I've been strolling around Alcântara, and thought of sharing some of the atmosphere of this part of Lisboa. A simple walk around these streets can be a great experience, getting to know the town, as we approach the Tejo. I hope it inspires you to visit the area sometime! Today is sunday, and now, by the end of the morning, the sky is clear and the sun shines particularly strong. Sometimes a brief breeze comes by, but the air is always warm.
I'm at one of the exits of the Alcântara-Mar train station. From here I can spot the Docas de Santo Amaro with its stores and cranes in the distance, behind the viaduct. Behind sits the 25 de Abril bridge. Except for the cars, constantly passing by, the area is less busy than is usual on the weekdays, with some people walking on the sidewalk by the old train tracks that follow the road. The large Rua de Cascais that comes from my right leads here, where the road splits towards Santos or Belém. I go across it and reach a nearby street that will lead to the Calvário square.
It is a peaceful street, lined by old houses and other buildings. Some of the walls show signs of time, flaking paint. A plane passes above my head. As I walk forward, the old habitation gives way to modern spaces, stores, cafes and what seems to be a residential condominium. In the distance, the neighbourhood grows uphill, the houses almost reaching the bridge. On a nearby road I can spot Lx Factory, where tourists abound. The street smells like plants, maybe from the small trees lining up on the sidewalk. There is not as much noise of the vehicles as before. Just before Calvário, there is a smaller square, with a few benches and cafes with esplanade. People are speaking loudly and joyfully. More people start showing up, both foreigners and locals. I can already see the buses and trams that pass by, coming from Belém, Ajuda, or Cais do Sodré.
As I arrive at Largo do Calvário, another plane flies above the neighbourhood. The square has its charm and can be very welcoming if you don't mind the constant buzz of public transports and taxis. Cafes, restaurants and stores surround the open area. The sun is too strong for many to enjoy the benches around the small fountain. Instead, the people are sitting in esplanades or lining up on the tram stops. I go around the square, heading left. The tram passengers peek outside, with a curious look to the streets and its facades. Once in a while the movement stops, and there seems to be a bit of silence. Just as you are reminded of the heat, the square turns busy again. I head toward Rua 1º de Maio, like the tram. On the right, a group of policemen calmly discusses at the police station entrance. To the left, more and more people take the available chairs in the restaurant esplanades. It is nearly lunch time!
The flow of buses and trams doesn't stop. After a few dozen meters I am close to the entrance of Lx Factory that I saw before, the trendiest spot of the area. Very close by there is another way in, through a small tunnel. There are a lot of visitors today. The street keeps going, passing under the huge, white pillars that support the bridge above, cutting the sun for brief moment. Further up, near the Carris Museum, sits Rua Luís de Camões, full of shade from large trees, and looking as welcoming as ever. It heads uphill, with plenty of cafes, restaurants, stores and housing, and a lovely ambiance.
Rua 1º de Maio turns into Rua da Junqueira as I pass by the Carris warehouses to my left, where the trams are stored. The road gets wider, with more housing, imponent mansions and old palace houses. The big trees here and there make it cosier and fresher. Even with the constant movement of transports heading toward Belém, it is a lovely street. Looking across the the left side, through the buildings, I see glimpses of Avenida da Índia, the river gardens across the train tracks, the bridge and the Tejo river. After a few more steps, I make a turn.
As I get closer to the river, the sound of the busy avenues that connect the Lisboa city center to Belém gets louder and louder. I reach the big parking lot of Centro de Congressos de Lisboa, where an event is taking place. It is a neurology congress. There are many people around the entrance talking or taking a break, many cars arriving and leaving. I climb the steps of a small bridge to get the other side of the avenues. From here you get a great view of the whole area. There is the red bridge and Margem Sul, the riverside gardens where people are walking, jogging, or laying on the grass, the Central Tejo in the distance. Once again I realise how warm the morning has been, but as is usual near the river, there is a bit of wind to distract from the heat. The sound of passing cars covers everything.
I reach the garden, and the Tejo makes everything seem peaceful and inviting. People are hanging out, enjoying the riverside throughout the entire extension of the pathway, from Docas de Santo Amaro up to the MAAT museum and further away. Some people are relaxing under the shade, and they have the neurology card for the nearby event. One of them asks me to take his photo, with the calm river and the bridge as background. A few boats are passing by, and with the clear skies of today, the view of the river looks like something from a postcard. I will take my time, and stay for a few more minutes!
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