Lisbon, Portugal Friday November 17, 2015

Compared to the USA,, Western Europe is quite free of violent crime. However, there is a lot of petty thievery, including pickpocketing, in the major cities. I think a pair of pickpockets viewed me as a mark yesterday as I walked along the waterfront.

I noticed that a young man and a young woman were approaching me from behind, walking faster than I was, but I gave them no further thought until they passed me. The man passed first, and several seconds later, the woman stepped out from directly behind me and passed. Was she scoping me out?

Then the two reversed direction and came toward me again. The man walked on by, but the woman stopped in front of me and asked me in English with a Portuguese accent where the subway station was. How could she not know that? She seemed to be a local.  When I said I didn’t know where anything was, she asked me how to get downtown. All this time, the man was behind me. She seemed to be trying to distract me rather than to be seeking information. Then, apparently the guy gave her a signal that I had nothing to steal, because she thanked me, joined her partner, and walked away.

I don’t carry anything of value in my outside pockets in Europe, especially not in my rear pants pockets, so I wasn’t too worried about pickpockets. I had a wrinkled city map sticking out of one rear pocket and a small plastic Coca Cola bottle full of water protruding from the other. Obviously I was not a good mark. I suppose the two were quite disappointed.

I did have my camera in an inside pocket, and I used it to take the following picture of a church on a hill. Lisbon boasts being built on seven hills like Rome, and almost everything interesting is on top of one of them. If you are a notorious cheapskate, as I am, and don’t want to give out gobs of money for transportation, you spend a lot of time walking up and down steep hills to get from one place to another.

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Below is a picture of the steeple of one of the hilltop churches. I actually climbed the hill to see this one. One thing I like about European churches is that most of them still have real bells in the bell tower. In Phoenix, churches use electronically synthesized bell sounds  instead of the real thing, and the sound is not nearly as pleasing.

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From the hills there are some spectacular views of the main part of the city below. I’ll let the following picture speak for itself.

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These ruins pictured below are from several palaces that were built on the site over the centuries. I don’t know when the original edifice was constructed on the site, but a sign mentioned a restoration that was carried out in the early 1100s, so the original building or buildings must have been erected  long before that.

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The streets going up and down the hills are almost all very narrow, and the buildings lining them are generally in the same style with narrow balconies overlooking the streets. There is almost no automotive traffic on them. To enter one of the streets, you need permission. There is a vertical post the end of each street which sinks into the pavement to let a car go by if the driver has the proper device to operate it. In general, the streets are used by pedestrians.

img_0311Speaking of narrow streets, I don’t think you need to worry about car and truck traffic one pictured below. It is the narrowest street I’ve seen in Lisbon so far.

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Today is my last day in Lisbon, and I think I’ll spend it as I spent today–walking around. Then tomorrow afternoon I catch the train for Faro in the south of Portugal.