In the five years I’ve been in Lisbon, I’ve moved around a lot, staying in with family, friends and strangers sometimes, it’s par for the course with studying in the “big city”. I’m currently staying in the calm suburb of Alcântara, but my previous home wasn’t too far and it is still very present in my daily life. It’s even strange to me that I haven’t written before about the sunny and central neighborhood of Santos-o-Velho, but friends just call it Santos!
Nowadays I work on an animation studio in Santos, so I still spend most of my days there, but the time I spent as a resident of this lovely community, living with friends, were when I really felt part of it’s rich history.
For this article I just strolled around my old street and all the places I’ve remembered from these times, in order to recapture for you what the days in Santos where like. It’s not bombastic, not glamorous, but honestly that’s the charm of Lisbon as a whole, the modesty of it all. And the Madragoa streets are modesty personified. Even though there have been newer restaurants and businesses arriving in these inner streets of Santos, the old allure is still there, in the typical tight and up-hill Lisbon houses.
Santos isn’t very landmark heavy to be honest, it lends itself more to an unplanned stroll rather then a “must-see” check list. It centers around a crossing of two big streets, the Dom Carlos I and the 24 de Julho avenues. Along Dom Carlos, you’ll find a nicely decorated street full of tree and business, even some small parks for dogs, and if you’re going up you’ll eventually reach the Parliament, while on 24 de Julho is perfect of cyclists, since it as a large bicycle path that goes all the way to Cais do Sodré, and next to that path is a small park, called Jardim Nuno Álvares, or Jardim de Santos, which is delightful in a clear sky day (but not big or dynamic enough for a whole “Gardens of Lisbon” inspiration) and an historical theater company, A Barraca. And, for those interested in studying in Lisbon, next to both these avenues, there are two universities big on design and marketing, IADE and ISEG (respectively).
But the heart of it all is in the inner streets, like the previously mentioned, Madragoa neighborhood, or the Janelas Verdes Street, these don’t just make for an awesome stroll but also here you’ll find very good restaurants, galleries and museums, like the big Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga and the smaller, but very curious, Museu da Marioneta.
To end this article I just want to mention the lively night life that Santos has. During the day, its many bars are very unnoticeable, but at night, specially on Fridays and Saturdays when the students go out for some fun, the streets transform! And this is only amped up when celebrations are at hand, like the fun filled Santos Populares festivities, which I’ve already written about!
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