Now I am in Lisboa, the capital of this country...and I m loving it! Its like nowhere else I have ever been. One feels clearly in Europe at times but at other times one is not so sure where one is.
Three major things have affected the development of this city:
1. the earthquake of 1755 which destroyed much of the city and caused significant loss of lives
2. the politics which has seen the country shift from Monarchy to Republic to dictatorship to marxist state to democracy in one century
. The politics led to an isolation from the rest of Europe and a sense that much of the 20th century passed Portugal by
3. the hilly terrain ...just right to put parks on the top of rises, a castle on the hill overlooking the sea, a criss crossing of streets all linked by switchback-like tram routes, furniculars and roads.
As a result, the city has preserved many of its older buildings and spaces which would have been gutted in many capital cities elsewhere. Public Transport is good but the traffic and driving here is horrendous.... the stats say Portugal has the highest rate of motor vehicle deaths in Europe...one can see why...driving here requires nerves of steel as cars aim for the narrowest gaps possible and push through....all while smoking or chatting on the mobile (cell)! Smoking is everywhere here...in shops, restuarants..even saw two ambulance drivers having a puff...good health role model!
Speaking of which...I met a Welsh man and his mother here to celebrate her 80th Birthday which is today. I said I d have a drink for her and she said to have a glass of milk as she is a teetotaler! So cheers...I m actually toasting her with my yoghurt drink!
Cheeses, yoghurts and milks seem to be in abudnace along with an incredible range of cakes, tarts and breads...not forgetting the dried meats and fish in every form.
I rank every city I visit looking at factors such as asthetics, safety, the transit system, culture, liveability etc. Lisbon scored 85.5% which is the same score I gave London. Interestingly enough in their last survey the Economist ranked Lisbon and London equal 44th! My ranking places Lisboa at 26th place out of the 91 cities I have been lucky enough to visit or live. My top 5?
|Paris (95%) |
San Francisco (93%)
Wellington, New Zealand (92.8%)