The Real Lisbon Which You Should Add to Your Bucket List

It's not uncommon to stumble upon a town or a city in North America that bears the name of a famous town or a city from somewhere else,...

It's not uncommon to stumble upon a town or a city in North America that bears the name of a famous town or a city from somewhere else, mostly from Europe. And it always amazes me how different a real place and its North American namesake can be. I was driving through the northern part of New York state the other day, and in 20 minutes I saw three European capitals - Lisbon, Madrid, and Stockholm. If you try hard enough, you can find some similarities between that area and Scandinavia - rushing rivers, blue lakes, pine trees, and old rocks, but nothing resembled Portugal or Spain. Keep in mind: those places were named by early immigrants who probably never came back. Lucky us, we can now shoot pictures and videos, make phone calls and send instant messages, but those immigrants had nothing like that and must have been feeling really homesick if they gave names of their native towns and cities just to any place. So Lisbon, New York reminded me that I haven't yet shared my pictures and stories from the real Lisbon which I visited last year.

Lisbon is not for everyone. It definitely requires that you do some homework before you come. If you learn about Lisbon on the spot, you'll likely miss many small details that would impact your first impression. I was lucky as my friends actually live in Lisbon and they showed me around.
Lisbon's architecture is amazing. It's a mix of styles, colours, cultures, and epochs. 
One of the best-known tourist attractions in Lisbon is the Elevador de Santa Justa or just the Lift. Designed by Raul Mesnier de Ponsard, a student of the famous Gustave Eiffel, it actually solved a very real and nasty problem - how to get up the Carmo hill. 
Lisbon's air is hot and dry for a big chunk of the year. Its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean does not make the air humid.
The heat makes it very exhausting to stroll the city during the daytime. Little canopy shade and hilly landscape require lots of motivation and physical strength. 
Except for Alfama, the oldest neighbourhood in Lisbon, the entire city was destroyed by earthquake, tsunami and fire in 1775. Seismologists estimated that the magnitude would have been between 8.5 and 9. That was a hell of an earthquake.
As a result, a city centre was rebuilt using a new grid system which was then borrowed by many other cities in the world, but most notably the United States.
I so much enjoyed Portuguese cobblestone streets that look like a mosaic.
Like many other visitors, I noticed that some buildings in Lisbon are very neglected and rundown.
The reason for that is that the Portuguese government has had a long-standing rent control since the early 1900s which would basically freeze the cost of renting indefinitely. People who have been renting for 40-50 years would still be paying the rate from the 1960s or 1970s which is peanuts compared to the cost of living today. As a result, many landlords stopped caring about their property as it didn't make any sense economically. I think the law had to change following an anti-crisis bailout Portugal received in 2011-2014, but decades of neglect are still seen across the city.
Compared to other European cities, Lisbon is relatively cheap when it comes to food and services. Public transport, namely trams, is the best way to navigate the city, especially its many hills. Can't say about shopping or nightlife, but I know that most visitors to Lisbon also opt for day trips to Sintra, Cascais and Belem which can be easily reached by train. Enjoy!

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