Leaving Lissabon creates saudade

So, here comes just a another Lisbon travel review. Life in Portugal isn’t necessarily easy today. Many people live under the impact of the vast economic crisis and unemployment is high. The nation even put a soundtrack to suffering – it’s called saudade. Many were the wives of sailors who spent months longing for their loved ones when they sailed away on the Atlantic sea. Their loneliness and heartache gave inspiration to a kind of music, which is now in the collection of Portugal’s folk songs. It seems like its programmed into their DNA to persist.



The British people might have invented the expression ”stiff upper lip” but the Portuguese are dancing with tears in their eyes. Lisbon offers such beauty that it is impossible not to be filled with joy. Life can be enjoyed here in the simplest of ways without spending any money. Just walking up and down the streets is an experience due to the beautiful architecture. The house facades are mainly decorated with colorful and patterned tile. Cheap and sweet pastry can be enjoyed in a place seemingly designed for royals. Nevertheless, its packed with ordinary people. Mothers with children, old men and young teenagers are enthusiastically involved in a conversation.

Street art is best enjoyed for free, but surprisingly the entrance to the art gallery Museu Berardo is also free. In the gallery it is possible to see original art from Miro, Picasso and Lichtenstein. I have payed entrance to less exciting exhibitions, which makes it incredibly impressive.

Many Portuguese seem to approach you in a unconvential way. There is no room for superficial small talk. They want to talk about Bergman. They want to talk about politics and the crisis in the Ukraine. They want to get agigated over a seemingly small matter, such as a the location of a tourist spot. In the day time they enjoy the slow pace of life but after midnight the city wakes up. In Barrio Alto, streets are packed with people drinking from plastic cups. I’ts like the annual street festival, only difference is this goes on all year. There are no night club queues, just the fast lane to fun and party. It’s impossible to get stranded, looking for the life of the party as there are so many pubs and bars. There are also several cool bars on the so-called Pink street.Close to the docks, it was originally a place for sailors and prostitutes.

One of the night clubs is blessed with a sound system that makes a Swedish club sound like a pre-school disco in comparison. Drinks are ordered at the bar with a special card and then paid when checking out. It could be like Russian roulette. Rumour has it a guy threw away his card and had to pay 60 euros. I would almost take it as far as that night could be worth that amount of cash.

In the daytime we switch from vampires to royalties. An hour outside Lisbon is a lovely castle, ranked on the World heritage list. After travelling quite a bit in my life, I have seen numerous ancient buildings. However, the castle in Sintra is perfect for a queen. It is situated high up in the mountains and offers colorful delight. The interior consists of authentic old furniture which makes it an interesting experience. After three days in Lisbon it is time to return back home. I haven’t bought anything in particular but a poster of colorful sardines which is the trademark of Lisbon.The city doesn’t offer good shopping opportunities.

As the sun rises the cab driver is taking us back to the airport. The car is filled with lavish music which wraps up the experience, even though it might sound a bit cliché. After only having two hours of sleep, anything seems like the movies. Ironically, there was a sensation that haunted me for weeks and weeks after returning back home. I felt the excitement of having experienced a wonderful vacation, but another feeling also stuck with me. A hunch that life could never be like this in Sweden. What I felt was bitter-sweetness. I would even say saudade-light.

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