I arrived in Lisbon after dark to my new home. A quaint central apartment, down a narrow alley, through maybe a 5′ tall blue door, and up 62 uneven and irregular stairs to my 4th-floor square box. It was perfectly imperfect. I loved every bit of it. We were on the top floor, which had a narrow terrace that ran along the outside of the unit with iron railings and French glass doors. Through the kitchen, was a small wooden table and two small chairs, where I could sit and drink my Nespresso and gaze upon the entire city, over the orange clay roof tops, the purple jasmine like trees, and out to the ocean. Every morning was a treat for my eyes and soul.
There are a few moments in life that you stop and think to yourself, I should enjoy this moment, take a mental picture, remember everything. This month, was exactly that. Lisbon will forever be etched into my brain with all its beauty, quarks, and luster.
I could go on and on about this beautiful city but I will stick to 3 of the highlights, which made this stay special.
Lisbon has the best food I’ve had so far during my 3 months in Europe. I soon became a regular at a few of the cafes in town either, working, or having coffee and a healthy breakfast with friends. There’s something about cafe’s in Europe that make my heart happy.
Sometimes happiness comes in brown paper bags
Lisbon has some of the warmest, most generous, and special people I’ve ever met. While walking home from a friend’s house, I stumbled into Mercearia da Mila, a design workspace turned boutique grocery store. This 1837 storefront has kept its unique splendor while the owners Tiago and Mila make the store feel like home. The smell of cheese, citrus fruits, and freshly baked bread lured me in and the Mila kept me coming back. From my first visit to my last, Mila remembered my name, my remotes, and always had my favorite homemade banana bread waiting for me. This special treat tucked into a brown paper bag gave me so much joy and possibly an extra 10 pounds, but Mila and her husband made this place a real treat to visit.
DOORS AND TILE
Oh the Tiles!! Every pattern, color, and shape you can think of. This is the hidden gem of the city.
Every tile is unique. They aren’t afraid to use color. They aren’t manufactured in a plant, stamped by the thousands, but rather handcrafted made exclusively for that very spot in the grand scheme of the design. Lisbon is an old city and some of the tiles are hundreds of years old. The cracks added flavor. The bits of tile that broke off over the years just added to its magical mystery. Who painted these, how did they pick the pattern, color, and design? Did they paint the bright blue door to stand out next to the green twisted leaf pattern? Did they know one day a girl would be traveling through Portugal and stop and wonder at their handiwork?
I can’t help but make a correlation between these broken, cracked, sometimes graffitied tiles. There’s so much rich history and craftsmanship built into every piece. They are unique like a snowflake, one can never be like the other. As are we. Our past makes us who we are. Makes us interesting in some way. Our story changes as we grow. A little crack adds character and keeps the eye guessing. I like to think, like the gorgeous tile, we can add a little color to our lives, look for the interesting pattern and design in people, and love everyone for the beauty they bring to our lives.