Portait of Europe, Lisbon
PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL : LISBON, PORTUGAL
From Micael Nussbaumer in Lisbon, Portugal. Micael is a professional photographer who loves to travel. Born in Sweden and raised in Portugal, he has just embarked upon a European tour and he’s taking us along. First stop: Lisbon.
I have always liked Lisbon. It’s a very friendly and warm city most of the time, even when it rains. I arrived by bus, crossing the 25th April Bridge (a tribute to the Carnation Revolution back in 1974, which overthrew the Estado Novo, a one party, fascist and nationalistic matrix type of government) into a cloudy and gloomy scene. It was early, about 10am, and you could see the mist coming out of the River Tagus.
Sta. Apolónia train and subway station portrait of Pedro Fragoso
I arrived at the bustling station of 7 Rios (also known as Jardim Zoológico) and transferred to a subway bound for Sta. Apolónia, where I met up with Pedro Fragoso, a long time friend, who’s an artist with a studio on the riverfront. We had a coffee and headed out to Feira da Ladra, which translates loosely as the Thief Market (a feminine thief; Ladra is feminine while Ladrão is masculine). This is an iconic street market in Lisbon, near Sta. Apolónia. The streets can be crowded with people selling all kinds of things, new and old. You can find many foreigners of different nationalities and languages and interesting people walking from street shop to street shop. I spotted a pair of sunglasses and a new wallet to replace my beautiful, but already worn, little wallet. The seller was very warm and when I told him I had to calculate well what to spend because I was embarking on a trip through Europe he told me, “Well, just take the glasses and don’t worry, when you come back you can pay for it.” He meant it. (I bought the wallet and the sunglasses.)items for sale at Feira da Ladra (street market St. Apolónia Station.)
Pedro and I ate a typical meal of cheese and bread and beer and then off I went to meet up with another friend, João Sousa. João is studying architecture and he took me on an architectural walking tour of some relevant, and less touristic, parts of Lisbon.
portrait of João Sousa
João and I discussed samples of architecture and city planning that he thinks are interesting.
One of my favorites is a small neighborhood designed by Ruy D’Athouguia, that, although it dates back to 1930, feels quite contemporary. It was conceived to be more than a collection of residences, well designed with connecting green spaces and comfortable resting areas. One passes contiguously through these outdoor spaces to reach one apartment complex or another. João and I discussed how this mimics the idea of a circulatory system.
We visited one of the most beautiful, interesting and important places in Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Calouste Gulbenkian is an architectural complex encompassing the arts and humanity organization’s headquarters, gardens and a museum. This was the vision of several prominent architects including Ruy d’Athouguia, Alberto Pessoa, Pedro Cid, Gonçalo Ribeiro Teles and António Viana Barreto. Although it’s in the middle of the city, it feels “set apart”. I may say, without being wrong, that it has a very special aura. You feel it when you walk through the gardens; it’s fresh, beautiful. Even the garage of the headquarters is beautiful. The buildings are aging but the passage of time has somehow manages to give them an increasingly organic look. What a pleasure to spend some time here.
entrance to Calouste Gulbenkian’s Foundation view From Eduardo VII Park and Marques do Pombal Square
The next day I made my way to the neighborhood of Belém to meet up with some friends who I have known all my life. João (I have two friends named João) is a musician, Carolina is an actress and Carlos is a biochemistry student.
We explored the neighborhood and caught up with each other as we walked. We also talked about Portugal. I really enjoy the narratives that can be built through Portuguese story. I mean, it’s quite amazing what the Portuguese did back during the “time of the discoveries.” These discoveries connected the world for the first time! We were first, along with the Spanish… but I don’t think we took full advantage of it. The English have done it better; I think I can say so. Nonetheless, the exploring nature of the Portuguese people amazes me, as well as its tolerance of foreign cultures (not that they didn’t commit errors). For instance, Portugal was one of the few countries who didn’t burn Templars; the King protected them by changing their name to “Order of Christ” and settling them in Tomar (where I took my degree in Photography). Portugal was the first country to abolish the death penalty and Portugal abolished slavery earlier than many countries, even though we maintained interest in keeping the status quo (we had colonies throughout Africa). The Portuguese people easily assimilate different cultures, including religions and ways of life and I think it’s amazing! On the other hand, as with all countries, there’s also a lot of stupidity, racism and so on, but instead of using stupid narratives we could build on our many good historical narratives, giving a sense of empowerment to our people.a couple enjoying the sunny afternoon in Torel’s Garden Nadir Afonso’s paintings hang on the wall at Restauradores Metro Station
After a rest along the water’s edge near the Monument to Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) we went for dinner and then met up with some other friends, including a musician named Bernardo. We hung out while Bernardo and João played music. At around 2am I called it a night; it was time to get some rest. I had to catch an early morning flight to Madrid.
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