Ice Cream Cones and Fountain-Jumping in Lisbon

The magical Praca Dom Pedro

As I walked through Praca Dom Pedro this morning upon the waves of mosaic tile, licking a strawberry and mango ice cream cone from Sartini on Rua do Carmo, I felt as ridiculously giddy as the woman in Under The Tuscan Sun, laughing as she splashes around in a fountain in her dress and floppy hat.  I thought about taking the plunge but decided sopping clothes aren’t the best for an eight-hour flight home.

The delectable Santini ice cream shop on Rua do Carmo

After three perfect days in Lisbon, my spirit feels light and free.  Vacation will do this, yes- but there is something very special about this city.  It’s magical without pretensions, thoughtful without caring too much, reverent yet relaxed.  Portuguese rolls off the tongue, sounding to my novice ear as a mix of Spanish, Italian and Russian.  With words like Obrigado (O-brie-gaa-doe), the word for thank you, I was ‘obrigado-ing’ locals with a wide smile with every opportunity I had.

The view from Sao Jorge Castle as the sun in setting over Lisbon

I gave myself time to wander and get lost in Lisbon’s narrow cobblestone alleyways that wind up and down its many hills, a matrix of these stone walkways and brightly-colored tiled buildings.  Lisbon is a city of art; while it is not known for its museums like Paris or Rome, its streets are covered with works of art around each bend, displaying the creativity and freedom of its people and showing Lisbon’s laid-back vibe.

These hand-tiled buildings fill the city of Lisbon, making it a wonderful work of art everywhere you turn

Street art on a building on a narrow street winding up to the castle

Even mundane things become art in Lisbon

Graffiti is everywhere as a beautiful means of expression

The history of this city is interwoven into its everyday being.  Lisboans have managed to beautifully preserve their past, a rich history that pre-dates Roman and Moorish eras from the 700’s.  Sao Jorge Castle perches atop Lisbon’s highest point and acts as a loving god-parent over the city, watching her with tender care over the past six hundred years.  I felt a deep sense of pride and purpose within the spirit of the Lisboan people.  They are confident in where they have come from and cautious to preserve their past, yet also future-minded.

The Sao Jorge Castle and moat, built in the 14th and 15th centuries

I couldn’t get enough of the red roofs at sunset

I could have sat and listened to this man for hours, playing Portuguese music as the sun lowered over the Tagus River

Yesterday, I sat inside the walls of a palace in Sintra, surrounded by mystical gardens, fountains and 100 foot-deep wells, reflecting in the sunshine.

The view from one of the palaces in Sintra– I felt like I was in a fairytale

Why do we travel, and why do so many of us take pictures to mark that we were there, in that place?  I believe we are all working to connect to our own humanity.  When I experience a place of beauty, its culture and its people, it connects with the deeper places in my soul.  I take pictures both for myself and for others in an effort to say I was here.  I did this in my life.  We all have pictures of our grandparents and great-grandparents when they were younger, wide-eyed and full of hope for their future.  Because this life is so fleeting, I want those who come after me to know who I was in my lifetime, what I was about, what I held important and the things that I did and experienced.  That is the same reason why I write: to touch a place deeper within myself and within others.

Overlooking Rossio Square from a 15th Century building that was once a palace, then a brothel… and now a library.

I recently read that the gift of being a writer is that we are constantly studying and absorbing our surroundings, as if to preserve them in our minds so we can pour forth all of the beauty that we see, the suffering, the sound of the birds chirping, the way the sun reflects gloriously upon the red-roof sea.

I challenge you to see more deeply in your everyday life, and to see with beauty.  It is all around us.

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2 Responses to Ice Cream Cones and Fountain-Jumping in Lisbon

  1. libs012 says:

    You are so brave , spontaneous, inspiring and wonderful. Glad I’ve gotten to know you this last year. The way you enjoy life is amazing. And I am happy to be filling my life with more people who are okay with just doing what they want — no matter what. ❤

    • Ashley Castle says:

      Libs! What a great comment, my friend- thank you! Likewise, I am so glad that we met through Sue’s class… just the beginning of new journeys opened up to us both and paths of greatness that we are following! I am proud of you for seeing something and going after it with focus, determination and FUN! Keep it up girl!

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