From my travel journal:
10ish pm We left the apartment to ride up the elevador Santa Justa half block from the apartment. It was hardly crowded and the views from the top were spectacular. All of Lisbon in her fine sparkle and glitter spread on the hills below. We could finally see over the hill and to the water beyond. Gorgeous. We crossed the bridge and stood where people stand daily and wave to us as we sit in our kitchen. How cool to see our temporary home lit up from the inside!
Once across the bridge we made a great discovery! Largo de Carmo – a charming square with a leafy green canopy of trees and interesting old stone gazebo which was carved and ornate. 19th century apartments ringed the square with wrought iron French balconies. There were marble double sided benches, and big concrete tables with little concrete chairs on which to sit. Quaint, charming, all of it. A couple of outdoor restuarants were busy with Friday night diners – all Portugese from the sounds of things. We’ve heard hardly a word of English since our arrival. Most of the tourists are Portugese. I do love being a stranger in a strange town!
Small streets spiraled off in all directions from the square. On one side stood the gothic 14th century Ruinous do Carmo. Music was floating out the 20 -foot high, dark wood doors. We peeked in and were ushered further inside to sit and listen to the free concert by the Lisbon Metropoliton Orchestra. So unexpected, so surprising.
We sat in tiny white plastic chairs and listened to the Blue Danube and other Viennese classics under the ancient arches which survived the 1755 earthquake and tonight held up a ceiling of black sky. Sister said, “I will remember this clearly when I am 80.” We closed our eyes and listened to the music then arias sung by a lovely Portugese opera singer in a purple dress. Both of us sealing the memory permanently into those fragile few banks of memory time will not erode.