Welcome back dear reader, a true privilege to once again be in contact.
Today, I have recently returned from a weekend sojourn to Lisbon, Portugal. An enchanting and beguiling city, it was magical to arrive at sunrise and have the sparkling Atlantic Ocean spread out in front of us. Packed with history and with a day of exploration before us, me and my friend ascended to the pinnacle of the ancient city, and absorbed the spectacular morning views of Lisbon from the ramparts of the medieval era Sao Jorge Castle. To add to the regality of the Castle we were treated to peacocks (including an albino one!) who ambled directionless around the grounds.
As well as the Castle, I also paid a visit to famous Belem Tower by the Ocean, the Sao Jerónimo Monsatery and also saw the famous Golden Gate Bridge sister bridge, the 24th April Bridge which glows a gentle red over the City.
Whilst the usual Lisbon tourist trail was well trodden by myself and my companion I have to say that the Portuguese capital has a a very different feeling to the other European capitals I have visited, such as Madrid, Paris, Berlin, Brussels and Dublin.
Even on the Friday night we spent there it had a fairly relaxed air about it and even the rush hour was calm and orderly by comparison with others I’ve experienced. Amidst the crumbling Renaissance style apartment blocks and ornate fountain squares which are sprinkled across this oceanfront metropolis, it had a distinctly sleepy atmosphere.
Maybe I’ve gotten used to the still relatively prosperous European urban centres I mentioned above but Lisbon had a shabby but chic vibe to it, and despite being hit hard by the economic crisis Portugal had (much like Madrid) retained a certain elegance and charm. The wealthy parts wore an impression of a gentle nod to the richness of the former Empire days which Portugal used to enjoy.
Politically and economically speaking, Portugal goes from strength to strength, the restaurants and shops were bustling and even in January, tourists were still plentiful in the cobbled streets and on the historic yellow trams. According to the Portugal News, Portugal’s unemployment drop 2% points to record a recent low of 10%. In the EU the GDP growth rate was the highest in the last quarter of 2016 and consumer confidence continues to remain robust. In terms of its politics, despite a forecast of it collapsing, the centre left coalition government under Prime Minister Antonio Costa has remained quite stable and carried out its debtor obligations pretty serenely and with little drama.
To finsh, after concluding a Southern European leader’s summit in Lisbon at the end of the month, the Portuguese PM stated that Europe must “stand up for itself and it’s values after the change in US administrations.” This brings me neatly onto the next topic of my blog dear reader, the quixotic leadership the US now finds itself in under President Trump…………