Welcome to 2015! We celebrated the happy new year in a very public party at Praça do Comércio, with a firework show that was cleverly synced with Almada, the other city across the river Tagus. It really added up to the moment to have, for the first time ever, both banks of the river to light up at the same time!
Apart from the famous New Year Resolutions that seem to be in everyone’s mind in these first couple of weeks, January is always the month of reflection and weighing the pros and cons of our plans and ambitions for the next twelve months. And then we wash all our worries away celebrating Carnaval next month, but more on that when the time comes.
Speaking of reflection and introspection, if you haven’t visited Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian yet, today and tomorrow you have the chance to listen to the Foundation’s Orchestra with Maestro David Afkham. Apart from these occasional music events, other reasons to visit include their magnificent urban gardens (and the local residents, the ducks) and their Museum: until the end of this month an art exhibition focusing on the “Shared History” theme between Portugal and Spain, and showcasing pieces over 350 years of royal patronage.
Since you are already in the neighborhood, and the Lisbon “uptown” seems to be often left out of the tourist grid, as you leave Gulbenkian and turn right on Avenida de Berna, continue straight until your eyes hit a peculiar terracotta color building that could easily be mistaken by a landmark of Russian origin or influence. Originally it was a bull fighting arena that was turned into a shopping mall and a concert venue.
In spite of its wide avenues and mostly office and business buildings, this area of the city still has a feeling of neighborly friendliness and closeness, which I think it’s more typical of Lisbon than anything else. The uptown is a combination of old buildings, small businesses and University campuses, which adds up to an interesting mix and match of cultures and stories. In Avenida da Republica, linking Campo Grande and Saldanha, you can trace your way towards Entrecampos and visit the recently reopened Feira Popular (a amusement park that is in the childhood memories of all the locals) or decide to walk down towards Saldanha and following the Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo towards the center of Marques de Pombal (and the iconic Parque Eduardo VII).