The Narrow Streets of Alfama, Lisbon


Welcome to Alfama. The oldest district of Lisbon, but also one of the most culturally modern. A place that never sleeps, and where Fado music can be heard all through the night.

 

With a stronghold in Lisbon, Fado is a style of music that is unique to Portugal. The music is usually performed at restaurants where a guitar/mandolin player accompanies a singer in a melancholic melody. I experienced the music first hand at Bela Vinhos e Petiscos at Rua dos Remédios, a narrow uphill street in the heart of Alfama. Just moments after getting a short lesson in Pourtuguese from the owner of the restaurant, two men walked into the room. They dimmed the lights and started playing. While I didn’t understand any of the words that were sung, the expressed emotions were clear. And just like that, the locally caught squid lying in a tapas bowl infront of me seemed a bit less daunting.

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I took this picture on Rua dos Remédios. It exemplifies what I like most about Alfama and these parts of Lisbon. It is a place where tourists generally don’t go in droves, and while it can feel a little bit ironic to not want tourists when you kind of are one yourself, it is still nice to be able to experience the real and honest parts of the city you are visiting.

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I don’t know if you are the same as me, but somedays, I feel like a seasoned traveler, ready to take on the world, feeling that the journey is the point of a trip and that pain is a natural part of it. But some days, when your feet are aching and your legs have had enough, it is nice to know that the hilly streets of Lisbon has not only infrastructure to help you, but that said infrastructure is just as charming as the rest of the city! The classic tram 28 can take you around the most iconic places in Lisbon, and is in itself an attraction. Apart from that, there are also small, individualistically designed cabs that go up and down the streets all day.

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Photo: Artbeat Rooms

When I was there, I stayed at Artbeat Rooms, a hostel were every room has its own design, inspired by famous artists. The room in the picture above was inspired by Henri Matisse, a french painter and sculpter, but if Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol or Pablo Picasso is more up your alley, they have rooms dedicated to them as well. If you are going to Lisbon and want a central base for you traveling operations, I strongly recommend this hostel. It even helped me cure my fear of heights!

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As I kept on exploring the city, I found these small colorful highlights anywhere I went and the hilly nature of the city allows for great views as a reward for going up the streets. It is truly a beautiful city, and while poverty has taken a sad hold on Lisbon, the culture and spirit here is ever so rich.

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Henrik Vilén
Loves architecture, old landmarks and prefers to spend his time abroad in quaint, small towns or in the countryside. Is the happiest when sitting at a local café with the only sounds being a dog distantly barking in harmony with chatter in foreign languages. The next item on his bucket list is the Easter Island.