Lisbon, Portugal

Visiting an old ‘friend’ – Lisbon

By Geoff Chaplin

A generation ago Lisbon seemed magical, the light on the crumbling buildings, the ubiquitous graffiti, the former glory of the architecture and private courtyards. As time went on EU funds supporting regeneration projects, building preservation and improvement, gradually changed the city making it more attractive as a place to live rather than one to photograph and, coupled with the recently ended golden visa scheme, brought many more outsiders to the city, to visit as tourists or to live semi-permanently. A Portuguese acquaintance pointed out “Lisbon is no longer Portuguese” and walking round the central area even in December this is evident. We had witnessed the gradual change over the past 25 years or so, and made our first post-covid visit to rephotograph some of our favourite places and visit our favourite wine bar.

On my first visit to Lisbon I was surprised: “Gosh! This is hilly”. One regret I have, being rather insensitive to other people’s needs, was taking my father on his first flight (despite having been in the air-force in WWII) to Lisbon. In his early 80s he obviously struggled with the unavoidable hills, steps and slopes: sorry dad! A second thing that surprised me when I later visited the port city Nagasaki in Japan was how similar the two cities are – steep slopes with homes and businesses covering the hills. Striking because the two cities share a long trading history with the Portuguese being possibly the first westerners to trade with Japan. Delicious seafood in both cities too!

Our favourite districts are Bairro Alto and Alfama. Bairro Alto is a densely packed area developed from the 16th century with wider streets running up and down the hill and narrower lanes crossing at right angles. Alfama is the oldest district with the castle and spectacular views over the city from the top of the hill.

The featured image shows a typical small tram which almost unbelievably manages to go not only up and down the steep slopes but also travels along uneven often bumpy rails. That’s one way to avoid some of the hard work, but sometimes hard work is unavoidable.

Lisbon, Portugal
Steps leading to the onward and upward hill….
Lisbon, Portugal
… but an elevator for the less brave …
Lisbon, Portugal
… though often there is no alternative to hard work going up …
Lisbon, Portugal
… or a risky walk down.

Exploring some of our previous haunts we found our favourite wine bar (Garrafeira Alfaia in Bairro Alto) had changed hands – food and drink (the wine list was a 200 page volume) were still superb though now the atmosphere was different. Continuing our search the next day we found many familiar features including the stray cats and washing hanging outside upper story windows remained.

Lisbon, Portugal
Incongruous doorways: maybe try “Annon edhellen, edro hi ammen!” (from The Lord of the Rings) or other magic spells.

 

Lisbon, Portugal
Local craft and art shop near the castle.

Of course the hills sometimes present unusual and spectacular views of the city.

Lisbon, Portugal
Pigeon’s eye view (note the pigeon on the ledge over the window)

 

Lisbon, Portugal
View over the Alfama district of the city looking towards the sea.
Lisbon, Portugal
Maybe I’d had a little too much wine when I took this one …

Share this post:

Find more similar content on 35mmc

Use the tags below to search for more posts on related topics:

Contribute to 35mmc for an ad-free experience.

There are two ways to contribute to 35mmc and experience it without the adverts:

Paid Subscription – £2.99 per month and you’ll never see an advert again! (Free 3-day trial).

Subscribe here.

Content contributor – become a part of the world’s biggest film and alternative photography community blog. All our Contributors have an ad-free experience for life.

Sign up here.

About The Author

By Geoff Chaplin
Primarily a user of Leica film cameras and 8x10 for the past 30 years, recently a mix of film and digital. Interests are concept and series based art work. Professionally trained in astronomical photography, a scientist and mathematician.
View Profile

Comments

Miguel Mendez on Visiting an old ‘friend’ – Lisbon

Comment posted: 12/05/2024

Muy lindas tus fotografias , gracias por compartir . Disfruto mucho
la foto blaco y negro .
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Geoff Chaplin replied:

Comment posted: 12/05/2024

Muy gracias Miguel.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Curtis Heikkinen on Visiting an old ‘friend’ – Lisbon

Comment posted: 12/05/2024

I enjoyed these images a great deal. I was curious about what camera and film did you use? I particularly likes the pigeon’s eye view image. Beautifully composed. Fine work, Geoff!
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Geoff Chaplin replied:

Comment posted: 12/05/2024

Many thanks Curtis. The film was Foma 100 stand developed in Rodinal 100:1. I think the camera was a Leica MP and Zeiss Planar 50mm.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Gary Smith on Visiting an old ‘friend’ – Lisbon

Comment posted: 12/05/2024

I don't think I have ever noticed a similar change in a city here in the USA. Of course, there aren't any cities here that are really old in the same way as European cities. Thanks for the short tour of Lisbon Geoff! It would seem that at this point we should take it off our "must see" list as my wife no longer wants to deal with stairs.
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Geoff Chaplin replied:

Comment posted: 12/05/2024

I can understand, the trams would give a good view and maybe a taxi to the castle and back, so worth a short visit, Evora and Cascais easier. Thanks for the comment.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Julian Tanase on Visiting an old ‘friend’ – Lisbon

Comment posted: 13/05/2024

Thank you for posting these, Geoff; beautiful photographs! It is a pleasure to see a city as it really is, not the touristic places and the hubbub of the city centre. I have first visited the city in the early 90s and several times again after that. I can tell you the city has changed, and many times the old places are not to be recognized anymore. Your photographs may seem to show the Lisbon I knew first, and that is part of the talent of the photographer. Thank you again !
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Geoff Chaplin replied:

Comment posted: 13/05/2024

Many thanks Julian. I tend to avoid tourists (though of course I'm one myself) and sometimes - as in the shot near the castle - it's just a matter of waiting until the crowd gets out of the way. Evora, Cascais, and out of Lisbpn places are better.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

David James on Visiting an old ‘friend’ – Lisbon

Comment posted: 13/05/2024

Echoing the other comments on this post, these are lovely pictures. Careful composition and perfect exposure. But pardon my possible ignorance, Geoff, but it wasn't clear to me whether these were recent pictures, i.e. from your post-Covid trip, or were from and earlier visit? Many thanks for sharing.
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Geoff Chaplin replied:

Comment posted: 13/05/2024

Thanks David. All recent (Dec 2023), but of course I chose subject matter which had not "suffered" much restoration work.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ian Lewis on Visiting an old ‘friend’ – Lisbon

Comment posted: 13/05/2024

Nice photos. On our next visit I'll have to take my Nikon F80 with some black & white film along with my digital.
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Geoff Chaplin replied:

Comment posted: 13/05/2024

Thanks Ian. Evora especially, and Cascais (via the 30min coastal train ride) well worth visiting.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Jeffery Luhn on Visiting an old ‘friend’ – Lisbon

Comment posted: 14/05/2024

Wow, Geoff, those are nice images with major contrast. They really pop! Thanks for posting. It goes to show that there are ways to capture the old feel of a place if you search. ISO 100 film with Rodinal 1:100 is working for you.
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Geoff Chaplin replied:

Comment posted: 14/05/2024

Many thanks Jeffrey.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ibraar Hussain on Visiting an old ‘friend’ – Lisbon

Comment posted: 15/05/2024

Lovely piece of travel journalism which I enjoyed immensely - couple with splendid photography
Thanks !
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Geoff Chaplin replied:

Comment posted: 15/05/2024

Thanks Ibraar, just another photowalk!

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Kevin on Visiting an old ‘friend’ – Lisbon

Comment posted: 19/05/2024

My wife and I visited Lisbon and Coimbra in 2021 and plan to go back this November. Coimbra is one big hill - but so worth it. Lisbon was great too. Full of photographic potential. My wife is from Nagasaki but I never made the connection with Lisbon in terms of all the hills. The connections in history are very clear though. Something to think about when enjoying some tempura, a legacy of Portugese history in Japan.
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Geoff Chaplin replied:

Comment posted: 19/05/2024

Thanks Kevin. Tempura, castella cake, and more. A friend of mine is from Coimbra - I should go there!

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *