Lisbon is a candy box of a city. The townhouses are as tightly packed as bonbons in a confectioner’s glass case, painted in every color of Jordan Almond: robin’s egg, lemon chiffon, Easter violet, pistachio, and princess rose. The tiles of the mosaicked sidewalks glisten like black and white gumballs. Every square has its church, as pale and frilled as iced petit fours. Accordion players sweeten the air of squares crammed with alfresco café tables, offering a citrusy aperitif to steaming suppers of barnacle, octopus, and cod.
Like a properly costly candy box, Lisbon has layers: tiers of architectural confections each more whimsical than the last, from Castelo de São Jorge to Sé Cathedral to Basilica da Estrela. The façade of Estação Rossio (my local train station) looks as if it sprouted from scattered pages of The Lord of the Rings (O Senhor dos Anéis).
Lisbon’s tiers are tied together by staircases—long loping flights in pearl grey and satin black. Feral cats saunter along the tiled stairs, reminding me that this city isn’t quite tame. It’s a carnival of candy boxes, street musicians, and feline royalty.
Dawn dusts the city in white sugar, turning all the glass to rock candy and the colors to pastels. Couples doze on doorsteps, dewed with their midsummer night drink and dreams. The light is lemon syrup, glossing all Lisbon’s crumbling edges with sweetness.