1.) Compared to some of Europe’s other capital cities, Lisbon is small. But that’s a good thing because when you’re there, the city feels extremely intimate. (I don’t know if you could say the same about places like Madrid or London.) It was that intimacy that allowed me to fall in love with it. I didn’t feel overwhelmed. While we utilized public transportation a couple of times (when going to Belem and also when visiting the Tile Museum), we walked everywhere else, with distances being no more than 15-20 minutes on foot. Even while gazing down on Lisbon from atop the Castelo de Sao Jorge, the city didn’t appear like it went on for miles. It was expansive, yes, but not as expansive as when you gaze down on Paris from atop the Eiffel Tower.
2.) The hills. Yes, the hills. While there are numerous cities in the world that have the fabled distinction of being built on seven hills, Lisbon’s hills are pretty steep and incredibly intimidating. When gazing at them you mentally ask yourself, are your legs built for them? Much to D’s dismay, the two times we went to the Bairro Alto (upper neighborhood), I had us forgo taking the funicular and we walked it or more accurately, climbed from the Praça Restauradores area. On the day we visited the Castelo de Sao Jorge, we also walked and didn’t opt to take a tram. As that was the only day we spent time in the Alfama, I definitely wanted to enjoy it and take it all in. It was almost comical though, the closer you got to the castle, the more windy and hilly the streets became, some turns being akin to a switchback. Lisbon is a perfect example of why cities at one time were built on hills; they provided the perfect vantage point when watching out for invading armies.
3.) With the exception of our return trip to the airport, I didn’t see much “new” during our time in Lisbon and I was perfectly content with that. (Even the Starbucks nearest to us was housed in what appeared to be a turn of the last century building.) Wherever you walked, whether it was through the Barrio Alto, the Alfama, or Baixa, stunning buildings, some perhaps best described as being slightly past their prime, greeted you. While there was copious graffiti in most of the neighborhoods, it still didn’t detract from the allure of the buildings and the incredible history they must have been witness to over the past couple of centuries.