Posted by steven greaves photography on February 11, 2010 · 

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Last day in Lisboa….and not happy about it. 

Said to owe its’ origins to Ulysses and dating back 1200 years before Christ, this city is old. Having been controlled by the Romans, the Moors and the crusading Christians, the city is now firmly back in control of the Lisboêtas. Although the city has spread out from its’ origins in the Alfama district to encompass vast and varied barrios, many of these modern in appearance, central Lisbon retains that old-world charm. Electric street cars wend reptilian paths through narrow streets as locals duck into pastelerias to enjoy a warm espresso shot and avoid the rains. Paint peels from ancient facades that sag under the weight of time. Old men in flat caps, always flat caps, sit in parks feeding pigeons and smoking cigarettes. Laments by Bob Marley and Fado great, Amalia Rodrigues, carry across the city on bay breezes alive with the scents of coffee and pastries. It is a city that still lays cobblestones for sidewalks. It is a city that honors tradition. 

On par architecturally with the great cities of Europe, Lisbon offers, under the surface, a little bit more. The people are some of the friendliest and most welcoming that I have experienced. Their way of life is uniquely Latin and paramount importance placed on “fun” and the pursuit of happiness. Commercial life comes to a standstill on Sundays. Dinner is served late in the evening and nightlife starts in the wee hours. From the young guy down at the pasteleria where every day I would get my coffee to the elderly women who humored me in the Alfama district to the drunk chef/owner/bartender at a neighborhood restaurant who brought us plate after plate, Lisbon’s beauty lies within the hearts of the locals. 

I picked a great time to take in this city. The weather was changing. Sunny days were numerous but the rain did come on occasion. Tourists were few, leaving me alone to take in a city that fortunately lies off the major European tourist trail. Portugal certainly gets its’ share of tourists but, out on the end of the Iberian Peninsula, it is spared the onslaught… and certainly at this time of the year. 

I came here as an afterthought. Between projects (finishing up in Calais, France and soon starting in Aubagne, France), I needed a place to relax and get prepared for Legion life. Jack, a New Yorker with Portuguese roots, is a friend of the family. With his encouragement I came here not knowing what to expect. Having done no research and without shot lists (unusual for me), I was free to wander aimlessly and with no destinations. All was a mystery. All was a surprise….and all was a delight. Some of my best work was done here. Granted, it’s difficult to screw up a photo of Lisbon but……..
September is seven months away; I will be counting the days. I have been asked to show my work at Imagerie Casa de Imagens,, a Lisbon photo studio and gallery. 

With a heavy heart I leave.

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