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The Rossio's Wavy Pavement
The Rossio is one of Lisbon's most beautiful squares and it is sometimes referred to as Europe's most beautiful square. The pavement is composed of the unique Portuguese tiles and the design is very unusual. The impression is of an uneven, wavy area. Yet when you are walking, the pavement is perfectly even. The effect is quite impressive, . There is a huge Baroque fountain that is lit up at night and is gorgeous. At one end is the National Theatre of Dona Maria II (1840's). The column of Pedro IV (1874) dominates the square. The side streets are filed with restaurants, hotels, the Pastelaria Suica - there since 1922, and cafes - The Art Deco Cafe Nicola,this one built on the original site opened in 1929) is a must stop where you enjoy a drink, expresso, or a great desert and watch the activity in the square. The tiny Cafe Ginjinha, Rossio is also old and traditional. Stop here at the stand up bar and try this cherry flavored liquor. Buy some flowers from the flower sellers. The kiosks have leather goods for sale. Watch the pigeons wander around. They remind you of the pigeons in Venice's St. Mark's square. The street behind the theater is the Travessa S. Antao. This is a street with many restaurants. I love the Frango Rei ( Chicken King) where the typical spit roasted chicken, french fries, and salad is served. Every time I go to Lisbon this is my first night dinner. You must include a stop at the Rossio when in Lisbon.
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Romantic Rossio
Lisbon's well worn grit takes on a magical golden beauty at night. Here, on Lisbon's main square Rossio, the Rossio train station beckons travelers to step through her horseshoe shaped doors and step into the adventure of train travel. One of the most surprising things to this traveler was the wonderful night lighting all over Lisbon. It seemed as if the daytime scruffiness of the buildings faded away, as they preened in the golden glow of nightfall. Like a beautiful woman, Lisbon becomes more lovely when bathed in the glow of romantic light.
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The Ubiquitous Street Artists of Lisbon
All major cities have street entertainers who live off their dubious talents and the generosity of tourists. Lisbon is no different, except perhaps, for the sheer volume of residents and transients who make a living on their play and prey talents. Street artists congregate at every restaurant, tasca, and cafe with outdoor seating, and, like good Boy Scouts, are always prepared to entertain diners with varying degrees of success. Accordion players abound as do roaming minstrels who belt out old American songbook standards ....hoping to make a euro or two from stateside tourists. Some are very entertaining, and therefore, very successful. Others, like the unfortunate didgeridoo player, could certainly not survive on what he ekes from the crowds. To me, the most entertaining street artists were the fire twirlers, whose fiery batons would light up the night as they juggled and danced and twirled in the warm night air. Their shows were often the highlight of the evening and seemed to garner the most coveted coinage. Lisbon's street artists make their living from entertaining and can be very persistent about seeking compensation for their showmanship. A word to the wise when traveling in Lisbon. Keep LOTS of euro coins handy so you can pay the entertainers their due.... and make sure to relax and enjoy their show.
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