The clock strikes. It’s 8AM in Alfama.
Alfama is that neighborhood in Lisbon you can spend hours and hours going from little cobblestone alley to little cobblestone alley. It’s that village life where each and every turn in the labyrinth will get you somewhere worthy and new. It’s like what we see in American films about Italian villages in the countryside where little kids are running through stone passageways to go get the morning bread – except here in Portugal (when they finally wake up), they’re getting cafezinhos and pasteis de nata. See the above photo.
I had woken up for the sunrise at Portas do Sol (doors of the sun) – a picturesque lookout point known to both locals and tourists as one of the best post-card views of Lisbon. I totally agree, and to avoid the day crowd, and to break myself out of my daily routine in Lisbon, I decided to stop by early in the morning, and then follow it up with a morning in Alfama. There are plenty of things to do like eat at Pois Café or Cruzes Credo, get a drink at Cafe da Garagem, catch the view at Castelo São Jorge, or haggle with vendors at the Thieves Market, but the most popular of all is also one of the most cliché: getting lost.
So that’s what I did.
But what I thought I’d find at 8AM in this famous Lisbon neighborhood is not what I actually found.
I thought I might hear some melodramatic soprano tones of the fado genre. Instead I heard somebody jamming out to Alanis Morissette.
I thought I might find Portuguese grandmothers opening up their shades to watch the morning sunrise. Instead I saw them slamming the shades shut as soon as I walked by, mysteriously wondering what I was doing up so early…vlogging.
I thought I might find myself elbow-to-elbow in a jam-packed pastelaria, padaria, or any other place that ends in –aria. Instead, it was just me and one other man.
If one thing’s for sure in the Alfama alleyways, it’s that you truly never know what to expect.