Spring 2017: Lisbon For Work

I often associate European cities with something. Paris is a city made with taste – you can walk in the tiny old streets and never get bored looking at architectural details. Munich is a dynamic city – everything there lives: people take the trains of the made by  best and most recent standards that other people in the neighboring offices work on; people take trains from there to their smaller village and cities they are coming from. Munich is a dynamic city but not overwhelming – it lives comfortably, calmly, to its own pace.

I was thinking for a while what can I say about Lisbon. What do I associate it with? No specific trait came to mind and then I understood: Lisbon is an accepting city. It is on the edge of Europe, close to the sea –  a place from where war refugees were trying to leave for better life in the Second World War which Remarque so masterfully described in his novel “Die Nacht von Lissabon. Lisbon welcomes everyone, you feel easy there, you feel that “your right to be” – either by walking on the pier and listening to the sea right by or by taking a stroll in the old town. Lisbon breathes, it welcomes you, and you breath together with it.

To switch from that lyrical note, I came to Lisbon for the work meeting. At Automattic, a distributed company that power more than 25% of internet websites, we have a meetup once a year with our team in a different location in the world. This time it was Lisbon.

Amazing Portuguese Patterns

Lisbon has a lot of old buildings full of detailed patterns. I wish I knew more about those but I imagine how in old times, artists spent day after day to decorate the buildings and how much effort it took from them.

Pier and Main Square

On the main square, close to Rua de Alfandega, you can see artists performing close to the pier. It is either a student with a guitar who is singing for passers-by when the dusk falls on the city or a sculpturist who made statues from rocks he found on the beach (there were around 20 figures right on the pier!).

Morning Walk And Castelo de S.Jorge

Before one of our working days, a few of my co-workers and me took a morning walk in the old part of Lisbon and took the way which led us to Castelo de S. Jorge – this is an amazing old castle which is a must in Lisbon. When we came there, it was closed since it was too early so we returned later during the week. Nevertheless, I loved the morning walk discovering the local orange trees and having a breakfast in a tiny local cafe where we were the only tourists.

And here is Castelo de S.Jorge itself!

Remember how I mentioned that Lisbon is an accepting city? Besides the old beautiful tiles on the building, I also spotted some modern art.

Things To Do

There were a few activities that we did in Lisbon – a cooking class and escape room. In the cooking class, we cooked together Pastéis de Nata (egg tart) and a few other desserts which I do not remember the name of. Our teacher, Marie, was extremely friendly like pretty much anyone we met in Lisbon. By the way, if I have not mentioned yet, Lisbon had great pastries and in the morning, the local pastry shops were full with locals and tourists grabbing breakfast there with a freshly squeezed orange juice.

***

I can not wait to go back to Lisbon and Portugal in general to explore it more. One week was great but there is so much more I have not seen so this is definitely a new destination on the list!

2 Comments

  1. Kathryn P.

    Did Lisbon remind you a bit of Montreal? Something about its size, cobblestone streets, and openness (accepting – yes! great observation) reminded me a lot of my hometown. It was my first meetup with Automattic and your post brought back some good Lisbon memories. Hope to get back there sometime.

    Liked by 1 person

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