My hometown in Portugal is a city next to Lisbon called Almada. Growing up in an urban city environment gave me tons of suburban knowledge, but mostly a sense of hard work and sacrifice. You may think that crossing a river is no big deal, but when you only have two car bridges and one ferry which closes at 01h30am it becomes a lifestyle choice. You cannot cross freely to the other side. They don’t allow bicycles on those bridges and it’s prohibited to walk there. But hey, that’s not the point. The point is that most of the people working in Lisbon are actually living outside the city in other suburban areas (like any other big city, 85% of the population don’t live in the city center). My town is one of them specially for being so close to the riverside of the capital.
Almada changed during the 00’s because it needed to be transferred from the 80’s, 90’s graffiti vibe to a more refreshed version of “Look at us! We also belong to Europe!”. Besides buses and ferries, we have a tram, our public spaces changed from grunge style to a more chilled fresh hip hop old-school environment. These changes preserved the suburban soul that is Almada. I love my city for all the cultural ethnicity, for the accents and dialects, for our own tribe. It’s something to be proud of.
When it comes to Lisbon, I’ve started to explore it more during my teenage years, and from that moment on, all through university and work I got to know the city pretty well. Not only the city center, but other parts of Lisbon that for some people don’t seem very interesting. The urban Lisbon lifestyle is very diverse and I don’t know if it’s a thing of mine but you can easily guess from each part of the city that person is from. It’s not just an accent thing, it’s also the posture and the behavior of that individual. Every time I go back, I get introduced to different venues, cafes, theaters and unique places that keep my curiosity alive for exploring the city I was born into.
Lisbon at night has one of the most vivid nightlife experiences. It’s good. It’s loud. It’s something that I appreciate a lot. With the best company it can be a night to remember. With all its ups and downs you can walk through the city, getting lost in its winding paths and also getting extremely tired (in a good way). I love Lisbon for all the good and the bad reasons.
Basically, this is where I’m from. Two cities with something in common that is also unnoticeable. Besides missing the people, of course, when I’m away, I miss the urban art, graffiti (whatever you want to call it). It’s something that I’ve never payed attention because it’s always there. Almost every building, wall, ruins, train station, sidewalk, you can see some random scribbles or a very awesome piece of art. If you love this type of street art, then you’re going to enjoy Almada and Lisbon. Besides googling, asking people around and discovering by yourself, you can also book a tour here (example).
Don’t just stick to the touristy stuff that Portugal offers you, meet the people. Believe me, there are some incredible Portuguese folks out there.