Simply showing my sheer ignorance of a majestically beautiful country, I was plenty surprised that Lisbon has gone through a major renaissance the last decade (well before their recent economic woes). The eastern board of the city has opened the continent’s longest bridge, and a commissioned area to host the World Exposition in 1998. Unlike most purposely-built areas, Lisbon has capitalised on developing the venue with residential, commercial and public spaces opening recently. The whole complex includes an aquarium, the Vasco do Gama mall, an international convention centre, and the Placa do Nacoes.
Its main centrepiece is its terminus train station, Gare do Oriente. Finally, an introduction to Santiago Calatrava! After much praise for his light, airy and modern designs all over, I finally got to see his work in the flesh, so to speak. At first, I thought that the platform canopies were inspired by spider webs, only to realise that they are patterned after the cloister ceilings west of the city (Belem).
Its space travel theme resonates across the station – from the shape of their waiting rooms, to the underground walkway connection the platforms, to the “beam me up, Scotty” elevators around the station. Furthermore impressive was the selection of materials for the building – simple glass, and brushed concrete. The photo below turned out much better than expected, it looks like an artist’s rendition of the interior, even if it is an actual photograph.
You may have noticed Portugal’s love for the blue-coloured tiles, called azulejos, and how they decorate their buildings with it. This affinity extends not just for the colour blue, as they decorate majority of the metro stations with tiles, though on a more playful note.
Finally, end the tour of the city’s modern side by dropping by Bairro Alto – a district known for its parties; between traditional pubs that feature melancholy singers belting their fado, you can find trendy spots to drink in. Here’s a photo of one we stumbled upon; apart from the standard drinks and requisite caipirinhas, it was delightful to discover a new mix: black vodka, crushed strawberries. Please let me know where to find this black vodka, it would be so interesting.