I kind of have my eyes set on the destination: Lisbon, Portugal. It's the perfect getaway from the turmoil and complexity of America. Lately, I've had nothing but stress due to school (no summer), work, problems at home, the country, etc. I want to miss all of that when I'm vacation, though I highly doubt it. Lisbon embodies the essence of simple living in a large city.
The Praça do Comércio looks absolutely beautiful with the old romantic architecture and yellow hue. It was apparently the location of the Royal Ribeira Palace until it was destroyed by the great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. I've never been to "palace" let alone any other square besides...Union Square, so I'm really looking forward to it.
Once you enter the Praça do Comércio, the other side is the Pombaline Downtown. It looks like an awesome walking tour because it goes into a whole other bunch of squares. I'm a pretty nostalgic person, so I get very excited when I see preservations of the past (tiled floors, local cafes, tailoring shops, etc). Oh, and did you know this area is completely earthquake proof?
I love exploring back alleys because they're not typical tourist destinations. However, these areas say a lot about a place because it's where culture comes from. The closest thing that I've seen resemble this was in Macau, except it was more Chinese.
The best places in the world all seem to have some kind of body of water nearby. I'd like to go on a ferry ride along the Tagus River and enjoy the beautiful sights of traditional Portuguese buildings in rows and rows.
Tiling is becoming a lost art in Portugal, which is quite sad. Throughout the years, they've come out with masterpieces that can be seen on the different buildings. I'm sure painting the tiles, and then having to piece everything together took forever; I could only imagine.
Lisbon has a very mild Mediterranean climate, which is just a bit higher than San Francisco weather; I can live with that. In that case, the beach is a must see. By looking at this picture, I can kind of already tell it's not the nicest beach out there, but it's better than nothing. Then again, Lisbon is not much of a resort town.
One of the most important things for a city to have is a night life, and it's happening down in Bairro Alto. It's the shopping district in Lisbon where people come to hang out after work and on the weekends. It seems very homely with the traditional buildings as a backdrop and people just mingling on the streets. As far as I know, I've never seen San Franciscans just mingling on streets unless there was some kind of special event.
After doing a ton of research on this place, I really want to go. I have a free week in August, but the thing is the cheapest plane ticket is still about $2,000. If the expenses aren't too much after that (couchsurfing, hosteling), I wouldn't mind too much. Still, that is a lot of money though. We'll see what happens.
Courtesy of Virtual Tourist, Galen Frysinger, Sights & Culture, Images.com, Picture Ninja, Kitsch Hostel Lisbon