CHRISTINE CUNANAN takes to the slow life in Lisbon
I arrived in Lisbon on a sweltering day last June. But even the oppressive heat could not dissuade me from making the 30-minute uphill trek through narrow cobblestoned lanes to Barrio Alto, the bohemian part of the city, almost immediately after I'd checked into my hotel.
The last time I was in Portugal was over ten years ago. It's not too long ago and yet I felt like I was seeing everything for the first time. I marveled at the intricately patterned buildings that dotted every neighborhood -- most of them were crumbling shells of their former lives and yet they were irresistibly charming because of their graceful designs and colorful patterns.
Lisbon is a city forgotten by time and certainly left behind by the rest of the world. However just another bottle of wine with our grilled sardines at lunch would have probably encouraged me to walk into the nearest real estate agency and inquire about renting a flat with a view and preferably with a good fish restaurant on the same street for a summer.
Strangely enough for someone who lives the almost unimaginable life of days planned to the second, I liked the idea of getting on one of the city's slow trams to nowhere in particular and entering the kind of world where the highlight of the day is watching life pass by as you meander along the tracks.
The other attraction of Lisbon is its food, which is heavy on salt but delicious all the same. Uncharacteristically for me - I'm the type who visits Paris or New York with my lunches and dinners planned out on an Excel spreadsheet - I'd landed in Lisbon with no restaurant reservations, intending to just let my nose lead the way through a labrynth of neighborhoods full of heady aromas.