Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lisbon Rocks And Fado Rules

I love Lisbon. Portugal is Europe's best kept secret and Lisbon is the gateway to the country's many treasures. My own recent visit was brief, just enough time to see the sights of Lisbon and attend performances at the city's two best-known Fado clubs.

First, a quick word about Fado - a national, musical institution in Portugal. English speakers sometimes observe that the Portuguese survive on the "three F's." Fish, Fado and Fatima. I've devoted an entire post to Fado and the new Fadistas who carry on the traditions of the country and the celebrity of Amalia Rodrigues - the queen of Fado.

Second, a few words and pictures of Lisbon. The images are my own. The city is old and charming. Set on several hillsides along the Atlantic Coast, Lisbon has always been a seaside metropolis. The city is tied to fishing, freight and commerce. Unlike cities that may be deemed more sophisticated and urbane, the population of Lisbon is immediately friendly, helpful and interested in visitors. The pace, somehow, is slower than the bustle of Madrid or Barcelona. The air is sweet and the seafood is to die for. The arts are flourishing and the music scene has something for everyone, including a vibrant alternative movement that is producing a bunch of new tunes. Destinations like Oporto in the North and the southern beach towns, with the best climates in the world, are easy to access. What's not to love?

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