Lisbon is often celebrated for being a hip place where the old fusions with the new. I have a deep love for the old Lisbon. The quaintness of the Alfama district where Popeye like sailors have retired to a life on land. Last time I was in Lisbon I met up with some of these characters in the seediest of bars, exactly where guide books advice you not to go.
These old sailors were quite fascinating. They had been all over the place and had dedicated their lives to working and drinking hard. This was their regular hang out. A hole in the wall bar where they kept the stories from the oceans alive over a game of dominoes. A TV was blearing out news and gossip from a corner. I wanted to talk, they wanted to strip off to show me their mad past. After seeing this, I realized that for once words were indeed surplus… a picture like this says so much more than a thousand words!
FYI – Alfama is the only district that wasn’t totally destroyed in the massive 1755 earthquake which nearly demolished the whole city. Consequently it’s one of Lisbon’s oldest districts, and a place where one can really feel the city’s heritage.