queuing to buy without consuming on the spot), there are 4 different halls to have a coffee, a meal or, mainly, taste the famous pastéis do Belem, knowing that while every other similar pastry in Portugal will be called "Pasteis de nata" (crusty round pastry with cream on top: my own translation), these are the only ones that can be called Pastéis de Belem. A sort of AOC, for pastéis!
 Last but not least, spot your Miradouros on your map and visit them all, a sometimes tiring feat, but one well worth your sweat! They all are prefect for sunset time, although only the Miradouro da Graça has a small café to sit and enjoy a drink.


(The background music is from Moby, called Almost home. It fits exactly how I feel about Lisbon I think...)