Ave Liberdade is like walking down Kalakaua in Honolulu. All the high end shops, expensive hotels, expensive condos and apartments….set with old time (hundreds year old) cobblestone streets that will take one down in a flash.
I began to quit looking at sights and just watched where I was walking. It is a fast way to fall here. There are ripples in the sidewalks and streets, above and beyond walking on cobblestones. The ripples are not just eddies. They are angled in several directions at every dip and curve of the sidewalk. It is constant – never a foot of sidewalk without an opportunity to stumble or fall. I am not being critical – I am factual. I began to feel all the muscles in my feet and thighs cramp from being tense as I walked to allow for the eddies. We walked about 3 to 3 1/2 miles. I was on constant guard of the unevenness of the area. That distance took most of the afternoon since I had to stop if I wanted to look around.
The one thing I saw very little of is women in stilettos, platform shoes or heels of any kind walking in the streets. Everyone had on sensible flats, or walking shoes of one sort or the others. Men, with their larger soles, tended to fare better than the women. Young people stumbled just as often as the older ones. The crowds in the square were numerous. It was not crowded, per se. It is a large square of many streets and alleys and can hold a lot of through-put of people.
We met a nice young man selling rides in his tuk-tuk. He was the best of what we ran into because he gave us the spiel and showed us where he would take us (our choice of 4 locales in Lisbon) for 50 Euros per hour. If we wanted more hours, the price per hour got cheaper. I am not sure we will use him, but we have his phone number and can WhatsApp him.
If Seattle thinks it is “Foodie-Central”, it has another think coming. I could not believe the number of restaurants with seating in the alley/square. They had people on the outside hustling patrons (it reminded me of South Beach in the evening). Everyone promises nirvana with their food. They were probably right as I have not had a bad meal yet!
There are many sights to behold with statues and arches and men on horseback.
But one of the ones that most affected me is shown here. It honors the men who cut the cobblestones and laid them. I am walking on those dang uneven stones (time has a way of sinking some and leaving others untouched!), but these people who are honored cut the stones and laid them so many years ago. Now I am stepping on them (trying not to break an arm or fall on my face!!!). The plaque says “Tribute from the City of Lisbon to the pavers who built the ground we tread”.
It is sobering — the amount of history I am traversing through. It leaves me humbled. There is blood, sweat and tears as well as people’s lives spent in the service of their beloved city. We are here today because of them. It is sobering and humbling.
I am beginning to develop a strong affection for this city and its people. We have been taken in and cared for by folks who are just working and earning a living, while treating us as honored guests. I can begin with the people we have met in our neighborhood to the people we cross in the square. People have been welcoming and open – talking with us about life here in the city and in the country. They clearly all are happy to be living here and happy to share. There does not seem to be angst in people, although we have not been here long enough to hear about the kinds of things I read each day in my newsletters from home. I am wondering if somewhere in the city there might be SWAT teams, shootings and such, but I have not yet been exposed to them. Nor are they in the news that we read.
I will say there are some beggars and folks who play an instrument in the open square to earn their coins. But that is everywhere. The beggars are not aggressive nor are they obnoxious. They are also just trying to earn a living as best they can. So far I have only encountered them in the square, not in our neighborhood only a couple of miles away.
Previous to coming here, all I read was how sweet, open and loving the people are here. Maybe the many people on the forums I have been reading are onto something. I hope it does not get tainted in the future.