“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.”
— Clifton Fadiman
Lisbon is growing in popularity. Web Summit is two weeks away and Lonely Planet just listed the city in their Best In Travel 2017 list.
Lisbon and I have had a rather bumpy relationship but these days we’re more like two old gals reminiscing about how things change. She is part of my fondest memories. She’s seen me fall. Literally. I have the propensity to trip on stone stairs and slip on oily tram rails. Lisbon has plenty of both, just as many as my clumsy stories.
When I write about this city (or any other place, for that matter), I have a duty to both my readers and the locals. With more or less embellishment, the message has to be, above all, true. I don’t care for raving about a picture-perfect image. A city is not a museum. Paying a ticket to get here, does not give anyone the right to treat a place (and its people) like crap.
This could be one more of those sarcastic blog posts I’ve seen hovering around the blogosphere. This is, with all my heart, a call for you, dear visitor (regardless if you call yourself traveler or tourist or blogger or all of these) to please, don’t do this in Lisbon.
Social Media Influencing Your Way Through the City with False Information
I love a well-written post about my adoptive city, Lisbon. I love to see her portrayed in a different light and I love when the writer falls in love with the same things that I do for the same reasons.
My pet peeve? Social media influencers with a significant following, sharing their findings (some with awesome photos and well-thought blog posts), who claim to have found hidden gems of the authentic Lisbon when they haven’t left Baixa or Chiado. If you’re roaming around where thousands of people have roamed before, you’re not finding anything new or hidden (or a gem). Be humble.
Also, get the spelling of Bairro Alto right, please.
Treating Trams and Funiculars Like Tour Rides
I know those yellow-mustard old trams and the three funiculars of Lavra, Bica, and Glória are part of what makes Lisbon be Lisbon. I love them too. But here’s something that I’m not sure your travel guide book tells you: they’re public transports.
There’s a public transport etiquette like queuing and giving your seat to the sick and old that simply isn’t followed by tourists. Well, we could argue that Carris could increase the number of vehicles available. But, until then, can you please give priority to people who have to use it every day?
You Won’t Feel Less Authentic if You Don’t Buy Your Tiles from Feira da Ladra
I remember the first time I visited Feira da Ladra. I wasn’t really looking to buy something, I just wanted to do some people watching, photographing, maybe come up with a new character or two. I know that you can get caught in the moment and feel tempted to buy one of those really old tiles. But those tiles are often chipped off historical buildings, illegally, in Lisbon, and the more people want to buy, the more they will sell them.
If you can’t see yourself leaving Lisbon without buying a tile, go to Fábrica Sant’Anna instead. Get some hand painted tiles and a guided tour. Make your visit to Lisbon count not just in numbers.
What Makes You Think That Those Shops in Baixa Sell Authentic Souvenirs?
No, I really mean to ask this. I don’t know the appeal of it or if people gravitate towards those stores because they’re short on time or if they just don’t care what kind of cheap souvenir they bring home.
These shops are a ripoff! I can’t think of a nicer way to say this, because there isn’t one.
Don’t Complain About the City Being Under Construction
Cities grow, like people. One year ago everyone was complaining about how half the city seemed to be boarded up and crumbling. When I read this in some blog posts, how overrated Lisbon was, it really hurt. How dare you spend less than a week here and judge the book by the cover?
Here’s a note to the people who think cities should be kept pristine clean just to make their visit more comfortable: come back in 2017 when all the improvements are done. Cais do Sodré and Saldanha are two of the areas I most look forward to seeing (and showing you).
Sure, Campo das Cebolas looks pretty chaotic and abandoned right now. Do you know why they are taking so long? No, it’s not because the Portuguese are lazy (I stopped counting how many times I heard this gem). They found important archeological remains from the 15th and 16th centuries, therefore all construction has to be done at a different pace with archeologists at the spot making sure all findings are preserved.