The rhythm of Lisbon

When I got to Jardim da Estrela, where the OutJazz festival was supposed to take place, I was already dead tired.  It was one of those days that seems to be made especially to prove the relativity of time. One thing is for sure, that day had started very early, with a killer alarm clock at 4 in the morning, when I had to wake up to catch the plane leaving at 6 am from Brussels. Three hours later I was checking in at Travellers House in Lisbon (by the way, one of the best hostels I ever stayed in) and then hit the road: up and down the steep streets and stairways of the old quarter Alfama, as every little corner was so surprising and original that I couldn’t help myself going further and explore and photograph until I got completely lost and exhausted and hungry. Then, as it (almost) always happens to me on the first day in a new city, my instinct about a good and cheap place to eat fails me (lesson number one: don’t decide anything when you are hungry) and I end up eating an overpriced and – in the best case – nothing special meal. But on the second day it gets better, almost always.


Then I took the famous yellow tram to the other side of the city and I experienced the absolute must-do thing in Lisbon. Crammed together in a space a bit smaller than my small living room with about 50 people, sweating and holding on to whatever you can, while more people get on board and the tram totters up and down cobbled streets, making noises like it’s about to disintegrate and you just pray to be luckier than you were at lottery the whole last year in order to get a window seat, all this while trying to guess at which stop you’re supposed to get off. It’s a mess. And it’s wonderful!


So maybe it’s understandable why after all this, I almost fell asleep on a bench, in the cool shade of the trees in Jardim da Estrela. But then the music started and it was like energy was pumped through my veins instantly. I went in the search of the music and arrived in front of the summer pavilion where Cacique ’97 had just started playing, while more and more people gathered in front of the stage, moving to the afrobeat rhythms. After a while everybody was dancing in a frenzy (see photo). I mean, you couldn’t sit still on this music. Hot sun, hot rhythms, a crowd that was smiling and dancing and the good vibes and good mood spread around like a virus. I must confess that I had a hard time photographing because all I wanted to do was dance.. which I did in the end.

"Cacique97 live concert in Lisbon" The band Cacique ’97 performing live at the OutJazz 2011 festival in Lisbon.

And surprizingly enough, that was not the end of the day! The hostel was organizing each night an event for the guests, and that night was dedicated to fado. On the way to the small bodega in Alfama where the fado concert was, we stopped in a couple of bars to taste different porto wines and liquors and I got to chat with the other travellers, found my way around British, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand accents, tried my rusty French, Italian and Spanish (the wine helped 🙂 ) and long after midnight, when all my foreign languages failed me, I crashed in my bunk bed at the hostel and only then this first seemingly endless day from my 6 day trip to Lisbon was finally over.

More photos from Lisbon: here.

What is your rhythm of traveling?

This entry was posted in Black and white, People, Performing arts, Portugal, Travel story and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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