A Room with a View – Lisbon (Part 2)
Rua Augusta is the most touristic street of the city, that goes from Praça Dom Pedro IV to Praça do Comércio. The restaurants over there are of bad quality and pricy, therefore, it is recommended not to eat there. However, if you are starving there are some bakeries worth trying. The Rua Augusta is a good spot for shopping where you can find all the popular brands and souvenir shops that you would need. At the end of the street there is the Arch with its brand new elevator that can take you to the top floor where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city. To be fair there are a lot of miradouros (=sightseeing points) in town, each has its own charm and worth to get sweat climbing to the top.
Rua Augusta ends up in the beautiful Praça do Comércio: It is awesome when during the sunny summer days, the square looks like is the river’s continuation due to the zenith and the glimmering of the water.
Vila Berta is a residential street close to the Miradouro da Graça, it is a hidden patio and one of the best kept secrets of Lisbon. Its highest moment of splendor in June when the street is embellished by the decorations for the Festas de Lisboa and looks like a colorful patchwork of flowers and cheap decorations. Do not miss the parties organized in this street during the first part of June, when the neighbors get together in the street to grill sardines and chouriço (typical Portuguese sausage), drink wine and dance pimba’s songs. For your reference pimba music is a style of music that is played especially for these kind of parties, please enjoy an excellent example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GM4fi6bKHM
Rua Poço Dos Negros
If you know some Portuguese you will be surprised that a street with such name exists, the exact translation means exactly what you are thinking. In case you do not understand Portuguese, I will have to leave the translation on you, to be politically correct.
First of all, I would like to highlight that this is the view from the living room of the flat where I used to live. Best view ever: too bad that the house was falling into pieces (literally) and sadly I had to move out. To complete the awesome picture you need to imagine that the tram line passes in front of the house and its jolly trill used to wake me up together with the noise of the horns of the cars. It is indeed a habit that tram blocks the street because someone had parked badly his car. But again, isn’t it the most charming and typical place someone could live?
If you continue uphill towards Praça Camões, in the Calçada do Combro, you will find several nice cafés and restaurants like: Príncipe do Calhariz, Taberna Portuguesa, Flower Power Café. In Rua Poço dos Negros itself there are two local places I recommend visiting to feel as you are part of the neighborhood: Zapata and the Pasteleria/Leitaria Nita. Zapata is a cheap but really good restaurant with quite good selection of Portuguese typical food of good quantities and small prices; the bad attitude of the waiters is also part of the spirit of the place. You will need to win their smile by chatting over a jar of vinho verde saying how much you love the place and how good is the food. It takes some time but it is very rewarding. On the other hand the Pasteleria/Leitaria Nita is the right place to go if you need some comfort food and a smile: the owners are extremely nice and they have the best areias (areia means sand and well describes the texture of these typical biscuits) and torradas (toasted bread with melted salted butter on top) in town (many of my Portuguese friends can testify it is true).
Santa Catarina Church and the Miradouro de Santa Catarina/Adamastor are also two beautiful spots close by worth visiting.
Rua de O Século
Rua de O Século goes from Principe Real to Calçada do Combro, or, if you wish, the other way round. Rua de O Século, as the other streets of Lisbon, hides the most beautiful monument of the city: its houses.
The colorful tiles, the pale colors of their walls, the high windows, the orange/brown of their roofs, the windows of the attics, the splendid decadency of some old buildings, their stuccos and decorations.
I feel like Lisbon is a city of houses, not of monuments, a continuum of elegance and decadency, all with similar architectural elements, but different one to the other .