The smell of a city – Lisbon

With Karolina by the Belem Tower
With Karolina by the Belem Tower

For a long time I was not able to notice a lot of aspects of places, which I was visiting. And of course I am still learning it – sometimes I observe people in the moving crowds, sometimes I lift  my head up to admire  the façades of the tenements appartment buildings, but since I spent a short time in Lisbon, I always pay attention to something that is also specific, because I gained a new sense – the sense of smell.

I visited a capital of Portugal with a folk dance group, when we were coming back from a festival on charming Azores islands – it was in August 2012. (About Azores in separated text). Unfortunately, back then I didn’t make any notes about my travels so nowadays I remember only part of the experience. So what I have learned from it is: it’s good to write notes, at least keywords and names of visited places. Anyways, I am inviting you to feel the smells of Lisbon with me.

I definitely want to visit this city again – a wonderful atmosphere, a strong sunlight that never disturbs me during long walks around the city. The architecture of the city, and actually its localization is amazing, thanks to the numerous hills, it’s possible to see the city from many various perspectives, especially from this perspective, when it seems that the roofs are overlapping each other.

We saw the main tourist attractions, but unfortunately, the majority of it only from the outside. The main day of our stay was Monday, which is, as it is known, an international free day of work for museums and historical objects. But from the outside the buildings and the monuments in Lisbon still look imposing!

Not far from the Jerónimos Monastery you can find an amazing historical place, which impressed me the most. Torre de Belém or the Belem Tower, which is a of The Great Geographical Discoveries. It stands in waves of the Atlantic ocean and proudly shows us that among other things in this place the biggest adventure of humanity has begun – the exploration new continents! From this place Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco da Gama or Bartolomeo Diaz have departed in beautiful caravels! So it’s not surprising that this important place is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It was truly amazing experience to be in front of this monument. Several dozen meters further stands a huge Monument of the Discoveries, where you can find statues of all these important travelers.

I spent a fun time in the oceanarium. Afterwards I went to the famous funicular above the coast from where I had an amazing view over the city. Later I was admiring banana palm trees and different exotic plants in a park along the coast, flora is breathtaking. The climate in Lisbon is very southern.

Above the coast you can see two towers of hotels, which are meant to be reminded of a shape of caravels. What do you think about its shape?

Purposely for the ending I left a few sentences about a very important square in Lisbon – Praça do Comércio (The Trade Square). By the estuary of the river Tagus spreads a huge, beautiful square with a monument in the middle and from the back side it is closed with a triumphal arch “Arco de Rua Augusta”. This square gives me a feeling of a boundless space, and what’s the best about, its edge goes into the water and finishes in the sea. It seems to have no end. There are two columns in the water, which are called “The gate of the sea”. I couldn’t confirm it in any source, but I remember that from the sightseeing tour.

"Brama morza"
“The gate of the sea” – with Paula and Maciek

And finally… the scent! Till this moment of the trip I didn’t smell – feel anything unusual. (You know, it’s hard to me to chose only one word – smell or feel – because in Polish we have one word for both states – it’s natural to me that smelling is connected to feeling). Maybe just unpleasant smell in the Oceanarium or the smell of humans “physiology” in narrow streets. But now it was something special – the evening slowly came and as usual with the sun going down the night life starts. We were already walking a bit slower, listening closely to the large groups of street musicians on the streets. We crossed the triumphal arch, which I mentioned above, and we were going towards the Rua Augusta, which is main promenade. We passed a lot of people, musicians, also homeless. On the both sides of this pedestrian area were beautiful tenement houses and glistening, almost“polished” by  millions of shoes, cobbled pavement. Cobblestones were reflecting the yellow light of the street lamps. In this moment I smelled the real the city – tired, but still full of energy. Smell that is ready for challenges of the night life – long walks, hours spent in small restaurants and talks in the tourist crowd. This smell was neither nice, nor unpleasant – there were too many particles in it to judge it – but I loved it. It was a smell of people and their excitement, of feelings mixed with some kind of sea breeze, which can be smelled only after dark. Because everything is different during this time. It looks and smells differently, air is not overheated by the sun, it starts to actually breath, take rest. It is the scent, which made me smell and feel through the places I was in and this is how I remember Lisbon. Why exactly this city and not any other? I don’t know. This is the charm of travelling, I would say!

Wszechobecne koguty
Rooster – it is a symbol of Portugal

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