19 Nov – LISBON

19 NOV  Lisbon, Portugal

Having visited Lisbon for several days back in 2008 I was hoping to simply get back to the Alfama district – a hillside of narrow lanes and colorful walls with lacy iron balconies. What a wonderful arrival up the Tagus river with a foggy dawn rising,  city lights and the outline of Belem Tower.
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Under the “bee” bridge (the traffic overhead sounds like a swarm of bees) and watched as this huge floating highrise parallel parked right at the foot of the pier/roadway below the Alfama. I simply walked off and up the hill towards the Castelo.
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Anyone familiar with Lisboa knows the #28 cable car…full of tourists it winds its way upwards through the old town to the castle. I parked my stool in a little corner off the busy footpath and worked on this sketch. The best of the steep crooked tracks, bendy buildings and glimpse of the stone steeples through the narrow street.
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A well spent 40 minutes, and the young shopkeeper near my spot invited me in and had a great chat in English about the trams and the Tuk-Tuks (pronounced took-tooks) local artists & economy.

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A walk further up the hill to the Mirador (lookout) I had coffee with a couple of the local art vendors – Polish & Ukranian while listening to a Serbian guitar player. With very little English it was a fun conversation – I shared my sketches with them and was presented with a tiny print as a gift. The Queen Victoria loomed large against the nearby pier below us.

One hill further up and another view of the shop fronts and tram car stop. With several old Lisboa senoras hollering from windows, a son, grandson & new puppy to keep me company it was one of those memorable plein air locations.
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The chimney is from an old industrial bakery on the slope below. Spoke to a young illustrator stopping on her way to college. She showed me some fabulous work in her folio and on her phone.  She said that the economy was really improved in the last year for most folks.

Weary and hungry I worked my way down the back streets to a café for some mysterious soup and fabulous bread. The Tuk-tuks were doing a roaring trade getting the cruise passengers back down the hills to the ship. Colorful and efficient they are a great alternative to regular cars and certainly buses that could never negotiate the narrow alleys. I was glad of my sturdy boots on the cobble streets & stony curbs.

Near the port there was major roadworks and construction. Signs of prosperous development everywhere…and I found this to be the case in all locations along our journey. I worked on a last Alfama inspired sketch from the ship – looking back at the hillside.
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