For travelers seeking romance Lisbon is somewhat lacking in charm, communicating a confused identity and supplying food, wine and entertainment of an insubstantial quality. With all it�s eccentricities it does perhaps present itself as an alternative destination for the more adventurous couple.
With the growth of budget airlines travelers today now have a range of options to consider when organising that annually anticipated romantic mini-break. D.H. Lawrence considered romance “Usually, a nice little tale where you have everything As You Like It, where rain never wets your jacket and gnats never bite your nose and it’s always daisy-time.”
Not wanting to be starved of cultural stimulus; or coerced into visiting every architectural curiosity, a short break should perhaps encompass many of these idealistic elements that encourage visitors to Venice or Paris. But can this be applied to Lisbon as a comparatively unconventional destination for this type of vacation?
Lisbon is a vast open city which can take days to cross, using often complicated transport systems and an underground rail system of stations great distances apart. The laborious process of getting from A to B does nothing to assist with the alleviation of holiday stress between couples. Certainly the online Rough Guide to Lisbon would agree, as it recommends taking a few days ‘to do Lisbon justice’.
The juxtaposition of old and new is not only apparent in its constantly changing landscape and bleak stretches of old docklands. Lisbon is also characterised in its determination to put the message across to visitors of its museums and tourist attractions that it cares about its own heritage, whilst demonstrating round every corner that it has little regard for the conservation of its fine old decaying buildings, beautiful crumbling tiled walls and festering cobbled streets.
... completely burned out. Immediately after the earthquake, many inhabitants of Lisbon looked for safety on the sea by boarding ships moored ... devastating fire following the earthquake destroyed a large part of Lisbon, and a very strong tsunami caused heavy destruction along the ... The worst damage occurred in the south-west of Portugal. Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, was the largest and the most important ...
The commercialised Bairro Alto and more traditional Alfama districts of the city are idyllic in parts and serve as a reminder of the true benefits of visiting Lisbon with its warm charm and interesting history, both architecturally and culturally. Notwithstanding, the higher prices and seedy tourist touts soon outweigh any romantic quality to be found here.
Lisbon, sadly like so many other evolving European cities is under the impression that new equates with superior. What should be attractive romantic mood inducing medieval streets, quaint restaurants and harbour side retreats are more akin to places you would not care to visit after dark.
Tourist driven catering hostels with English menus as their priority boast overrated and over priced restaurants on the basis of offering Fado nights, a traditional Portuguese form of melancholy singing. The AA Guide to Lisbon advises “Try to steer clear of places that have uniformed staff on the door and where photographers hustle to sell you pictures of you taken at your table”. Indeed any romance that could be found in this source of musical entertainment is marred by the relentless commercialism of it across the city.
City with a difference
Lisbon is arguably not for lovers. It is rather a city for those tired of comforting quaint cobbled streets, languid accordion players on corners and traditional covered market places. On the contrary it is perhaps a destination for those specifically seeking something different and quite untypical, unromantic old Europe. There are gnats in the summer and it does sometimes rain, the kind that soaks in. But as somewhat cynical as D.H. Lawrence might have been about romance; it should somehow provide that comforting ‘daisy-time’ escapism that is so yearned for in this age of emotional desolation. If it didn’t it would perhaps be a much blander world.
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