Saturday, December 27, 2014

On the Streets of Lisbon:

Walking through the streets of Lisbon: A city that I had never before visited, and, honestly, had never had much inclination to, visit, that is. And if that wasn't an unfortunate stance to take toward the city, indeed. Mythic in my mind is the place from which Christopher Columbus sailed off to the 'New World', as it was then called; I came to the city with all types of expectations, while simultaneously expecting very little from it. Certainly, since I visited during December, when it was still warm, but also quite cold. Lisbon is a city on the sea, and its relationship with water is present everywhere; in fact, the waters of the Atlantic can bee seen from most of its streets, undulating as they do–up and down, and back up again. Tiny trams, or streetcars, roll up and down these same streets, narrowing at points so that not much other than it can pass. The city's citizens are so clearly proud of their past, and their future, though chauvinism is hardly to be found, and in its place its a welcoming and somewhat humble attitude. There is, somewhat surprisingly, a few fabulous seventeenth century Dutch paintings in the city, most notably by Rembrandt–for some–while for me, the presence of a portrait painted by Frans Hals, in the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, was certainly a highlight of the trip. Highly unexpectedly, pleasantly surprising, and somewhat mysterious in its offerings and existence, is the Quinta da Regaleira, situated in Sintra, east of Lisbon; its 'initiation well' reminded me of the eerily similar spiral-staircase-edge-laced well in the movie Pan's Labyrinth–never did I ever expect to be able to descend such a staircase in  my entire life, and now I have. Lisbon, and its surroundings, in winter, have much to offer the senses; and I can imagine that when the summer sun shines, the city offers still yet more.