Earlier this month, CNN published this article on their website called “Lisbon might be Europe’s coolest city; here are 7 reasons why“. As someone who spent almost two decades in the city, I can assure you Lisbon is far from being the coolest city in Europe. Want to know why? Here are my 5 reasons why Lisbon might not be the coolest in Europe after all:
picture via pixabay
1 – CNN mentions how you can party until dawn in Lisbon and even says “main action is in the Bairro Alto, where more than 250 appealing bars line a web of streets between graffiti-plastered walls“. What CNN failed to mention is that Bairro Alto, one of the most known areas of Lisbon, is basically deserted during the day and most of the houses are falling apart and/or not being kept. Don’t get me wrong, there are areas in BA that are being used – mostly by hipsters and artists who actually see the potential in it. Unfortunately, the streets looks disgusting and if you go for a stroll during the weekend, you are more than likely to step on vomit and/or broken bottles.
There is also a law stating the bars in Bairro Alto have to close their doors at 3AM (being allowed to keep customers inside, but not letting anyone else in). Why, you ask? Because even though you wouldn’t believe it by the looks of it, there’s still people actually residing in Bairro Alto. Mostly old ladies, who cannot sleep because of the noise the bar across them does. And if they happen to be lucky enough not to have a bar on the other side of the steet, they still can’t outrun the crowd of people that party on the streets. Yes, if you go to BA in the evening, you better be prepared to use your elbows, because it is going to be crowded.
Bairro Alto is an historic part of Lisbon and it is a shame it is the way it is (even though efforts are being made and things have gotten a bit better in the last few years). But before you go partying in the hottest part of Lisbon, remember there might be a sweet grandma trying to sleep across the street. Oh, and use the bins, they’re there for a reason!
picture via pixabay
2 – Another thing CNN mentioned was the “experimental cuisine” that can be found in the city, also stating that Lisbon was once very known for the bacalhau (dried cod fish), but “now claims a range of restaurants“. There are a lot of restaurants in Lisbon, good restaurants, not so good restaurants and restaurants where you most definitely will get food poisoning. But the “experimental cuisine” is something “lisboetas” (residents or people of Lisbon) cannot really afford – and most probably don’t even want to. From someone who lived most of her life in that city: if you really want to get to know Lisbon, don’t go spend your time (and money) in restaurants that don’t serve real Portuguese food. Oh, and the best place to get Pasteis de Nata is actually in Ericeira – no, seriously, there’s a contest every year and a small bakery there won it in 2017! Want to try traditional Portuguese food? Eat some bacalhau!
photo via pixabay
3 – Ah, the cobblestones…the beautiful cobblestones of Lisbon, with their array of designs and patterns! Try walking downtown with heels (or try just walking downtown). Cobblestones are beautiful – if kept – but the thing is that 99% of them have not been kept since they were put down and so they’re basically a hazard for your health and are to blame for various twisted ankles and ruined shoe soles. But hey, they’re pretty to look at!
5 – Lisbon is also full of “beaches and castles“, as CNN states. Whilst Lisbon does have one castle (Castelo de São Jorge), that oversees most of the old part of the city, it is not the “place to inhale salty Atlantic air, sunbathe and hit the waves“. Lisbon lies by the river Tejo (which most of you will know as Tagus) and while yes, sometimes dolphins do pay short visits, the Atlantic is a few kilometers away from Portugal’s capital. If you planned to lie on the beach or visit pretty castles, prepare yourself for 30min train rides – this is, of course, if the train drivers aren’t striking at the moment.
Praia da Rainha in Cascais – via pixabay