воскресенье, 6 марта 2016 г.

The face of Lisbon (30.10-3.11.15)

Even though you can find many places of interest in the capital of Portugal, they are not what stayed in my memory as distinctive features of that city. If so, then what are they?

Lisbon is also known as the City of Seven Hills (yes, Rome is not a unique city to be called that way, see this link for reference). In contrast to many other cities having the same nickname, Portuguese capital makes your feet to feel that it deserves to be called so. It seems that literally every second street is inclined. Often what is called a street is just a paved slope. Sometimes streets turn into stairs (or streets with footsteps, whatever name you prefer). What is more, there is no single direction in which all (or, at least, most) of the streets ascend. First street leads you up, walking along the next one you go down, and 5 minutes later you don't even know for sure whether you are higher or lower than you initially were. An attempt to get to some specific place walking strictly upslope fails miserably - proved by the last evening walk. An ordinary stroll becomes a mocking adventure if you don't have the map with you and try to turn off the familiar streets. But don't be pessimistic about that, this city is a great place to exercise your feet ;)

Unusual landscape causes the emergence of the uncommon modes of transport like the funicular on the photo below.

As you see, vehicles here don't have an attractive appearance (the way how that funicular looks from the outside can be generalized to other modes of transport). Surprisingly, when you get on the train or the subway car, you find it clean and modern inside. Portuguese take care primarily of what matters the most, i.e. of your comfort during the trip but not of the visual appearance of a vehicle.

Along with ordinary trams going along the flat streets, ordinary buses providing an unforgettable experience of jumping on the seat for those who sit in the end of the cabin (that happens due to the city roads specifics described in the second paragraph. Buses, however, are great and would be considered as very comfortable in most of the cities around the world but not here), trains and funiculars, there are also ferries, and even cable cars which join Vasco da Gama tower and the oceanarium.

However, the most interesting type of transport here is... subway. What makes it extraordinary?

  • Have you ever had to run along the platform because the train hadn't enough cars to cover its length? In Russia it sometimes happens on railway stations. Now imagine a short underground train and subway passengers running along the platform. Congratulations, you have just imagined Lisbon metro :) They even provide indicator boards with the number of cars in the approaching train to help passengers not to run too much.
  • Each Lisbon metro station is beautiful in its own way. Among all subways which I've already seen, probably, only Kazan metro can be called as splendid as that colorful artwork laying under the seven hills of Lisbon.

But don't think that all of the Lisbon beauties are hidden underground! Walk down the street and take a look underfoot. These pavements are amazing, aren't they? Moreover, they are so different! I guess, several dozens of various patterns can be found on the pavements throughout the city.

Even floors of certain shops look like ornamented pavements. More precisely, those shops just don't have floors in a regular sense, pavements serve as floors there instead.  

Finally, look what wonderful creatures await you in front of the oceanarium!


Now scrutinize the walls of ordinary houses. Nearly half of them is decorated with azulejos, Portuguese painted glazed tiles. Wanna live inside an artwork?)

Admiring the pavements and the azulejos, try to reach one of the many miradouros (viewpoints) and to take a look at the riverside part of the city from above.

Try to locate the points of interest. We'll examine them (and much more) closely in the next posts.

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