I’ve got to be honest, Lisbon kind of shocked me. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting and at first as we wandered the city (albeit pretty tired from our early morning flight from Spain), but we were kind of taken aback. At first glance Lisbon seems to be falling apart at the seams, buildings that look like they are barely standing, graffiti everywhere, cobblestone streets and sidewalks that we were cursing with each step and hills beyond belief… oh those damn hills. Our first impression of the seaside city was that it was a bit like we expect Cuba to be…bright colored buildings falling apart in front of your eyes, complete with a totally retro vibe and palm trees abounding. But as we explored more, I realized how much we had sold the city short upon first impression.
Lisbon is an old city and yes, there are spots that are incredibly rough around the edges, like your older edgy cousin with too many tattoos and a little much time spent partying, with the age starting to show a little too early. But the city certainly holds it own and as you explore more, you realize that it wears the edginess as a vibe, as an identity. Yes, it’s tattered and torn, it’s old and withered, but its colors are still shining bright and its personality is youthful and vibrant.
We spent two days exploring the city and left with an entirely different perspective of if than when we arrived. As we wandered her streets, Nick and I kept saying how much the city was growing on us and it seemed with each streetcar that passed, we loved Lisbon more and more.
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It was actually quite similar for me in Barcelona as well. When I arrived tired from an overnight bus, it really quite disappointed me to be honest. But 5 days in, and I wasn’t ready to leave it behind. I think it’s also just arriving at a place that makes it feel this way.
Yea totally… how you feel when you arrive in a new place really makes a difference!
I absolutely love your description – that older, edgier personality that’s worn from a bit too much partying and hard living, but is still enduring with more experience and more life than your younger, shinier city. That was Barcelona for me – and even parts of Paris!
Interesting that you and Julia both felt that way about Barcelona! @exploresmore:disqus
Daisy @ Simplicity Relished says
I’ve heard this exact description of Lisbon before– and I’m so excited to read more from you!
Interesting! Good to know I wasn’t the only one!
Nicola Easterby says
I’ve been to Lisbon and thought the exact same thing! It certainly is an amazing place to explore. Here is my photo diary in case you are interested 🙂
So glad to hear you say that! It’s a lovely city, just took some warming up to!
Perhaps it was the sunny weather (a huge contrast from the Germany I had left) but I actually viewed Lisbon as being pretty sparkly and beautiful. Interesting the perspectives we each take from a place. 🙂
Interesting perspective! Perhaps since we were coming from sunny Spain already and it was so clean and well preserved, maybe that’s why the difference kind of shocked me.
I’ve been reading your Seville posts and I hated the place – thought it was dirty and hot and complicated. Lisbon I loved from the second I arrived. Its always interesting to read other people’s perspectives on places, part of what makes travel great.
Interesting! It’s so funny how we perceive places differently. That’s what makes every place totally unique because we all either like/don’t like it differently!
Jennifer @This Off Script Life says
I visited friends in Lisbon and really didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. I found its old apartments and tiled roofing to be more charming than gritty, but I have a thing for old buildings.
Yea that’s true… I think it was more of a shock coming from Spain where I found it to be pretty clean and well kept.
Nikki @The Pin the Map Project says
Great article! Love the honesty with which you describe Lisbon.
Thanks! I always strive to write my honest opinions of places!